Saturday, January 20, 2018

Whole27: Seven (Eight?) Months Later

Breakfast this morning was cinnamon rolls.

In fairness, I'm sick right now with something resembling that monster flu--hopefully it's really just a monster cold, but that's my boundless optimism for ya--and my tastes in food when I'm sick completely regress to what I wanted to eat at the age of 12, so we are now stocked with Chef Boyardee ravioli, english muffins, half a gallon of milk, and spaghettios with meatballs. (Yesterday, I ate all the mac and cheese.) And when I was 12, another favorite item was those cinnamon rolls in a can that my mom would sometimes make on weekend mornings. We recently had an even better version of those at a friend's house (post-Thanksgiving brunch should be more of a thing!), and so I made a trek to her grocery store to buy some this morning. Maybe I could also get them closer to home, but I was taking no chances.

Whole27 really was a significant happening in 2017, it turns out. It doesn't rank as highly as the job changes, of course, but I think it comes just after our two week trip to New Zealand. It might even beat that, depending on your criteria, because there are some things that really did change following it (whereas nothing about our life is really different after a trip to New Zealand, save being in possession of fresh evidence that New Zealand is a phenomenal place to visit).

The most obvious change that Whole27 wrought that has stuck is that I no longer add sugar to coffee: drinking it black is my default. I make exceptions when all that's available is shitty coffee, and I want to mask some of the bite with cream and sugar, but I go easy. And when it comes to cold brew, which is what we drink the majority of the time--it's been a hot year--I never add it, not even to mask shitty cold brew, because we just don't buy shitty cold brew anymore. If you're going to drink it black, you need the good stuff, and I've become pretty persnickety about cold brew. We continue to spend an outsized amount on groceries just because of cold brew, I'd guess: the good ones are $4-5 each, and Austin and I combined drink 2-3 a day. My favorite is Venice Cold Brew: I keep trying cheaper ones to see if I can find one I like that'll cost less, but no luck so far. I did buy a Secret Squirrel latte that was pretty good--they don't put much sugar in--but that's the closest contender.

The other thing that's really changed, either because of Whole27 or because I'm getting old, or both, is that I learned about the benefits of Pepcid AC. One Friday on the way to work, I started feeling some pretty sharp pains in my torso, higher than my stomach, and had no idea what it was. I was in enough pain that I called my doctor and went to see him that afternoon, and he said my symptoms fit with three possible scenarios, two of which were unlikely, but were pretty serious, and to know for sure, he recommended an ER visit because it was Friday afternoon and there'd be no other opportunities to get scanned until the following Monday.

I did not want to go to the ER. That's why I called my doctor. But if your doctor says go to the ER, you should go to the ER.

Seven hours later, I emerged from the ER having undergone ultrasound exams that concluded there was nothing wrong, and feeling much better after having been dosed with anti-nausea medicine and antacid medicine. They recommended taking Pepcid AC for a few days, and staying away from known sources of acid... production, I guess?... like alcohol and caffeine.

Armed with the knowledge of what had caused this pain, I did further research into what things to eat to reduce acid, and what to avoid, and on that latter list... were all the things that had taken on an outsized role in my Whole30 diet: fatty meats, spicy foods (lots of onion and garlic and hot sauce), and caffeine (having a cold brew in the morning was essential).

So, I blame Whole30 for that visit to the ER. Perhaps that's not entirely fair--I probably should have ended the program more gradually than I did--but I had never experienced pain like that before and I haven't since. I do take Pepcid AC on occasion now: we spent this past weekend wine tasting in Sonoma and Healdsburg, and I took some on day 2 after feeling uncomfortable at the end of day 1, but that was still nowhere near the level of what I'd experienced.

It's hard to say if I would have no stomach acid issues at all now if I hadn't done Whole30: that is the sort of thing that becomes more common when you get older, I hear, and given that I've also started a new job, and that job is stressful and requires a fair amount of travel, and I eat like shit when I travel, there were probably going to be consequences regardless. I wouldn't have minded learning about the benefits of Pepcid AC without a $1500 ER bill, though.

Ah well, 2018 is another year.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Whole27: Recap

So we didn't quite make it 30 days. On Thursday, we looked at the prospect of a dry Memorial Day weekend (and the Friday leading up to it) and made the decision to enjoy ourselves instead.

