Food/Drink

True Story: I Finished the Whole30

by Lindsey

There’s a great episode of This American Life called “The Seven Things You’re Not Supposed to Talk About,” in which Sarah Koenig (yes, that Sarah Koenig #SerialForever) hosts an entire show about her mother’s rules for conversation. One of the seven forbidden topics is diet. Normally, I would agree. As annoying as I find people who constantly talk about how they aren’t eating gluten or refried beans or whatever, I hate being that person even more. I was a semi-vegetarian (no red meat; bacon got me back) for about ten years, and I was always a little uneasy when someone would offer me something I couldn’t try or I pretended to eat a pork chop at a dinner party.  I just wanted to eat what I wanted without having to explain myself or inconvenience others by trying to accommodate my choices. I take a quiet, libertarian philosophy when it comes to many things, including dietary choices.

So, with that, dear readers: leave now if you don’t want to hear about what I’ve been eating lately. I won’t blame you.  Just know that I’m writing this because 1. my blog, my choice, and 2. I’ve felt very encouraged reading the stories of others on a journey to healthier habits (especially updates from Diana of Our City Lights). If you want to stick around, I’ll share a little of why I decided to go this route, followed by things I’ve learned. Ready? Let’s go.

First things first, I love to eat. Every vacation is built around trying the local fare, including as much ice cream and as many doughnuts as I can stomach. Kelsey and I still cry about missing Salt & Straw when we were in Portland. (We tried to find it and got very lost, but that’s a story for another day.) Anyway, as you may recall from my body image post and our New Year’s resolutions list, I hit a health hurdle last year. I started a medication that helped me gain around 30 pounds in one year. Because of that, my cholesterol shot up. Yikes, right?

I’ll admit that I wasn’t too keen on trying to change my habits. First, I didn’t want to sacrifice mental health for physical health when it came to my medicine. And I was scared to switch medicines, because I’m an anxious person. It’s a vicious cycle. Then, as someone who has long struggled with body image, finally embracing who I am – curvy shape, extra pounds and all – it was hard mentally to go back to the place of needing to change something about myself. To fix my cholesterol, I needed to lose weight, but trying to lose weight felt like giving up my principles about embracing my perfectly imperfect body. In the end, I decided health means more than principles. I switched my medicine over Christmas break and decided to go for it.

Thus, armed with a medical reason and new resolve, I started the Whole30 Program. A friend mentioned this program to me last summer, and I’ll admit that I thought she was crazy. You have to give up ALL grains, dairy, legumes, added sugar and alcohol for 30 days? Ridiculous and impossible, I thought. I read some of the It Starts With Food book that explains the program, and I remained skeptical. No one is ever going to convince me that whole grains, dairy and legumes are inherently bad for me. I’m a believer in whole foods and moderation (even when I don’t quite practice what I believe…mmm…doughnuts). In the end, I chose the Whole30 because it seemed like a good, cold-turkey, jump-start to health.

I’ve now reached the end of my 30 days, and I’m really glad I chose this route. Most importantly, it showed me that I have the discipline to make real changes in my daily habits. Aside from taking communion twice (“What Would Jesus Eat?”) and eating bacon/ham with added sugar, I didn’t break protocol that I know of. That’s not to say it’s been easy. My first day of the program, my generous coworkers offered me cheesecake, a cupcake and gourmet flavored popcorn. In one day. I felt like I was going through some kind of temptation scenario with the devil, even though it was communion that broke me. Go figure.

Anywho, I’ve been thinking a lot about what I’ve learned during this month, and I thought I’d share my top seven takeaways.

