Ceviche, Chorizo, Chili, a Giant Dog Head, and Still More Whole 30 Meals

I took a hypnobirthing course when I was pregnant with Henry, and I was all in. I listened to the CD before bed every night, and I labored for 39 hours with the mindset that I didn’t have to do a damn thing but breathe the baby down and it would be easy and painless. It sucked so much. It wasn’t easy or painless and I threw up a bunch of lemon lime gatorade and pushed for two straight hours to try to get it over with already. I felt seriously let down by hypnobirthing, because I felt like I’d done everything by the book and it had not gone anything like they said it would. But, I thought, I can’t tell anyone that, because maybe I did do something wrong, and hypnobirthing would work as advertised for someone who did it just so. So I kept my mouth shut. A friend did hypnobirthing too a year later and had the same experience as me (that it was shit) and gently asked why I hadn’t said anything to her about it, cuz that would’ve been helpful. I explained that I didn’t want my bad experience to stop someone from trying something that might work out just great for them. But hell, it’s nice to be informed isn’t it? So with that in mind, here’s my personal experience with the Whole 30 tiger blood. I didn’t get it. I’ve got four more days in the program and I think it’s safe to say it’s not coming. I feel good, but pretty damn far from energetic. I’m really happy to be eating well- I like looking at my colorful plates of food and I like watching my kids embrace these changes. I have liked the challenge of eating so far out of my comfort zone, and I think I have lost some weight. But it hasn’t been a panacea. My cycle is still horribly erratic and I’m still often tired. This doesn’t mean for a second that I wouldn’t recommend Whole 30 to you. I’m so glad I did it and it will absolutely change the way I eat going forward. I just don’t know that I’d go in with the impression that you’re going to spend the second half of the month as a super-human version of yourself.

Here’s what we ate this week.

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Whole 30 Day 21, Lunch: Zucchini Noodles with Creamy Avocado Pesto. (Warning that the name of the linked blog is rage-inducing. Eat Yourself Skinny! Gah! Give us all eating disorders, why don’t you?) I was super hungry when I made this for lunch and I was 0% excited to eat it. I almost hated this bowl, all green and vegetal and from the blog with a shitty name. And then I took a bite and I loved it so much. The pesto is delicious, and the zucchini noodles were good too. Noodle-y! I ate my bowlful in a hot minute and was still hungry, and had lots of that pesto leftover, so I reheated some sweet potato wedges leftover from our burger dinner the night before, and dipped those in the pesto. I liked this even better than the zucchini noodle/pesto arrangement. Over the course of my Whole 30 month, Henry has fallen deeply in love with sweet potatoes. So I offered him a bite of a sweet potato I had dipped in the pesto. He tried it, a little wary of the green sauce, and said, “this is spectacular.” So we shared the rest. Definitely gonna make this again.

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Whole 30 Day 21, Dinner: Sausage and Cabbage Stir-Fry with Chives. In a treat yo self moment, I subscribed to Bon Appetit, which cost $6 for 11 issues. And they say print media is dying. It’s fun! And it’s given me two good ideas already. This stir-fry, which was delicious and easy and which made enough that I could eat it for breakfast for a few more days (which I ate happily, not begrudgingly).  And the kids loved it too! The other good, no, let’s say brilliant idea, came from the last page of my first issue, in an interview with Tracy Morgan. They asked him what his favorite restaurant is and he said Benihana, where he always orders the hibachi shrimp. Shrimp? Rice? Sushi? Fire and theatrics? It occurred to me that taking the kids to a Benihana might be the greatest thing I ever do for them as a parent. Alas, there isn’t a Benihana in Austin. There are four in Houston though, and we’ll be there later this month to visit Uncle Dan, so this hibachi shrimp dream could become a reality.

