With a Little Help From My Friends

We’re in the final stretch of our January Whole30, and all in all I think it’s been a success.  I didn’t quite hit the weight target I wanted, but my clothes all fit nicely again, and I certainly feel better.  Work stresses aside, this really was the easiest W30 yet, and one of the reasons why it was easier is because of the amazing support of friends and family.

When we started with Whole30 and Paleo 2 years ago, things were much different.  When I would turn down office treats, or carefully order food at restaurants with specific requests, or bring strange food to the office potlucks, I found myself explaining what I was doing and the reasons behind it over and over.  The reactions were all over the map: encouragement, admiration, skepticism, and pity – but fortunately I was never met with ugliness.  After a few months, when the weight started to drop, I had a lot more questions, and a lot more earnest interest.  Now 2 years later, 2 others in my department have dropped over 50 lbs, and another is just starting her journey.

When we have potlucks now, we are sensitive to all of the dietary requests – things are labelled gluten free, paleo, and vegetarian, and people are proud to share their favorite health-conscious foods with the team and enjoy how good they taste.  No one brings donuts or kolaches on Fridays anymore either.  We’ll share treats for birthdays and holidays, but otherwise, we now keep nuts, Lara bars and other healthier options lying around the department instead.   The funniest thing about it is I never mentioned anything about office foods.  I never preached or gave anyone any grief about wanting to bring something yummy to share with the team.  But over the course of 2 years by simply politely declining and choosing my own path, the entire team has chosen to follow it, and some of them have dramatically improved their own health in the process.

Even the waiters at our favorite restaurants are supportive.  At the places we visit most frequently, E.J. has talked to the waiters and shown them the pictures… they all know the story, and remember us when we come in, so we rarely have to give our special orders anymore – they know what we want and how we want it.  It’s just so much more comfortable.

It’s the same with our close personal friends.  E.J. and I have a number of couples we will hang out with and have adventures with on the weekends, and while they might not follow our diet as strictly, they are all sensitive to it and have recognized the benefits themselves.   I feel incredibly lucky to be blessed with friends who have not only accepted the changes E.J. and I made to our lives to improve our health, but have embraced them and actively help us find new recipes and  ways to continue to thrive with an active social life.  When we entertain friends, they know my menu will be mostly paleo unless there’s a special request, which I’m happy to accommodate.  And when we go to our friends’ house, they always let us know what foods are compliant and which ones aren’t so we can make conscious decisions about how to build our plates.

And then sometimes, like this last Friday, they just rock and make a new paleo recipe that I’ve never seen or tried and it is nothing short of amazing.  Our friends Kenny and Elaine made this Whole30 compliant InstantPot Crispy Mojo Pork with tostones and it was spectacular.  I’m totally adding this to the Favorite Recipes list.  My friend Anita has also been tagging amazing looking recipes on her Facebook so they pop up for me, and I can’t wait to try them.

So, while everyone’s journey must be a personal one, I can certainly say that our ability to sustain our new lifestyle would be a much more difficult without “A Little Help From My Friends”.

Rocking the Whole30

So here we are, a week and a half left of our 4th whole 30, and still hanging in there.  Last week’s ice storms sent my work life into a tailspin for a few days, and I was really wishing for a glass of alcohol at one point, but otherwise I’m doing ok.  The cold and rainy weather has put a damper on my regular running schedule, but I was able to get out there this morning and complete a 5k before work, which always seems to help not only with the weight loss, but also my general well being.  On the days I run, I feel lighter and more confident, like I’ve already accomplished something, so the rest of the day should be cake.  Of course it doesn’t always work out that way, but it’s a nice start anyway.

Last week, I added a few new favorites to the list – you might have seen E.J. rave about the Butter Chicken and the Spaghetti Squash Jambalaya – both were fairly easy to make and reheated well for lunches and weeknight dinners.   I made the Jambalaya a little too spicy though – I think I’ll cut back on the cayenne and red pepper flakes – I’m sure I went a little overboard from what the recipe called for.  (which is one of my secrets of Paleo cooking btw.  I often double spices in recipes to intensify flavors)

This week, we’re trying these Ground Beef and Plantain Bowls from Real Simple Good.  I’m a big fan of plantains any way I can get them, and certainly appreciated the baking approach rather than the traditional fry method.  I couldn’t settle for just seasoning the meat with chili powder, so I mixed a number of my favorite Penzey’s spices to get some extra dimensions in there – Chili 9000 + Smoked Spanish Paprika + Ancho Chili Powder.  The result was pretty good, though honestly I think I should have put more of everything in there.  Ground beef is just so bland if you don’t spice it heavily enough.  And the green sauce is good, but subtle.  I think maybe it needed a more cilantro, or something to amp up the flavor since the avocado just kind of mellows everything.  All in all, I enjoyed it, but would like to do a little more tweaking to get it to the “awesome” list.

