Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Clean 14 (aka Whole 30) Week 1

Last Tuesday, September 6, 2016, was the day that I gave up all the good things in life for two weeks.  It's been a week so far without sugar (real or fake, including Stevia), grains, dairy, legumes (including soybeans, so no soy milk), carrageenan, MSG, or alcohol.

Last week, my gym started a diet called Clean 14.  Basically, the baby, two week version of Whole 30.  It's fairly similar to the Paleo Diet, but different.  No alcohol, no butter, no dairy whatsoever. But you can have salt! They also don't want you to recreate junk food, drink smoothies, or do anything to pacify your old cravings.  It's basically a way to break your eating habits and change your relationships with food. 

In short, I hated it. At first. But sometimes the things we hate the most are what we need. 

Today makes a week. Aaron is doing this with me, awesome husband that he is. He doesn't really have a reason for doing it, other than to support me.  My reason (my why) is honestly about my weight. It's been pretty hard to get it to move, even with all the working out, so I assume it has to do with how I'm eating. I hoped that doing this would teach me some better ways to eat and help me get rid of some bad habits.  I will be honest and say that come September 20, I will be drinking a full-fat PSL and eating a bagel, so not all habits are broken. 

My thoughts
I had to rewrite this section.  When I first started drafting this blog post, I was on day 3. And man, oh man, I was a hangry Sarah! I had no good things to say about this diet. But now that it's been a full week, my thoughts have changed slightly.

My first thought was that this is a privileged diet.  It's still pretty much on point. I hate that word, privileged.  But in this case, it's true.  You have to be privileged to have the time, the money and the resources to make this work.  The food prep is incredible.  I spent most of Labor Day Monday prepping chicken, making homemade condiments, etc.  And I still wasn't prepared for the first day! By about day 3, I had figured out the food I was able to eat and was better able to come up with some recipes off hand. By day 4, I'd hit my stride. It's also expensive - my grocery budget doubled! If you want to make more than just meat and vegetables, you have to buy some specialty items that can only be found at Whole Foods or something of the like. While my first thought still stands, my second thought is that if you are able to do this diet, you should at least try it.

I also found that it's not as hard as I thought it would be.  Don't get me wrong, it's a pain. And I miss dairy more than any of the other things. The prep doesn't really get less, but it does get easier.  You learn what works, what doesn't work. I'm also not as tempted to eat the bad things as I thought I would be.  I successfully said no to Panera bagels (including a pumpkin one), Chick Fil A chicken minis, and juice all in one morning.  We've successfully gone out to lunch at a restaurant and found things we could eat. So far, this has been much better than I initially thought it would be. I've probably inadvertently made some mistakes, but I'm not killing myself over it.

I also feel pretty good. Not "holy cow this is the best I've ever felt!" but I can feel a difference. And it takes a while. The first two days were rough and I was ready to quit by morning two of nasty coffee. I wanted to kill people on day 3 and Saturday (day 5) I just wanted to sleep all day.  And I sleep less. It's weird. I'm waking up before my alarm now and I'm not sure how I feel about that. I'm interested to see how I feel this time next week.

Let's talk the meat (ha) of this: food.   I decided to breakdown what we did for our meals by breakfast, lunch, snacks and dinner.

Breakfast has been the roughest meal by far! I'm not coherent in the morning and my coffee is one of those sacred things in life that I don't allow anyone to mess with, until now.

I started off making breakfast egg muffins.  I sauteed Italian sausage and grape tomatoes and scooped some into the cups of a muffin pan, then poured the eggs over them.  Aaron and I each ate two per morning until they were gone. They were okay, but not great. Aaron smothered them with a homemade burger sauce I made (details below!). We ran out by Thursday and I made a potato hash with chicken apple sausage.  Now that was good! I made another variation on Saturday and used sweet potatoes instead with cinnamon and nutmeg.  They were a good variation, but Aaron preferred the regular potatoes. There is no picture because while the hash is amazing, it looks gross.

I'm really excited for this week because I found a breakfast pumpkin custard recipe! There are really only so many eggs you can eat.  I've also gotten pretty good at waking up at 6 instead of 6:20 to make the breakfast.

Coffee. Sigh. This is the one that will go back to normal, or close to it, after the two weeks are up. Our only options for coffee are coconut milk and one type of almond milk found at Whole Foods.  Coconut milk is a weird consistency and tends to clump. At first, I tried to put cacao powder into my coffee with the coconut milk, but that was disgusting.  The powder doesn't mix in at all! Then I switched to pumpkin pie spice and apple pie spice, which mixed well.  We finally got some of the almond milk from Whole Foods, so I'm excited to try it out this week! Palatable only coffee is not okay with me!

Lunch was the next roughest.  Aaron't can't leave the plant for lunch, so I always have to make sure he has lunches, more so than me. Normally, I have some Hungry Mans or Healthy Choice Steamers on hand, but they're out. Having enough food for 10 lunches wasn't easy, but I think I've gotten it down now.

We found lunch meat, which helped. We did a few "sandwiches" with turkey, uncured turkey bacon, sliced tomatoes, homemade mayo and lettuce for the bread. Aaron also grilled some chicken and we had that on top of salads with grape tomatoes, walnuts and homemade balsamic vinaigrette. That was my favorite!

Salad! Romaine, grape tomatoes, walnuts, and homemade balsamic vinaigrette!
This week, we have buffalo chicken with romaine boats...and more salad! I'm also thinking of trying out a Whole 30 chicken salad, but we've kind of run out of chicken, so we'll see! (Seriously, though. I went through an entire BJs package of boneless skinless chicken breasts in a WEEK.)

Dinner we actually really enjoyed! Pinterest is my best friend, for real!