  1. My favorite thing about the Whole30 is that it really made me think about what I was eating. Because I had to look for added sugars, I learned how many foods feature added sugars. Not eating whole food groups had me rethink staple, fallback meals. Fast food was off the table, thankfully. (Except for Chipotle. Until they stopped carrying carnitas. Sigh.) I hope to continue this type of thoughtful consumption over the long haul.
  2. It reignited my cooking habit. Before I moved to Nashville, I worked at a job that paid about $23,000 a year. I had to really budget, and that meant I had to cook my own meals basically all the time. Since moving, I’ve done very little cooking. I’ve gotten lazy, eating sugary cereal for dinner or grabbing a sandwich and fries on my way home. The Whole30 forced me to cook my own meals and try new recipes. My favorite meal was this salmon with roasted potatoes and broccoli. CheckCilantro Lime Salmon and Veggies out my Pinterest page for plenty of Whole30 recipes (and desserts I’m currently lusting after). Oh, and it is possible to bake brownies without licking the batter or tasting one hot out of the oven. (Cue 98 Degrees’ “The Hardest Thing.”)
  3. The Whole30 is hard, but it’s not that hard. A coworker was talking just yesterday about a “cleanse” he did for 10 days where all he “ate” was water with lemon, cayenne pepper and maple syrup. Now tell me, how is that healthy or sustainable? Detox, shmetox. I’ve been eating healthy, whole foods for 30 days. Yes, I complained about a lack of chocolate, cheese and toast, but I didn’t starve myself.
  4. I’ve always been one of those people that gets really hungry really quickly. I would have those times when I had a sugar drop and felt like I needed to eat everything in sight as quickly as possible to make up the deficit. Surprisingly, I did not experience that on this program. By eating less sugar overall, my blood and appetite felt more stable. It allowed me to think before eating and better evaluate hunger without getting to an unstable, hangry point.
  5. Trader Joe’s is heaven. Yes, it’s crowded and you’ll spend 15+ minutes looking for parking, but it is truly a lifesaver if you’re trying to eat healthy without spending your entire paycheck at Whole Foods. Some of my favorite finds included: packaged ghee (pan fry some sweet potatoes in it, and you’ll be so happy), freeze-dried fruit (amazing snack), almond butter (relatively cheap and necessary for my kind of Whole30) and coconut products (coconut cream, coconut flour, etc. etc.). Just make sure to avoid the Cookie Butter. Walk away. You can cry in the car.
  6. Though overall health is the point, I have started losing weight. Currently, I’m down about 10 pounds, which I feel like is a great start. I’ve started exercising more consistently, too. Take that, high cholesterol!
  7. I’ve seen stories about people on the Whole30 suddenly being cured of skin diseases, sleeping better, etc. I don’t doubt their good fortune, but I don’t have any drastic news to report on these fronts. For me, it would never call it a miracle program, but it is one that has helped me become a more mindful consumer. I feel good, and I’m grateful for that.
  8. A lifestyle change doesn’t stop at 30 days. If you’ve read about the program, you know there’s a food reintroduction phase. You learn how different foods affect your system, and work from there. For example, I’ll eat lots of legumes tomorrow and see what happens. Come at me peanut butter. Post putting foods back in my life/body, I’m planning to transition to a more Mediterranean/whole foods diet, which includes plenty of whole grains. Sorry, Whole30. I have to find what healthy eating means to me. Next on my reading list is Michael Pollan’s In Defense of Food and the 100 Days of Real Food blog to keep me motivated toward whole, clean eating. I’m also going to try the whole, “If you want it, you have to make it” philosophy of junk food. Want cookies? Break out the chocolate chips at home. I hope it will help me think through how much I really want to eat certain foods. Do I want it bad enough to take the time to make it? Maybe, maybe not.

The final moral of the story? I’ll see you soon, ice cream. I just won’t see you as often.

I hope some small part of this has been helpful or enlightening. Whether you choose the Whole30 or another dietary program/lifestyle change, here’s wishing you health and happiness, friends.

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Lenita’s Chocolate Pie

by Kelsey 

This recipe is brought to you by my friend Anna’s grandmother, Lenita. Anna made this pie in college a few times, and the first time, I probably demurred something about preferring cake to pie then proceeded to eat it straight out of the pan with my friends. To this day, it is one of the very few pies that I genuinely adore.

I’m made this delight a few times since college, and I still eat it much the same: wearing sweatpants, standing over the counter in my kitchen, fork in hand. Plates are for amateurs.

The recipe is below (to make 1 pie), with a few additional comments from me (i.e. how not to make my mistakes):

1 ‘deep’ dish pie crust.  She used the frozen ones and you bake it for about 2-3 minutes before you add the filling. (if I’m using a frozen pie crust, I’ll throw it into the oven at the same temp. for the pie-baking: 350 degrees. I’ve also made homemade pie crust once, which I did not regret, although I did regret making it too thick/not cooking it long enough beforehand).

