Friday, 28 September 2012

WHOLE30: DAYS 1-4 (& CHEESE)



I thought that I'd post my Whole30 progress every few days, so as not to bombard you with "hey, this is what I ate" posts everyday. But for now, and before I get to the bit about my obsession with love for cheese...hey, this is what I ate:

Breakfast/Lunch
Sweet Potato Hash with Green Peppers & Egg*
(or substitute the egg for some lean ground beef/pork, preferably grass-fed)
scrambled eggs with peppers
salad with chicken & balsamic/olive oil

Dinner
baked pollock with lemon & herbs
roasted chicken
Braised Chicken Thighs with Tomatoes & Olives

Snacks
fruit (banana, dried apricots, apple)
raw cashews

Sides & Veggies
roasted cauliflower
steamed veggies
olives
avocado
Guacamole
Roasted Asparagus with Lemon

As for my overall experience:

I'm paying a lot more attention to when I'm actually hungry versus when I have a craving (although, it's all still very much a work in progress).

All week, I've had the refrigerator stocked with tons of fresh vegetables and protein sources (chicken, ground pork, white fish, eggs). And when a craving hits, instead of reaching for chocolate, it's half of a banana and a small handful of cashews. Sure, my healthier snack choices are due in part to the fact that since starting the Whole30, processed foods aren't even an option. But also, I'm not even craving the type of sugar that is contained in a bar of chocolate (how much you want to bet I just jinxed myself?). I'm craving a natural sweetness - in this case, fruit.

So, whether it's because the nutrients and foods that I'm consuming throughout the day are setting me up for healthy-stable-blood-sugar success later in the evening, or my overall perspective and relationship with food has already started to shift, it looks like I've started to see some changes even within the first few days of my Whole30.

I'll let you know when I start craving the bad stuff (sugar). Hopefully then I won't be tempted to eat the entire tub of ice cream, but just a scoop or two.

Speaking of ice cream, the kids I nanny eat the frozen treat everyday after school, and while it's one of my favourite desserts (out of all desserts, ever), I don't really miss it. That said, I'm only on Day 4 of the Whole30 and on the day before I started the program, I lost my Froyo virginity to a big bowl of chocolate and vanilla.

Oh, and then there's my cheese dilemma. I absolutely love cheese. And, so do kids. When you're making an effort to boost your kid's protein and calcium intake (or when you just want your kids to eat their vegetables), cheese is usually a good way to go. Whether as part of their after-school snack or dinner, my kiddies (as I often refer to them) eat cheese, and lots of it. They eat cheese on bagels, crackers, pasta, tortillas, salad...and then when I get home from work? Cheese. R usually eats really healthy, but he indulged the other night with some poutine, a deliciously salty, soggy mess of potatoes smothered in...cheese.

Sugar, ice cream, cheese or not, the journey continues.


*new recipe added! see also previous post

image via viva terra


DISCLAIMER: I am not a nutritionist, physician, or any kind of health professional. Everything that you find on my blog is based on my own knowledge and opinion. If you require specific health and fitness advice, please seek a qualified health professional.

SWEET POTATO HASH WITH PEPPERS

For a quick and delicious breakfast, fry up some sweet potatoes and peppers for a healthy sweet potato hash. I'm a big fan of Mexican food, and this dish reminds me of the fresh and spicy flavours of Mexico with its combination of cilantro and red pepper (and hot sauce if you're feeling extra spicy!). The sweet potato really adds a tender sweetness that goes fabulous with a couple of fried eggs or better, some seasoned grass-fed sausage.



Sweet Potato Hash with Peppers

1 tsp. coconut oil
1/2 cup sweet potato, cubed and boiled
1/2 cup green pepper, diced
1-2 eggs, preferably free-range
red pepper flakes
salt and pepper
cilantro, chopped

1. Heat oil in pan on medium-high heat. Add green peppers to pan and cook until just beginning to soften, a minute or two.

2. Add sweet potato to pan, season with red pepper flakes and salt and pepper. Heat through.

3. Once heated through, transfer hash to plate. Next, fry one or two eggs and serve atop the hash.

4. Sprinkle hash and egg/s with fresh cilantro and your favourite hot sauce.

Makes 1 serving.

