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.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Whole30: Day 19

How I felt: Woke up with a headache, which wasn't cool, but I was fairly alert and not too tired. Strawberries are what got me out of bed again today: I had a meeting starting at 9 and the Santa Monica farmers market opens at 8:30, so I had to get up there early to make sure I could leave by 8:40 to get home in time. (Half of us were joining the meeting remotely.) And mid-morning, either staying home had made me antsy or I was more energetic than usual, so I tried going for a run. It sucked: one of my worst times for that distance (it ranked 32 out of 36), and although the first three minutes were fine, all the rest was miserable. Breathing was hard, and I was just super tired, and walked far more than I have in awhile.

I felt good the rest of the day, though. Had a late breakfast, so it was really more like brunch at that point, and it carried me all the way until dinner at almost 9, which is really something. I wasn't really all that hungry until we sat down to eat dinner, and then I scarfed everything down, despite missing soy sauce. They say you can sub in coconut aminos, but that's like saying you can substitute zoodles for spaghetti: maybe you can get by, but no one is EVER going to mistake one for the other.

Brunch: Scrambled eggs, sausage patty, sliced avocado, and bowl of what I am convinced are (were?) the best strawberries in the world.

Dinner: Beef with broccoli, and cauliflower fried "rice": tonight, I provided the inspiration, and Austin provided the dinner. He looked incredibly disappointed when I informed him that I was headed to a Women in Data happy hour meetup and that cooking dinner would be his responsibility (or that I could start at 8:30, when I got home), but he came through just fine.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Whole30: Day 18

How I felt: I've had better days. I slept badly again last night and was super tired and irritable this morning. Did ok for most of the day--took Ellie on a nice, long walk nearly to the Venice pier--but then started having headaches in the evening. I have one now. I'm not a fan.

Breakfast: My kingly breakfast of two fried eggs, sausage patty, sliced avocado and strawberries. Am almost out of strawberries.

Lunch: Tuna salad (why it's called that when all you do is add mayo, I don't know... maybe I'm not using that term correctly), and actual salad of arugula, avocado, and what was left of last night's balsamic vinaigrette. I still miss blue cheese.

From left to right: sparkling water with lime, tuna salad, actual salad.

Dinner: Pan-fried salmon, using this Serious Eats post as my cooking guide. It turned out pretty well, but didn't quite follow what they said, and I don't know if that's because I should have had the heat higher, or had it lower. On the side, we had roasted butternut squash, and sauteed zucchini with garlic, and some fresh lemon added to both the zucchini and the salmon. Delicious dinner.

This is a picture of Austin's plate, because it turned out pretty.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Whole30: Day 17

Today was a boring day. Most of what we ate was pre-planned, to some extent: my breakfast was a decadent affair consisting of strawberries, eggs, avocado, and one of the sausage patties I made yesterday. Lunch was leftover chili (Austin insists it should be spelled 'chile': something about the ingredients or the proportions or something? And I feel like I've just looked at the word too long and don't know how it should be spelled, have never known, and never will know, and have resigned myself to being judged on the off chance I chose the wrong spelling.) Dinner was also leftovers because one of the things left over was that hash which is our FAVORITE now (I should note that we've now gone through over half the bottle of Cholula that I bought a week ago), warmed up by being sauteed again, with extra spinach thrown in. Also, I was tired, and not in the mood for salmon (bought a gorgeous piece of salmon at the farmers market yesterday), or for cooking, really.

There are plenty of things I don't really miss, but the things I do, I feel sharply. I miss cheese so much. Part of dinner was a spinach salad with balsamic vinaigrette, and some crumbled blue cheese would've been amazing. That was the only thing I missed today, though: I didn't even miss beer or wine, because I was too tired for it (I didn't sleep well last night). If I were drinking, I probably would have had a beer or two out of habit, but I don't think I'd have enjoyed them as much as I now think I should in order to warrant their consumption. I do not feel that way about blue cheese crumbles. It feels silly to forgo blue cheese crumbles. Or crumbled feta. In fact, all the cheese I really miss is cheese on salad. Not parmesan crisps, or grilled cheese sandwiches, or chevre on crackers, or queso fundido, and I think the reason why is because I can't have ANY part of those dishes: I can't have the bread or butter in grilled cheese either, or the crackers the chevre would go on, or tortilla chips I'd cover in queso fundido. But I can have salads, and I find that I don't like them as much without cheese: that plays a pretty significant role. Blue cheese more than any others: I may order a cobb salad from Tender Greens again, out of desperation, but without blue cheese, it's really a very sad salad.

Cobb salad? More like sob salad!

(I've been working on that for over a week, and I know it's stupid, but I'm unreasonably proud of it anyway because IT IS TRUE.)

How I felt: Kind of drained, actually: glad it was an easy day. Slept terribly last night for some reason. Hoping to get more sleep tonight.

Breakfast: Sausage patty, two fried eggs, sliced avocado, and a big bowl of strawberries. And Venice Cold Brew. Downright luxurious.

Lunch: Our smallest container of leftover pork chile verde (leftovers were in two big containers and one little one, and after that giant breakfast, I figured the little one would be fine; Austin took back his indignation at my taking leftover chile to work when he found out there was still another big container in there for him to have tomorrow). I topped it with a squeeze of lime, some freshly torn cilantro and chopped maui sweet onion. We've gotta make tacos soon and use more of those garnishes, they're so good!

Dinner: Leftover hash from Friday, reheated in a pan with more oil. I added in the few leftover potatoes from last night, and another big handful of spinach when everything was almost done cooking. There wasn't enough hash for us to have that as our entire meal (unfortunately), so I also cooked the other two Trader Joe's chicken sausages that were left, and made a spinach salad with balsamic vinaigrette. Half a bottle of lemonade kombucha with dinner, and then some cold sauteed apples for dessert.

Let me explain about the apples.

A few days ago, maybe a week now, I really wanted a cinnamon roll for breakfast. The cinnamon and the sweetness, I couldn't stop thinking about it. And it stayed with me, so I tried sauteeing some sliced apple with ghee, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg, and some fresh squeezed orange juice (it's a cheat to add sugar, but if that's the worst I do on this diet, I'm not going to feel bad about it). I didn't have any apples that night, though: just stuck them in a food storage container in the fridge. But I took them out tonight to try and... it worked: those apples tasted like the most delicious apple cider, in solid form. And I've got lots left still--it only took a few bites to really scratch that itch--so it's handy to have that in my back pocket.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Whole30: Day 16

OVER HALFWAY YESSSSS. Only 14 days left. On Memorial Day, I can drink a ton of *ahem* reintroduce beer into my diet and see how things go. Or cheese. One of those two. I will keep it to only one of them, because I do think the whole reintroduction phase is the right idea and that was part of why I wanted to do this, but yes, I am counting down to that day.

