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Post Whole 30

So here I am, a little over a week after completing after Whole 30 and I wanted to share my thoughts:

Sugar is everywhere, but now I’m more aware of it

  • I was dumbfounded to discover how many things contain sugar, even when they are not a sweet item. Tomato sauce, sausage, garlic salt, salad dressing, and more. I am going to do my best to avoid these foods that don’t need sugar in them by making my own versions of them. I enjoyed making my own dressings, sauces, and seasonings and I feel better knowing that I picked each and every ingredient.

I feel better (and sleep way better) eating Whole 30 meals

  • During Whole 30 I slept like a rock, I rarely woke up in the middle of the night. Reintroducing dairy, carbs, and sugar I have realized that if I have a heavy carb dinner or something sweet after that I don’t sleep as well. I wouldn’t say I’m restless but I am certainly not where I was when I had none of those things in my diet. I would say that is my main motivation to continue to eat Whole 30 as much as possible.

Things that aren’t meant to be sweet are now too sweet

  • This week I made meat sauce with a jar of tomato sauce I had in the pantry. I read the ingredients and saw it had 10g of sugar per 1/2 cup serving – woah. As I tasted it, I realized how sweet it really was. Before this process, I would not have noticed it but now I am so much more aware of savory things tasting sweet because of the hidden sugar.

Chocolate still rules

  • Chocolate is the one thing I missed the most. The good thing is that even before Whole 30 I didn’t need a lot of chocolate to satisfy my craving. So now it is something that I am happy to have back in my life but I don’t feel the need to go overboard with when I eat it. Take that, Sugar Dragon!

Overall, I am still incredibly glad that I took on this challenge and tested my body. I am more aware of what I choose to eat and notice how my body reacts to certain foods.  I’m an even bigger fan of the process now having all the food at my fingertips than I was in the middle of the process. Whole 30 was a great challenge for me and a great learning experience. I am also glad I did the reintroductions to discover how my body reacted to those things individually. I am going to do my best to have most meals be Whole 30 compliant as often as possible. My body felt better and I had way more energy. I will still enjoy the pizza and chocolate – but now I plan to treat it as…well a treat, instead of an all the time thing.

For anyone that is considering doing this, I definitely recommend looking into it! Coming from a foodie who loves to eat out and eat dessert – if I can do it so can you. Yes, I missed out on a few social events and would have loved to eat chocolate after a rough day. But then I reminded myself – it is just 30 days I can eat that [fill in the blank] next month.

My next challenge is working my way through Tim Ferriss’s (or is it Ferriss’? … I spent too long Googling this debate) book The Four Hour ChefI have been wanting to learn some new skills in the kitchen and this book is quickly proving to be the exact thing I needed. Stay tuned for more!

My happy face having cheese and bread back in my life.

In the Midst of Introverting,
Samantha

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Whole 30 – I did it!

I have finished my Whole 30 experience! I am feeling energized and happy with my health, but also ready for some chocolate in my life. Then pizza.

When I originally started researching Whole 30 I didn’t realize that Whole 30 is usually longer than 30 days if you’re doing proper reintroductions. The idea is you continue to eat clean past the 30 day mark and slowly reintroduce categories of food (legumes, grains, dairy, etc.) one at a time to see how your body responds. Sort of like a controlled science experiment, where you keep everything the same and change one variable to see what happens. So if day 31 you go off the wagon and eat pizza, ice cream, and whatever else your heart desires you will not be able to tell what upset your stomach because you’ve combined all ingredients you haven’t had for a month. So that “I’m done with Whole 30” feeling is really going to occur on day 40 or 45.

Well, I had my own idea and my own take on Whole 30 so that I could enjoy the “Woohoo I’m done!” while still reintroducing. When I started my Whole 30, the end date was backed up against a weekend of work entertaining and a few foodie events in town. Which has now turned into the fact that I have some sort of food-related event for 7 days straight after I am done with Whole 30. I didn’t want to binge at those and make myself sick but I also wanted to have time to try reintroductions. What I decided to do is not in the official Whole 30 plan but I’m happy with how I am doing it and it works for me. I didn’t decide to do Whole 30 because I had health issues and needed a month of clean eating to really start over. So this works for me but may not work for others.

Some may call that cheating, some may think it is brilliant. All I care is that it was perfect for me. So here is what I did:

Days 1-15 – Whole 30 all day everyday

Days 16 and 17 – Whole 30 meals with small introductions of non-gluten grain

  • I had some Cheerios as a snack, tortilla chips with my lunch, and some rice
  • I didn’t notice much of a difference with my digestion but I didn’t sleep as well both of these nights
  • Honestly, I felt like I was force feeding myself some of the food. I didn’t really want to finish the Cheerios but I wanted enough grains in my body so I could notice a difference
    • One exception – rice. I would gladly have that for every meal.