Try This: Cut your cook time in half! It's easy to boil or roast some sweet potatoes on the weekend or the night before and this will make the cooking process that much quicker. Keep a container of chopped vegetables in the refrigerator for this and other dishes, and you're all set!

Add seasoned lean ground beef or pork (pre-cooked) to your skillet for some extra protein or in place of the egg/s. 

image via live well 360

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

WHOLE30



In an effort to get my body in shape from the inside-out, I am embarking on a 30-day food challenge.

Whole30 was developed by husband and wife team and authors of It Starts With Food: Discover the Whole30and Change Your Life in Unexpected Ways (2012), Dallas and Melissa Hartwig. The program functions to redesign your diet through a strict process of elimination and reintroduction of certain foods. In doing so, it is expected that participants will experience either and/or all of weight loss, improved quality of life, and a healthier relationship with food, not to mention stunning improvements in sleep, energy levels, mood, and self-esteem. More significantly, many participants have reported the "magical" elimination of a variety of symptoms, diseases, and conditions.*

Sounds good to me.

I just finished reading the book a couple of weeks ago and although this is not the first time that I'm hearing about the program, I think that this time I'm actually convinced to give it a go.

I think that a lot of us aren't really sure about how we're supposed to feel on a day-to-day basis and so long as we're not vomiting bits of ribbon and gold sequins (true story: my cat puked up craft supplies last week), we think we're doing just fine and that there's no real reason to alter our diets in order to help us either feel more alert in the morning (or at 4pm) or rid of allergies or avoid gut rot and bloat. After all, that's what caffeine, over-the-counter medications, and lying on our bellies is for. However, having lived with lupus for the past several years and experiencing first-hand what the effects of consuming particular foods can have on our health, I have learned about the importance of diet. That said, even ten years after first being diagnosed, I still have a lot to learn about what foods I should be consuming more or less of as my symptoms persist.  

For the next thirty days, I will consume only whole foods. This means no grains, no legumes (including soy and peanuts), no dairy, no sugar, no alcohol, and no processed foods. The foods that I will be feasting on are meat, fish, nuts (and other healthy fats), and tons of vegetables and fruit. Now, while I do not consume a lot of dairy, sugar, alcohol, or processed foods to begin with, I do see this as a challenge. No dairy means no cheese (my go-to "cheat" food) and no sugar means not even stevia.

Although I don't usually like to have any expectations when starting a program like this – just because tens of thousands of participants have had positive experiences, doesn't necessarily mean you will, too! – I do hope that I am able to benefit from the Whole30 in at least one way (fingers crossed?), whether I discover that a particular food or food group aggravates my lupus or I field a healthier relationship with food in general. But, let's get real. I've already fluffed the extra pillows in the linen closet, so that when I experience ice cream withdrawal or get an uncontrollable desire to eat a brick of cheese, I have something soft and comforting to scream into.

So, here I go.   

Join me as I embark on this whole food adventure! Today marks Day 1.  

Stay tuned for updates about my progress and overall experience, including meal ideas and recipes.

*to learn more about the Whole30, visit Whole9

Monday, 24 September 2012

AN INTRODUCTION

Welcome to Live Free From, a blog about diet, fitness, and overall health and well-being! 

I began my journey to better health several years ago when I was diagnosed with the auto-immune disease, lupus. Since then, I have taken a growing interest in health and nutrition and the many ways in which diet can affect our everyday well-being. As a result, those around me also interested in their health and well-being (friends, family, and readers) have directed more and more of their questions towards me, many of which I have yet to answer. 

It is my goal that Live Free From will serve as a platform to discuss topics relative to health and nutrition and help to provide answers (or at the very least, spark discussion). 

This blog will also serve as a space to showcase some of my favourite recipes and workouts! So, while I get busy in the kitchen and at the gym, here are a few things you can check out right now:

For a list of recipes from my former blog, click here.

Visit here and here to learn more about this blog and its writer (me).

Check out my blogroll for some of my favourite food and lifestyle blogs.

See what else I’m up to by following me on Pinterest and Instagram.



DISCLAIMER: I am not a nutritionist, physician, or any kind of health professional. Everything that you find on my blog is based on my own knowledge and opinion. If you require specific health and fitness advice, please seek a qualified health professional.

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

COMING SOON

Stay tuned for the launch of Live Free From, a blog about health, nutrition, and fitness.