Enjoy ourselves we have. Nothing too crazy (well, not for me, anyway; Austin jumped back into drinking head first, with a day drinking binge with coworkers), but it was nice to go out to dinner at a restaurant (no dishes to do!) and order wine and not eat meat. Friday I went completely vegetarian (and had cheese on my salad!) and it was nice. We went to a late night grunion party at the Venice Breakwater (no, I'm not making that up) and mostly used it as an excuse to drink beers on the beach at night, which I recommend. Saturday I walked the length of Palisades Park in Santa Monica, which was a three and a half mile walk altogether, before having a shrimp cobb salad (compliant except for the blue cheese YAAAAAS I MISSED YOU BLUE CHEESE) and a glass of rose, then had more quality beach time with the same friends who'd invited us to the grunion thing. By quality beach time, I mean we just sat on the beach in the afternoon sun and drank wine out of red cups. Then we invited them back to our apartment and made dinner together: fresh pasta with bolognese sauce. And Sunday we went to a barbecue at a friend's place in Hollywood, and it turns out HE has just begun Whole30, so most of what we had there was compliant too. (Except the wine, obviously, and the cheese and crackers he put out for us.)

And now I'm sipping a cold beer as a I write this. I have no regrets about ending Whole30 early: it's been a lovely weekend.

So what happens now? Did we lose weight? Would we do this again? What about the tiger blood and the non-scale victories?

First, the tiger blood: it never really showed up. My life did not feel completely transformed by this new diet, so my takeaways from this are 1. I already felt pretty good (which is great to know!), 2. excluding whole categories of food from my diet doesn't result in major changes in how I feel, which means I'm not allergic to anything and can pretty much eat whatever I want, but need to focus on moderation in the face of that knowledge. This diet gave me a running start at that, so I don't want to waste that.

And that brings us non-scale victories and what happens now: I did feel pretty good most of the time on this. The headaches early on were no fun, but they went away, and I never felt bloated or all that physically uncomfortable. I also never really felt hungry: we were eating whatever we wanted within the bounds of compliance, and eating quite well. Aside from the large, large specter of missing beer, wine, and cheese (specifically on salad), I never felt all that deprived: there were lots of good, nay, luxurious meals that we could eat, and it was fun coming up with breakfasts and dinners that were truly delicious that were completely compliant. We will eat a lot of these meals again in the future. (Those decadent breakfasts meant I was rarely hungry at lunch, so it was easy to just order a salad and be happy with it.) So the way I want to keep eating is doing what we were doing, but add back the things I was really losing my mind about. And maybe eat more vegetarian meals. And check and see how I feel in another week or two. Am I still feeling good? Am I still losing weight? Or do I not have the discipline to be that freeform and need to fall back on something like Weight Watchers?

(One problem with this approach is that, now that we're not doing this anymore, we feel like we can make plans again, and so I have completely packed this coming week with both lunch and evening plans.)

With respect to weight loss, yes, we each lost 7 or 8 pounds. Pretty good for 27 days and all the bacon.

Would we do this again? Ehhhhh never say never, but I feel like I have the answers to the questions that drove my interest in this in the first place, so it's unlikely. Since I don't believe I have issues with these groups of foods, I don't think much of the draconian rules about compliance (like not being able to have the garlic vinaigrette at Tender Greens because they snuck a teeny bit of sugar in there for whatever reason: the amount is unlikely to cause a spike in blood sugar and I definitely don't want it because it's sweet). I understand why they have them, and I know that different people take those to different extremes, but I'm not on the extreme end and find this to be useful as guidelines alone.

Some of my favorite things that we ate:

  • camarosa strawberries: I really am obsessed, and I think the season is over now, too; I can rest knowing I took full advantage of it
  • avocado with olive oil for breakfast: this is SO gd good, thank you California living! We've actually started planning by buying avocados that are unripe and storing them in a paper bag dedicated to that purpose, so now we always have ripe avocados around
  • that potato italian sausage and spinach hash: I made it three times in three weeks because we love it that much. Every time I try to make as much as possible, hoping there will be a full meal of it left over. There never is.
  • Sous vide salmon: I didn't blog about this because we had it on Day 26, but it turns out that sous vide salmon is PHENOMENAL. We're having it again tonight.
  • Those chicken zucchini meatballs with curry sauce were pretty good
  • I love the salt and pepper chicken at Tender Greens far more than must be normal, and will continue eating quite a bit of that; the Rad Thai salad at Sweetgreen, too.
Overall, I'm glad we did this. I am also glad we ended it when we did. (: 


Monday, May 22, 2017

Whole30: Day 24

This is just a final slog at this point. When I suggested to Austin my revised Whole30 with one drink a day in order to keep from turning into a shitbasket, he was having none of it. "It's only one more week," he said. Ughhhh FIIIIIIIIINE. (See? Annoying moody teenager.)

