Whole30 Splurges Update

tessemaesauceAs mentioned in my recent Whole30 Round Two: Half Way Point, I had invested in a few additional splurges to help me with my food prep repertoire. Earlier this week, Matty’s BBQ Sauce, Lemon Chesapeake Marinade, and Italian Salad Dressing arrived from Tessemae. I immediately made some Whole30 friendly Chicken Fingers (recipe compliments of my awesome cousin’s TGIPaleo website; look under SPECIAL DIETS via horizontal menu bar and scroll down to choose Whole30) and used Matty’s BBQ sauce as a dip. Delicious with a capital D! I have missed BBQ sauce a bit; between making my own homemade sunshine sauce and mayonnaise, I tessemaecardget a little lazy and this hit the spot. I have already used the Italian Dressing which is great and look forward to the Lemon Chesapeake dressing for my Whole30 crab cakes. By the way, I loved the handwritten postcard that came with my stuff picturing the Tessemae crew on the front. Made me smile as they look like a fun group!

freezerPaleoMy BIG SPLURGE arrived Wednesday at the perfect time! Completely spent after a hard workout, as I pulled into my driveway, I see the delivery from Premade Paleo sitting at my front door!! Opening the box revealed a styrofoam cooler packed with ice and my 10-day supply of frozen breakfasts, lunches, and dinners which I quickly transferred to my freezer because I was just so excited to start eating! By the way, what you see in the picture above shows only my breakfast and lunch meals. The dinner meals are located in the other pull-out shelf above not pictured.

premadepaleoMy first meal? Cocoa-spiced pork loin with cauliflower and mushrooms. Fabulous!  For breakfast this morning, I thoroughly enjoyed the well-seasoned, flavorful Turkey Skillet dish.  Since I knew today’s work schedule would press me for time, I packed the Chicken Roja with Vegetables in Chimichurri Sauce for lunch. Easy to briskettprepare at work and very, very good. Finally, this evening I had the Braised Coffee Brisket with Sautéed Swiss Chard and Parsnips for dinner (pictured to the left).  While I was skeptical about how pre-packaged food like this would taste, after four damn good meals, I am very satisfied with my PreMade Paleo investment as it has been money well spent. Bon Appetite and continued luck to all of you on your own Whole30 Journey!

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Whole30 Round Two: Half Way Point

Dont-Quit-Half-Way-Through-560x374Today is Day 15 of my Whole30 Round Two and I feel great; second time around has been much easier although this past Thursday (Day 12) was challenging. I came home from a productive day at work, an awesome workout with my fabulous trainer, was prepping my dinner per usual when I suddenly started thinking a little too much about a few social events coming up; BBQ on Saturday night, Cards vs Cubs game on Sunday, possible road trip for a surprise party, upcoming reception for Jehan traveling all the way to St. Louis from Sri Lanka, another party here, a party there.

mindWhile chopping some vegetables, the voice in my head was justifying how much easier it would be to simply go buy a bag of tortilla chips and make my own version of loaded nachos (my biggest vice). As I shook that thought out of my head, my mind quickly shifted to mentally cataloging what non-Whole30 compliant things are residing in my pantry or fridge (peanuts, chocolate chips, vodka, wine). What can I cram in my mouth so this whole thing can just be over? It was the strangest mental game that my mind was challenging me to; I eventually realized I was simply tired and cranky. Once I ate my dinner and had my tea, I was fine and very, very, very glad that I did not sabotage this journey.

chompsSo, plugging along very well and decided to splurge on a couple of items to make things easier. For example, the recently purchased Whole30 approved 100% grass-fed beef snack sticks from Chomps save me in a pinch as a pre-workout meal and are so good. I always have liked jerky but most products are filled with  premadepaleoprocessed crap and sugar. The arrival of some Whole30 approved salad dressings and sauces from Tessemae should come any day now.  Can I make my own salad dressing? Of course. Am I occasionally short on time or lazy? YES. I am looking most forward to having some BBQ sauce that isn’t filled with sugar, sugar, sugar. Oh yeah, and the BIG SPLURGE? Ordered ten pre-made paleo meals from PremadePaleo, all Whole30 approved, for when I am tired, crabby, cranky, lazy, or whatever.

sheppieBy the way, I still make a lot of my own food and here are a few of my top favorites from Whole30 Round Two! From the cookbook Well Fed by Melissa Joulwan, Shepard’s Pie is to die for and down-right delicious (the picture is what I made and what I quickly ate!). Instead of mashed potatoes, mashed cauliflower is used.  Seriously, I can’t tell the difference. I make my own sweet potato chips and use the chips instead of a fork to eat some ground meat that has been topped off with home-made guacamole. Jicama “Potato” Salad is unbelievable. I skip the slow-cooking step and simply fry up the chopped jicama in coconut oil mainly because I am impatient and I prefer the crunch. Delicious!