Our favorite meals were Buffalo Chicken in Zucchini Boats and Zucchini Pasta with Spicy Shrimp and Marinara.  We will definitely be adding these to our dinner rotations!

The Buffalo Chicken was really good! I used my homemade mayo with Frank's Red Hot (we've gone through a lot of this!) and, secret ingredient, the flesh that you take out of the zucchini to make the boats! Almond meal is also used to thicken up the recipe.  It was so good, I made a double batch for lunches this week with romaine lettuce for the boats.  I've also already portioned out the meat so that Aaron doesn't eat it all in two days, which is a real possibility!

These babies were so good that I made the buffalo chicken for lunches this week per Aaron's request.  
The Zucchini Pasta with Spicy Shrimp and Marinara was one of the first recipes I found when researching the Whole 30 and is definitely one of our top favorites.  It was really easy to make and took about 45 minutes total, including spiralizing the zucchini.  I've noticed that a lot of these Whole 30/Paleo meals are pretty quick to cook, but the prep can also be a killer. For this next week, I've meal planned a bunch of meals that I was either able to do the prep beforehand or had less prep than those I chose for the first week.

Zucchini "pasta" with spicy shrimp in marinara! I used my cheap oxo spiralizer for this!
What I got better at but still don't love is cauliflower rice. I bought two heads of cauliflower the weekend before we started and I used the grater on my food processor to grate them into "rice." I bagged them up 2 cups at a time and froze them. They've been really helpful to have on hand, but I'm still not in love. They are better with a sauce on them, in my opinion. And adding coconut flakes helps too. But still, no love.

How We Survived
Basically, unless you are gluten free or paleo, everything you've been cooking with or using as a condiment goes out the door. The first thing I did, in order to save my marriage, was make some condiments.

Finally found a use for all my mason jars since I haven't canned at all this year!
 Aaron Zinn, God love him, simply uses food as a vehicle to get sauce into his mouth.  I knew there was no way we would survive two weeks without some sauces. I found this awesome blog page (seriously, Pinterest is your BFF) with recipes for making your own condiments. I made a mayonnaise, (which was really good!), balsalmic vinaigrette, and burger sauce (which he put on EVERYTHING).  I started with three because the shelf life isn't as long and I didn't want to waste my expensive ingredients.  We ran out of the burger sauce and balsamic vinaigrette by Friday (day 4).  I had some mayo left over, but I threw it out and made a new batch to make my buffalo chicken with. I've made the same three recipes again for week 2.

Frank's Red Hot, because we literally put that (stuff) on everything! (get it?!) It's one of the few store bought, compliant condiments that we have. We've already gone through one big bottle and are on track to finish the second by the end of week 2.  I used it in recipes and Aaron puts it on all the things. 

I also bought some Larabars.  They're pretty much the only kind of bar you can eat on this diet and one of the only convenience items. They don't encourage you to eat them all the time, as the bars are as close to candy as you can get  and they want you to appreciate food as it is and not put into a smoothie or a bar. Sometimes, though, convenience is necessary. When your hubby can't leave the office for lunch, ever, you have to find ways to make sure he's fed. I also used these for after class snacks. We really liked the Cherry Pie and Apple Pie.

Drinks. Oh the drinks. That's where they got me the worst. I'm used to my iced lattes in the am and I'm pretty lost without them (and cranky).  It took a few tries, but we learned to live with coconut milk (transfer to a mason jar, shake the crap out of it and keep it in the fridge) with pumpkin spice for our coffee.  I finally found an almond milk (one brand and one variety is compliant - New Barn Unsweetened Almond Milk). I also broke down and bought some La Croix because there is only so much water you can drink. I don't know what I was thinking I was going to get with La Croix, but it was not what I got. I think I expected some kind of flavor or sweet, and it wasn't there.  They are good cold and we found that we like the Mango over the Cran Raspberry flavor. Just don't expect the sweet. Surprisingly, I didn't have any major side effects from stopping soda.  I normally have a soda a day and was expecting a headache or two and they never materialized.

Pinterest. I have to laugh that I list this, but it is seriously how I survived.  It's how I learned how to make my coffee, find my recipes, find tips for snacks and shopping, etc. 

Almond Meal.  This joker was crazy expensive, like $10 for a tiny little bag. It broke my heart, but I've used it in at least 2 recipes and will use it more next week. I bought tapioca flour and kind of regret that as I know it will be hard to find more recipes for it.  The almond meal makes cooking a lot better though!

Immersion Blender. I really don't know that we would survive the Whole 30 without this baby. I bought one earlier in the year as it was the last kitchen appliance that I didn't have and wanted. I spent more money and got the one with a blender, a chopping cup, and another cup for blending drinks.  It has seriously been a lifesaver.  I've used the immersion blender to make my mayonnaise, to make a pumpkin custard for breakfast (up on the blog later this week!) and then to compliantly cheat (ha!) and make some hazelnut truffles. It's just made prep so much easier without having to use a lot of extra dishes because you can just stick the blender in whatever.  For the mayo, I use a wide mouth jar, stick the blender in the jar, blend the mayo and then put the lid and ring on it. Two dishes to make mayo. Two!

Week 2 starts today.  I'm pretty proud of us so far.  We've had talks about what we think we can keep going after the two weeks are up. Aaron has been really good, taking his food with him to work and not cheating out of the vending machines. I've done all of the meal planning and the cooking, but he's done most of the dish cleaning, which is HUGE! The ladies that I'm doing this with have a Facebook group where we post our meals and support, but I really can't express how much it helps to have your husband doing it with you so you can gripe and complain together.  He's also very honest about the meals I make, which I appreciate.

Here's to week 2! And only 7 days left until I can have a PSL again! 

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