Today is Day 23 of Whole30. I feel both like a victim and a survivor. I’m not shaking from sugar withdrawal, my energy levels are high, and my cousin’s wife told me this weekend that I’m “glowing.” I told her it was from all the bacon grease (kidding, sort of). I also survived the long Memorial Day weekend, which has been in years past my primary excuse to kick off spending lots of time outdoors sipping wine and eating gigantic juicy burgers perched on yeasty rolls. Instead, this Memorial Day, the hubby and I sat soberly (literally) on the sidelines eating burgers wrapped in romaine lettuce. Our kids, meanwhile, smothered their faces in chocolate-y smores at night and ran around in the backyard with flashlights. Oh, what I would’ve given to be them.
Besides the obvious yearning for off-limits foods, there are still day-to-day logistics that make Whole30 challenging. First and foremost is breakfast on the weekdays. When we first started this adventure, I was cooking around the clock — breakfast, lunch and dinner. Since we’re not subjecting our kids to this insanity, I’d also make separate lunches and prep side dishes for the kids for dinner (usually rice or pasta) to supplement the carb-free dinner we were eating. I also photograph nearly everything we eat that is a success in case I want to blog about it later. It was a dizzying, intense process, one that reduced me to hand-flapping anxiety. The hubby wisely told me to take a step back and let him shoulder some of the burden, and since then he’s handled getting breakfast ready and packing his own lunch. I’m also prepping chia seeds in coconut milk on Sunday or Monday nights so that we can have this Whole30 banana almond chia pudding (or some variation of it) for a quick on-the-go breakfast. Everyone is breathing easier now.
This chia pudding is so easy to make — just stir 1/4 cup of chia seeds into two cans of coconut milk. I usually do this in an airtight plastic container that’s deep enough to hold the coconut milk so that I don’t have to dirty another mixing bowl. After the seeds are evenly mixed into the coconut milk, I pop a lid on the container and store it in the refrigerator overnight. In the morning, I add a little extra coconut milk to thin out the chia pudding if it’s too thick for our tastes, then slice fresh bananas and top with fresh almonds. The sweetness of the bananas, combined with the rich custard that forms from the chia seeds, which expand in the coconut milk, makes this breakfast feel like a dessert. I eat my Whole30 banana almond chia pudding slowly, with my eyes half-closed, dreaming that I am eating a warm banana pudding draped over Nilla wafers on the back porch. It’s not the same, but Whole30 requires a vivid imagination to help you get through the rough spots. I also like this chia pudding because it breaks up the inevitable monotony of having breakfast scrambles every morning, as delicious as they are.
At this point, there’s no turning back on Whole30. We’re too close to the finish line to quit now. Plus, I just feel so good, which is kind of disappointing. I really loved my previous life philosophy of “I eat what I want, when I want because it just feels so right.”I know I’m not going back to that lifestyle because it was really affecting my day-to-day health. The hubby and I have gone through an amazing change, and we’re realizing that we thought we had a fairly healthy diet before Whole30, all things considering, but in fact we were far from it. We’re already discussing which areas of our food-focused lives that we can pare down on when our 30 days are over. Being the planner I am, this means charts, notes and reading every recipe differently. I plan recipes for this blog weeks in advance, so I find that I’m already asking myself whether that sauce really needs the sugar, or if it might be just as tasty without it. The same goes with flour-based carbs– I’m trying to find substitutions that are filling and satisfying without all that gluten.
Am I never going to post a decadent dessert or cheesy appetizer again? Of course not. But it’s a brave new world, folks.
- 2 14-ounce cans of coconut milk (Whole Foods brand or Thai Kitchen; do not use Goya)
- ¼ cup chia seeds
- more coconut milk (optional), for thinning
- 2 ripe bananas, sliced
- ½ cup sliced toasted almonds
- The night before you plan on eating the chia pudding, open both cans of coconut milk and pour into a medium bowl. Stir thoroughly to incorporate the cream with the liquid that may have separated in the can. Add chia seeds and mix thoroughly. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
- In the morning, spoon chia pudding into small bowls. Add a little coconut milk (around 1 tablespoon) to thin out the chia pudding if necessary and top with sliced bananas and toasted almonds. Serve immediately.
- Other great fruits to try are cherries, mangoes, blueberries or strawberries.
- Note: we've used Goya brand coconut milk a few times and the consistency of their milk does not work well to help the chia seeds expand. Try either Thai Kitchen or Whole Foods brand instead.