Get Healthier Today! How To Start Your Own Whole30

doing-the-whole30Intrigued by my second round of The Whole30 Adventure, a few of my followers wanted to know if the program was spelled out online or if you had to buy the book It Starts With Food. The Whole30 program has always been made available for free online since 2009 at the Whole9 website.  During my first Whole30 Adventure (Feb 10 – March 12), I simply downloaded the following PDFs from the website as follows:

1. The Whole30 Program: what is Whole30 and an outline of how to follow the program. Scroll down toward the bottom to print off PDF version of Whole30 Program. Very nice!

2. Quick Start Guide

3. Grocery Guide

4. Shopping List (this was so key for me, love it, love it, love it)

5. Sneaky Sugars (totally used this in the beginning to help read labels to ensure that the ingredients used to cook are void of real and/or artificial sugar; very eye-opening.  You will be amazed how much sugar is in ingredients).

your_30_day_challengeBy using the five PDFs, I followed the program for 30 days (see Mission Accomplished). A huge help was the daily e-newsletter I paid for; this is not required (less than $20) but was a huge help to me, particularly during those days I just needed go-for-it-saidaonlinea little “You Go Girl!” pep talk and/or some tips, recipes or additional resource links. After my first round, per the recommendations of my two cousins (who  successfully completed their own Whole30 programs), I bought and read It Starts With Food and was re-inspired to repeat the program.  Another great resource that is not required for you to get healthier today by starting your very own Whole30 adventure!

An A.U. Adventure Worth Repeating – Whole30 Round Two!

Whole30-Version-31Earlier this year, I completed my very first Whole30 program, a 30-day nutritional program whereby specific foods are eliminated to let the body heal and reset. The focus is to cut out all inflammatory, gut-disrupting food groups and to eat real food for a full 30 days (hence the name Whole30) without any cheating. picassoBetween February 10 and March 11, I  successfully avoided consuming sugar of any kind (real or artificial), alcohol (yup, despite celebrating my birthday during this round), all grains (rice, wheat, corn, oats, etc), legumes (beans, lentils, peanuts, etc), dairy (with the exception of clarified butter or ghee), and white potatoes.  After reading my blog posts, two of my cousins in Baltimore (Lia and Sylvia) were inspired to do the same, successfully completing their own Whole30 with spectacular results in their overall health (while losing about 13-17lbs each).

the-whole-30-bookSo, what inspired me to do this a second time? Beyond the fact that this program delivered measurable results consistent with improved health (see my March 12 bog post) and made me feel awesome, the one thing both my cousins did that I had not done prior to starting Whole30 was read the book It Starts With Food by Dallas and Melissa Hartwig, founders of Whole30. While I had access to all the information needed to follow Whole30 from their website, I didn’t get involved in reading up on the science behind their method. Per the recommendation of both cousins, I recently purchased and read the book and became re-inspired to do a second adventureround of Whole30 with a few tweaks based on what I learned from reading the book.  For example, I will now follow their recommendations as it relates to the number of daily meals to have, when to have my pre-work out meal and when to have my post-work meal (neither of which count as meals), and what to actually eat for my pre- and post-work out meals. The other rules haven’t changed; no sugar, booze, dairy, grains, legumes or white potatoes for the next 30 days.  Not sure the second time around will be “easier”; I just know what awaits at the end of the next 30-days and can’t wait for Tuesday, August 27 to get here! Join in on my adventure by starting your very own Whole30 journey!

Day Eight & Home: Great Alaskan Adventure!

last legAfter a great day in Ketchikan, we got back on the boat and basically spent the evening to enjoy our last happy hour with waiter “Johnny-Perfect”, eat yet one more wonderful meal at dinner, and spend time on the deck taking in the beauty of the last of Alaska. Very peaceful, very beautiful and a nice way to end the last evening on the ship.

vancouverThe next morning after breakfast, it was back to the deck to watch as the city of Vancouver, British Columbia was getting closer and closer on the horizon.  What a beautiful city! Most of us had already spend time there and the decision was made to simply leave the boat and go directly to the airport to catch our late morning flight. If, however, you have never experienced this great city, I suggest you spend a few days to explore Vancouver.  Love that city!

chicagoOur flight took us from Vancouver to Chicago and then from Chicago to St. Louis.  We got into Lambert Airport around 9 pm on a Sunday, all the baggage arrived for us to take home, and that was that! I will tell you, this trip was fabulous on many accounts including the fact that despite never previously traveling with any of my friends, we all had a great time and realized we are a good traveling group.  This is a memory I will cherish and an adventure that I hope many of you will be inspired to take! Bon Voyage!