Days 18-20 – Whole 30 all day everyday, giving my body time to get back to reset before trying something new

Days 21 and 22 – Whole 30 meals with small introductions of dairy

  • I had yogurt for breakfast, cheese in my salad, and added milk into a couple meals
  • Again, I didn’t notice any awful feelings of pain, but I definitely felt “bleh” after my meal
  • This is usually the food that upsets people the most when they bring it back into their lives
  • The higher fat dairy made my stomach a little upset, so I think I will limit indulgent creamy foods for special occasions

Days 23-25 – Whole 30 all day everyday, giving my body time to get back to reset before trying something new

Days 26 and 27 – Whole 30 meals with small introductions of gluten grains

  • I had half of a bagel with breakfast each morning, I had pasta for lunch, then for dinner I added some carbs here and there
  • I didn’t notice any changes in energy or digestion, I was very surprised
  • Ultimately, I’m just glad there was no adverse reaction to gluten (yay bread!)

Days 28-30 – The homestretch!

The verdict: I am so glad I was able to do reintroductions. Even though I did not have any intense reactions, it was interesting that I didn’t feel the elation I was expecting when I got to have those foods again. Sometimes I even felt like I was forcing myself to introduce the food. That makes me feel good that I didn’t feel the need to binge and obsess over any long lost flavors. Don’t get me wrong, I will be glad to have the option of these foods back in my diet, but I will happily have mostly Whole 30 meals each day.

Ultimately, this experience opened up my eyes to my relationship with food and how sugar is in just about everything as well as other unnecessary chemicals/preservatives. I think post-Whole 30 I will continue to make my own dressings and sauces when I can. I want to continue to eat clean where I can and make conscious decisions of what I am putting in my body.

After this next week of foodie events, I’ll share an update of how I’m doing. Now there is a chocolate cupcake calling my name and I plan to answer it with pure joy!

In the midst of chocolate and lots of it,
Samantha

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My Take on Whole 30: Day 10

I am a person that likes to achieve things. I like my to-do lists. I like DIY projects. I like reaching a goal.

But more than all of that, I LOVE chocolate.

So why would I even consider doing something where not only can I not have chocolate, but I can’t have dairy, sugar, grains, beans, and just about anything that brings joy to my tastebuds? (too dramatic?) Honestly, I wanted to prove to myself that I could do it. I usually shy away from health regimens because I don’t think I can actually have that much self-discipline in the kitchen. But deep down I know I can!

After a long weekend visiting home (Vegas) and eating every comfort food possible, I knew when I got home (Indy) I had to dive into my first try at Whole 30. I was craving vegetables after a weekend of chocolate, Mexican food, and eating almost every meal out. I don’t regret any of those meals at home, they are the foods I looked forward to from not having been back in almost two years. But after five days of it, I was ready to eat a little cleaner.

I had been looking into doing Whole 30 for a couple of months now and wanted to wait until the fruit and vegetable selection in stores was a little more fruitful (ha.. I crack myself up). But after the weekend in Vegas, I was craving healthy food and feeling a bit of a detox. Cue a grocery store trip full of veggies and I was ready to go!

*For those of you that may not be familiar with Whole 30 or want to learn more check it out here.

I’m currently 10 days in and here are my thoughts:

  • I am amazed that sugar is hidden in the craziest of places. It hides in mayo, garlic salt, and pretty much anything you find on a shelf.
  • I used to snack for the sake of snacking, not because I was actually hungry.
  • I love coffee, but without cream and sugar I have to make sure I drink high quality stuff or it just tastes awful.
  • It has not been as expensive as I had thought, but I know that is because I’m a bargain shopper. It also helped that I bought the big ticket items (clarified butter, coconut flour, coconut milk) last month so that I was already ready to go.
  • I am still attempting social outings that involve food, but it is no easy task! I hate being that person with the dietary needs when it isn’t actually an allergy. So I’ve stuck to just eating before or after and enjoying the company instead of the food.
  • I don’t think I gave myself credit for how healthy I ate at home before this. I haven’t had to alter my meals at home too much, which is nice.

I’m a third of the way through and I am feeling good! I’m very curious to see how my body reacts when I reintroduce dairy, gluten, and sugar. That’s a huge part of what I did this for was to see if I’ve been having a reaction to any of these foods but not noticing it because it is in my everyday food. Now that I’ll have the chance to reset, we will see how my body feels when I put those foods in my body. (Dear body, please still love chocolate).

Some of the highlights of Whole 30 have been

  • learning to make homemade mayonnaise – recipe here
  • homemade ketchup – tastier than Heinz! recipe here
  • discovering my awesome microwave egg poacher
  • discovering the trick to crispy potatoes (hint: soak them!)

I have been so hungry when I get home after work I have not done the best job of taking photos of my food, whoops. But here are a couple meals I’ve loved so far:

Sweet potatoes, ground turkey, caramelized onions, avocado, balsamic reduction, and homemade ketchup

In order to make the ground turkey, I caramelized some onions in the pan first and then once they were cooked, I added the ground turkey. I’ve found that keeps it more moist! Add spices of your choosing. For the sweet potatoes, I chopped them up and soaked them for about 20 minutes before roasting them at 375 for about 30 minutes. Soaking them helps them get crispy! Then for my “toppings” I sliced up an avocado, reduced some balsamic vinegar into a syrup and put a dollop of homemade ketchup on the plate. Easy!