Filling

  • 1 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup cocoa.                Get a good one like Hershey’s or similar. It’s worth it.
  • 3/4 stick butter               Don’t use light butter or margarine. (Words to live by, am I right?)
  • 1/4 T. vanilla
  • 1 can Pet evaporated milk
  • 3 egg yolks – beat well and set aside
In a double boiler (remember, fancy word for bowl over a pot of boiling water – I bought mine on – yes, you guessed it – Amazon) add sugar, flour and cocoa. Gradually stir in the Pet evaporated milk over low-medium heat for at least 5 minutes. If you don’t get it hot enough, it won’t cook. (Straight talk. I tend to put mine on medium-high. Also, keep a close eye to ensure that your water in the double boiler does not run dry.)
Sweet double boiler action.

Sweet double boiler action.

Take a few spoons of the hot mixture and add it to the beaten egg yolks. Stir well and then add a few more spoons and stir again. Gradually pour the egg yolk mixture into the bouble boiler and continue to stir and cook until thick.

Last, stir in butter and vanilla. Pour into pre-baked pie shell.
Meringue
  • 3 egg whites*
  • 1/4 t. vanilla
  • 1/4 t. cream of tarter
  • 1/3 c. sugar
Beat egg whites with electric mixture at high speed until foamy. Gradually add sugar, cream of tartar and vanilla until stiff peaks are visible when you lift up mixer out of meringue. Spread over the top of the pie filling. Bake 10 -15 minutes on 350 until golden brown.
*Real talk. For those that love to eat raw cookie dough and brownie batter as much as yours truly, I tend to  buy pasteurized eggs, as I’m also paranoid (read: salmonella). That said, pasteurized eggs, for some reason, do not make good meringue, folks. For this recipe, I suggest using non-pasteurized eggs. Also, I tend to use 4 eggs whites, because I don’t play around with meringue. I want some serious volume on this pie.
Look at that volume.

Look at that volume. If meringue were hair, this pie would have its own shampoo ad. You know what I mean.

This Just In: Savory Oatmeal Exists

by Lindsey

In place of our usual Lazy Links, I’m giving you some recipe links for, you guessed it, savory oatmeal. Brunch it up, y’all!

When Kelsey and I went to Chicago, our friend Aubrie casually mentioned that she likes to eat savory oatmeal for breakfast. Our immediate reaction was, “Wait, what?” It might seem surprising that girls who love to eat – breakfast especially – had never heard of such a thing. Well, consider our ignorance corrected.

The only iteration I’ve tried so far is oatmeal, goat cheese and dijon mustard. It doesn’t sound great, but it wasn’t bad. If I’d had broccoli or a soft boiled egg, the taste and appearance would have vastly improved, I’m certain. If I’d had those items, you’d see an image to accompany this post. C’est la vie.

I’m planning to continue my exploration of this breakfast phenomenon by perusing the following links. Journey with me.

 

Love/Hate: Chia Seed Pudding

– by Lindsey and Kelsey

Readers, we’ve found another thing to disagree about, so it’s Love/Hate time again. This week’s installment? Chia seed pudding.


Lindsey loves.

It looks like I just love everything, doesn’t it? I’ll try to be on the hate side next time, just so you don’t think I’m some blob that lacks discernment. I really do like chia seed pudding, though.

Honestly, I wasn’t completely sold on the idea of it, because I think it looks sort of like the grossest thing in the world that I really can’t think about or talk about because I will get sick to my stomach. (I quickly attached that link and closed my eyes.) When I ignored that part and just ate the stuff, I liked it! The only recipe I’ve really tried is chia seeds, almond milk, unsweetened cocoa powder and honey, but the options are endless. I want to try a lemon version with raspberries. You have to get the ratio of milk to seeds right for your tastes, so just know that things might not be smooth on the first try. Things could also be so smooth you’re just eating spoonfuls of liquid peppered with seeds. Whatever. Keep trying, because I heartily endorse any healthy recipe that allows me to eat chocolate for breakfast.

Kelsey hates.

And I don’t hate everything. I mean I’m a pessimist/realist, so I’m naturally more skeptical.  But I mix my own muesli and don’t eat fried foods (on a regular basis); I don’t loathe chia seed pudding because it’s “healthy.” I hate it because it’s  disgusting.

First off, for anyone that has never downed a chia seed: when exposed to moisture, the freshly saturated chia seeds become mucus-y and slimy. Two words that do not typically describe foods that I eat on a regular basis. (And I love some tapioca pudding. Chia seeds are NOT like tapioca pudding). I do not want to add milk to something naturally slimy by nature and then eat it. I do not.