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Whole 30 Day 22, Lunch: Cheesesteak without the Cheese or Bread or Mayonnaise, from Proof in Buda. Adventures in eating out on whole 30 have been limited to Chipotle on Fridays after swim class, where I get a romaine salad with carnitas (you can get their chorizo too, I think, but the rest of the meats have rice bran oil in them), pico de gallo, and guacamole. It’s delicious and it’s something I don’t have to cook so I’m all about it, even if I’m putting myself at risk for e-coli or whatever disease Chipotle is always giving people. This week I added Proof to my short list of restaurant expenditures this month. I felt like a jackass asking so many questions about the menu, but the lady was really nice about it. She recommended this cheese-less cheesesteak/warm roast beef on a plate, and I took it. In hindsight, I should have asked for a side of greens or something but honestly, this was good. I ate one of the clementines I keep in my purse at all times after and went on with my life.

I was in Buda to dig up firecracker ferns from Amanda’s parents backyard. They are millions of dollars at the nursery, but free when you dig them up out of someone’s backyard. I got 14 of em! And Amanda brought me bulbine and cedar sage from her yard too, so it was a red letter day for free plants and warm roast beef.

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Whole 30 Day 22, Dinner: Okonomiyaki, Coconut Cauliflower Rice. I made a few changes to this non-whole 30 recipe- it calls for panko bread crumbs to bind the cakes,  so I boiled and mashed a potato and mixed that in instead, and I added a hell of a lot of chopped crispy bacon to the mix, and then fried the cakes in the bacon fat. These were delicious! I splashed them with coconut aminos instead of the sweet and hot mayo in the linked recipe and loved them better than the original version (we can give credit to the bacon for this). But the potato was really fun too. I happily ate the leftovers for breakfast the next day. The cauliflower rice was the worst thing. Is cauliflower rice just terrible in general or did I do this wrong? Maybe I pulsed it in the food processor too long? It was not one bit like rice but was like shitty steamed cauliflower debris. I would never choose this. I’d rather roast a sheet pan of cauliflower and have it get nutty and crispy and eat that on the side instead of this sad imitation of rice.

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Whole 30 Day 23: Peruvian Ceviche, Fried Plantains with Mint Mojo. I’d been craving ceviche, something I had never made at home, and was happy to learn that it’s super easy. The kids were weirded out by my pile of tiny fish cubes. And then I gave the end cuts with the black swordfish skin to our dog and she choked them down so fast that she had to have one of her great hacking coughs which I think further put the kids off the idea of calling this dinner. They had toaster waffles and sausages instead. For the ceviche, I skipped the aji amarillo stuff because I didn’t have it and it turned out just fine with the lime and ginger and avocado. Next time I think I’ll add some diced mango or pineapple too. Just thinking out loud here. The fried plantains are good with anything.

Like the dog, I choked down my mouthfuls of dinner because I was running late for my last session of our 12-month enneagram class.  This is my second year of meeting once-a-month with a hilarious, compassionate, and insightful group of women to talk with one another about our struggles and triumphs on the road to being better people. At the end of the session, Christy handed out lists of things each number (that’s your enneagram personality type) can do to help themselves grow (Thank you for these lists, Shannon!). The list for my number (eight- the boss, the challenger) reads like a succinct account of my personal failings. 1. Practice waiting and listening before taking action as a way to moderate your impatience and impulsivity. (Yeah, I’m bad at listening. And also at being patient. Noted.) 3. Pay more attention to the impact your intensity has on others. ( o_O ) 5. When you find yourself getting extremely angry at someone or some injustice, allow yourself to breathe deeply and quiet your body and mind instead of reflexively starting to fight. (You don’t know me, list writer! No, but seriously, I have no idea how to do the thing where you breathe yourself calm when you’re angry. This is not a thing I have ever successfully done. When I have tried it, my brain chimes in with all of its well-reasoned arguments that justify my anger.) I will give myself props for two items on this list, though: 6. Write down and review insights about yourself as a way of opposing self-forgetfulness and denial (thanks, blog!) and 8. Practice delaying gratification and stimulation (thanks kids for the millions of opportunities you create for me to practice this one every damn day). Next month we’re starting a mini-series on boundaries, which should be useful because I’ve got lousy ones. In the meantime, I’m gonna practice that calm breathing thing and listening to you.

