checking in: 20 days into Whole30.

I can't believe it, but we're 20 days into Whole30, with 10 days to go! I'm simultaneously feeling like this:

I am physically feeling great (hence the boxing cat picture)--it's doing my body a world of good to give it a 30 day rest from dairy, grains, sugar, alcohol, and legumes. In these next ten days, we're going to be talking about how to move forward into post-Whole30 life. This much restriction isn't meant to exist for the long-term, but I definitely need to consider what I need to drastically reduce in my diet (or cut out altogether) so that my body can function best and I can feel good in my skin. 

At the same time, I've felt a little bit like a sloth with the whole cooking thing. While I was really into looking for recipes, shopping, and taking the time to prep and cook in the kitchen days one through ten, all that has felt more tiring this second third of the way through. I don't mind eating the same recipes over and over, but some change is nice. But we've done just fine, and are making it work!

Here are a few additional recipes I've cooked this week. You're going to want to check out the link to that green sauce below--it is delicious!

Sweet potato and carrot custard  . I baked a second one of these tonight, and am about to dig into it for dessert. This custard is really good with a splash of almond milk and some fresh berries on top.

Sweet potato and carrot custard. I baked a second one of these tonight, and am about to dig into it for dessert. This custard is really good with a splash of almond milk and some fresh berries on top.

I found a crock pot in the apartment we're staying in, and so I threw some beef tips, carrots, onions, and tomatoes in along with beef stock. It wasn't the most flavorful thing we've eaten, but it satisfied our desire for some red meat and veggies.

I found a crock pot in the apartment we're staying in, and so I threw some beef tips, carrots, onions, and tomatoes in along with beef stock. It wasn't the most flavorful thing we've eaten, but it satisfied our desire for some red meat and veggies.

One night I cooked some thin steaks, sauteed some spinach (my new favorite thing for any and every meal!), steamed some potatoes, and made this chimichurri sauce that is so incredibly delicious. (The sauce popped up on my Twitter feed from Melissa Joulwan, who is a whole foods and all-things-paleo diva.) As you can see, we even put it on potatoes! I made a second batch tonight and we're enjoying it on everything.

Chicken avocado burgers  with sauteed spinach, beets, and apricot . I found out that I really like beets (and that John won't touch them--so they're all mine! Mwahaha!) this week.

Chicken avocado burgers with sauteed spinach, beets, and apricot. I found out that I really like beets (and that John won't touch them--so they're all mine! Mwahaha!) this week.

Above: Sometimes it's fun to make your food look pretty, even when it's super basic!

Happy weekend, all!

The First 10 Days of Whole30

Spinach and bacon quiche with an almond meal crust , accompanied by fresh, juicy watermelon! This quiche was OK, but I wouldn't recommend the recipe, so I'm going to look for another one next time I make quiche.

Spinach and bacon quiche with an almond meal crust, accompanied by fresh, juicy watermelon! This quiche was OK, but I wouldn't recommend the recipe, so I'm going to look for another one next time I make quiche.

Italian Almond Crusted Salmon . Get the recipe   here  . We've eaten this recipe a few times, and it's so moist. If you can't find almond meal/flour at your grocery store and don't have a Trader Joe's nearby, get a bag of raw almonds, throw them in your food processor, and blend until fine.

Italian Almond Crusted Salmon. Get the recipe here. We've eaten this recipe a few times, and it's so moist. If you can't find almond meal/flour at your grocery store and don't have a Trader Joe's nearby, get a bag of raw almonds, throw them in your food processor, and blend until fine.

Zucchini noodles with pasta sauce . This recipe was John's idea, and after he ordered a special "noodle" cutter on Amazon, he made a homemade pasta sauce to go along with the zucchini "noodles." I loved it!

Zucchini noodles with pasta sauce. This recipe was John's idea, and after he ordered a special "noodle" cutter on Amazon, he made a homemade pasta sauce to go along with the zucchini "noodles." I loved it!

Beef and veggie chili, topped with avocado . I made up this recipe as I went, too, and it was both very satisfying AND a great way to get about 4 meals (or more!) out of one pot! I used ground beef, canned tomatoes, eggplant, zucchini, and bell peppers, plus chili seasoning, salt, and pepper.

Beef and veggie chili, topped with avocado. I made up this recipe as I went, too, and it was both very satisfying AND a great way to get about 4 meals (or more!) out of one pot! I used ground beef, canned tomatoes, eggplant, zucchini, and bell peppers, plus chili seasoning, salt, and pepper.

