More Whole 30, A Cookbook Party, Plus My Sweaty Crouching Body

I’m on Day 21 of Whole 30 and what I miss most is mindless eating. The freedom of feeling hungry and putting the nearest food-like item in my face. I made some granola bars I couldn’t eat for our camping trip this weekend, and we had 2/3 of the pan leftover and they have just sat on our counter ignored by everyone but me. I look at them longingly every time I walk into the kitchen feeling hungry. Not because I am craving the taste of a granola bar, but just because it would be so easy. I wouldn’t have to pull out a cutting board or cook shit in a pan or do anything but peel back some plastic wrap and stuff a bar down my throat.

Remember last week how I said my veins would be flush with Whole 30 tiger blood and I’d be so fucking productive and sharp-minded that my post would be right on time? Well, I forgot I’d be camping Sunday and Monday (a legitimate excuse) and then I just didn’t feel like writing it (less legitimate but no less true). I still don’t feel like it. I’m kind of sickly, with Henry’s hacking cough, and I’ve spent the last two nights with this WordPress tab open while watching Samantha Bee clips over on my facebook tab. It calls me! (That’s a line from a Moana song. That soundtrack is the unrelenting backdrop of my every waking moment). Anyway, I feel leaner, my nails are crazy fucking long and strong, and my skin is clearer. And up until getting sick a few days ago, I felt a real surge of energy too. Am I just expecting too much from this program? I wanted to be transformed into a demi-god of sorts- someone who never gets sick and is a shining beacon of light and productivity. Maybe that happens on day 22.

Here’s what we ate this week.

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Whole 30 Day 12: Tuscan Chicken Liver Paté with Apples, Pickled Radishes, and Fried Shallots; Parsley and Tomato Salad. This paté was still delicious even after sucking all the joy out of it to make it Whole 30 compliant- ghee instead of butter, stock instead of wine, and no parmesan. To compensate for this I ate each bite with a little topping of pan-fried shallots, which made it fun and lively. And it was pretty great with the apple slices too! I don’t even miss the smoky wood fire-grilled country bread sodden with a full-bodied buttery olive oil that a non-Whole 30 person could use as the vehicle for getting pate into their mouth.

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Lasagna Bolognese. This week’s edition of labor-intensive-non-Whole 30 cooking projects. My neighbor Otto welded something for us for free, to be neighborly, and so I asked him what his very favorite food was. He said lasagna, so I made him one as a thank you, because I am also, much less frequently, neighborly, plus a smaller one on the side for Andy and the boys so they didn’t have to eat chicken liver for dinner. Jokes on you boys, cuz there’s chicken liver in the bolognese. They didn’t know and I didn’t tell them. An entire gallon of milk also went into this lasagna. 1.5 cups in the bolognese, 2 cups in the besciamella, and 12 cups sacrificed in a doomed attempt to make 3 cups of homemade ricotta. I only got about a cup of oddly stringy curds for my efforts. I don’t know why. I used it anyway. Everybody said they really liked it and I have chosen to believe them.

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Whole 30 Day 13: Crispy Thai Pork with Cucumber Salad. One of my favorite dinners re-tooled for Whole 30. Lost the sugar, used a bit more fish sauce instead of the soy sauce, and ate my lettuce cups without rice. Still super delicious. So delicious, in fact, that I got kind of weirdly possessive of this pot of pork. I kept looking at Andy out of the corners of my eyes to monitor how much meat he was putting into his tacos. He can eat anything in the world! Make yourself a waffle! He can have a few tacos, I thought, but the rest is mine, MINE. In the end, to save our marriage, we agreed to just eat it all up that night and not save any for Andy’s lunch the next day. I ate six tacos and felt much better. Sorry Andy!

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Whole 30 Day 14, Deep Run Roots Cookbook Party at Barbara’s: Avocado and Tomato with Broken-Egg Dressing. Delicious! And not pictured, oven-baked okra fries which are not pictured because I ate all of them. They’re crispy and okra-y and delightfully slime-free.

