GOOD MORNING. Seriously. When you have one of these guilt-free chocolately-goodness mug cakes for for breakfast, it’s a good morning.
Before my Whole30, I literally ate mug oatmeal almost every single day for breakfast. It was that good. My mug oatmeal contained: 1 banana, 1 tbsp almond butter, 1/2 cup Quaker’s Oats-Quick 1-min oats. However, since oatmeal is not Whole30 or paleo compliant, and “dessert-like treats” are not Whole30, I nixed that real quick.
Since I’m off Whole30 and onto a (mostly…. trying to!) paleo lifestyle, I wanted to find a similar breakfast that was quick, easy, healthy, delicious, and filling again. I read a lot of mug cake recipes that contained way too many ingredients (that added up a lot of calories!) until I found The Wannabe Chef’s Four Ingredient Mug Cake. Yesterday, I made it as the recipe listed, including some agave-nectar for sweetening. Today, I nixed the added sweetener and just used 1 banana, 1 tbsp Trader Joe’s raw and crunchy almond butter, 1 egg, and 1 tbsp unsweetened cocoa… and it was still great!
Four ingredients. One mug. Four minutes. I think I’ll be eating this for the next year.
Hope everyone had an awesome July 4th holiday weekend! Last Friday, I had the day off and decided to finally use my long awaited Instant Pot to cook up something good (and healthy, since I knew I was going to eat some tasty not-so-healthy food that weekend). I trust Michelle Tam from Nomnompaleo with my cooking life and knew I had to go for one of her recipes. I perused the Slow Cooker / Pressure Cooker section of her recipe index and finally decided on the Slow Cooker Korean Grass Fed Short Ribs recipe due to the number of ingredients I had on hand. I made some substitutions and had to buy two things, but generally, had most of the ingredients. I would love to try so many recipes on my Paleo Pinterest board but seriously, would never get myself to buy so many extra ingredients that I don’t use in my daily cooking routine.
So, what was the verdict? Soft, tender, fall-off-the-bone goodness! The asian flavors were there but not overwhelming. THANK YOU MICHELLE TAM AND INSTANT POT. The perfect duo. It was very easy to make, and I would say not very time-consuming as I originally thought. I think it took me 10-15 minutes to prep, 10 minutes in the broiler, and ~60 minutes in the Instant Pot (~10 min for pot to reach high pressure then 50 min to cook). And the results will make you think you’re a legit chef.
So here’s a modified recipe, majorly thanks to the comments section of the recipe page.
I totally recommend reading the comments section of every recipe (if available) since the author or other people who’ve made it may give great tips!
I was very excited (and nervous at the same time) to weigh myself on Friday morning (if you haven’t read my last post, my last day of the Whole30 was on Thursday). I’ve had a change of -3.5% pounds, and although I myself can’t really see it, people have been complimenting me on looking leaner/skinnier. I should’ve taken before and after pictures, I know! But I would say the Whole30 was a success for me. While it didn’t have as a dramatic impact on me as I’ve read in other stories (i.e. improve sleeping, increase tiger blood, remove body pains, lose 50 pounds, etc.) as I’ve been eating mostly healthy before this anyway, it definitely helped me (1) lose weight, (2) eat healthier, and (3) influence the way I look at foods and thus become a pickier eater.
The longer I was on the Whole30, the easier it was in general to decline bad food (except for the social functions – as choosing restaurants or something at a non-compliant restaurant is not as easy). I would even say I’m now more picky and weary of food in front of me and will decline or not eat as much of it if I feel like the taste is not even worth the gross-ness of the ingredients. While I still haven’t had the three things I’ve been craving while on the Whole30 (carvel ice cream, donuts, and bubble tea), I’ve realized that I can handle my cravings. Meaning I’ll still crave it but can tell myself that I don’t need to have it right now. I can have it later.. so I’m not eating like 5K calories in one day.