Today wasn't all that bad as far as the anger and resentment go. I was feeling kind of irate and snacky around 4, and would have LOVED a glass of rose or a beer (and also a snack to go with them), but I settled for a bunch of pumpkin seeds and some freeze dried pineapple. And then there were things to do again: keeping busy is essential. Today it was farmers market, followed by breakfast (I made some breakfast sausage from scratch and it is GOOD: five more patties left, so I can have more over the next few days!), then giving the dog a bath, finally finishing our wedding photo album (our one year anniversary is in just over a month, oops), writing the other posts that I published today to catch up on the last few days, doing a fair amount of dishes, and then cooking dinner, which was ALSO quite good. I didn't miss cheese or bread or any of the foods we're not supposed to have, today, because what I did eat was so great, but I sure did miss a beer while I was blogging or a glass of chardonnay with the scallops we had for dinner. That would have been lovely.

How I felt: Pretty good: slept almost ten hours last night, which really surprised me (was expecting to wake up by 8, as I usually get up earlier). But no grogginess, no headaches, solid energy all day.

Brunch: Fried egg, sliced avocado with olive oil, some camarosa strawberries fresh from the farmers market (I almost didn't get any: they said these were overripe and weren't going to sell them at all, and only sold them to me because I looked so disappointed when they told me they'd sold out of that variety altogether; I got two baskets that were handpicked, plus a grudging basket of albions that'll last a few days longer; albions are fine, but the camarosas are my favorite), and some homemade breakfast sausage that I'm kind of proud of. I love the sausage patties we had the very first weekend we were doing this and haven't been able to find any breakfast sausage without sugar, so I just bought a pound of ground pork and mostly followed this recipe to make patties this morning. The tester I had for breakfast today was delicious, so I made five more patties with the rest of the pork and look forward to having them this week.

That patty may not look like much, but appearances can be deceiving.

Dinner: I realized a few days ago one really decadent-seeming item that we could totally have was scallops, so I've been wanting to find those the last couple days. Santa Monica Seafood was out of sea scallops altogether yesterday (only thing they were sold out of that I could see), but I found some at the farmers market today that were pretty affordable (well, that's all relative, I guess: we've been spending a fortune on food, anything that costs less than $25 feels affordable). We still had some broccolini from last week that would be good broiled; roasted potatoes are always a solid addition to the meal; and I picked up some arugula from Maggie's Farm that would be great with a lemon vinaigrette, and so we had seared scallops and those three things.

And here, I have to talk a little more about the searing part, because historically, that hasn't gone well for me. I've heard that you have to get the scallops as dry as possible in order to get a good crust on them, and aside from that, I had no idea what to do. So I turned to Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything, and he has a recipe for seared scallops with a lemon pan sauce. Now, this almost didn't work out: he says to heat a pan over medium high heat for 3 or 4 minutes, then add butter (ghee, for us) and olive oil, then garlic, then the scallops. Well, that's just too fucking hot. The garlic started to burn, and I learned a few weeks ago that pan sauce made in a pan with burnt stuff in it will just taste like burnt stuff, and I already did all this work to get all the other ingredients for the sauce ready, so you know what, garlic, you are OUT. I pulled the scallops out of the pan, even though they were partly done, dumped out all the garlic into a ramekin (maybe it would be salvageable), put the pan back on lowered heat, added more ghee and olive oil, and put the scallops back in to get their sear. Had to lower the heat still more, because everything was smoking, turned over the scallops, started to brown them on the other side but was worried about overcooking them if I waited to get the crust, so I decided to call it a day with good crust on just one side and took everything out. Held my breath and added the lemon juice that the recipe called for and scraped up all the brown in the pan (almost no black! it was getting there, though), waited for it to thicken up, and then added the chives, and then the scallops back, and tossed everything around to get them good and coated in what became a glaze. Thank god it wasn't awful, because I'd have ruined the scallops if it had been. I want to make this again soon, because I feel like I've almost got it. Lower heat next time, and I'll have more oil in the sauce, too: it was almost all lemon, which was a bit much.

Maybe not the best picture, but I was in a hurry: I wanted to eat it.

I will say this: I am learning quite a bit throughout this. More than I expected to. So as irate as I sometimes am, that alone is making it... almost worth it. (The child in me is saying "I could have learned this shit with wine too, you know.")


Ok guys, where is this "Tiger's Blood" thing we've been hearing about. I've read this timeline of what to expect a few times now--I guess we're still in the Days 10-11 section, where the novelty's worn off but we don't feel good enough for all the fuss to be warranted--and, while I feel good, it's not, like, an OMG kind of good. This is how I usually feel after I've slept well. But more resentful, because there are all these things I can't have, and I know that if I don't eat every four hours or so I'm going to become REALLY unpleasant, so I'd better make something at home (and nothing sounds good) before we start running errands because this diet just feels incredibly limiting at moments like that.

Yesterday was a productive day (am posting a day late): slept in a bit, made a delicious breakfast, did Responsible Things on the computer, like check our accounts and update everything in Mint (I was curious if we were spending more, less, or the same amount of money on food this month, given that we've cut out alcohol; it looks like we're actually spending a bit more, BUT I think part of the reason for that is that normally, we'd be going out more individually and spending our individual rather than joint dollars on that, but since we're total shut-ins this month, we've shifted that individual spending into the joint category). We did laundry. We ran some errands: we needed more dog food and a new harness for our dog (we've had the same harness for over three years, and she's hated it for three years), and a nice office chair for the office because I want to be able to work from home more, and be comfortable when I do it. I picked up some wine I'd ordered from the Wine House because they had a sale on a pinot that I really like. And before we set out on all of that, I realized I was starting to get hungry and wouldn't make it through the errands without turning into a world-class asshole if I didn't eat, but nothing sounded good, so I grudgingly made a second breakfast of omelet and bacon (I'm telling you, snack bacon should be a thing.)