How I felt: Mostly ok, until evening hit and I was in a shitty mood, mostly due to work, and then due to the fact that I really wanted a glass of wine and couldn't have one. And then I just wallowed, and Austin made dinner like the wonderful person he is.

Breakfast: Big bowl of strawberries, avocado with olive oil, and a hardboiled egg. And two cold brews. Ounce for ounce, I think ready made cold brew costs more than beer. That might explain why our grocery budget hasn't gone down much. (We're also buying a ton more meat: it's been the focal point of almost every single dinner. I can't think of one without it. We usually eat quite a bit more vegetarian.)

Lunch: A guacamole greens salad from Sweetgreen, with no tortilla chips and with jicama instead of onion. It was ok. I didn't love the dressing (but ordered the salad in the first place because I have a friend who orders it specifically because of the dressing). Will go back to the Rad Thai salad next time, I think.

Dinner: Probably my favorite Sunbasket meal to date: it's called Korean beef skewers with apple cabbage slaw. Skewers because you could put the ground beef that's in them on skewers, but... that would be harder to cook. We just ate them as little burger patties. The cabbage apple slaw was good, and the sauce really made it, though there wasn't enough of it. (Fortunately, we had more of its composite ingredients, so I just added a bit more of each.)

I also had some apple chips before dinner (surprisingly good: they kind of reminded me of Terra chips, actually), while I was still being a shitbasket. And then I made some crispy kale that I proceeded to eat as a snack after dinner. Loved that far more than I expected to: something about the earthiness reminded me of the finish on a really good, french oak barrel-aged cabernet or zin or pinot. Or maybe I just miss that so badly that I'll "find" it almost anywhere, though I don't think that's the case. I don't even get that with wine all that often: it's what sets apart the ones I really love.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Whole30: Day 23

Yesterday was a day for going out. Today was for cleaning up the house. (No cleaning got done yesterday.) Dishes were washed, counters and tables were cleaned, trash was taken out, errands were run. We have curtains from our last apartment that, a year and a half after we've moved back into this apartment, I've decided we should hang up in the living room, so we need a curtain rod. We've run out of salt and pepper (we've been cooking a LOT) and needed more for our mills. Might as well just get a new pepper mill, come to that: we registered for one, and never got it, so let's stop by Sur la Table and put the gift cards we DID get to good use. I need to be up there anyway to stop by the Apple Store to get my watch looked at. I'd been planning on biking up there, but now that I'm sunburned, I'm a good deal less interested in spending a lot of time outside in the sunshine, so Austin dropped me off in downtown Santa Monica and then drove to Bed Bath and Beyond to get us a curtain rod.

It's a good thing we headed up to Santa Monica early, before my Apple Store appointment, so there was a limit on how much time I could spend in Sur la Table. The salt, pepper, and pepper mill I picked up right away, but then I also needed a roasting dish. And a new garlic press: there's one there that I've had my eye on for two years. And they don't have the roasting dish I want but maybe this pretty red one will work: it's really for lasagna anyway, and this says it's a lasagna pan so perfect, right? Hmmm, and look at all these other neat things. You know what, I HAVE been wanting a new spatula that doesn't have holes in it, and this nylon option looks like a good one, because that's one more thing that'll work with our nonstick pans. And... oh shit, I'd better check out, I need to be at Apple in... now.

How I felt: Mostly ok. Woke up earlier than I wanted to (someone coughed in my face at 8 am but had the nerve to remain unconscious), but was fine for most of the day. Hit a low point around 4:30 or so and just felt really tired and down for a bit, but perked up after a walk (in the shade) at 6.

Breakfast: We were out of eggs, so I had strawberries, sliced avocado, and probably more bacon than I should have but... oh it was SO good. Perfect crispy bacon. I am always buying this Whole30 bacon, I feel like I've never been able to get it to be crispy like this before.

Lunch: Was starving, so ate the quickest thing resembling a lunch possible: tuna salad, and an actual salad with just arugula and dressing. I had a handful of olives, too, since I discovered them in the fridge when I was looking in there for ideas.

Dinner: Dinner was SUCH a treat. I remembered another great French salad that's completely fine on Whole30 (salade nicoise was the first): salade lyonnaise. If you don't know what that is, then you need to immediately figure out where you can get it or how to make it (it's not hard to make... well, not THAT hard to make)... at least if you 1. eat meat and 2. are on board with the idea of breakfast for dinner, because that's really what this is.