I would recommend Whole30 to anyone who is looking to improve their health in any amount. It’s just 30 days (easier said than done, for sure.. but it gets easier!). Why NOT. I’d also suggest reading “It Starts With Food“, the book that talks about Whole30 and all the thought/meaning behind it. I’m halfway through it now and think that it definitely has some nutritional lessons that everyone needs to know, including how they don’t want you to live this strict diet lifestyle 24/7 forever. You should just be equipped with the knowledge to make good decisions with food. But don’t feel bad if you want an oreo. Just be conscious of the decisions you are making so you can enjoy the ‘bad’ food and not feel guilty afterwards!
My last week of meals pretty much consisted of: Breakfast
Banana with TJ Raw and Crunchy Almond Butter
1 Egg omelette with String Beans and 1/2 Applegate Uncured Beef & Pork Hot Dog
For anyone who hasn’t done paleo, Whole30 or similar programs before, you probably don’t have a lot of compliant items in your pantry (except for cooking spices, which is literally your hail-mary for flavoring everything). Even though I was eating pretty healthy/clean during the week before my Whole30, I still was using or eating non-compliant items such as soy sauce, almond milk, vegetable oil, popcorn (oh my, i do miss this), oatmeal, low fat cheese, etc. This led me to having to read all the labels and seeing what ingredients were in each. Seriously. Read your labels. Not just when you’re on Whole30 or any lifestyle diet program.. just in general if you want to live a good age. You’ll be surprised how much junk is in a lot of items and going into our bodies! It also made it easier for me to avoid certain foods that I might have wanted to eat when I read that there was a bunch of sugar, or ugly unpronounceable things. The ingredient lists are ordered by the most amount first. So I was dying a few months ago when I saw that, what I thought was a healthier breakfast pairing with my greek yogurt – Nature Valley Oats ‘n Honey granola protein, had sugar as it’s second ingredient… yikes. And syrup. and starch.
Watching the documentary “Fed Up”, which talks about the childhood obesity epidemic in America (I believe it is still on Netflix), actually showed me the importance of reading labels. Just because it is marketed as “healthy” or “low fat”, doesn’t mean squat. It probably means that while they reduced the fat, they doubled the sugar to still make it taste good.
So, before and throughout my first Whole30 program, I’ve been reading and gathering different things from the different stores near me to add to my “paleo” pantry, which I intend to maintain as after my Whole30, I plan to switch to a paleo lifestyle 90% of the time (sorry, but a girl’s gotta get her NYC foodie fix – and my life would literally be miserable if I didn’t). Here’s what I gathered on my shopping haul during the first two (or technically 3, since i failed the first one) weeks!
I love TJ for carrying many paleo and Whole30 compliant items, at decent prices. I’m glad that I didn’t have to resort to somewhere like WholeFoods yet to get some stuff.
Cut and Peeled Carrots
Raw and Crunchy Almond Butter (addicting.. beware)
Clarified Butter (Ghee)
Plantain Chips (addicting I hear, but haven’t needed to resort to these yet)
Organic Coconut Flour
Raw Whole Cashews (addicting.. beware)
Unsalted and Dry Roasted Silvered Almonds (great for my salads)
Avocado’s Number Guacamole (i bought this to use on my burgers but they go bad pretty quickly once the package is opened, so I probably wouldn’t buy this again)
Serrano Salsa Fresco
(Not pictured) Almond Meal
(Pictured below with other sauces) Red Hook Fish Sauce
I had bought Aidell’s Chicken Apple Sausages (pack of 5 for $5.99) from Stop & Shop the first week; they were delicious, but pretty darn expensive, so I couldn’t keep that up anymore. Luckily, I found a decent alternative at BJ’s with Applegate’s Natural Uncured Beef & Pork Hot Dogs. 16 hot dogs for about $8.99 (I think, around that). Not cheap but doable. I would just eat one for breakfast since it’s quick to make, or throw it into an omelette.