Day Seven – Ketchikan, Alaska

Ketchican-oneAfter an awesome whale-watching day in Juneau, we cruised through the evening and night and ended up docking in Ketchikan, Alaska around 11:00 am on Friday, June 28. Established in 1887 when a salmon cannery was built at the mouth of Ketchican-stained glassKetchikan Creek, this city is by far the most charming of the three ports.  A zigzagging boardwalk leads you to the downtown area that is full of shops and restaurants. The stained-glass decorations along the lamp posts were so cool; I wanted to take one home with me! In terms of the city’s past, you can take a stroll in the Creek Street Historic District, Alaska’s most notorious red-light district from 1902 to 1954.  Ketchikan supported at least 30 “sporting houses” during this time. Today, the old houses have been converted into small shops and business.  Madam Dolly Copeland Arther’s home (aka “Dolly’s House”) is now a museum. Outside of the city limits you may find the Misty Fjords National Monument, a protected wilderness area that houses the largest national forest in the United States, the Tongass National Forest.

ketchican-assylumThe afternoon was spent grabbing lunch at a local restaurant where the crab cakes and the halibut fillet basket was perfect! From there, we all walked around from shop to shop until we reached the ultimate destination in The Asylum, a fun bar located near our ship. Carlos, the owner, was so friendly and funny.  ketchickan-leavingThe service was great.  The weather was perfect. The bar is located right next door to Burger Queen and the smell of grilling hamburgers was simply to die for! They deliver too!  Too bad we already had lunch because I am sure those burgers are very delicious. After a warm, sunny day in Ketchikan, it was back to the ship for the last couple of days of sailing in Alaska. The route from Ketchikan to Vancouver was very pretty; the evening was calm and quiet and the perfect ending to what has been a pretty much perfect vacation.

Ketchkan-goodnight

Day Six – Juneau Alaska & Whale Watching Expedition

juneau-cityFollowing a day in Haines, Alaska, we cruised throughout the night and arrived in Juneau, Alaska early Thursday morning (June 27th). Located in the Panhandle of Southeast Alaska, Juneau is the capital of Alaska, a city that is only accessible via air or ferry/boat as there are no roads beyond those within the city limits.  A proposal has been made to actually build the Juneau Access Road that would connect Juneau to the Alaskan highway network at a cost of about $520 million dollars. Bumper stickers reading “Build The Road” support the proposal; competing bumper stickers against the proposal read “Want More Roads? Move Down South!”

aukebayOnce docked in Juneau, I and my buddies got on a motor coach for a 15 minute ride to Auke Bay for a whale watching and wildlife quest excursion. It was so weird to see signs for “Auke Bay” because Auke is just one letter short of my legal name “Aukse”.  I took it juneau-boatas a sign of good things to come and I could not have been more correct! Upon arriving to the marina, we boarded The St. Nicholas, a waterjet-powered catamaran specifically designed for wildlife viewing, providing huge windows as well as access to two decks outside. This particular excursion guarantees whale sightings and is totally worth the $140 we paid to participate.

au-juneauThe day was cold with a constant drizzle of rain; I suspect this is where I started getting my summer cold that continues to stay with me even a week after coming home! Regardless, I endured the elements and was committed to experiencing this excursion to the max.  Within the first 40 minutes, we approached and area where the captain stopped the catamaran to watch two adult humpback whales glide along the water. I did not expect their movements to be so fluid and graceful. For the next hour or so, we did see a few more whales that were pretty close to our catamaran so mission accomplished, or so we thought!

whaletailOn our way back to the marina, we were cruising pretty briskly when the captain slowed down and suddenly, a humpback whale completely breached the surface, jumping into the air and exposing his entire body so you could see from nose to tail (the picture does not do justice to the experience). It was such a quick, unexpected and unbelievable sight! If you were not looking up at the right time, you basically missed most of the event.  For whale-2those that missed it, either the same or another whale followed with another full breach. That would have been plenty to satisfy anybody but these guys simply were not done performing. We were able to see these whales breach the surface of the water within another 20 minute period five more times! The tour guide mentioned never seeing this before in her life so we were so, so, so lucky!  I choose to believe that the whales knew that Aukse was in the house at Auke Bay and felt that they needed to make a good impression!

reddogOnce we returned to Juneau, we decided to have lunch at the famous Red Dog Saloon, the oldest man-made tourist attraction in Juneau. The place is usually packed and that was the case when we walked in although we were able to get seated pretty quickly. When in doubt, I always rely on the expertise of the wait-staff to recommend what to eat and they made fantastic choices for me! The Yakobi Smoked Chowder (clam chowder with smoked salmon) was so good as were the Cold Bay Crab Cakes.  I traded some of my Crab Cakes for beer battered Alaskan Rockfish which was equally good.

vikingAfter lunch, we did some window shopping in search for another bar recommended by the locals called The Viking.  The Viking is NOT a tourist-trap bar; actually, I don’t think they like when people other than locals come in for a beer but we went in and had a few.  Personally, I liked The Viking a lot more than the Red Dog Saloon although the lady behind the bar wasn’t really friendly….she wasn’t mean but she didn’t make you feel like she was happy to serve you.  Whatever! Totally cool bar and if you are in Juneau, look for it!  Worth a stop!

The day in Juneau, despite not having a perfectly sunny day, was fabulous and so much fun! Around 6:00 pm, it was all aboard and time to start cruising to the next port and destination!

juneau-bye