We got back from errands and I made dinner, an InstantPot pork chili verde that was fantastic. (It had better be, for what the pork cost.) And happily, there are some leftovers for lunches during the week. And then we got dressed for a friend's birthday and headed to that, and it's probably just as well that we were late, because there was a food truck there, and we couldn't have any of what they were serving (Texas BBQ, and things like Frito Pie), and it would have sucked to watch everyone else eat while we couldn't partake.

How I felt: Resentful.

Breakfast: Hardboiled egg, sliced avocado, strawberries, and cold brew. I love this breakfast.

Second Breakfast: Omelet with sauteed fennel and spinach; two slices of bacon.

Dinner: InstantPot pork chili verde

Whole30: Day 14 -- In which we both become very whiny

I miss cheeeeeeeese. And beeeeeeeeer. This diet is bullshit it has sucked ALL FUN OUT OF OUR LIVES.

For lunch, all I wanted was the kale salad with roasted garlic vinaigrette from Tender Greens. With the salt and pepper chicken. And I got there and asked what was in the dressing and SUGAR IS IN THE DRESSING WAY TO RUIN MY DAY, TENDER GREENS. I don't even want sugar!! I want garlic! What is sugar doing in there?! I was willing to try it without the parmesan cheese (I also really love that salad for all the parmesan cheese) but no. The only dressings at Tender Greens that I can have (I quizzed the very patient person at the front about this) are the tarragon, the balsamic, and the cabernet. They had roasted potatoes and those were ALMOST off the table too because they are also made with sugar, but then I found out that the sugar in question came from apple juice and BAM loophole I'm ordering those fucking potatoes.

It's two days later and I'm STILL super peeved about this. Clearly. I should probably ease up on the cold brew: I now drink a great deal more of it because it is the only beverage I have access to that's emotionally satisfying to drink. (Beer is usually my go-to for that. Not in the morning, obviously: mornings are for coffee, because Adults Drink Coffee In the Morning, and beer is occasionally in the evening, because Adults Who Had a Rough Day At Work Drink Beer In the Evening.)

I was so ticked off about not having what I wanted for lunch that I focused on making that sausage potato spinach hash again for dinner, because that is DELICIOUS, and I picked up all the ingredients for it during a late afternoon I-will-cut-a-bitch-if-I-don't-have-a-snack-right-now run to Trader Joe's. The only sausage without sugar was some fully-cooked chicken sausage, so I got that (I found out that the sausage I'd bought for the hash the prior week had sugar in it--oops), and it wasn't as good, but the potatoes in that hash recipe are just sooooo goddamn good that they rescue the whole thing. I found a recipe on the NY Times cooking site for eggs poached in marinara sauce that's supposed to be served over a piece of bread, and I'm sure that's lovely, but I'll bet it'd be pretty good over crispy potatoes, too.

How I felt: Angry.

Breakfast: Hardboiled egg, sliced avocado with olive oil and seasalt, sliced strawberries. And cold brew, obvs.

Lunch: Tender Greens: salt and pepper chicken, roasted potatoes, and salad greens with balsamic vinaigrette.

Dinner: Potato spinach sausage hash again (pictured below prior to serving, this time): would have been better than the last time but the sausage wasn't as good. Used Trader Joe's chicken sausage: four Italian sausages and two garlic and herb sausages that just kind of tasted like hot dog, honestly. And lemonade kombucha to drink.

Whole30: Day 13

How I felt: Slept badly on Wednesday night, for whatever reason; have been really anxious about work, so that's probably it. Pretty grouchy all day. Austin even more so, apparently: he ordered a chicken caesar salad for lunch without looking at what was in caesar dressing (lots of dairy, which we can't have), and resorted to just eating dry lettuce and chicken for lunch. I'd be pissed too.

Breakfast: Scrambled eggs, strawberries, and cold brew

Lunch: Rad Thai salad from Sweetgreen, with avocado added

Dinner: A Jamie Oliver recipe for meatballs and tomato sauce over fresh papardelle, but instead of fresh papardelle, we had "zoodles" (spiralized zucchini noodles). I love that Jamie Oliver recipe--that sauce is lovely--and overall it came out ok. I cooked the zucchini in the tallow left over from the meatballs and I don't think I'll do that again. Also, this is better with parmesan cheese.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Whole30: Day 12

Strawberries are what got me out of bed this morning.

I woke up when my alarm went off, and not a moment before, so yay for getting the maximum amount of sleep. (Well, I went to sleep too late last night, but seven and a half hours isn't bad.) I wasn't groggy, so it wasn't that hard to get up. And I psyched myself up to do it because, if I got up right then, there would be time to go to the Santa Monica farmers market real quick and get more strawberries. And then, not only would I have enough strawberries for the rest of the week (otherwise today would have been the last day), but I could have the freshest possible strawberries for breakfast this morning.

Worth getting up for.

I got up. I showered. I drove up to Santa Monica for strawberries. Is this reasonable? Maybe not. But I can't have wine right now, guys. I need SOMEthing that feels indulgent.

Since I was at the farmers market, I also stopped by a couple of meat stalls: there's a guy selling bison there, and as I waited for him to finish up with another customer, I learned that this was one of the last times he'd be there selling bison: sounds like the family he'd been sourcing it from had sold their ranch, and were getting out of the business. So I stocked up on a few bison steaks. And as I wandered by another stall, their sausage selection caught my eye. It turned out I couldn't buy any (the breakfast sausage I wanted had sugar in it), but I DID need a few pounds of pork shoulder for another pot of that chili verde, this time with pork instead of chicken. I should have asked about the price first, though: that hunk of pork cost $50. Eesh.

How I felt: Physically, fine. That muscle in my back is still sore so now I'm carrying bags on my other shoulder, which feels weird. I was feeling fine all day--solid energy level--until this evening after dinner, and now I'm quite tired and ready to go to sleep. (It's a little past 9.) Mentally, stressed and a little upset. Having to give myself pep talks. Time suddenly seemed to slow waaaay down today, and that's not a good thing. All of that is largely independent of this dietary exercise, but I do have to wonder if how I experience these things is better or worse given that I also have this going on. Am I more likely to be grouchy about certain things? Perhaps. I believe that, generally, everyone has a finite amount of "I can handle this, no problem" to deal with the obstacles that inevitably come up while they get through the day. Some people have more than others--I myself don't have a ton of it, though I certainly have more than I used to--but I'm using up some of it on the anxiety that comes with wanting to strictly adhere to this, and I don't always have enough left for the other stuff that might come up.

