Due to a family member’s doctor’s orders, we are beginning a thirty day trial of a completely different way of eating. Although I don’t use processed foods, or cans, or boxes, or mixes (besides San Marzano tomatoes, tuna, and dry pasta), I do cook with – and eat – coconut palm sugar, brown sugar, bread (I like sprouted grain bread), butter (Kerrygold is my favorite!), and plenty of cheeses (Stilton, Cheddar, Parmigiano Reggiano, Swiss…), brown rice, a variety of pastas, milk and cream.
But for the next 30 days, all that is off the list. No dairy of any kind, no grains (including rice, buckwheat, quinoa, wheat), nothing made with soybean oil or soy, and no sugar except what naturally occurs in fruits, no legumes and no alcohol. It’s all going to be real food. The program we’re following, the Whole30 food plan, encourages eating vegetables, fruits, meat, seafood, poultry, eggs, some nuts, and healthy fats from avocado and olives. It discourages making things like pancakes and muffins out of coconut flour and eggs and cashews, because although the fake baked goods might taste ok and be made from ingredients that are acceptable, you’re still tricking your brain and eyes into thinking you’re having a pancake or a cookie or a cracker. This has to be a complete switch up, from the usual chips, cookies, grilled cheese, pasta and breads that we’re used to eating, even if our “usual” is whole grain and low fat. On this program, the food has to look like its original form: recognizable, whole, pure.
So I’ll post what the day’s foods look like around here. Maybe some of you will get some ideas, or some inspiration, or maybe you’ll feel like trying this plan, or maybe you’ll just laugh at us! The doctor said that eating like this can help with fatigue, depression, abdominal pain and digestive issues. It might not cure everything, but by eliminating sugars and dairy and grains for 30 days, the digestive system will get a rest, and we’ll be able to see what effects these foods are having.
Breakfast: 3 baby Yukon Gold potatoes, 2 strips of uncured bacon with no sugar added, 2 eggs. I roasted the potatoes and bacon in a small oven-safe dish, and when the potatoes were tender and the bacon was crispy, I cracked the eggs into the center of them and baked them until the eggs were set. Lunch was some fruit and slices of Applegate deli turkey (the only deli meat I could find that didn’t have sugar added). For supper, I roasted bone-in chicken breasts with just a little olive oil and salt and pepper, and served them with oven-baked sweet potato fries (just wedges of sweet potato with a little salt, olive oil and cumin, baked until golden).
Breakfast is scrambled eggs with a few cherry tomatoes, some of last night’s leftover chicken, topped with fresh avocado slices and a salsa that has no sugar or additives. For lunch, I’m planning on snacking on Granny Smith apple wedges, turkey deli slices and cashews. Supper is going to be homemade Sloppy Joes (ground beef, sauteed celery and red bell peppers and onions, tomato paste and a can of pureed tomatoes with no sugar or additives; I’m omitting the usual brown sugar and seasonings that are traditionally added to Sloppy Joes) served over baked potatoes, for a Sloppy Joe loaded potato.
An omelette made with leftover baked sweet potatoes, tomatoes and eggs.
Lunch is an apple and deli turkey slices Supper turned out to be leftovers, since there was plenty of Sloppy Joes left and that’s what was wanted!
Brunch (late breakfast, early lunch) was eggs, avocados and tomatoes baked in prosciutto and deli turkey slices. (the regular blog post will have this recipe) Supper was a homemade soup. I cooked potatoes and broccoli in an all natural chicken stock, pureed it, added steamed potatoes and broccoli to the puree so it wouldn’t just be a smooth puree but a chunky soup, added cooked bacon and some almond meal to thicken the soup. Some salt, pepper and a little chili powder for flavor provided the finishing touches. I had never made a broccoli and potato soup without some milk and cheese, but it turned out delicious!
Day 5 was Halloween. We ate a very late breakfast/lunch bacon (sugar-free, not cured, no nitrites or junk) and eggs. Then we headed downtown to see all the costumed people walking around 6th St here in Austin, and my daughter had a bowl of spit-roasted pork from a taco truck. It was sweetened only with pineapple juice from a pineapple that was on top of the spit, and had just dry spices rubbed into it. She did not have the tortilla or the beans or any of the fixings, just the meat as we enjoyed walking around. We both bought a bottle of water, and when we came home we watched a tv show and ate a bowl of hot leftover broccoli and potato soup.
We were pretty tired, and just drank water and munched on fruit during the day. But supper was delicious. I caramelized onions (very slowly, with some ghee and olive oil) and served them on top of roasted potatoes, tomatoes, carrots and broccoli. It was simple, recognizable and filling. We ate fresh oranges afterwards.