I got the notice that my hold on Deep Run Roots was available for pickup about a week before this cookbook party, which is crazy lucky considering the wait times for my other library cookbook holds (i.e. I’m currently 11th in line for one of two copies of Dinner: Changing the Game which means it should come through somewhere around winter 2018). Before opening the book, my only knowledge of it came from this Piglet review, which made the recipes sound complicated and fussy and heavy. I had no desire to cook from it. My first look-through of the book completely transformed my opinion of it. It’s incredible! There are dozens and dozens of recipes that are calling to me: pecan-chewy pie, pork shoulder and sweet potato lasagna, a suite of grits casseroles, hot apple jelly thumbprints, and a spectacular chocolate orange beet cake among them. There are tons and tons of recipes easy enough for weeknight cooking, including the dish I brought to the party (pic below) which entailed dumping three ingredients on a sheet pan, roasting it for a bit, and then topping it with a two-ingredient sauce. I think it’s kind of shitty that the reviewer picked one of the most complicated recipes in the book and then described the whole book as too-complicated. The injustice! Besides the appeal of the recipes, the writing is great, the photos are fun, and it’s immense.

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Grape-Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Sausage. This was easy, Whole-30 compliant with sugar-free sausage, and good. The recipe makes a lifetime supply of that crazy-intense mustard-lemon juice sauce though. Do not want.

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Sage Honey-Glazed Pork Tenderloin with Bacon-Roasted Rutabagas and Stewed Collard Greens with Ham Hock. If you’re keeping track, there are three kinds of pork on this plate. It was all incredibly delicious. And I could eat all of it thanks to Barbara’s painstaking hospitality. She left the honey-sage sauce on the side and made a special trip out to buy a sugar-free bacon for the rutabagas. What a beautiful person! I love all these women- they are all generous, and thoughtful, and funny, and a joy to spend an evening with. Next time I promise to spend less time talking about ponds and scientology with Cynthia and spend more time helping to cook things. Thank you for hosting, Barbara! ❤

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Whole 30 Day 15: Chicken Shawarma Salad with Tahini Sauce. If you’re on the fence about making this, watching this video may just convince you. Seeing that chicken get crispy is a goddamn thrill ride. Thank you for bringing this into my life, Jennifer Hess and Michael Dietsch!

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Whole 30 Day 16: Roasted Sweet Potato with Leftover Shawarma, Fresno Chiles, Diced Cucumber, and Tahini Sauce. I loved the chicken cold on top of these roasted potatoes too.

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Whole 30 Day 17: Burmese-Style Chicken Wings with Lime, Cilantro, and Shallot Salsa; Chilled Cucumber and Avocado Soup with Mango Salsa. The little cups of soup are for the boys who can be counted on to try almost anything if it’s presented to them in a tiny package. They liked it! Andy was surprised to find that he liked it too. I already knew I did because I’ve made it before and kept it all to myself. You’ve gotta leave out the corn in the salsa to make it Whole-30 compliant which puts me in the unusual position of being more restricted than a raw-foods vegan recipe.

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Whole 30 Beef Jerky. I used coconut aminos instead of the soy sauce. I’m now a person who uses coconut aminos. If you also want to be this person, you can buy a bottle at Wheatsville for $6.49. Also I omitted the worcestershire sauce- which it turns out is liquid sugar. Didn’t know.

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Peanut Butter Granola Bars with Dried Cherries, Coconut, and Chocolate. The very granola bars that are still on my counter. They’re gluten free but don’t read that and think they’re healthy. They are buttery and peanut-buttery and brown sugar-y too.

I brought these snacks, plus some apples and a little jar of almond butter on a camping trip to Pedernales with my sister-in-law Joanna and her daughters. In spite of a few setbacks, we had such a fun time.

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The most serious marshmallow toasters. Henry ate 40.

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Jambalaya mise en place! With all the prep work done at home, this was super easy to put together. Thanks for the wonderful recipe, Abbie, and thanks for taking pictures, Joanna!

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This is where the magic happens. Next to my sweaty crouching body.

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Henry and Clara spent most of the trip in the upper branches of that tree while George and Lucy played in the hammock.

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Whole 30 Day 18: Jambalaya, Rosemary Potatoes, Rainbow Vegetable Skewers, Sugar-Free Sausage. I didn’t eat the jambalaya but I very much enjoyed the other things. I feel obligated to point out that I didn’t eat it, lest you think, Oh, Arielle, you can’t have jambalaya on Whole 30. But probably no one is judging me or cares about that? Well I care. I’m following these rules and I want you to know it.