Breakfast: A bowl of fresh strawberries that was divine. Two scrambled eggs that were gone way too fast. The last of the cold brew.

Oh fuck, I was going to make more cold brew tonight cuz we're out. Well, it's not happening now. Glad we have a coffee cart just across the intersection with good iced coffee that we can always go to as a backup.

Lunch: Team outing, and I was nervous about it: demanded to know the name of the restaurant ahead of time so I could check the menu and see if there was something I could eat there. Turns out there were a few options, and once there, the waiter was super helpful. I ordered seabass covered in a spicy smoky salsa, with sauteed spinach on the side. I couldn't eat the rice that also came with it so the waiter offered another veggie substitute instead, so I also had some sauteed mushrooms. That seabass was excellent. And probably also the most expensive order at the entire table. This is an expensive diet.

Dinner: Leftover curry meatballs, with roasted broccolini and sweet potato. It was tasty, but I was still hungry at the end--maybe because I didn't have to do any work for the food? Austin just made everything appear--so I had a bunch of pumpkin seeds, the rest of the freeze dried pineapple, and a bottle of cranberry kombucha.

Tuesday, May 09, 2017

Whole30: Day 11

All I wanted was to get home and have a glass of wine today. I comforted myself by recalling the fact that I can post to my blog, and that's also pretty self-indulgent, so that'll have to do. And then I actually got home and had to cook dinner and clean lots of dishes and clean up the kitchen twice, first before I started cooking and then again after, and watch the latest SNL and then wash my face and walk the dog and write about yesterday and whoops it's a bit late now, guess there wouldn't have been time for that glass of wine after all.

How I felt: Resentful, because I woke up ahead of my alarm going off: almost an hour early, actually, what the hell is that?! And my back is sore, perhaps from all that kitchen chair time yesterday, and the muscles in my left foot keep tensing too. It occurred to me this morning that I now have an extraordinarily low amount of physical activity on a daily basis: I used to have a half hour guaranteed every day just from biking to work, and I often walked around a fair amount on top of that, but that's not the case with my new job. I charged my Apple Watch today so I can start wearing it again and see just how bad things are, now, and start doing something about it.

Breakfast: Hardboiled egg, sliced avocado with olive and salt, and those gorgeous strawberries. I think this breakfast is my favorite out of all the Whole30 breakfasts, because done right, it's amazing, and it's the easiest one to do right because the extent of the preparation is slicing.

Lunch: A sad cobb salad from Tender Greens. Sad because there was no blue cheese, and it turns out blue cheese is pretty key to my enjoyment of cobb salads.

Dinner: Was going to be last night's curry meatball leftovers but Austin is at a Flaming Lips show and demanded that I not eat those leftovers without him, so that'll be tomorrow night's dinner. Tonight, I roasted an extra chicken leg that went unused when we made chicken chile verde the other night, and covered it with a harissa spice mix that I spied at Whole Foods on Saturday and yes, I think I'll be doing that again in the future. And since I was roasting stuff, and wanted something comforting, I cut up our last russet potato and made rosemary garlic oven fries, and my veggie was a mixed green salad (Maggie's Farm stellar mix) with balsamic vinaigrette. Good dinner overall, but the oven fries were my favorite. Those plus the lemonade kombucha I had felt like snacking on french fries and soda, but much better versions of each.

Whole30: Day 10

Posting a day late: spent all day working at home, interspersed with doing ALL the dishes and making our kitchen look habitable again. I got up and took a shower and put on makeup and looked all nice and then... it was noon and I was still at home, and decided it didn't make sense to add an hour and a half of driving to my day just to go to the office and stare at my computer the same as I was doing at my kitchen table. Sitting on the kitchen chair all day may not have been a good call, though: I have a sore muscle in my back today. Oh my god I'm old this is bullshit.

How I felt: Alright, I guess. It was hard to get up though: hit snooze for over an hour. And I was super grouchy for most of the day. And dying for a cinnamon roll in the morning for some reason, which was really mean of my brain.

Breakfast: Big bowl of those amazing Camarosa strawberries and a spinach and onion omelette that I tried to pack as much spinach into as possible. I took a picture of the cross section just to show that: this not far off from being a spinach pancake with a bit of fluffy egg.

Lunch: Since I was at home, I raided the fridge and cooked a bit of chicken breast that went unused when we made curry a couple nights ago, using a recipe that I'm pretty sure I made up way back when: brush the chicken with dijon mustard and sprinkle with salt, pepper and dried thyme, then cook in olive oil (and preferably butter as well, though not today) and drizzle in some lemon juice to get that nice lemon flavor and to caramelize a bit. Sometimes that part works and sometimes it doesn't--yesterday, it didn't--but the chicken is still pretty good, and I scraped all the remaining thyme bits along with lemon juice and olive oil into the salad dressing I was using, the last leftover bit from salmon a week ago, which was just olive oil, lemon juice, chopped shallot, mustard, and a bit of mayo (it was kept refrigerated... mostly), all tossed with some arugula and sliced fennel. The whole meal was inspired by this recipe from the Smitten Kitchen cookbook, and while I very much missed that fried chicken, it was a tasty lunch, overall.

Snack: My grouchy self could not make it until dinner: I tore into the roasted pumpkin seeds (I really love those, but need to be careful not to eat too much when snacking on them because they're super dense: 100 calories a handful, basically) and then into some dried apple slices and THEN into what I now consider to be a marvel of the modern world, freeze dried pineapple. It's sweet, it's crunchy, it's 120 calories for an entire bag. (I did not actually eat the entire bag, only because I knew then there wouldn't be any more unless I went all the way to Whole Foods.) It's amazing.

Dinner: Our second curry: this time, inspired by the latest Buzzfeed Whole30 listicle, we tried this recipe for coconut curry meatballs (red curry this time, and a sauce rather than what became a soup), but subbed in this recipe for chicken zucchini poppers (...which is just meatballs), though using turkey instead of chicken, and served them over cauliflower "rice", which we initially viewed with some skepticism, but the Buzzfeed person seemed kind of into it, and it would be a good vehicle for capturing all that curry sauce, and the food processor is already out anyway, so what the hey.

