whole30

Ahhhhh, the Salad days

No, I’m not making a reference to my youth, a time of innocence, as the term “salad days”  usually refers to, but I mean THE Salad Days. As in, my consumption of salad Every Single Day for the past two months! Beginning with the Whole30 in June, I have managed to consume some form of fresh green concoction each day to the point that I don’t want to break the streak. Not that it’s become a religious experience for me, heavens, no. However, I actually look forward to my daily salad with some anticipation now.


My sweet M-I-L, Jeanette, was the first to introduce me to the idea that salad belonged on every dinner table, even at home. Sure, you go out to eat at a nice restaurant and you’re offered a salad before your main course but very few families consistently consume  greens with their meals at home. So my family grew up with the expectation that salad graced the table every night in addition to our main meal and possibly alongside other vegetables and bread. It was often a simple mix of red lettuce, carrot slices, diced cucumbers and Good Seasons dressing. Side topic: the joke in our house is that the making of the nightly salad is the first chore assigned to a novice in the kitchen. When someone enters Ruth’s kitchen and asks if they can help, invariably the answer is “you can make the salad.” This is because I am a bit of a control freak and don’t want you in my way as I’m trying to finish getting dinner on the table and truly, how can you mess up the salad? :)

Anyway, I digress. Salads. Lots of them. I’ve had some fabulous ones lately, from salmon & avocado atop arugula tossed in a sun-dried tomato vinaigrette to a romaine, apricot, walnut, avocado, olive number drizzled with a garlic-tahini dressing. A phenomena has started to occur when we go out for lunch or dinner…I think I’m craving a particular kind of cuisine like Italian pasta & pizza or Southern fried chicken and waffles but when I arrive at the restaurant I can’t get my eyes to wander off the Salad section.

I once scoffed at persons who chose salads thinking they were the “diet” choice on the menu when in truth the dressings and croutons made them anything but light. But now I embrace fat as an important part of my daily consumption and realize that the yummy flavors in a good dressing cause me to consume more healthy greens! Win-win.

In short, these are MY salad days. Two salads are on the menu this week. Join me.

 

Love, hate, crave - the intensity of food relationships

Broccoli, broccoli, wherefore art thou broccoli?
Ah, chocolate, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways…

Pork chop loves me, he loves me not, he loves me, he loves me not…

So I am on about day 20 for Whole30. I decided to try this health reset plan for January because 1) I way-over indulged during the holidays and desired not to drink wine/spirits for 30 days; 2) my daughter & son-in-law were also participating…you know, strength in numbers; 3) I wanted to see if the change in diet would affect my rheumatoid arthritis; and 4) let’s be honest: although it is not truly a “diet” I was hoping to shed a few pounds.

Surprisingly, the shift in my food choices has not been as difficult as I’d anticipated. It was not easy to eliminate the cream from my coffee (and I use half & half because what’s the point if you use that weak milk stuff?) but that suffering only lasted for 2 days and now I’m okay with black. We had already been trying to incorporate more vegetables into our daily meals so that was cool. I think the hardest thing has been to make sauces and dressings that didn’t use any soy, sugar or unacceptable fats but once I stocked my pantry with the funky staples that are utilized in so many of the W30 work-arounds, it’s been easy to whip up what I need to make a salad or recipe delicious.

I’m not sure if I’ve lost much weight. Probably a few pounds but one benefit that I had not anticipated and is a huge plus: my blood pressure has come down. Although throughout my adult life my bp has been almost vampire low, in the last year, it has spiked dangerously. My doctor had prescribed meds but I found they made me put on even more weight so I was avoiding the pills. But in two weeks time, my readings have ticked down to an acceptable level!

So now I’m a little afraid. Of wine. Of cheese. Of sugar. Of grains. Of soy. Will I learn to love my waffles again? Have I said goodbye forever to sushi rolls and chocolate chip cookies? Nah. Because just as in real-life relationships, the key to a satisfying, healthy relationship with food is moderation. So I will be back enjoying a cheese plate and a glass of wine with my husband on Friday nights. But I’m going to continue making extra veggies to fill our plates. I may even try to maintain Whole30 compliant meals during the week with a return to a “regular“ menu on the weekends. And honestly, I’ve been so impressed with the recipes that my daughter and I have found and creatively put into our weekly menus that I’ll make them again. The Whole30 Cookbook is filled with many delicious (albeit labor-intensive in many cases) meals so I will continue to cook from it.

I love food. Period. Though it’s not the center of my life, it should be the vehicle by which I add nutrition to my being and if I derive pleasure as well, then that’s a bonus. So what am I craving most after the end of these 30 days? Stay tuned…