Have you heard of Whole30? It’s a 30-day diet “cleanse,” where you eliminate certain foods, including alcohol, legumes, processed sugar, most carbohydrates and dairy. I hadn’t heard of Whole30 before last month, when some mom friends of mine mentioned that they did it to re-calibrate their diets after having their babies. If you’re a devoted reader of this blog (hi, Mom), then you know that I don’t diet. I don’t even limit. In fact, I never have, viewing diets as hobbies for the weak and infirm. Sometimes I would tell myself that I’d “limit” carbs, but usually that only lasted a few hours. But after having Meimei (more than two years ago) and ramping up the focus on food on my blog, I’ve definitely had the nagging sense that if my body is my temple, then I was kind of kicking the bejeezus out of it. I felt sluggish and tired most days, and as I read more and more about Whole30, I wondered if just dialing my dietary non-habits back for 30 days might do me some good.
So, with the hubby’s support and enthusiastic agreement to do it with me, I spent the last month reading as much as I could about Whole30 and “practicing” for the challenge. I’d skip sugars for a day to see what it felt like. I read up on how to modify my favorite recipes to eliminate the “no-no” foods. I cried a little bit, letting myself grieve for the desserts and delicious carbohydrates I wouldn’t see for a month. Finally, last Monday, we started our Whole30 journey in earnest, and for the next few weeks, I’m going to be blogging about our experience and sharing the recipes that work for us, like this breakfast scramble with egg, spinach, chicken and apple sausage and sweet potato.
So far, I can’t say that it’s been all sunshine and roses, that my hair is shiny and I feel wonderful every day. On Day 1, I wrote the following notes:
I want to curl up inside a warm, soft piece of naan and eat my way out.
I’m shaking. Why am I shaking? I’m not cold.
I want my Mommy.
I thought I’d have more thoughts than that after the first day, but as my stomach was empty, my brain was, too. And that’s pretty much how it continued for the first three days. I shivered. I cried. I was cranky. Whole30 isn’t about portion control, at least not at first, so on Day 2 I sat quietly at the dinner table, long after the kids had cleared their plates, and ate 3 cups of cubed, boiled sweet potato. Plain. No salt, no butter, nothing. I wasn’t sure what I was doing, and I knew it didn’t feel right, but there was a hole in my heart where my carbs used to live, and I needed to fill it.
I anticipated the misery, though. I knew I’d miss my red wine, my cheese platters and my luxurious desserts. But even though we’re only 12 days in so far, there have been some really big revelations, too. The hubby and I both have noticed a significant uptick in our energy levels throughout the day, and because of the Whole30 rules we’re packing our lunch every day, which we don’t always do because of our harried mornings. We also have realized how heavily we depended on dairy, frequently adding cheese to dishes that really just don’t need it. Our eggs, for example, which we’ve always bought cage-free and organic, are rich and flavorful on their own, even without the usual tablespoon of milk and shredded cheese that we used to add. We also have already realized how many carbs we consumed in a day, from the bagel breakfasts, bread on our sandwiches at lunch, and giant plates of pasta we might eat over the course of a day. Guess what? Food can taste good without carbs and dairy! Who knew?
Today’s Whole30 compliant recipe is a simple breakfast scramble, variations of which have made frequent appearances on our table in the mornings since we started this crazy thing. I roast or boil cubed sweet potatoes the night before and slice up the chicken apple sausage beforehand so that it’s easy to throw together in the mornings. I find that eating a healthy portion of this scramble fills me up and gives me good energy through lunch, which cuts down on the snacking that Whole30 encourages you to steer away from. The subtle sweetness of the chicken and apple sausage really complement the sweet potato, and it feels like a well-rounded, colorful way to start the day.
Of course, if I’m really feeling peckish (i.e., hangry), sometimes I’ll sob-eat a half an avocado drizzled with lemon, olive oil and salt. I want to love Whole30. I really do. And I think I will, in the end. I just have to get there.
Join me, will you?
- 2 Aidell's cooked chicken and apple sausage, sliced into rounds (or any Whole30 complaint, sugar-free sausage)
- 6 eggs, lightly beaten
- 2 cups fresh spinach
- 2 cups sweet potato, peeled and cubed
- ½ cup diced onion
- 1 clove minced garlic
- 2 tablespoons ghee
- 1 jalapeno, minced (optional)
- salt and pepper
- Make ahead: bring a pot of lightly salted water to boil and add sweet potato. Cook for 8-10 minutes until sweet potato is easily pierced with a fork. Drain and let cool, then transfer to an airtight container to store overnight. Alternatively, toss sweet potatoes with 2 tablespoons melted coconut oil and roast in an oven for 25-30 minutes at 375 degrees.
- Melt ghee in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and saute for 2-3 minutes until translucent. Add garlic and cook, stirring for 1 more minute.
- Add eggs and scramble until almost done (the eggs should look like soft curds). Add spinach and saute until wilted, then add chicken sausage and sweet potatoes and saute for 2-3 more minutes. Season with salt and pepper and serve immediately with minced jalapenos.