Best Whole30 Dish I’ve Made Yet

Well folks, I’m 3 days from finishing up this latest Whole30… E.J. and I decided to tackle another one for June, and I’ve almost made it to the end.  Yes, it was really hard at the beginning, but I’ve lost about 5 lbs, my clothes all fit better, and I’m glad I did it.

Interestingly, the last 2 weeks of this one was accomplished with EJ out of town on his annual training exercise at Fort Hood for the National Guard.  I wasn’t sure if it would be easier or harder without him, but I actually found it to be fairly easy with this latest recipe I found which he would hate… you see, E.J. believes cheese does not belong on hamburgers… and I think, he’s nuts.

So, this was the perfect opportunity to try Bacon Cheeseburger Casserole… and I’m sooooo glad I did.  The flavor is amazing, and while I’ve actually eaten it several different ways, the picture above is my favorite.  A bed of lettuce, warm casserole, and a fried egg to crown it.   Even though this is called a casserole, it’s more like the consistency of Hamburger Helper (which is also a long time favorite of mine), and the cheese sauce is so tasty, I have half a mind to serve it like queso dip for one of our weekend get-togethers this summer.

I know, I know… “nutritional yeast” as a cheese flavoring sounds absolutely awful, but I’m really glad I got past that and tried it anyway.   I can’t wait to have it again tonight for dinner!

2 New Favorites!

I know it’s been months since I’ve posted anything new – I would say it’s because my work life is so hectic right now, there isn’t much time for anything else, but that’s not really true.

Realistically I have simply been maintaining – rotating through a lot of my favorite recipes which I’ve already shared here, and trying a few new ones (with disappointing or just ok results).  EJ is a bit less picky than I am, so he’s been fine with everything I’ve made, but I just haven’t been really wowed by any of the new dishes until recently.

So, here are the 2 new favorites I’ll be adding to this week:

Picadillo with Plantains (from A Calculated Whisk) – this is amazingly simple and delicious.  I’ve made it nearly 3 weeks in a row now, and I still love it.  We’re not olive lovers, but there’s a suggestion to add boiled or fried egg on it- and I highly recommend both.  It’s also really good topped with this Creamy Avocado Cilantro Lime Dressing from Paleo Gluten Free Eats.  It’s quick enough to pull together for a weeknight meal (30 mins or so) and reheats really well when prepped in advance.

Instant Pot Cashew Chicken (from Whole Kitchen Sink) – this is another quickie that can be pulled together quickly enough for a weeknight meal.  I used chicken tenders for quicker and smaller cuts, and spread this over caulirice (fried rice w/ coconut aminos is a real treat).  We managed to acquire a large container of roasted cashews, and this is a great way to enjoy them without snacking between meals.  I also cut back on the sugar content by omitting the coconut sugar, and instead adding some fresh squeezed orange juice.

Enjoy!

10 lbs and New Recipes

Well, I know I went off the grid for awhile, but it’s been good…  my work situation is stabilizing a little, and E.J. and I decided to spend September doing a “quiet” Whole 30 – basically we have been following the Whole 30 rules all month, with the exception of special occasions, and choosing meals that are as compliant as possible when we eat out.

For me, this was a much needed self-check.  I had managed to gain about 20 lbs of my original 70 lost 2 years ago.  Some of it was just falling back into old habits of eating too much and craving sweets after dinner, even when the meals and sweets were fully Paleo compliant.  Some of it was the 2 European trips we took where we threw healthy eating out the window for 2 weeks each.  Most of the recent damage was actually due to emotional eating and alcohol consumption, generally due to my company being acquired and the chaos that ensued from that event.

I was still exercising and doing my best to eat according to plan, but even the best diet can be totally derailed when the “treats” become commonplace.  On top of that, all it takes is a bottle of cider or glass of wine with a weekend meal, and most of my resolve goes out the window.  Next thing I know, I’m eating bread and ordering full desserts…

Anyway, in August when my clothes were too tight, and I started feeling sluggish again, I was ready to get serious about eating right again.  Fortunately, E.J. is a great partner in these cycles, and was right there with me.