Tonight we’re having Bacon Wrapped Cod with asparagus for dinner… let the jealousy begin… 🙂

Happy New Year!

Well, I suppose I could say that my hiatus from posting on the Bacon is a product of exhaustion, laziness, stress, and all kinds of other reasons I give for not doing the things I should – but that just isn’t fair.  I really just felt like the stress of the holidays was enough without trying to document every meal I cooked, and remember every success and failure along the way.

But for those of you who find your inspiration on E.J.’s blog, Paleo Marine, I know many look here for new and interesting recipes and ideas for cleaner eating.  And I feel like I’ve been letting some of you down by not sharing some of the amazing new recipes we’ve found and developed over the last several months.  Right now, E.J. and I are half-way through our 4th Whole30, and honestly, it’s been the easiest one yet.   With all of the great recipes on the Favorites page to start with and with some of the latest successes, it has hardly felt like much of a reset, save for the lack of cookies and chocolate in between and after meals. Of course those small sweets are my downfall any time of the year, and cutting that one bit out has eliminated my annual holiday inflammation and dropped me 7 lbs since New Years.

With that said, let me catch you all up.  After IMG_3004[1]Thanksgiving, E.J. and I tried to be really good for a few weeks because we went up to New York City to visit our daughter who moved up there last year.  It was always on my bucket list to visit NYC during the holidays to experience the snow,  Broadway, 5th avenue, the Rockettes, and all of the Christmas traditions, and this trip delivered on all of it.  As with most of our trips, E.J. and I gave ourselves a pass on the diet in order to experience all of the local fare, and then promptly went back to our standard paleo diet when we returned.  It’s fun to visit the land of “not caring what you’re eating” every so often, but I’ve decided I never want to live there again.

IMG_3014[1]Then we celebrated a quiet Christmas with the rest of the family at home, and this year I did prime rib and roasted duck for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day – which both turned out fantastic.  I had never attempted a prime rib before, but I used my favorite new kitchen tool of 2017, my Anova precision cooker, doing a 6 hour sous vide and  finally finishing with an herb crust under the broiler.  The duck was slow roasted (nearly 5 hours) using the recipe from my favorites page, and our crew said it was the best one yet.  My favorite new side dishes from the holidays were a new Green Bean casserole recipe from A Girl Worth Saving and this Loaded Cauliflower recipe with lactose free sour cream and omitting the cheese.

IMG_3017[1]After Christmas, I took a week from work off and relaxed a bit, before gearing up for our annual New Year’s eve party and the big backyard polar plunge.  For party fare, I revisited some of my old favorites and had a few new ones thrown in as well.  Here are some of the new additions to the favorite party snacks list:

Sausage Cream Cheese Dip – OMG, this is officially the new hotness when it comes to my future party offerings.  I have to admit to having an unhealthy relationship with Chili con Queso prior to going Paleo.  I LOVE cheese dips, and really missed the old Velveeta mainstay at our parties, and now I have a new Primal substitute.  I made this with lactose free cream cheese to reduce the negative affects of dairy, and am hooked.  Again.

Bacon Meatballs with Mango Honey Mustard Sauce– This one had rave reviews also.  I made the meatballs and kept them on a warmer for the party and then offered this sauce and some Paleo BBQ sauce as a topper.

Spiced Paleo Apple Dip – E.J. raved about this one.  I have to say that it’s not the prettiest looking dip in the world, and since I did it in advance and refrigerated it, it thickened up a bit too much when I served it, but E.J. absolutely loved the flavor.

I also made a nut butter for the first time – with hazelnuts.  I admit to being lazy and just buying nut butters when I need them, but it turns out hazelnut butter is really hard to find.  The Ninja blender was up to the task though, and I was able to whip up some beautiful hazelnut butter after roasting the nuts I bought in bulk.  Out of that came 2 fantastic desserts: Chocolate Hazelnut Fudge and Hazelnut Brownies.  If you are a Nutella fan, these are totally for you.

And now that the holidays are over, it’s Whole30 time again, so I have a few new healthy recipes to offer on that front:

Paleo Fried Zucchini – I actually substituted the coconut flour for a 1/2 and 1/2 mix of Cassava and Almond flours, but otherwise kept this as-is.  The cool dill dip is really good, and this was a great addition to a weekend lunch with cabbage and sausages.

Sauteed Red Cabbage with Apples & Onion – I’ve made this twice now in the last 2 weeks and it’s still really good.  E.J. is a huge fan of cabbage slaw, and I think this one is a great balance of vinegar and a slight sweet from the apples.

Moroccan Lamb Casserole – This one is quite easy as a slow cooker recipe if you just throw everything in and turn it on.  The recipe calls for sauteeing ingredients before and after the main cooking phase, but it’s really not required.

I hope you’re able to try out some of these new recipes and enjoy them as much as my family has.  Happy New Year, everyone!