Happy New Year! To kick off 2012, my housemates and I have started a new round of the Whole30 program. (You might remember I did it this past October with some pretty awesome results.)

This time however, we have a formidable new ally in our midst, form of… DAN, THE FOOD PROCESSOR! (We didn’t really name him Dan.)

Having a food processor cuts down hugely on prep time, which means I’m free to experiment with a relatively low cost of failure. AND when the experiments turn out successful, as you’ve probably guessed: they’ll be here! And so, ladies and gents, I present to you…

Food porn at its finest right here, folks.

Paleo Baked Salmon with Basil-Walnut Pesto
(with optional yummy side veggies!)

    Pesto:

  • 1/4 cup walnuts, ground or finely chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 1 jalapeño pepper
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp chopped basil
  • 3 tbsp chopped spinach
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • Pinch of black pepper
    Salmon:

  • 2 medium-sized salmon fillets
  • Parchment paper
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • lemon (optional)
    Side veggies (if you want ’em):

  • 1 container grape tomatoes
  • A handful of white mushrooms
  • 2 tbsp olive oil

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Happy November, everyone!

So yesterday, my boyfriend Kyle and I wrapped up our adventures in an interesting paleo diet derivative: the Whole30, named for the 30 days you are supposed to follow this stricter version of paleo as a sort of “hard reset” to your body’s food response.

The Basics

My understanding of this is that you are training your body not to have insulin spikes as a result of food intake. One thing we noticed is that we NEVER got food comas while eating Whole30, not even once, which is probably a good measure that we were doing it right 🙂

You can read about Whole30 on its official site, but for a quick definition: no sugar or sweeteners (even honey), no processed foods, no dairy, no grains, no legumes, no alcohol, no white potatoes (a somewhat arbitrary measure by their own admission), limited fruits, and generally a focus on low GI foods and a healthy protein/good fats/carbs ratio (veggies are crucial, as the main source of carbs).

Our Methods

That certainly sounds like a lot of ‘no’s, but if you’re committed to putting in the time and effort to maintain this diet, it’s not that hard. Sugar cravings subside fairly quickly, believe it or not, and there’s no limit on how much food you eat as long as it’s approved! You have to be willing to cook a lot, but fortunately there are a lot of resources on the web related to delicious paleo and Whole30 recipes. We used thefoodee pretty extensively for this, it has some nifty features like dynamically generated shopping lists that really simplify the process.

Here are a few favorite recipes from around the web:

Breakfast:

Entrees:

Snacks (not all are recipes):

Generally, our strategy was to reserve one night every 5 days or so for a “cooking marathon”: make as many of these recipes as possible all at once, and then eat the leftovers as meals for the next few days. This seems to work really well, although if you’re not planning carefully you’ll occasionally run into a night where you’re all out of options and need a meal on the spot. I used Chipotle as an emergency reserve. There’s a very limited menu that’s completely Whole30-approved, but luckily they list the ingredients in all their components right on the site!

Speaking of restaurants, eating out is generally very difficult, as restaurant cooks and servers aren’t used to thinking of food in “paleo” terms. Most places I went to, the waiters were fascinated and had never heard of this diet before. I think Kyle and I have had one possible slip each, and both times it was from a restaurant entrée where we suspect they might have misunderstood our order (of course, at restaurants it’s really hard to tell). I’ve had better luck with steakhouses than anywhere else: you can generally sub vegetables for their side dishes if you ask nicely, and make sure you order your sauce “on the side.” Still, it seems like the best approach is to avoid dining out as much as possible.

 

Results

Kyle and I have been following this throughout the month of October (technically making it a “Whole31” for us). We’ve been as exact on these guidelines as possible to be totally scientific about it. We’ve even stayed off the scale at their recommendation, though that one seems to just be about defining clear “before” and “after” states. Obviously, this is all completely anecdotal, but I’ve tried my best to remain objective.

Here are my observations: (more…)

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