Sauces (Various Stores)
From left to right: 1. Coconut Secret Organic Raw Coconut Aminos as your soy-sauce alternative. I’m obsessed. Bought for $4.70 at Jet.com (2 day delivery) *Update* Trader Joe’s has a cheaper version and it’s delicious! 2. Red Boat Fish Sauce – cheapest I found was at Trader Joe’s for I think around $4-$5. 3. Marukan Rice Vinegar – Read the label as many rice vinegars have added sugars. I got this at my local asian supermarket but I did see some Marukan rice vinegars at my local Stop & Shop as well.
From left to right: 1. Frank’s Red Hot Original Hot Sauce – I made buffalo chicken wings with this during Whole30 Week 1’s redo. Bought at Stop & Shop but majority of stores carry this. 2. Mezzetta Napa Valley Homemade Marinara – Found this a local Stop & Shop. 3. Lou Ana 100% Pure Coconut Oil – $4.99 at my local Stop & Shop. I cook pretty much all my foods with this.
Grocery shopping for healthy foods can get expensive for sure. I cannot afford to always eat organic this and uncaged, grass-fed, blah blah that. I’m not trying to do (and have probably already failed at it) a perfect Whole30, so I give myself some leeway buying regular produce. I’ve also started to plan my meals off of what was on sale at the grocery stores, and shopping around different stores near me (or online with quick delivery such as Amazon prime or Jet) for the best prices on stuff. And if a recipe calls for something that I know I won’t really ever use, I won’t make that recipe. Or I’ll just omit it.
Let me know if you have any questions, or tips on shopping for a healthy pantry.
My cooking was pretty boring this week (as in not much elaborate fancy meals, but still simply delish) and my stomach was totally fine with it. I pretty much ate the same or very similar things everyday. Maybe this Whole30 is making me realize I don’t need to go out to eat, or spend 5 hours cooking a Pinterest recipe, to satisfy my diva appetite. Work this week was pretty busy but I was able to go to yoga four times this past week, which I was happy about. For my challenge of not snacking this past week, I have succeeded! But I had to hide the cashews in my cupboard. Out of sight. Out of mind. (Well not really out of mind, but it does make it easier!) I hear tiger blood maybe kicks in around Week 3, but I haven’t experienced it yet though, I think I do find it easier to get out of bed these days. Little wins. Unfortunately, I started breaking out with a few small pimples (eek) on my face, sooo that’s not cool. Could be unrelated, maybe due to stress, but I normally don’t really break out with more than one pimple at a time. Who knows.
I ate out twice this week for dinner – Chipotle and Bareburger. Yay for Whole30/Paleo compliant chains near me! More on what I ordered after the jump.
So a cool thing happened to me this week. I found out that I’m going to be promoted at work starting July 1st! The firm has an annual “Promotion Day” celebration where we celebrate the past fiscal year’s success as well as promotions and milestone achievements. It’s great, but, it’s next Friday. I totally forgot about the date and didn’t realize it would fall during my revised Whole30 completion date, which would’ve been Monday, June 20th. I thought about it hard and decided to end my Whole30-ish* experience on Thursday, June 16th, right before promotion day, since I want to fully enjoy my first career promotion, with all of its glory in ICE CREAM AND WINE, on the day of. *I’ve added -ish to my Whole30 experience, since technically I made a mistake during the first day 6.. and if I stuck to the original completion date, it would have been this coming Tuesday, June 14 . Although by-the-book people would probably be disappointed by this, I’m very happy with my decision and don’t feel like I’m giving up. I’m still proud of all the effort I put towards the program, even though it wasn’t the perfect Whole30.
My kitchen game also increased this week. I bought a <$6 one-egg frying pan, in which I used to make my cute little omelettes (pictured below). I constantly used my kitchen scale to weigh all my proteins to make sure I’m getting enough and not overeating. My instant pot also came on Friday, but unfortunately it was dented so now I need to deal with the seller on eBay. Wah. I was so excited. Anyway, here’s what I ate – all doable without an Instant pot 😉
I know I usually post on Sundays, but last night, I was caught in a eBay frenzy trying to win an auction for the very popular and highly reviewed Instant Pot.. haha (AND I WON! A total of $88 for a new, open box, IP-DUO-60 6QT.) And also, I started playing Destiny on PS4 last night (I know I’m super late to this) as a few of my coworkers recommended me to buy it and play with them. Soooo, I’m writing it today.