But I did. Peer pressure. I mixed up my lactose free milk (tastes just like regular milk, people, no judgment) and Hershey’s Chocolate Syrup (because chocolate is the only things that could save this equation), leaving this mixture + chia seeds to chill in the fridge overnight. I tried to like it, I really did. But I cannot get past the texture. Also, spoiler alert, if you eat this, you will have 1 million chia seeds in your teeth, and their delightful texture makes them prime for sticking to bowls. Your dishwasher doesn’t stand a chance.

I’m sticking to tapioca pudding.


Mmm mmm good/bad.

Fall Vibes

by Lindsey

Fall is less than a month away. Living in Tennessee means the cool weather hasn’t yet arrived, but I know it’s coming. I see you, crispy leaves. Come at me.

I know most girls (and boys) get excited about a change in the seasons, so consider this my homage. Behold: The things I love about fall, and the things I want to do/accomplish during this marvelous time of year.


Loves

Fall Dressing: One word: cozy. Tights and boots and sweaters and jackets and scarves and every other cuddly piece of clothing I own will be put to great use. I’m one of those people who sleeps best cocooned under the weight of five blankets pulled to my chin, so I feel very comfortable dressing for chilly weather. Plus, I feel like I dress better in the fall. Layering is my game, and it’s a hard game to win in the hotter months. When the cool breezes start blowing, no one will judge my choice to wear a denim jacket. (I do wear denim in summer. It’s called personal style, dad.)

Return to Academia: I miss school. I really do. Fall reminds me of the time in my life where my ultimate goal was to learn. (It still is, but less formally so.) I think that’s why college Homecomings often happen in the fall. It’s nostalgia on steroids. New school supplies are a thing of beauty, too, yeah? To quote my favorite Tom Hanks/Meg Ryan movie:

“Don’t you love New York in the fall? It makes me wanna buy school supplies. I would send you a bouquet of newly sharpened pencils if I knew your name and address.”

If a man ever sent me a bouquet of pencils, I’d probably swoon and lose an eye. Take note, gentlemen.

IMG_3784

Halloween 2013. With hat, witch. Without hat, Stevie Nicks. Good either way.

Holidays Ahoy: The best holidays take place in fall/winter. Halloween has candy and frights. The Halloween episodes of television shows are just the BEST. Everyone is listening to spooky podcasts and reading scary books, too, right? Just me? Then, Thanksgiving has family and warm fuzzies. My mom makes the best dressing (or stuffing baked outside of the turkey for those readers not living in the South). Finally, we head into Christmas with all the festivities that entails. Woot!

Goals

Makeup Shake-up: Honestly, I don’t wear much makeup, and I’ve been wearing less and less of late. Really, If I have a lipgloss or balm, I’m good to go. I’ve come a long way from my middle school days of purple lipstick and hot pink blush. However, I want to start taking better care of my skin this fall. I’m currently eyeing this combo SPF cream. Also, I’ve always wanted to be one of girls that can wear red lipstick during the day without anyone blinking an eye. So, you know what? I’m going to be that girl. I’ve purchased Fire Down Below from NARS, a deep blood red. Basically, I’m majorly inspired by Jamie Beck’s no-fuss, classic look. (She even has me considering oxfords. No small feat.)

IMG_4217Copy Starbucks: You thought I was going to talk about pumpkin spice lattes, didn’t you? Well, you’d be wrong. I spend waaay too much money on Starbucks’ matcha green tea lattes. I’m addicted. This fall, I intend to learn a copycat recipe. Buying matcha is expensive, but there must be a way!

Plan Better: I’ll make this short and sweet. I haven’t been using my planner and I should. Lame, right? Well, I need to better track my time. Also, I’m a homebody, and I’m perfectly okay with that. However, with all the fun fall things? I need to plan to get out of the house.

Fall, y’all! What are your plans?

Bagel Time

– by Kelsey

Is bread considered a hobby? Because I spend collectively at least a few hours a week thinking about it, and you guys, ALL THE BREAD.

I love bagels more than I will ever be able to adequately express. Most of the time, I’ll head down to the local bagel shop in Kingsport which, spoiler alert, has pretty amazing bagels (The Bagel Exchange – I suggest the sesame). But sometimes, I want to make my own.