The last time I made this was a number of years ago: I don't think I've made it since Austin and I moved in together. And the hardest thing about it is the poached egg that goes on top. The rest is easy: you get some frisee (I picked up a head at the farmers market on Wednesday), some lardons or pancetta or just plain ol' bacon (pancetta that's both the perfect portion and already cut up in just the way I want it is available at Whole Foods), cook the lardons/pancetta/bacon, add shallots, vinegar, and mustard, and pour it all over the frisee, because that's your dressing. And then you top it with a poached egg (or two, if you're us this evening), and add the yolk to all that, and it is sooooo good.

And poaching the eggs is usually the most nerve-wracking part, but not tonight. Because, last night, my brother gave me a sous vide machine for my birthday. And what do you know, the company that makes it partnered with Serious Eats, one of the food blogs we refer to most, to develop a bunch of recipes, which are both on their website and in the app that you use to control the sous vide thingy (it's a temperature gauge and water heater and circulator, and I think 'thingy' captures that well enough), including one for poached eggs. (The entire sous vide egg post is super interesting, frankly.) Well, the guy that wrote it makes it a little more complicated: once the egg is cooked, he then ALSO drops it in simmering water (which is also what you do when you poach a raw egg, it's just more foolproof). Well, we decided we could live without the perfect poached egg exterior, so all we had to do was set up the sous vide thingy, preheat to 145, and then put the eggs in for 45 minutes. At 45 minutes, out they come, they're pretty easy to peel, and behold, we have EASY poached eggs on our salades lyonnaise.

Whole30: Day 22

Summer is here: it was such a gorgeous morning when I went to walk Ellie that I took her for a walk, came home to grab sunglasses and my credit card so I could buy cold brew across the street, and then took her down to the boardwalk to walk near the beach. (I wanted to take her out on the beach and down to the water, where she loves to run around, but there were some cops when I got to the boardwalk and I decided 9 am on a Saturday wasn't early enough for the beach to still be empty enough that no one would get upset about her being there.)

After the walk, I biked to meet a friend for brunch, just winding through the residential streets between Abbot Kinney and Lincoln, and I took a similarly wind-y route back, because it was such a beautiful day and I love looking at all the houses in that area. When I got home, I promptly left on another walk (I may or may not have been playing Pokemon Go), and headed up to the border with Santa Monica, where I noticed my phone battery was dying and so I turned around and walked back, but in the ocean, which was fantastic. I got home, charged my phone for a bit, and then went out again, heading south to Windward, out to the ocean, and back up along the water again. The beach was packed, tons of people were out, there was a concert in the park there, a contest of sorts near Muscle Beach where music was blasting and two different guys were going back and forth doing things that require incredibly impressive muscle strength and discipline on an elevated bar, and plenty of other things that I didn't happen to see. It was a busy summer Saturday, and I was so happy to be out in it.

I wish I'd worn more sunscreen, though. Whoops.

How I felt: Good, walked everywhere. Just wanted to be outside, enjoying the sunshine.

Brunch: I met a friend at Superba Food and Bread for brunch at 10. Even though 'bread' is in the name (and it is oh so good there), they had one breakfast that both of us could order: eggs, potatoes, kale, and bacon. (My friend, while not doing Whole30, has been avoiding gluten and sugar since December.) The kale wasn't great--I think I just don't like curly kale--but the eggs, bacon and potatoes were all excellent, as was the cold brew, my second of the day.

Dinner: My brother and I have birthdays three weeks apart, so my parents had us over for a birthday dinner. My mom was going to cook one of my favorites of hers--chicken and dumplings--until I informed her that we were doing Whole30, which threw a bit of a wrench in things. (Sorry Mom, I decided to do Whole30 before this dinner was planned!) But she figured out that steaks, veggies and potatoes were fine, and so that was what we had: some excellent steaks cooked on the grill, red potatoes that... I don't know how she cooked them, but they were good...and artichokes, with olive oil for dipping rather than butter. Some veggies to snack on before dinner (turns out I like raw sugarsnap peas more than I expected), and Perrier to drink. She even scoured the store for a dessert we could have so she'd have something to put a candle in! (Turns out we couldn't have the ice cream she got, but it was a very sweet thought.)

Friday, May 19, 2017

Whole30: Day 21

I am so over this. I miss cheese on salad. I miss beer. I miss wine. And I don't know if I'm going to make it. I'm doing some serious bargaining in my head: like, if the only context in which I have dairy is a handful of blue cheese crumbles on a cobb salad to make it not be a sob salad, surely that's ok. If I continue everything as-is but add in a single beer or glass of wine with dinner (and of course the cheese on the salad), surely that's ok. It's been three full weeks: if I was going to get the tiger blood thing, surely it would've shown up by now, and what is this whole exercise really for if not to see if there's a different way of consuming food and drink that improves my life? Because this, right now, is not improvement. It's almost improvement: there's a huge swath of food that I'm not eating that I don't even miss, actually. But I am fucking tired of drinking nothing but sparkling water and kombucha in the evening, and the resentment is really overshadowing the focus on the other benefits. 