Huzzah! I survived Memorial Day weekend and a super busy week at work. I was worried it would be tough, but it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. Memorial day consisted of a baseball game (#letsgomets), a BBQ.. and a test of will power for dessert. The baseball game actually was probably the easiest challenge to overcome.. with preparation, of course. With high prices for food and drink at the ball game, it was easier for me to skip eating something simply because I’m not going to pay $10 for that funnel cake… even though it smells. so. good. #willpower #butactuallyjustfrugal I never looked into seeing if you could bring food into Citifield since I’d normally just buy a hot dog and fries there BUT YOU COULD! And also a sealed plastic bottle of water 20oz or less. I think many baseball stadiums have similar rules so definitely do your research before going. I brought 2 Applegate Natural Uncured Beef & Pork Hotdogs (wrapped in tin foil), carrots (plastic baggie), and an orange (peeled, pulled apart and in a plastic baggie) and a bottle of water. It lasted me throughout all 9 innings. BTW – NY Mets beat Chicago White Sox 1-0.
The BBQ wasn’t too hard either. I ate salad with red wine vinegar and olive oil, a beef hamburger patty, grilled zucchini and sweet potato, grilled pineapple, and a bit of steak. Filling and delicious from the smokey flavor. I wish my George Foreman grill didn’t break on me recently or I would’ve been grilling so hard for Whole30. The hardest was probably dessert at the BBQ. I started craving ice cream when I saw a little kid eating soft serve out of a plastic Mets helmet at the game. And then my bf bought a Carvel ice cream cake, which is one of my favorite cakes of all time, for the BBQ. Uhghghghghh i love the crunchies. But I fought it and said NO. BAIIII.
The rest of the week was pretty busy for me at work. I worked late most nights, only made it to yoga on Tuesday for a 75 minute session, and noticed I snacked a lot (maybe due to stress and tiredness). I even took a day trip to Boston (7AM flight in, 8PM flight out). Unfortunately, I had to be very consultant-y where I went to the airport, straight to the office, then back to the airport and didn’t get to explore/experience Boston at all. Thankfully, during my Whole30, I only had to travel for a day out. Food options where you travel to may not be ideal. Anyway, thanks to Google searches for Whole30 dining out options near the office and in the BOS airport, I was able to keep close to the Whole30 as I could. Plus, I packed a plastic baggie of cashews just incase I needed a pick-me up if I couldn’t find anything to eat.. which I did find stuff to eat and still ended up dipping my hands into the cashews bag. CASHEWS ARE SO ADDICTING.
Again, this week, because I was a bit exhausted from work, I didn’t really feel any major benefits of the Whole30. But at least it sort of helped me refrain from going crazy and eating junk through my stress! I did start finding it easier to say no to unhealthy food right in front of me. I started to track all my meals/calories in myFitness pal app, even thought the Whole30 program says not to calorie count. I just did this so I would refrain from snacking and also had a better idea of the portion/balance of my meals. As I got busier with work, I didn’t have time/energy to do that… so I figured my goal again this week is to NOT snack in between meals – whether it be my beloved cashews or oranges. I will have fruit occasionally during meal time. Also, I’m hoping this week won’t be as busy and I can get back on my regular yoga grind. I got pretty “simple” with most of my meals this week. I just didn’t have the time or energy to make something awesome looking from my Whole30 approved Pinterest board.
Here’s my meal round up for this past week (with pictures)!