Supper tonight will be a pan full of those beautiful mini bell peppers that are in the stores now, stuffed with ground beef, arugula and tomatoes, baked until the beef is thoroughly cooked and the peppers are tender. I’ll top them with almond meal for a nice crunch.
The main meal today is a salad of lettuce, sugar snap peas, tomatoes, bell peppers, cucumbers, Kalamata olives and tuna, with simply red wine vinegar and olive oil.
It’s now been more than a week, and some interesting observations: I thought I would miss wine, but I don’t. I miss toast and Kerrygold Irish butter! I think I’m having the most difficult struggle with bread and crackers. They seem like such a quick snack, and a good sprouted grain bread is a quick breakfast.
It was kind of a busy day. I had scrambled eggs for breakfast, and snacked on cashews, orange segments and fresh vegetables during the day. Dinner was leftovers since we went to vote very late – at pretty much the last minute, but that was when it worked out.
I made a homemade taco soup. Usually I fill the taco soup with several kinds of beans and tortilla chips, but this one had to be different. I began by making a homemade beef stock from roasted beef bones. When it was reduced, I added a can of diced tomatoes and their juice, and a couple of cans of diced green chiles. Then I sauteed onions, bell peppers, and ground beef and added all that to the pot. Lots of homemade taco seasoning and extra cumin made it really delicious. And I thickened it with tapioca flour mixed with a little water.
Supper was a wonderful salad made from lots of fresh arugula, roasted sweet potatoes, chopped cooked bacon and a couple of poached eggs on top. I left the egg yolks nice and runny and the yolks provided all the dressing that the salad needed. No additional oils or any vinegar were added. it was filling and delicious. The contrast between the peppery arugula and the rich bacon and eggs was perfect.
Today I learned to make homemade mayonnaise. I had made it before but I carefully followed a recipe. My goal was to be able to make it like the chefs on the Food Network: by just throwing some eggs (I used pasteurized eggs for safety), lemon juice and salt in the Vitamix, and then drizzling oil in until the right consistency formed. So I dared myself to make it without any measuring or without following a recipe. It came out great. I feel pretty confident in it now. Supper was tuna with celery and freshly made mayo on arugula leaves.
I’ve been eating fresh fruits and eggs for breakfast, and trying to eat roasted vegetables for supper.
Day 14 – 17:
Due to illness (the family member this food plan is intended for has been really sick) these last few days have been mostly snacking on fruits, creating omelettes out of different combinations of vegetables, and eating up some leftovers. We did not stray from the food plan, though. I just didn’t have time to cook anything new and creative.
I roasted a whole chicken, with fresh lemons and ghee, and roasted potatoes and carrots alongside it. Also, I steamed fresh green beans. Added just a bit of lemon juice and salt.
Supper was an acorn squash. I loved stuffed squash and usually make a stuffing with sausage or pork, and crusty bread and lots of butter. But this time I made a simple stuffing out of just a diced, peeled Granny Smith green apple, some chopped walnuts and a little ghee. I spooned that into the center of the squash and baked it until everything was tender. The apple mixture needed a bit of turning during the baking time so the ones on the top didn’t dry out, but that was a simple thing to do. It was delicious.
Breakfast was a Mexican omelette with eggs, tomatoes, avocados, cumin and fresh salsa.
Supper was leftover roast chicken, a baked sweet potato with ghee.
Days 21 – 29
Supper last night (for me) was a chicken salad on a bed of lettuce, made with homemade mayonnaise, leftover chicken, a diced green apple and celery. It was delicious.
We are nearing the end of thirty days. The past several days have been mostly easy-to-eat foods, due to the continued illness of my family member. Lots of mashed potatoes made with a rich chicken stock and ghee, simple roast chicken, etc. I have really enjoyed Mexican omelettes. I also learned to enjoy fresh fruit in the evenings, instead of a cookie or chocolate. It’s surprising how I forgot how refreshing simple blueberries and strawberries can be. I’ll also keep making homemade mayonnaise (see day 12). I also learned that a poached egg can make a lovely sauce, when the yolk breaks open and covers a salad or meat, and that real caramelized onions (cooked very slowly for an hour) add perfect sweetness to many dishes.
Now I’m going to continue this way of cooking for my family member under doctor’s orders, although I will begin to add in just a few things to my own food choices. For example, I’ll add in sprouted grain bread, toasted, in the mornings, instead of only eggs and potatoes. I can honestly say that this past several weeks has been very enlightening. What can I do without? What other choices was I missing, just because I was in the habit of having a cookie or chips as a snack? I’ve lost a couple of pounds, but mostly I’ve gained some new food choices.