Two years and many life changes later, I’ve decided to do my second Whole30. I’m already on Day 2.
What has changed in my life since my last Whole30? Quite a bit. I live in Buffalo, NY instead of Washington, DC. Paul and I are now married (in 2012, he was the live-in boyfriend who put together the wagon I bought for my nephew’s birthday). If everything goes as planned, we’ll be purchasing our first home in October. I started drinking coffee again (decaf during the work week, regular on weekends) after giving it up for a while. The apple cider vinegar experiment was short-lived; I only did that for a few weeks and stopped. I haven’t made braised cabbage in a long time (probably at least a year) which is unfortunate because it really does taste great.
Why do I want to do the program again? I hadn’t given it much thought until a few Whole30-related articles made their way onto my radar recently. It inspired me to check out the website (which I hadn’t done in two years) and I noticed it’s a lot more user-friendly than it used to be. There are more support options on social media, and many more Whole30-approved recipes available with just a quick search. After reading through a bunch of articles on the site, I found myself excited to give it another go.
Another motivating factor was feeling discontent with the timing of my first Whole30; I’ve always thought my first attempt wasn’t a good example of what the program could do. I’ve been hypothyroid since 2009 and prescribed an increasing dose of medication ever since to keep it under control – when I started Whole30’ing in July 2012 my thyroid hormones were out of whack and I didn’t get back to normal levels until after the program was over. I didn’t experience the much-needed energy boost I was looking for at the time, but instead of being the plan’s fault I knew it was due to a hormone imbalance.
What I did like about my first experience with the Whole30 (which I spelled out in detail in my final recap post), was how the program gave me a greater awareness of my eating habits and challenged me to cook quite differently than what I was used to.
I still eat gluten-free 95% of the time (and I only cook gluten-free at home), but after a while the legumes started creeping back in to some of my meals and I’d add cheese to things I wouldn’t have in the past. I started eating brown rice and rice noodles because it was faster than preparing braised cabbage. My preferred snack between meals at work (and often at home) was plain corn tortilla chips. While these things weren’t affecting my weight – I weigh the same as I did two years ago – I know I can do better. That’s why I want to try it again.
(Note: I’ll be posting my food recaps on a weekly basis instead of daily like I did last time.)
The first half of the week was another easier-than-usual meal plan because my husband was out of town on business and I didn’t have as much food to prepare.
Monday: Leftovers (CrockPot Minestrone Soup)
Thursday: CrockPot Red Curry Pork with Pickles
Friday: Thai Honey Peanut Chicken with Chinese-Style Rice Noodles
Saturday: Southwestern Salsa with Black Beans and Corn
I took this to a get-together with friends where everybody was contributing a dish.
Sunday: CrockPot Pumpkin Turkey Chili
I rediscovered this recipe when my sister Elissa posted about it a few months ago (she got it from The Ultimate Southern Living Cookbook). She’s made it for me before and I always enjoyed it — the flavor is fantastic and it’s super simple to make. This is my version.
Southwestern Salsa with Black Beans and Corn
- 1-2 tsp ground cumin
- 2 (15 oz) cans black beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 (15 oz) can whole kernel corn, drained (I always buy bags of frozen corn, so I just fill up one of the empty black bean cans with frozen corn and thaw it)
- 1 red bell pepper, diced
- 1/2 cup minced red onion
- 1/2 c chopped cilantro *
- 1/2 c chopped parsley *
- 1/3 c lime juice (I use bottled)
- 1/4 c olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tsp salt
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Tortilla chips, for serving
* Note: I’ve been known to use a few tablespoons of dried cilantro and parsley if I didn’t have fresh. It’s not the same, but it’s still tasty.
Combine all ingredients; stir well. Cover and store in fridge up to 1 week (mine only lasts a day or two before it’s consumed). Serve with tortilla chips.
If the salsa has been sitting for a while between servings, make sure to give it a good stir as the liquid will fall to the bottom and need to be reincorporated.
Monday: Baked Chicken in Creamy Tomato Sauce
Tuesday: CrockPot Pork Tenderloin with Spicy Peanut Sauce
Changes: 1) Used a 2-lb pork tenderloin; 2) Used salt and pepper to season the pork; 3) Used 15-oz can tomato sauce; 4) Used tamari instead of soy sauce; 5) Didn’t add sugar; 6) Whisked sauce ingredients rather than using food processor.
