I’m Doing the Whole30, Take Two

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.)

Weekly Meal Plan: Sept 22-28, 2014

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)

CrockPot Minestrone Soup

Tuesday: Hamburgers

Wednesday: Tacos

Thursday: CrockPot Red Curry Pork with Pickles

CrockPot Red Curry Pork with Pickles

Friday: Thai Honey Peanut Chicken with Chinese-Style Rice Noodles

Thai Honey Peanut Chicken with Chinese-Style 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

Southwestern Salsa with Black Beans and Corn

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

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.

Weekly Meal Plan: Sept 15-21, 2014

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

Cuban Picadillo

Thursday: CrockPot White Bean Chicken Chili with Zucchini

CrockPot White Bean Chicken Chili with Zucchini

Friday: Chickpea, Sausage, and Spinach Pasta

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

Weekly Meal Plan: Sept 8-14, 2014

Monday: CrockPot Minestrone Soup

CrockPot Minestrone Soup

Tuesday: Cauliflower Pasta Puttanesca

Cauliflower Pasta Puttanesca

Wednesday: Leftovers

Thursday: Yum-Yum Fish Stew

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

Sausage and Pumpkin Pasta

Sunday: Country Captain Chicken

Country Captain Chicken

Weekly Meal Plan: Sept 1-7, 2014

Monday: Salmon Pasta with Vodka Tomato Cream Sauce

Salmon Pasta with Vodka Cream Sauce

Tuesday: Smoky Tomato Lentil Soup with Spinach and Olives

Changes: 1) Doubled the recipe; 2) Used chicken broth instead of vegetable.

Smoky Tomato Lentil Soup with Spinach and Olives

Wednesday: Baked Chicken Taquitos

Baked Chicken Taquitos

Thursday: CrockPot Pumpkin Turkey Chili

Friday: Leftovers

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.

Chicken Taco Salad

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.

Balsamic-Ginger Marinated Salmon and Black Rice Salad with Edamame, Walnuts & Lemon Vinaigrette

Weekly Meal Plan: Aug 18-24, 2014

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.

Chinese Walnut Chicken

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.

CrockPot Caribbean Pork Chili

Thursday: Leftovers

Friday: Chicken Taco Salad

Chicken Taco Salad

Saturday: Balsamic-Ginger Marinated Salmon and Black Rice Salad with Edamame, Walnuts & Lemon Vinaigrette

Balsamic-Ginger Marinated Salmon and Black Rice Salad with Edamame, Walnuts & Lemon Vinaigrette

Sunday: Leftovers

Weekly Meal Plan: Aug 11-17, 2014

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.

Thursday-Friday: Leftovers

Saturday: Baked Chicken in Creamy Tomato Sauce

Baked Chicken in Creamy Tomato Sauce

Sunday: Ate at in-laws’ house

Salmon Pasta with Vodka Tomato Cream Sauce

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)

Salmon Pasta with Vodka Cream Sauce

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.