I followed the instructions from the Sophisticated Gourmet’s link to bagel-making (adapted below):

Ingredients

1 packet of active dry yeast
1 ½ TB of granulated sugar
1 ¼ cups of warm water (more may be added, if needed)
3 ½ cups of bread flour
1 ½ teaspoons of salt

Preparation

IMG_15961. Take 1/2 cup of the warm water and add in the sugar and yeast, allow to sit for five minutes before stirring. (ALSO, please don’t be a dumb, like yours truly, and overheat the water. Overheated water = dead yeast. If the yeast mixture is foaming, your yeast is happy and not dead.)

2. Sift the flour and salt and pour in your yeast/sugar combo, mixing to combine.  Add in the remaining water (3/4 C) as you mix. More water may need to be added (The Sophisticated Gourmet says somewhere from a few TBs to 1/4 C, depending on where you live). This dough should not be dry and will hold its shape well.

4. The original author suggests kneading the dough for ten minutes, adding flour until very solid. Or, if you are a laze such as myself, I popped this in my Kitchenaid with a dough hook and mixed on medium speed (adding flour if needed to prevent over-stickiness) for about 3 minutes or so.

5. In an oiled bowl, let the dough rise (covered with a damp dish towel/paper towel) for an hour until doubled in size. PUNCH IT DOWN. Then let it hang out for another 10 minutes.

6. The recipe suggests dividing the dough into eight equal pieces with the help of a kitchen scale, which makes my neurotic heart purr. However, seeing as I don’t have one of these contraptions, divide the dough as best as you can into eight pieces. Original suggestions are to roll the dough pieces against the counter, making an even ball, then pressing a floured finger in middle to create the bagel shape. Or I’ve also found that rolling out the shape into a log and creating a bagel circle also works well.IMG_1595

7. Let these kittens hang out on an oiled cookie sheet for ~10 minutes, covering with a dampened towel. Preheat the oven to 425ºF.

8. In a large pot of simmering water, lower your bagels into their bath with a slotted tool (I use a mint julep spoon), as many as will fit comfortably into the pot. Let boil 1 minute on each side before flipping over (boil for 2 minutes on each side for a chewier “New York Style” bagel.) After bobbing for bagels, place them back on the oiled cookie sheet for baking.

9. Add toppings to your bagels, if desired. I like to add sesame or sea salt. But the options are endless.

10. Bake for 20 minutes, until golden brown.

IMG_1598

 

 

 

 

 

Recipe: Garlic Pickles

By Lindsey

Looking for a weekend project? Like pickles? This is the post for you. Also, if the following video is the first thing you think of when someone talks about making homemade pickles, we should probably be friends.

But I digress.

For my pickle project, I modified this recipe from The Kitchn as follows.

Garlic Dill Pickles

Makes 2 pint jars

58809B4D-F9D3-4045-8B71-F42E4FD3F963Ingredients

1 1/2 pounds Kirby cucumbers

1 head of garlic, peeled and smashed
2 teaspoons dill weed (or dill seed)
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, optional
8-10 black peppercorns
1/2 teaspoon mustard seed
1 1/2 cup cider vinegar
1 1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons kosher salt

 


Instructions

  1. Wash your jars and lids. I made refrigerator pickles, so I didn’t sterilize for long-term storage. If you’d like to go for pickles that will stand the test of time, see the Kitchn’s instructions.FFE382ED-1531-4AE4-A01F-F84672AB54A6
  2. Wash and trim your cucumbers, making sure to get rid of those stumpy ends. Slice them up according to your preference. I chose coins, because I thought they’d be easier to pack. I think I was right.
  3. Divide your chosen garlic and spices equally between your two jars.
  4. Pack your jars with those soon-to-be-pickles.
  5. Boil your brine. Bring the vinegar, water and salt to a boil in a sauce pan.B846E177-769B-42F3-BB72-6FB3867A81CF
  6. Pour the boiled brine over your pickles, making sure to cover the tops of the cucumbers (but not so full to spill). I increased the brine ingredients above, because the original recipe didn’t have quite enough for my thirsty pickles.
  7. Tap the jars to remove air bubbles before tightening those lids!
  8. Let the jars cool, then refrigerate. I waited a week before opening mine. They should keep in the refrigerator for a few weeks.

Notes: I couldn’t find dill seed at my local supermarket, and I didn’t feel like trekking to Whole Foods. Dill seed is recommended in every recipe I found, but *spoiler alert* my pickles turned out just fine with dill weed.

End result? Slightly vinegar-y, crispy pickles. Plus, I felt like a homesteader/hipster for a little while. You can pickle that!

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