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Yes, I am less than a week away from completing my whole30. I haven’t blogged since Day 2 because, at times, I’ve actually forgotten about this challenge all together. I’ve been so consumed with bringing all the creations in my head to life! When making the decision to participate in this challenge, I was somewhat afraid that I would run out of ideas and run out of energy to make the journey seem new and exciting every single day.

It’s funny how eating cleaner has not only cleansed my body but has also rejuvenated my perspective on life. I have always loved cooking and experimenting in the kitchen. But comfort food to me used to equate to lots of rich, buttery, and likely cheesy fattyness I don’t even really regret eating because I can’t deny it was good. Within the past 22 days, I have redefined what comfort food means to me. And, dare I say, I have surprised myself along the way.

People have a lot to say about paleo/whole30. I agree that there are negative aspects, like cutting out milk– as it is a good source of calcium. However, for the most part.. the grain, the starches, and anything with added sugar.. I realize I can really do without. I’ve learned that fresh produce can be equally as satiating when cooked well. If I’m craving something sweet, I immediate think fruit.. dessert.. yes! I’ve grilled, sauteed, baked, boiled, steamed, and Magic Bulleted my way through every meal and I’m absolutely loving how something as simple as careful and conscious preparation can make food taste better!

Let me update you on some of my creations:

Day 3: open faced omelet with sauteed peppers and onions, cherry tomatoes, avocado, cilantro, fresh lime juice, s+p

 

 

 

 

 

chicken salad (roasted chicken breast, avocado, lime , cilantro, onion) on a bed of romaine with apple slices drizzled with cashew butter

 

 

paleo blueberry muffins- made with almond flour, almond butter, and coconut oil

 

 

 

 

zucchini ribbons with mushrooms, coated with a light garlic sauce and topped with chopped almonds

 

 

 

 

smashed strawberry, peach, mango, pineapple, lime filled with pellegrino and finished off with some blueberries

 

Day 4: mixed greens salad with apple, avocado, tomato, green onion, and almond flour and coconut encrusted chicken

Day 5: homemade real fruit popsicle

 

Day 6: paleo pancakes with warm blueberry syrup and bacon on the side

Baked salmon with lemon pepper, steamed veggies, and zucchini bacon scallion fritters

Day 7: grilled burger with lettuce, tomato, homemade guac, and crispy bacon

 

Day 8: salmon with basil and walnut pesto.. And maple glazed sweet potato fries.

Sliced banana, almond butter, blueberries, and toasted coconut

 

Day 9: Zucchini boats with sausage and vegetable marinara filling

Day 10: Egg scramble with bell pepper, salmon, and green onion. And banana and almond butter drizzled with honey

Personal paleo pizza.. leftover sausage marinara, bell pepper, onion, mushrooms, olives, arugula, tomato, and basil

Apple sauteed with orange juice and topped with warmed slivered almonds, cinnamon and a drizzle of honey

Day 11: Fried “rice” made with cauliflower.

Day 12: Frozen fruit blended with banana.. nice and thick and refreshing. Better than ice cream!

Day 13: Paleo waffles with warm strawberry syrup

Day 14: BBQed chicken over slaw.

Day 15: Asparagus and sausage frittata

Day 16: Paleo banana pancakes topped with almond butter, warm strawberry syrup, and cinnamon

Day 17: Fish and chips– white fish battered with almond flour and coconut flour, baked sweet potato chips, and roasted red pepper and garlic dip

 

Day 19: Homemade trail mix– almonds, walnuts, dried cranberries, dried blueberries, and toasted coconut. Great snack! I make a big batch so I always have some on hand!

Grilled zucchini, bell pepper, onion, cherry tomatoes, and chicken

Day 20: BBQed pork chop with grilled vegetable, avocado, cilantro, and lime slaw

Frozen mashed banana with toasted coconut mixed in.. topped with warm strawberry sauce, slivered almonds, and extra toasted coconut

Day 21: Fried egg with mixed greens salad drizzled with balsamic

Personal portobello pizza with homemade sauce, hot Italian sausage, caramelized onions, and olives. Also, simple arugula and seasoned sweet potato salad

Day 22: Turkey and spicy sausage meatballs baked and then simmered in homemade marinara sauce.. on top of a sweet potato and roasted red pepper mash.. and arugula salad with avocado, tomatoes, olives, and red onion

Clearly, I had to make up for all the posts I never wrote. As you can tell, most times I’ll use the same ingredients over and over.. but I do try to prepare them differently each time. For some things, like the paleo waffles, pancakes, muffins and almond flour pizza crust, I did search the web for a good recipes to follow. But that’s about it.. for the most part, I’ve been cooking based on my instincts and it’s worked out well so far.

Each day, I’m learning more and more about food and expanding my palate to tastes and food pairings I’ve never really tried before. Since I started my whole30, I have not used any processed foods. Everything, including all the sauces and dips, have been made fresh.