The 30 days will actually end next week, but I’ve already lost the 10 lbs I had targeted for the month.   I’m back in my favorite jeans and dresses in time for the fall, and feeling a lot better overall.  It’s funny how taking control of your diet and your weight can help you feel better about taking control of everything in your life….

In that journey I did run across some new recipes I’d like to highlight:

  • Cajun Sweet Potato Chowder – This stuff is amazing.  It’s a little higher-carb than many other Paleo soups because of the potato, but it’s positively yummy!
  • “Honey” Mustard Chicken – I made this one with the date paste to keep it Whole30 compliant, but it was positively scrumptious.  I served it with broccoli, and smothered the extra sauce on it as well as the chicken
  • Apple Squash Pork Casserole – This is a great one for fall as temperatures are cooling off, and I modified it a little to account for the fact that I smoked a pork shoulder in advance, and just braised it a bit longer in the pot with the apple juice before adding in the rest of the veggies for the casserole.

Enjoy!

Getting My Groove Back

Ok, after a couple more weeks of emotional upheaval, I’m finally getting my groove back.  I went for a run this morning, did some yard work, and ran some errands with my favorite National Guardsman that will be leaving me in another week and a half for a 3 week school in the north east.  I’m expecting the next few months to be a roller coaster ride to say the least, but I am at least trying to stick with the diet basics and lose that last 5 elusive pounds since the vacation.  I made a small bit of progress again this last week, and I’m hoping to keep it going.

We also had a couple of real winners in the new recipe department that E.J. really wants me to share, so here you go:

  • Pressure Cooker Ropa Vieja – normally I struggle to enjoy roasts.  I’m not sure why, but I just don’t love them the way EJ and my mom do.  But this one is absolutely AWESOME.  I actually used the alternate slow cooker method instead of the InstantPot, but the meat was tender and the sauce was phenomenal.  This could easily have been something from a fancy Cuban restaurant and will definitely be going on the favorites list.  I paired it with tostones (fried plantains) and guacamole
  • Cajun Salmon with Strawberry Salsa – I had been looking for a savory recipe to use some of the incredibly fragrant strawberries that we’ve been getting in the stores this season.  This was a total winner and I plan to make it again.
  • Sweet Potato Seafood Chowder – although the heavy sweet potato content means lots of carbs, this was a very tasty version of the classic soup.  I practically doubled the seafood that it calls for, just because I like a chunkier chowder, and would highly recommend it.

Hope you all are enjoying the summer!

Summer Fare

Hey guys, I don’t know if the rest of the country is feeling it, but we’ve had a steady run of highs in the mid to upper 90’s down here in Houston since E.J. and I returned from vacation.  I’m not generally a fan of the heat – my idea for surviving June-September is simply moving between A/C and the pool, but warmer temperatures do mean it’s time for grilled meats and fresh summer produce.  The strawberries we’re getting in the stores this year are amazing, and I’m looking for new ways to incorporate fresh fruits and veggies into some lighter dishes.

Here are some of the summery dishes we’ve really enjoyed recently:

  • Sweet Potato Salad – this one has been on my Favorites page for awhile, but it continues to be a crowd pleaser.  I broke this out for EJ’s National Guard leaders when they came over one evening during their Annual Training and they all loved it.
  • Asparagus Basil Salad – As a Whole30 compliant side dish, this one is amazing.  I served it as a side for Prociutto wrapped Cod.  The dijon mustard and spices blend well with the avocado and tomatoes, and I’m sure this will be making several more appearances this summer.
  • Coconut Lime Chicken – I used the Instant Pot method for this recipe and was pleasantly surprised… the flavors are a bit different than what I’m used to, but with enough salt to balance the sour and spicy, it’s really, really good.  I will definitely make this again.
  • Spinach and Strawberry Salad – I’ve been making this one for awhile, and it’s a great use of those fresh strawberries I mentioned. I like to top it with pecan or walnut oil and a blueberry or date balsamic vinegar.

Enjoy!

Better now.