 

Salad with homemade ranch, roasted bell peppers, avocado and steak

For my salad I took some spinach and threw some homemade ranch on it. The ranch is just the mayo recipe above with some apple cider vinegar and some spices (I think I used parsley in this one). For the roasted peppers I took bell peppers, cut them into chunks and broiled them until they were charred. Then peel off the blackened skin and you’ve got lovely roasted peppers! The steak I cooked on the stove in a really hot pan for five minutes on each side with just salt and pepper. I used a London Broil because it was on sale, but any steak is delicious.

 

If you have any ideas or thoughts about Whole 30, let me know! I still have 20 more days and would love to hear your thoughts.

 

In the Midst of eating healthy,
Samantha

 

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Back From My Hiatus – Food and Community Heals

Hi there – remember me? Yeah, it’s been awhile.

I saw a fellow food blogger post a photo on Instagram last night telling her followers these past few months have had her so weary and tired that when she gets home the last thing she wants to do is cook and blog. It was comforting to know that I wasn’t alone. The political and social mess of the current state of things has me weary and my soul is tired. My heart hurts for so many marginalized people and at the same time I feel like I can’t do anything to make it better. I have still eaten out and I cook for myself regularly but I haven’t felt the energy to convert it into blog posts. I have felt guilty for not posting but I reminded myself that from the beginning I would only do this blog if it made me happy. While it hurt to not be the “achiever” I am used to being, it was best for me to live life without the guilt hanging over my head of getting posts out on a regular basis.

Something I’ve learned through the past few months is that a solution to hurt and unrest is community and food. Those two go hand in hand to comfort people, build relationships, and maybe even create world peace (too much?). I want to build a life around the ideal that life is done best at the table. My best memories are so often found sitting around the table eating great food with those I love. Even some of my hardest moments and toughest conversations were over a meal. Something about breaking bread together brings down walls and allows for you to get to the heart of an issue. Think about it – we use food to celebrate our proudest moments and console those when they are hurting. As my brother says, it is the sixth Love Language.

As I’ve been playing around with this idea of food and community, I knew there had to be some great books about it, and I was right! I recently finished a book called “From Tablet to Table” and it talks a lot about the first and last commands God gave were to eat and drink. In the beginning, he said, “eat freely” in the Garden of Eden and at the end Jesus said, “drink freely” – the whole rest of the book goes into how we build relationships and grow our faith through meeting people at the table and eating together. I’m now reading Shauna Niequist’s book called “Bread and Wine” and it is full of wonderful stories about love and grace and how we take care of one another through food. I truly think God created food for us to use as a way to connect.

So much of my love of food comes from that it ties me back to my family, friends, and memories we’ve built. Food isn’t fun when it is regimented and only meant for sustaining your body. While I wholeheartedly believe in eating healthy, I think when it is done in isolation it isn’t self-sustaining. For me, I need food and people to go together so that I can enjoy them at their best. These last few months have been true examples for me how food and community heals and grows you as a person. By having good food and good people around me it allows me to immerse myself in the present and worry less.

So that is where I am at in life. Healing, growing, and learning with my people and my favorite foods. I initially wanted to write a post to apologize to my readers for the lack of blogging I have done, but I am not going to feel sorry for needing to live life offline. What I am going to say is thank you for all the people who have told me in person that they enjoy following along, whether it be on the actual blog or on Instagram. My favorite part of this food blog journey hasn’t been the amount of likes, follows, or page views but instead it has been the connections I’ve made and relationships I’ve have built because of it.

It’s been about six months since I’ve last blogged and I’m ready to be back, ready to share my stories and of course – my food. I have some fun ideas about sharing others stories about their passion for food or conversations we’ve had over a meal. So thanks for sticking with me, if I could send each and everyone one of you a cupcake – you know I would!

In the midst of life,
Samantha

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Welcome to In The Midst!

2016 is the year I decided I would start a blog. I have had family and friends tell me I should start a blog in the last few years and I always agreed with them. Life was a little unstable for the last two years when my life was packed in a suitcase. Now that I have a somewhat “normal” life I thought I would keep it interesting by starting up a blog. So here we are.

If you know me, you know I love food more than the average person. So my blog will be food-centered. I want to be a resource to my fellow “mid-twenties” friends that are looking for ways to make cooking easy. I don’t know all the techniques but I do know how to make a good meal and make it simple enough that anyone can do it. Really, you can do it.

My plan for In The Midst is to share my experience in a few different ways:

  1. I will share my travel experiences and where you can find great food.
  2. I will share my tips and tricks that I’ve picked up over the years so I can help make your cooking experience a little easier.
  3. I will share how I go about trying out a new recipe from start to finish. Pinterest and food blogs can be daunting to new cooks and I want to show that with some time and research you can take a recipe you find online and accomplish it in your own kitchen.

I look forward to you all following along! I am always looking for ideas, tips, feedback and much more…so let’s connect!

Happily in the midst

-Samantha