Baked sweet potato, topped with pineapple and apricot chunks . I put the fruit in a saucepan with some coconut oil, nutmeg, and cinnamon while the potatoes were cooking, and softened them. I sauteed some spinach on the side, and this was a very easy, super delicious meal.

Baked sweet potato, topped with pineapple and apricot chunks. I put the fruit in a saucepan with some coconut oil, nutmeg, and cinnamon while the potatoes were cooking, and softened them. I sauteed some spinach on the side, and this was a very easy, super delicious meal.

Homemade guacamole  (2 avocadoes, lots of lime juice, salt and pepper + veggies to dip) and  homemade tuna salad  are standbys. 

Homemade guacamole (2 avocadoes, lots of lime juice, salt and pepper + veggies to dip) and homemade tuna salad are standbys. 

We are in the double digits! Whew. I have to say that I'm glad these first ten days are behind us. The process of starting a Whole30 has been a mixture of surprise, learning, difficulty, hard work, and satisfaction.

Surprise: I feel great (though I knew I would all along...sometimes it takes feeling it to believe it)! There actually are tons of things we can eat, even when you cut out dairy, all grains, and all added sugar: fresh salmon, buttery avocados, sweet potatoes topped with cinnamon and pineapple. Everything healthy that I'm eating now tastes more fresh and satisfying, the fruit hitting the spot when a sugar craving arises. Oh, and I'm learning that I can say no to the tray of sweets after church and stick with black coffee, and that true friends will be sensitive and understanding about the choices we're making and will accommodate when we're having lunch together.

Learning: We read all labels in the grocery store now (not for calories or fat--no counting in this program!) to check for unpronounceable ingredients (in other words, things we probably shouldn't be putting into our bodies) and sugar--and wouldn't you know, sugar is in every. daggum. thing! Look the next time you're at the grocery store, and you'll be surprised. I think the Western world, especially America, drinks/slathers on the majority of its sugar intake in the form of sodas, "thirst-quenching" drinks, sauces, condiments, and salad dressings.

Difficulty: Cravings. Lots of them. Anywhere we walk in Valencia, we pass innumerable bars and cafes, all with people sitting outside drinking wine, Coke, or a beer--all things we can't have right now. Or there's the smell wafting out of the bakery, and I think about how good a napolitana con chocolate would taste. (It would taste great, in case you're wondering.) And then I'm forced to think about why I'm doing what I'm doing right now, and my unhealthy relationship with food, especially food of the unhealthy, sugar-packed, but oh-so-yummy variety. And did I mention that sugar is in seemingly everything? There are hard moments, but I know Whole30 is for 30 days, not the rest of my life. I will be able to eat a brownie again, but hopefully will learn how to stop with one, and enjoy it for what it is: a once-in-a-while treat, not an invitation to eat the entire pan.

Hard work: Whole30 can consume as much or as little time as you want it to. You can eat super simply, replicating your meals every couple of days to avoid spending all your free time in the kitchen. Or you can spend countless hours on Pinterest and blogs finding recipes, grocery shopping, and then cooking. We've been somewhere in-between the two extremes. At this point in time, I've got a lot more free time than I've ever had in the past, and so I'm enjoying searching Pinterest boards and Whole30 blogs for inspiration. Our grocery stores here have so many more food options than the one we frequented in Alcalá. At the same time, we are making good use of leftovers and we're totally OK with eating the same thing multiple times in the same week (like baked salmon and broccoli, chicken and tuna salads, and gazpacho).

Satisfaction: I feel good. We feel good. I can already see how beneficial a gluten-free diet is for me (John doesn't have the same issues, so I don't forsee him quitting gluten as much as I hope to); not that I won't ever eat it in the future, but the way I feel right now is convincing me that I would be a much happier person without an abundance of gluten. It's so nice to eat a meal and feel 150% satisfaction in knowing everything in it is good for our bodies.

According to the Whole30 timeline, days 10 and 11 are usually the times that people give up, throw in the towel, and go back to where they were before. We're pressing forward, even when brownie and ice cream cravings hit hard. We're a third of the way through; we've made it this far, so there's no going back!

Here are some of the meals/snacks we've made this past week:

Above (L to R): Whole30 chocolate "pudding"paleo mayo--light, fluffy, SO easy to make and perfect for tuna and chicken salad; and homemade Larabars, addictively delicious!

Above: Homemade chicken salad--I just throw things together until it looks good, and put it all on Romaine lettuce. I think my recipe for this was: grilled chicken breasts, paleo mayo, chopped green grapes, and 1 chopped avocado; salt, pepper, and dill to taste. YUM.