I’m not going to lie. This week was tough. Work was busy which left me less time to cook and even go to yoga. I only had time to yoga two 90-min sessions this week, ugh. At least I had some movement during my commute to the city (Manhattan to the rest of the boroughers, for those unfamiliar with the term). Good thing I did spend a few hours doing some food prep last Sunday or I would’ve been totally screwed this week! This week I learned that as long as I have some defrosted protein, some veggies, and fruit in the fridge- I should be good to whip up a fairly quick no frills meal. So this week, was pretty much that. Also – COCONUT AMINOS (Coconut Secret’s magical 8oz bottle only $4.79 at Jet.com)… I love you. I only received a bottle on Thursday (ordered Wednesday night with free regular shipping and it was literally delivered Thursday afternoon… bravo Jet!) but have been obsessed so far and have used it in most of my cooking since then.
This week’s feels: Not much different from before that I can tell. I heard it does take awhile for the ‘possible benefits’ to start kicking in. Cravings are definitely increasing though. I also might be eating too much fruit. While I feel full from my meals, I’m usually hungry after a few hours. I know that it could be because I’m thirsty or just craving, without actually being hungry. I turned to fruit. A lot of fruit. Too much fruit. This week, my goal is to not immediately snack if I feel hungry outside meals. Try to drink a ton of water first then see how I feel. I also started Orange Is The New Black on Netflix last week (trying to finish season 3 — then let’s talk!!) and ever since I saw a donut in one of the episodes, I’ve been craving a donut. And donuts have never been on my craving list before. Hmph. And bubble tea. But I always crave that #asian. On the weekends, it SUCKS living in NYC and doing Whole30. I walk past so much good food that I can’t have. Oh well. Keep telling myself it is only for X more days… Anyway, I’m still happy that I completed my first week! I’ll try to get more strict about portion sizes, upping the veggie intake, and minimizing snacking this coming week. Memorial day bbq tomorrow doe……
In December of 2015, I made a #chenchallenge to get healthier. That was not going on another diet that I would ultimately give up on after a week (if that), or spending countless hours at the gym until I get bored and stop going. It was a lifestyle change – changing the way I lived (including exercise) and the way I ate. I started trying to eat healthier during Sunday – Thursday with a general rule of thumb of no processed or added sugar foods and exercising a lot more often, whether that meant going to hot yoga sessions 4-5 times a week, making an effort to walk more or go bike riding/snowboarding when weather permitted. Then, I would totally pig out Friday night and Saturday meals. Um, probably not the best approach since my weekend calorie count was obnoxiously higher than the week and my body was probably like WTF but hey, I was at least eating clean ~80% of the time right?.. better than eating clean 0%. And I did lose about 20 pounds, considering my highest and lowest weight in the past few years (#consultinglife). But I eventually plateaued and wanted to try something else.. One of my cousins was doing the Whole30 challenge (http://whole30.com/new/). If you don’t know what it is, it’s pretty much a “nutritional reset” – 30 days of clean eating with a set of rules, eliminating certain body-impacting food groups from your diet so that once your 30 days are over and you start adding back certain foods, you can see how they affect your body. She told me I should try it out. So, after a bit of reading on the Internets of many happy stories (especially from one of my favorite food bloggers – Michelle Tam of NomNomPaleo), I took up the 30 day challenge.
I started on Monday, May 16th and today would have marked the completion of my first week… buuuuut I’m going to be honest and keep myself accountable: I failed. I slipped up last night at a restaurant eating dinner with friends at Westville in Chelsea. Westville has healthier options and it’s actually pretty good (although, pricier than my normal dining budget). I had such a good time catching up with my friends that I didn’t even realize I ordered artichokes and asparagus with parmesan until it came to the table. I didn’t want to waste it so I tried to brush off as much parmesan as I could. I guess I could have taken drastic measures to try to clean it off with water but I had a #yolo moment and just ate it. Do I regret it? Not really. Thanks to the pep talk from the Whole30/9 Team. I know I could just continue on but eh, I want to fully commit to the challenge so I restarted today with a target completion date of Tuesday, June 21st. But regardless, I’ll still share how my first week went and what I ate.