I’m finding that now when I go grocery shopping, I’m usually walking in without a real plan– which is so unlike me. Usually, I make a list and check it twice. But I truly believe that clean eating is really about how food inspires you. I spend the most time in the produce section, circling around a few times to scan all the fresh goodies. Not relying on a list is actually a very freeing experience. I also scope out multiple grocery stores to grab ingredients.. Whole Foods for the freshly ground almond butter, almond and coconut flours, and coconut oil.. Trader Joe’s for just about everything else.. And a few trips to Safeway just because it’s closer.

I hope some of my whole30 creations have made the 30-day challenge a little less intimidating for those of you who are interested. Paleo/whole30 is not difficult at all. But, like all good things, it does take time. I do have lazy days where I contemplate just eating the same meal for a few days in a row. The key to staying motivated and sticking to eating clean is avoiding those lazy moments. I literally open all my cabinets and stand in front of my refrigerator for a few minutes at least once a day– sometimes more when I feel like my creativity is fading– and asking myself “What will I make today?”

 

I’m shocked that I’ve completed Day 22 already. I’ve really never felt better! I’m definitely appreciating and enjoying food so much more and I have also established way more confidence in the kitchen. I know I have a lot more paleo/whole30 left in me! Stay tuned.. it’s not over yet!

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My preparation for the Christmas holiday weighed heavily on developing a variety of baked goodies for Mom’s side of the family. But, particularly, this Christmas was filled with happier memories than most.

We usually don’t spend much time visiting with the relatives during the Christmas holiday– a rushed one day trip. This year, we were able to spend the whole weekend at my grandparents’ house, resulting in a more relaxed celebration. Quality family time.

I must get my intensity in the kitchen from Mom’s side of the family. My grandparents are excellent cooks. They wake up at the crack of dawn just to make sure our meals together are memorable. Sure enough, they always succeed. During the holidays, boy do they produce.

My aunt, who formally baked all the Christmas cookies, brought over a few side dishes– a layered bean dip, salad,  potato casserole, etc etc etc.. A couple of my other aunts also supplied dishes for the dinner. My grandparents presented a carved turkey and ham– a showmanship of edible artwork. M caught a picture of the turkey platter before it made its way to the table.

I ate my heart out on Christmas day. We had a well-balanced buffet of food and a case of Blue Moon stocked in the refrigerator. Needless to say, I didn’t even make it to dessert.

When I woke up, I wasn’t even hungry. My aunt and my cousin stopped by the house. They went after-Christmas shopping at 6am. HAH. Not me. The idea of after-Christmas shopping didn’t even phase me; I would rather avoid the traffic and long check-out lines. However, it somehow became an outing. And as the hours passed, my tummy was growling for food. M, Dad, Zach, and I piled into one car. None of us in the car except M really cared about shopping. Zach and I figured we had a better chance at getting food if we left the house since the grandparents were spending the day preparing dinner. It wasn’t long before our car became the I’m Hungry crew.

Eventually, in between shopping locations, my hungry tummy welcomed a Double Double and a strawberry shake from In-N-Out. YUMMM. I haven’t had In-N-Out in while, but danggggg.. that was TOO GOOD! The toasted and buttered bun, the juicy burgers, the crisp lettuce, the tasty sauce.. tomatoes, cheese.. Mmm. Don’t make me go on..DROOL.

The Double Double tied me over for the remainder of the shopping outing until finally heading back to the house for dinner. Prime Rib Night.. You don’t even know!!! But just to taunt your taste buds.. here’s a picture of one of the three dishes of prime rib!!

The prime rib melt in my mouth with savory satisfaction. After I inhaled my first piece drenched in gravy within 3 minutes after sitting down at the table, I went for a second piece. I put myself into a very pleasant Prime Rib Coma, watched the NBA game on tv, and ended the night watching She’s the Man with Zach. LOVE STM!

Stuffed from the night before, I slept off my coma and woke up late. Before packing up the car, I found myself in the tangerine tree in my grandparents’ backyard.

My grandparents told me to pluck the tangerines from their tree to take home. He didn’t want the tangerines going bad up there. So, I went in for the kill and felt oddly comfortable up in that tree. It ended up being a bigger hoopla than I thought.. Pictures were taken to document the experience.

I may have gotten carried away with all these tangerine pictures.. similar to how devoted I became to the process of collecting these little fellas. If you cannot already tell from some of the content in my blog, I have a pretty steady love affair with orange.. the color, the fruit, all of the above.

Sometimes, I feel like an orange– built with multiple layers. Zest, pith, pips, juice.. citrusy, sweet, sour, fragrant, bright.. An orange holds purpose. It is somewhat undecided in how it would like to be presented to the world, as it is does not have one distinguishable quality. Instead, it allows the world to have a taste of everything it has to offer, fitting in wherever it’s needed.

The light in the day paired with the bright orangey color of the tangerines was a perfect combination. The tangerine, cousin to the beloved orange, adventure was a wonderful closing to the weekend’s festivities.

I may have been a little overzealous in collecting tangerines, but they sure are sweet!

nom nom nom.

B

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