Ok, last week’s post was definitely borne of sheer frustration, but like all things – patience pays dividends.  I stuck with the plan – Whole30-focused meals with an emphasis on portion size.  This seems to be the magic combination for me.  I’m down 7 of the 12 lbs I gained on the trip, so I just need to keep on keepin’ on.  For me, the quantity of food is every bit as much a challenge to my weight goals as the quality, and I know I’m doing it right when I’m starting to get hungry about an hour before each meal.  It’s not exactly the most pleasant hour, but I’ve borrowed one of E.J.’s tricks and have a cup of coffee or a glass of lemon water during those hours to calm the hunger pangs.

E.J. posted this morning on the variations on the Paleo diet that he’s experimented with.  What I discovered is that while Keto may work well for some folks, my body does not do well with cheese & other dairy products, even when lactose free.  I get really bad swelling, terribly painful constipation, and honestly I have a harder time eating proper portions because I really love the taste of cheese with meat.  Paleo/Whole30 focus on veggies and healthier root vegetables works better for my digestive system, and as long as I cut out the dairy, my rings and clothes fit so much better.  Fortunately E.J. and I are able to agree on a strategy, and so far it’s paying off for both of us.

Since I know many of you are following me for some new recipes, here is a new one I’ve stumbled into recently:

Easy Paleo Pecan Crusted Salmon – This one is super simple to put together and can easily be made into a one-pan dish by adding asparagus, broccoli, or another veggie to the pan, drizzled in oil and sprinkled with spices for a healthy roasted side.

Now that we’re back into the swing of things, I’m hoping to try a few more new recipes this week and I’ll be sure to share the ones that turn out well!

It’s Just Not Fair…

Ok, Ladies – this one is for you.  Guys – go back to Paleo Marine and revel in your luck at being male for a bit or go find some new recipes to try on the Favorites page.  You can come back next week and I might have something for you.

<begin female rant>

Ok, so ladies, this is the reality check for those of you who have struggled with your weight your entire life.  Here are a few truths that I can confidently say given my last 2 1/2 years with E.J:

  1. Keeping weight off is just as hard (if not harder) than losing it.
  2. It never comes off as fast as it is put on
  3. Men can always reach their weight goals faster, with way less effort (like most things in life)

I know this sounds a bit catty, but I’m dealing with menstrual cramping and bloating while EJ’s shedding 2-4 lbs a day since we returned from our trip.  It’s just so not fair.

I’m doing everything right – I picked up my running routine in the mornings and prepped all of our meals for the week.  I am avoiding snacking and watching my portion sizes.  I am avoiding sugars, dairy, and alcohol and still am only down 3 lbs from my post-vacation weight.

Logically, I know that the weight is clinging because of my cycle, and yes, I know it takes longer for women’s bodies to let go of it, and yes, I realize that all I need to do is just stay the course and eventually things will work the way they’re supposed to, but damn it, this just sucks.

When I was losing the weight a few years ago, I was able to have more patience with the fits and starts – because I had already come so far, it was easier to grant myself the grace to accept when my body worked against me, but right now the combination of all of my clothes being tighter or just not wearable and E.J.s success in dropping the weight is making me want to scream. It’s almost enough to go climb inside a pint of Ben and Jerry’s, regardless of how gross it will make me feel afterward.

I’m not gonna… I’m just saying I’m a grown woman and you can’t stop me 😉

So if any of you were under the illusion that weight loss with Paleo was somehow easy, or that it’s easier to maintain and/or re-lose it after it was lost initially, I can tell you it’s not.  I struggle with it every day just like anyone else, and I have days like today when I could really use a good glass of wine or three, but I stick to it for 3 reasons:

  1. I really like the feeling when I look in the mirror or at a photograph of myself and like what I see
  2. I know that this frustration and weight gain is temporary
  3. I am super competitive, and I refuse to let E.J. win 🙂

Let’s face it, it’s probably mostly that last one…

Ok, I’m done.  I’m sure next week I’ll feel much better and have some nice new recipes to share!

<end rant>