Wednesday: Cuban Picadillo
Thursday: CrockPot White Bean Chicken Chili with Zucchini
Friday: Chickpea, Sausage, and Spinach Pasta
Saturday: Pasta with Smashed Peas, Sausage, and Ricotta Cheese
First time making this recipe! I wasn’t sure how it would turn out but we both enjoyed it. Quick and simple to make, too.
Changes: 1) Used rice pasta spirals instead of tagliatelle; 2) Substituted Pepper Jack cheese for Pecorino Romano (it’s what I had in the fridge).
Sunday: CrockPot Minestrone Soup
Monday: CrockPot Minestrone Soup
Tuesday: Cauliflower Pasta Puttanesca
Thursday: Yum-Yum Fish Stew
Friday: Cornmeal-Crusted Tilapia with Black Rice Salad
First time making this fish recipe. I substituted almond flour for regular flour and it turned out well — a little dry though, so next time I’d serve it with a dipping sauce.
Saturday: Sausage and Pumpkin Pasta
Sunday: Country Captain Chicken
Monday: Salmon Pasta with Vodka Tomato Cream Sauce
Tuesday: Smoky Tomato Lentil Soup with Spinach and Olives
Changes: 1) Doubled the recipe; 2) Used chicken broth instead of vegetable.
Wednesday: Baked Chicken Taquitos
Thursday: CrockPot Pumpkin Turkey Chili
Saturday: Chicken Taco Salad
Ingredients I used for my plate: shredded green leaf lettuce, diced chicken (I cooked it with homemade taco seasoning), ranch/salsa dressing, corn, diced red bell pepper, tortilla chips, and grated pepper jack cheese.
Sunday: Balsamic-Ginger Marinated Salmon and Black Rice Salad with Edamame, Walnuts & Lemon Vinaigrette
My father-in-law’s birthday is coming up so I made him one of my favorite meals.
Monday: Chinese Walnut Chicken
Changes: 1) Used 1/4 cup organic cane sugar instead of 1/2 cup (for the candied walnuts); 2) Didn’t pre-toast the walnuts; 3) Substituted white wine for the Chinese rice wine; 4) Used arrowroot powder instead of cornstarch; 5) Didn’t add scallions; 5) Served with brown rice.
Tuesday: CrockPot Turkey Pasta with Spinach and Mushrooms
Wednesday: CrockPot Caribbean Pork Chili
Changes: Didn’t add optional chipotle chile pepper or red onion shards.
Friday: Chicken Taco Salad
Saturday: Balsamic-Ginger Marinated Salmon and Black Rice Salad with Edamame, Walnuts & Lemon Vinaigrette
I had a shorter meal planning week this week because my husband was out of town on a business trip. (I only made three meals! That seems extremely rare nowadays.) Less people in the house, less food required.
Monday: Leftovers (Cauliflower Pasta Puttanesca)
Tuesday: Asian Chicken Salad
Change: Didn’t add cucumber, cilantro or chives.
Wednesday: One Pot Hungarian Chicken and Noodles with Cabbage
First time making this. It was good but I was mainly trying to use up ingredients I already had in the fridge — I don’t see myself making this on a regular basis.
Changes: 1) Added 1 Tbsp butter instead of 3 Tbsp; 2) Substituted ground turkey for the ground chicken; 3) Used a bit of cumin & dill instead of caraway seeds; 4) Used some leftover rice noodles instead of egg noodles; 5) Didn’t add parsley; 6) Added the optional sour cream.
Saturday: Baked Chicken in Creamy Tomato Sauce
Sunday: Ate at in-laws’ house
I went searching for a recipe like this when I had two frozen salmon filets in my freezer that I wasn’t sure what to do with. Not enough for a meal on their own, but the perfect amount to add to creamy tomato pasta. I’ve made this several times now and we always love it!
Salmon Pasta with Vodka Tomato Cream Sauce
(Adapted from Culinary Style)
Pasta (I use rice pasta)
1 small onion, diced
1 Tbsp butter
2-3 salmon filets, cut into chunks
2 oz vodka
1 28-oz can crushed tomatoes
1/4 cup half & half
Freshly-ground black pepper
Pinch of cayenne pepper
Cook the pasta according to package directions; drain.
Cook the onion and butter over medium heat in a large saute pan. Once onion is soft, add the salmon and cook for 2-3 minutes. Remove pan from heat and add 2 oz of vodka. Return pan to heat and stir.
Remove salmon from the pan and set aside so it doesn’t overcook. Add tomatoes to the pan and bring to a simmer.
Add half & half and stir, then season with salt, pepper and a pinch of cayenne. Let the sauce simmer and thicken a bit. Add the salmon back into the sauce before serving over pasta.