It was really good. Austin is out tonight, and made me promise I wouldn't eat the leftovers without him. He's also a bit put out that we've never made curry before this.

Sunday, May 07, 2017

Whole30: Day 9

We're becoming real shut-ins during this. Don't get me wrong, we could use the downtime, but it's notable that the only real plans we have are birthday invitations that we don't feel we can reasonably skip. I had dinner with a friend last week, but that was scheduled four weeks in advance, and nothing else is on the horizon until June, aside from the aforementioned birthday events. Drinking is usually a big part of these, and is a reason to go out, particularly when it comes to more spontaneous outings, but since we can't right now, I don't want to make plans because it'll just be tempting fate. I really like beer and wine and getting a little tipsy and having a good conversation, and I'm not saying that can't happen without it, but it sure helps. And beer and wine are delicious (though not combined), and incredibly satisfying to drink, the way hot coffee is on a chilly morning. Sure, you could have hot cocoa instead, but is THAT what you really got up for? Won't that just make you want to go right back to bed?

I missed alcohol twice today. The first time was at a friend's birthday party this afternoon: everyone's sitting around playing What Do You Meme? (which is fantastic, by the way: highly recommend if you've played Cards Against Humanity one too many times) sipping on beverages of choice, and we had glasses of water. The hostess has many things on offer--beers in the cooler! red wine! Prosecco! iced tea! Barq's root beer!--and we can have none of it. Later, everyone moved outside because it stopped raining and the whole thing was supposed to be a barbecue anyway, and we also couldn't eat any of that (I guess a naked burger patty would've been fine, but come on), so we just stood there awkwardly, holding our glasses of water, while everyone else asked for cheese on their burger and for their hot dog buns to be grilled and rummaged through the cooler for another beer. It would've been 50% less awkward if we'd been able to decline food but sit there sipping a Coors Light: that's my story and I'm sticking to it.

The second time was while watching Brooklyn Nine-Nine and Silicon Valley. Those shows just pair well with a beer, in my opinion. Austin makes fun of me because I won't eat the food in front of me at a restaurant if my drink is empty, and it's because I want the food and the beverage together: that's the whole point! The whole is more than the sum of its parts! I believe that Silicon Valley is better with a beer, and a beer is better with Silicon Valley. Frankly, it's fortunate that a lot of the foods I usually have with beer or wine just aren't allowed on Whole30: it makes it easier to do without, if you don't have a regular reminder in the form of one or the other.

How I felt: Good! Slept for 10 hours last night, though not all that well: I felt like I was swaddled because I had a dog sleeping on either side of me, holding the covers down. No headaches at all today, though, and good energy all day.

Brunch: It was beautiful; picture below. I was dying for Camarosa strawberries from Gloria's so I went to the farmers market first thing (that is, after I got up; I went at 11) and bought many dollars' worth of food as well as some flowers, some for us and some for the birthday girl (ranunculus and freesia are both in season and lovely). I went home and cut up a big bowl of strawberries, and Austin made us bacon, fried eggs, and leftover hash.

Dinner: Chicken chile verde: the recipe is a slightly modified version of this InstantPot recipe from Serious Eats. Modifications are: no poblano peppers (I don't like peppers much), so I upped the tomatillos to a full pound and only put in 2 1/3 lbs of chicken. I also threw in some chipotle powder and used some of the smoked sea salt and ancho chile sea salt I got at Whole Foods yesterday. It requires special equipment (an immersion blender is called for as well), but the outcome was delicious. Beforehand, we had some snacks because I, at least, wasn't going to make it to dinner without SOMEthing. Fortunately, we now have many snacks on hand: coconut chips from Trader Joe's (meh), roasted pumpkin seeds (my favorite), and apple chips (a wonder of food science), among others that I will not mention because I didn't have them.

It was all delicious, but those strawberries were the best by far.

Whole30: Day 8

Posting a day late again, which I think is fine: means I had a nice evening the night before that went until late. Yesterday, that time was spent not going to an art show (whiny So Cal voice: it was coooooooold) and instead staying in and making Thai green curry chicken for dinner. I’ve been wanting to make Thai green curry since I went to Thailand three years ago and took a cooking class where we made it from scratch (ok, I have no desire to recreate THAT part: that shit is hard). When I got back, I immediately went to Surfas and bought green curry paste and… put it in my pantry, to languish there for three years. 

It languishes still: turns out there’s sugar in it. 

I still want to use it, because the ingredient list is what we made in Thailand, but I had to find a sugar-free version, and that, at least, I was able to do. So last night, we had coconut green curry chicken with bok choy and snowpeas, and tonight is going to be a Serious Eats InstantPot chicken chile verde recipe, so that’s three nights in a row with new recipes, two of them involving green chicken.

Also, last night we were watching a dog through Rover. I will say this for Rover: the only dog owners that have ever contacted me have the CUTEST DOGS. They're little and adorable and I've loved the two that have stayed with us. Last night's dog was named Maisie, a sweet mop of a dog that was just a little larger than our dog Ellie. 

Maisie and Ellie with their respective toys, looking at the camera
in a rare moment of photogeneity (I don't think that's a word, but it should be)

Overall, the day was a pretty lazy one. I had a follow-up facial in the morning (I mentioned previously that my skin was kind of broken out, and I attribute this to the facial I had on Day 1; when I told the aesthetician what happened, she urged me to come back so she could fix it, hence the follow-up; no, I didn't have to pay for it). On the way home I picked up some nitro cold brew from Bodega in Santa Monica--yes THAT Bodega, the wine bar; they have a coffee shop during the day, now--and once home, cooked all the bacon we had left, some for right then and some to crumble into salads later. And then I sat at the kitchen table reading the internet until I realized I was so hungry that MUST EAT NOW. Breakfast was a hurried affair because I had to get out the door, so I didn't eat much then and snack bacon only goes so far, so around 2:30 I made egg salad just to have a snack to tide me over while I made an actual lunch. And then, once I'd eaten, I just started looking at recipes for dinner and making a list for Whole Foods. (I spent a TON of money at Whole Foods again. $50 or so was just for expensive condiments: fancy olive oil, champagne vinegar, sherry vinegar, smoked sea salt... in fairness, I DO make a lot of salad dressing, and WILL use all of those--champagne vinegar was on the list because I just finished the last bottle!--but I might've gone a bit overboard.)

How I felt: Good--no headaches!--except for becoming mentally murderous at 2:30 because I hadn't eaten enough.