I'm in bed before 10 again because I'm bored.

How I felt: FINE. 

Breakfast: Big bowl of strawberries, cold brew, and a single scrambled egg because it was our last raw egg. We have been eating a TON of eggs.

Lunch: Rad Thai salad with avocado from Sweetgreen.

Dinner: Sunbasket again: a smoky turkey chili with a side of jicama sticks tossed in lime juice and oil (I think: Austin made dinner, bless him). It was pretty good. Would eat again. Will hopefully avoid burning my tongue next time. 

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Whole30: Day 20

Two thirds of the way in. Ten more days to go. And I will be counting down every single evening. Because this diet isn't so bad in the morning, for two reasons. First, and probably most importantly, having the same thing for breakfast everyday isn't a problem. Once you settle into a routine for breakfast that works, that's your ritual. Changing things up is the exception, not the norm. And so that brings me to the second point, which is that I have an awesome breakfast that I love, and I feel like I sacrifice nothing: there are lots of good breakfast foods that I can eat, and I can have as much cold brew as I like.

Lunch is a little harder. It's not bad, and I feel fortunate to have as many options as I do, but lunch is a meal where I definitely want a little more variety than I do at breakfast. At lunch, I mostly just miss cheese, or am incredibly resentful about the fact that it turns out I can't have roasted garlic vinaigrette, of all things, because there's sugar in it. Yes, I'm still angry about this.

And then dinner. I've put quite a bit of effort into finding lots of different recipes to try so that we can have a good variety of things to eat at dinner. In fact, it's not all that hard to find meals we like that are compliant: that's something we could probably continue to do for a very long time. (Again, I would really miss cheese, and other dairy products like butter, now and again.) But no beer or wine really hurts. I suppose a treat like ice cream or some other dessert might fill that void a lot of the time, but I can't have that right now, either.

All this is combining to really bring out my whiny side, or my sarcastic side, or my "I hate everything" side: basically, I now behave like some version of an annoying teenager every evening. I don't love it. Austin isn't a big fan, either.

Ten days left.

How I felt: Great for most of the day: good energy, alert, all of it. And then I hit a wall at 5:30 and my brain just stopped operating correctly, and I became super tired. I met a friend out for dinner, came home, and got in bed. At 8:30. Might be getting sick, though I certainly hope not. And what the fuck would be up with that anyway? I stop drinking, start eating right, and getting lots of sleep, and then get sick? Just fuck everything if that's the case.

Breakfast: One hardboiled egg, a sausage patty, sliced avocado, and the biggest bowl of sliced strawberries yet. All fantastically delicious.

Lunch: I signed us up for Sunbasket because they have a paleo option, and those meals are 95% compliant--you can leave out the honey or whatever that the recipe might include if you want to--so I made a sauteed pork loin with jerk seasoning, and the kale blueberry salad that goes with it. I was pretty underwhelmed with this first recipe: I ate 100% of the salad (it's supposed to serve two people, but maybe they portioned it for two people that hate salad), and the salad is supposed to be made by tossing the bell pepper (which I also left out, as I'm not a fan of peppers; Austin'll eat it), cucumber, and blueberries with honey, lime juice, oil, finely chopped shallot... like a lot of it... and some red pepper flakes, then adding in the baby kale and some roughly chopped cilantro and tossing again. Hmmm. I tried just making a salad dressing with those components (lime juice--you can make it with lemon, why not lime?--olive oil, chopped shallot, salt and paper, and a bit of mayo as an emulsifier and to make it creamy) and then tossing everything with that. I don't think it worked. The only thing I liked about the salad was the blueberries, and we already have a fridge full of blueberries. They certainly didn't need to be mixed up with kale and lime vinaigrette.

Dinner: Met a friend at Urban Plates again, and had a steak plate with potatoes and carrots, and a glass of gingerade kombucha. I shouldn't have had the carrots, because they miiiiiight not have been 100% compliant, but IT'S BEEN 20 DAYS AND I HATE EVERYTHING HOW DARE YOU TELL ME I CAN'T ORDER SOME FUCKING CARROTS.

Whole27: Seven (Eight?) Months Later

Breakfast this morning was cinnamon rolls. In fairness, I'm sick right now with something resembling that monster flu--hopefully it...