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I regret to inform you that you have been hexed by Henry.

The rest of our evening was grand. We tried and mostly failed to make jiffy pop on the fire and then the kids had a hypnotizing flashlight dance party after dark. We stayed up too late. When we got in the tent, I read George his book and then read Henry his book and then held them close to me while they fell asleep. I did too. Camping sleep is restless sleep for me, even on our city-slicker 4-inch memory foam pad that takes up the whole front seat of the car but is absolutely worth the effort and loss of cargo space. Even with it, I wake at every rustle of the tent or sound of laughter from a nearby campsite, or sudden illumination from someone’s flashlight (we gotta be near the bathrooms, we just gotta). Looking up through the screened roof of our tent during one of these wakeful times, I thought that maybe I saw lightning, but convinced myself that it must have just been someone’s flashlight. It was lightning, of course. It started raining at 2:30 and I hadn’t put the rain fly on the tent because it was hot outside and wasn’t supposed to rain. I ran barefoot to the car, got the rain fly, tossed it awkwardly over the tent and then ran to help Joanna, who was doing the same thing but really needed two sets of hands to get her rainfly over her gigantic tent. So that was something. In the morning we got in our cars to drive over to the nearby butterfly and bird garden and my tire warning light came on. When we got to the bird place, which really was lovely, I saw that my tire was almost completely flat. With no Andy around to change it! Woe is me. I drove back to our campsite and put the spare on in a slow and awkward fashion, checking and double-checking the instruction manual and yelling at the kids for fighting while I was trying to do this thing I didn’t want to do. I did it though. We spent our last hours in Pedernales swimming at the beachy spot and marveling at the fact that we got to spend our Monday surrounded by so much beauty.

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Even Trolli-brand sour brite octopus gummies couldn’t keep them awake on the ride home.

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Whole 30 Day 19: Camping Leftovers for Dinner- Veggie Skewer Surplus Veggies + Chorizo. I took the jambalaya’s temperature when I got home and was so sad to see that it was 50 degrees and therefore unsafe to feed to my children for dinner. I fed it to the chickens instead. White Neck, who is still alive and getting pretty damn good at hopping along on her one good foot sat by the tub and ate and ate until her beak was encrusted in rice.

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Whole 30 Day 20: Bun-less Burger with Quick Pickles, Roasted Sweet Potato Wedges with Guacamole. This was delicious. I soaked the cucumber slices in equal parts white balsamic vinegar and water, plus a heavy pinch of salt. The white balsamic is sweet and fruity and gave these pickles a sort of bread-and-butter quality that I liked a lot. Thought I’d throw that out there in case you also have a bottle of white balsamic kicking around in your cupboard after making that cabbage and chicken salad. Pro tip: sweet potato wedges are really great with guacamole.

So that’s 2/3 of my Whole 30 down. In spite of my sass at the top of this post, I’m really happy that I’m doing it. I definitely feel better. Less spongy and weighed-down. And it’s just an interesting experiment. I’m acutely aware of my desire to eat when I’m not hungry, because I’m bored or because other people are eating and I like eating. And because there’s not a lot around that I want to snack on- I’ll eat nuts or clementines or, blah, a hard-boiled egg if I really need it- I have just been pushing through until meal times and then eating my fill. I’ve been surprised to realize that I don’t really miss dairy. With the exception of parmesan, which I still carry a torch for, I feel like I could easily and happily cut way back on dairy when this is all over. I feel like I can be less reliant on filling up on bread and pasta and flour tortillas too, and eat more nourishing foods instead. And maybe, maybe, I feel less interested in eating a lot of sugary things too. Some dark chocolate sounds pretty good right about now, though.

I’m not gonna make the same promise about being on time with next week’s post. It’s probably going to be late because, tiger blood or no, writing is hard. See you sometime!

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One thought on “More Whole 30, A Cookbook Party, Plus My Sweaty Crouching Body

  1. Barbara March 30, 2017 / 11:02 am

    Your Whole30 meals look gorgeous and inspiring. Must try the chicken schwarma! And I’m in awe of you for changing your own tire. You rock.

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