Breakfast: A rushed hardboiled egg, then blueberries and cold brew in the car on the way to my appointment at 9:30. A couple pieces of snack bacon (that's a thing, right?) and nitro cold brew when I got back a little after 11.

Lunch: Appetizer: hardboiled egg mashed with mayonnaise because I LOVE egg salad and we have all these hardboiled eggs on hand these days, and also I was going to lose my shit if I didn't eat something right then and there. Once I'd taken the edge off, I made a big salad with spinach, arugula, half an avocado, a piece of crumbled bacon, chopped kalamata olives, another hardboiled egg, tomato, and a vinaigrette of white wine vinegar, olive oil, minced shallot, mustard and mayonnaise. (And I learned that champagne vinegar DOES taste different than regular ol' Red Star White Wine Vinegar, hence going overboard at Whole Foods a couple hours later.)

Dinner: An adapted Kitchn recipe for Thai green curry chicken that was only ok: it could be I didn't love it because of the changes I made, or because of the green curry paste itself, or because it's just an ok recipe. It had decent bones, but I want to go read more recipes in this vein and try again, because I have these memories of green curry from Thailand that just... it has to be possible to recreate a semblance of that. This didn't do it. Recipe below so I remember, but be advised that I have no intention of following it ever again.

Oh, we also had some roasted sweet potato to add more diversity to the menu. It was delicious.

Sweet potato, left; curry, right; sparkling water, top;
not pictured, The Other Guys on the teevee

Coconut Thai green curry chicken

1 1/2 lbs of boneless skinless chicken, half breasts and half thighs, sliced into bite size-ish pieces
1 can of coconut milk, unshaken
green curry paste
cooking oil (we have sunflower or safflower oil now, because it's Whole30-compliant)
fresh ginger, minced
a cup and a half of snowpeas, de-stringed and roughly chopped
2 heads of baby bok choy, roughly chopped and then washed (way easier in that order)
some Penzeys Now Curry Powder
8 oz chicken stock (maybe this is what messed it up?) because it didn't look like we had enough liquid for the chicken AND the veggies
chopped fresh cilantro and green onion for garnish

1. Heat cooking oil in Dutch oven over medium high heat (note: I think this is too high, but I've never done this before what do I know) and then add curry paste and cook until you see that it seems to be burning on the bottom of the pot and isn't really cooking the way you'd expect so hurriedly add the solids from the coconut milk to bring things under control. Add the minced ginger then, too, because you just realized that this recipe didn't actually call for that, it must've been a different one, but hey you already have it what could it hurt, now is probably a good time for it.

2. Add chicken and stir to combine, then add the water from the can of coconut milk. Then add a bunch of the Penzeys curry powder, because it looks like you should've used all of that 4 oz jar of green curry paste but you didn't and I guess you have to saute it? but it's too late for that now so let's go with more different curry. 

3. Lower heat so the mixture is simmering and start prepping your vegetables. Start by de-stringing the snowpeas and then stop part way through because it's taking forever and this is dumb because they require less cook time, so start tearing and chopping and washing the bok choy so that's ready, then go back to the snowpeas. Dump in the chicken stock at some point, now that you've seen that the available liquid will probably not be enough for all the veggies you're currently prepping. Definitely do NOT use the coconut cream sitting there on the counter that you purchased for coffee but it turns out you probably won't be able to consume it all that way. After 15 minutes or so, when the chicken is looking almost done, add the bok choy and stir in so it starts to soften.

4. Realize that there's TOO much liquid in there now and wish it'd reduce, but then everything will be way overcooked. Try anyway, and overcook the chicken and the bok choy; add the snow peas just a couple minutes before serving so at least those are fine. Taste the broth and add coconut aminos to taste. Ladle into bowls and top with cilantro and green onion; serve.

Saturday, May 06, 2017

Whole30: Day 7

Posting a day late because we went to see Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 last night (I highly recommend it, very entertaining and I will add it to the roster of movies I watch over and over again). Normally, we show up and stand in line to buy popcorn for Austin, water for me (I LOVE WATER), and drinks for both of us (I alternate sipping water and sipping my drink and yet somehow still finish my drink at the same time Austin does): usually "movie pours" of red wine, which is my favorite drink size descriptor.

But not this time. This time, there would be no popcorn. No drinks. I could still order water but come on: why pay $5 for a bottle of Italian water (not even sparkling!) when we're preparing to go without and packing up all these substitutes? So we each grabbed a bottle of Cosmic Cranberry Kombucha (alliteration is awesome!), I filled a water thingy with water, and then as a popcorn substitute we threw in what was left of a bag of roasted pumpkin seeds and, because there didn't seem to be that much in there, we brought the bag of shelled and salted sunflower seeds as well. This all went into a tote bag that then went into my purse, and that is how we became Those People.

I will no longer judge Those People: they are now My People.

Side effect of drinking all that water and kombucha: had to pee SO BAD by the end of the movie. Both of us. We couldn't even wait until the end of the credits (they showed stuff during the credits). Give me the dehydrating power of beer and wine next time.

So now we're a full week in, and some days have been ok and some less so (which is not different from how life would be if we weren't doing this, I'd just have different crutches to deal with it). Yesterday was, apparently, the day I reached the Kill All The Things stage (detailed here at day 4). I was grouchy about everything, unmotivated at work, and every little thing just felt like the end of the world. It didn't help that it was overcast all day (I'm glad of the cool weather, but I don't like the gray), and it was Cinco de Mayo so work brought in a bunch of food for lunch, most of which I could not eat, and there was beer and margaritas, none of which I could have, and so I ate beef topped with salsa and guacamole at my desk like the antisocial little data person that I can pretend to be when I want. (No one in our department made a showing; my teammate commented on this and I said we were just behaving on brand.) Normally I'd be out there drinking with everyone, but that was not the day.

I drank a TON of sparkling water to compensate. I am getting really into that shit.

Me and my bad mood went looking for blog posts from other Whole30 people kvetching the way I wanted to, and I was rewarded with this blog post and related diary entries, which I have very much been enjoying. She really inspired me on the food front: coconut cream in coffee, eh? That sounds delicious. Sausage apple and sweet potato hash for dinner? Dried fruit from Trader Joe's? I work a block from a Trader Joe's, I think I might just head on over there... And that's what I did, and picked up a bunch of ingredients, headed home, cooked dinner, and while I was in a shitty mood through all of this, it evaporated when we ate because holy hell that was GOOD.

Necessity is the mother of invention: we can eat from a finite set of ingredients, which means I need to learn new ways of cooking and combining them, and this hash thing sounded promising. I found this post from Serious Eats about what makes a good potato hash, which recommends using russet potatoes (we had some on hand), parboiling them in water and vinegar for a few minutes and then frying in a skillet to get them crispy. I read the recipe and it didn't seem like it would take all that long--we had a movie to get to--so I diced a couple potatoes, threw them in a pot with water, salt and vinegar and turned on the heat, then set about cooking the italian sausage I'd picked up at Trader Joe's while the potatoes cooked. The sausages didn't render much fat, so after I took them out to slice, I threw in some bacon fat we've been saving in the fridge, melted that, and then threw in the potatoes and added salt and pepper. That ended up not being enough fat, so I added a couple glugs of olive oil later on (I think I'll just use that next time: I didn't feel like the bacon fat really improved things), when the potatoes were starting to get a little crispy, after 10 minutes or so, I added some chopped fresh sage and rosemary. (Sage is ALSO something I'm starting to really appreciate: never knew what to use it for before, but have found multiple uses in the last couple weeks.) Then threw in the sliced sausage to finish cooking it. Unexpected benefit: the sausage got nice and crispy, too. Then, when everything looked like it was almost done, I threw in as much spinach as would fit and wilted it, more because I felt guilty about not having any other vegetables than because I thought it would really improve things. Well, it really improved things: the resulting dish was fan-friggin-TASTIC and something I never even knew how to make until today. After a single bite, Austin said "we have to do this again." We topped it with Tapatio, scarfed it down, and headed out to the movie theater.

Great ending to the day.

How I felt: Garbage mood, but physically, fine. Soreness in my neck is gone, and I had a tiny headache when I got to work, but that disappeared. Wasn't tired at all, like Austin said he was.

Breakfast: two scrambled eggs (I tried to do the Kitchn super slow scrambled eggs on the lowest possible heat, but it didn't work too well: either the heat wasn't low enough, or more stirring is needed; not my favorite batch of eggs), one and a half pieces of bacon, and sliced tomato with olive oil and salt, plus cold brew, and then a bunch of blueberries and more cold brew in the car on the way to work

Lunch: a few bits of chicken that fell out of tacos and fajita beef that I fished out of the veggies (I hate peppers and don't love onions unless they're cooked more), topped with salsa and guacamole and a dash of hot sauce; lots of sparkling water

Dinner: sausage and potato hash; recipe below so I can remember it (the whole thing was improvised)

We were so hungry that I'd already dished up most of it
by the time it occurred to me to take a picture.

2 russet potatoes, diced (1/2 or 3/4 inch dice)
2 tbsp distilled white vinegar
2 tbsp kosher salt
Sweet Italian sausage, though I'm sure any type of sausage you like will work here
olive oil
bacon fat (optional)
chopped fresh rosemary
chopped fresh sage
fresh spinach (baby spinach is fine, but grown up spinach, washed and chopped, will work too)

1. Scrub potatoes, dice, and throw in a pot or pan (I used a big wide pan with straight sides that I usually make bechamel in: maybe will use a pot next time); cover with water, and then a little bit; add salt and vinegar and bring to a boil. Once it reaches a boil, turn down the heat to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes, or until potatoes are just tender. Drain and rinse in a colander, and let drain for at least 2 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, heat a big cast iron skillet (a regular skillet is probably fine, too) over medium high heat and cook the sausage on all sides; it doesn't matter if it gets fully cooked through or not, but it needs to be cooked enough to easily slice. Remove to a cutting board and slice in half inch increments.

3. Add olive oil or bacon fat if using (or maybe any cooking oil is fine here?); when shimmering, add the potatoes in a single layer (if possible); add salt and pepper. Turn things over with a spatula every few minutes: the idea here is to get the outside of the potatoes brown and crispy. Serious Eats says this whole process takes about 20 minutes, but things were looking ok and we were in a bit of a rush, so after 8-10 minutes, I added the chopped sage and rosemary (only had a tsp of each; would recommend a whole tbsp of the sage, maybe 2 tsp rosemary) and stirred that in. A few minutes later, I added the sliced sausage and made sure to get the flat side down to cook it (ideally, it gets nice and crispy like the potatoes).

4. When the sausage and potatoes are looking just about done, add the spinach, in batches if need be. Stir it in and get it nice and wilted. Turn off the heat and keep stirring for at least another 30 seconds to make sure all the flavors are combined; add more salt and pepper to taste
. Dish it up in a bowl and top with Tapatio or a fried egg or both.

Thursday, May 04, 2017

Whole30: Day 6

It suddenly strikes me that these blog entries are a great way to mark the time for this. It feels like this has been going on forever already, SURELY I deserve a beer or something, but then I go to write this and, no, it's only been six days. And also, on the other hand, way to go, six DAYS! I've eaten out; I've conceived and cooked a delicious meal for my aunt and uncle, who are not on this diet, who never would have known about it had I not told them; I've been prepared for meals and had enough options on hand that I wasn't scrambling for something. It's been a good six days. Let's do it four more times.

How I felt: Better this morning: it was much easier to get up. I actually woke up ahead of my alarm, which almost always puts me in a grouchy mood because I feel like I missed out on ten minutes of sleep, and today was no different. At least I was out of bed earlier than the past few days, though. Small headache in the morning again, but it didn't stick, and no others today that I recall. Sore neck is getting better, though there's still a trace of it. Skin all broken out though, getting worse each day, and I'm pretty peeved about that. I'm sure it'll get better, though.

Breakfast: Hardboiled egg and the last of the strawberries (those are SUCH good strawberries: we got a three-pack at the farmers market on Sunday and I've had a bowl every day since then). Venice Cold Brew vs our homemade stuff is a tough call, actually: they're a bit different, the VCB seems a bit stronger and to be made with beans that were slightly more roasted. Ours is made with a light roast and is a nice, easy drinker, almost reminiscent of iced tea (to me, who never drinks iced tea and doesn't see the point, so I'm probably not a great judge).

Lunch: Sweetgreen to the rescue: tried the Rad Thai and I have to say, it was quite good. Am looking forward to many more salads there in the coming weeks.

Dinner: Sauteed asparagus; spinach salad with sunflower seeds and balsamic vinaigrette (I wanted to have dried cranberries in there too but couldn't find any without sugar); roasted potatoes; and baked bone-in chicken thighs with a mix of thyme, garlic, and lemon peel rubbed on under the skin. Everything was delicious, but the potatoes were the real standout, and my aunt asked me how to make them. The side on the pan got super crispy, almost caramelized, and they're probably one of the better batches I've ever made (and I've been making these for almost ten years). I need to find out what type of baking sheet she had, maybe that's part of why.

Wednesday, May 03, 2017

Whole30: Day 5

Today, I ventured out into the world of Whole30 Food That Is Not From My Kitchen. I work across the street from a Tender Greens, and as the menu there seemed pretty promising, I just had to figure out which salads had dressings that were sugar-free, wine-free, dairy-free and soy-free (so far, I think I can have... the tarragon dressing and that's it? I need to quiz the lady at the front again and take notes: I can't look at actual ingredients, just ask "does this dressing have this ingredient" for, like, all the dressings). And then dinner was at Urban Plates, a recommendation from friends that did Whole30 a month or two ago, and a great recommendation it is. Pricey, as is Tender Greens, but good quality. Will absolutely go there again. If it's convenient. (It's not likely to be convenient.)

Really wanted something a bit sweeter today and got lucky: one of the sparkling water flavors is mixed berry, and it was perfect. Bought a four-pack of them at Whole Foods this evening so I could have them at home, too.

How I felt: Ok. Better than yesterday, I guess. Headache in the morning, but was fine in the afternoon. Lymph nodes on the right side of my neck still swollen and achy. Busy day today, so perhaps I simply benefited from having lots to think about that was not food or my physical self. More days like this, please.

Breakfast: A bowl of strawberries and a hardboiled egg. Was still a bit full from such a big dinner the night before, to be honest. And a bottle of Venice Cold Brew (I really like that stuff: side-by-side taste test with our homemade brew using Groundwork Angel City beans tomorrow morning.) Then met a former coworker for coffee at 11:30 and had a cup of nitro cold brew, no ice, and was just flying until lunch at 1.

Lunch: Tender Greens: salt and pepper chicken on the butter lettuce simple salad.

Dinner: Urban Plates: steak, roasted rosemary garlic potatoes, and brussels sprouts with bacon (ostensibly: I never saw any) and one or two other ingredients that were compliant. They had kombucha on tap but I wasn't sure if there was added sugar or not so just had water with dinner, and the friend I met there, usually a drinking buddy, just had water too. Such a good friend, much more thoughtful than I am!

Tuesday, May 02, 2017

Whole30: Day 4

I'm starting to miss dairy; on the drive to work, I thought about how much I'd love a salad with blue cheese. Mmmmm blue cheese... My favorite salad is spring greens, kidney beans, hardboiled egg, croutons, and plenty of blue cheese, all doused in balsamic vinaigrette. I thought, hey Adra, blue cheese is so strong, it'd only be a teeny bit, that's ok, right? And then I thought of the regret, and how not worth it that would be. You have to make changes to see changes, and that was the whole idea behind this, to see a change. I'll be right back where I started if I go and have some blue cheese (or whatever else), and blue cheese isn't nearly as important to me as all that.

Am out of pre-made lunches, so tomorrow I'm hitting up Tender Greens or Sweetgreen near the office: time to research options at each.

How I felt: Hard to get up again this morning, and the lymph nodes just on the right side of my neck are swollen and sore, which is no fun; been like that since last night and all day today. Headache again in the afternoon, so I caved and took some Advil, which helped that. Going to bed now-ish to get extra sleep and hopefully help fend off whatever's doing this to the lymph nodes.

Breakfast: Half an avocado with olive oil and sea salt, a hard boiled egg, a big bowl of strawberries, and what turned out to be the other half of the batch of homemade cold brew; made another pitcher of it this morning for tomorrow.

Lunch: Another salade nicoise. The tuna was pungent so I wolfed it down in the kitchen instead of at my desk, to spare my neighbors. Later in the afternoon, had a banana (free bananas at work, too!), and a serving of pumpkin seeds around 5.

Dinner: Decadent, and we ate too much. Austin bought a one pound steak at the farmers market on Sunday, so we had that (ALL OF IT, when we should've only had half. So good, though.) along with roasted potatoes, caramelized leeks, and an arugula and avocado salad tossed in a lemon garlic vinaigrette. It felt a little unfortunate to be eating such a good steak without an excellent red wine to accompany it, but there'll be other steaks. We've been eating like kings for years, part of doing this is learning to maybe NOT do that all the time (all meals so far notwithstanding: we have been eating very, very well.)

Breakfast was beautiful.

Monday, May 01, 2017

Whole30: Day 3

I find I'm developing a taste for sparkling water, which I never liked much previously. I dislike it greatly as a replacement for water (I really love plain ol' water), but it's fine as a replacement for a Diet Coke or as a beverage simply to mix things up so I'm not ONLY drinking water. Much as I love it, a little variety is essential. There's free sparkling water in the fridge at work, which is nice, so I alternate sipping on that--Crystal Geyser lemon or something--and my thermos of water.

How I felt: Woke up super groggy, which isn't common: tired, yes, but groggy, no. Felt better after breakfast and fine all day, though a mild headache in the afternoon and again after dinner. Super tired and ready to go to sleep now at 10:30.

Breakfast: same thing as yesterday: that amazing breakfast sausage patty, some sliced avocado drizzled with olive oil and a dash of salt, and a fried egg that turned out much better today (heat was too high yesterday), along with two big cups of the homemade cold brew, which is pretty solid, and costs a fraction of what the pre-made stuff does.

Lunch: Made myself a couple salade nicoises on Sunday because they strike me as being able to travel fairly well, and I'm glad to say that was the case (though I hope the conference room I scarfed it down in doesn't have the lingering smell of egg and/or tuna). Cooked the potato and green beans ahead of time and tossed them with some dressing and mixed in half a can of tuna; at lunch today, added a couple handfuls of spinach, the egg, and more dressing, and it worked out pretty well. Looking forward to having the same tomorrow.

Dinner: Austin made us roasted eggplant, broiled broccolini and sauteed salmon. And it was good. Had the rest of the GT mojito kombucha after dinner as a digestif.

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...