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Dinner for a Friend with a Big Ole Baby: Chicken Shawarma, Cucumber and Tomato Salad, Tahini Sauce, Hummus and Bell Peppers, Roasted Sweet Potato Rounds, plus pita bread and pita chips, not pictured. You guys, this big ole baby is so big. He was born really big (almost 12 lbs! in a homebirth no less!) but it also took me three-ish months to get it together and bring a postpartum meal to my friend, so he was even bigger. I don’t want another baby of my own but I enjoyed the shit out of holding this guy. He’s laugh-y and smile-y and he chews on your shirt in a very nice way. I got to sit and hold him and hear about his very exciting birth story and it was so great.

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Dessert/Breakfast for a Friend with a Big Ole Baby: Chocolate Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Icing, Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins. It can’t all be healthy shit- you gotta have some easily-consumable sugary carb things too. That’s the only way to get through the first few months with a new baby, that’s science.

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Whole 30 Day 24: Chicken Shawarma with Tahini Sauce and Roasted Sweet Potatoes. I made a double batch of the healthy shit so I could eat all of these things too. Sweet potatoes with tahini sauce has jumped to the top of my list of the most delicious things. Also, when the juices from this shawarma, oily and golden from turmeric, mix with the tahini sauce, they create a powerful super-sauce that’s left on the plate even after you’ve dragged your last lettuce leaf through it, so you have to soak the tines of your fork in it and slurp it off and repeat until your tablemates implore you to stop.

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Ultra-Crisp Bacon Fat Roasted Potatoes. This is from the Food Lab and it’s sort of like the linked recipe and I really can’t focus on what I wanted to say about these things, if anything, cuz my big ole dog has her face six inches from mine and she’s breathing her hot dog breath in a rapid-clip haa-ha-haa-ha-haa-ha. I’m gonna take her picture now and upload it right here between the crispy potatoes and the chorizo kale thing so you can really feel what it’s like to be me right now, at 11:32 on a Monday night.


A real good-lookin’ lady.

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Whole 30 Day 25, Lunch: Crispy Chorizo, Potatoes, and Kale. On to the kale. I’ve made this a bunch this month and I’m still not sick of it. It’s fast and filling and it tastes good. This plus that tuna salad with tomatoes and parsley and kalamata olives are my Whole30 MVPs. I don’t watch sports.

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Whole 30 Day 25, Dinner: Chili. I’m just gonna tuck a little corner of roasted sweet potato rounds into all my meals going forward. I love them. We were supposed to spend the day at Sherwood Forest Faire but a big fun storm blew in so we stayed home and did mostly nothing while the hours ticked slowly by instead.


Dove Springs. I also have a sweet-ass slo-mo video of the kids throwing rocks into the water. I figured only the grandmas would be interested in seeing that though so, grandmas- hit me up!

Our hike back up from the creek was fraught with peril. On the way down, Henry had noticed that some of the plants lining the path had little bumps on them (from disease or insects, I don’t know) and kind of freaked out about it, but we made it to the water and had a gay old time throwing rocks and finding fossils. When we were ready to hike back up, Henry said he was so worried about those bumpy plants. I thought this was very silly, but I didn’t say so, and instead offered that he could put his hands on my back and close his eyes and walk past the plants without having to look at them. This was a terrible idea because Henry, who is semi-uncoordinated with the ability to see and is understandably less so with his eyes closed, stepped on and kicked my heels in a most painful fashion until finally I stopped and said, hey, you’re hurting me, and also, we’re past the worst of it and the path is wide enough now that you don’t have to touch any of the bumpy plants anymore. Henry disagreed. He still very much did not want to see these plants, and I very much did not want to be kicked anymore, so he walked in front of me with his hands over his eyes, screaming. I, more and more frustrated, tried to get him to uncover his eyes, because you can’t hike with your eyes closed, and that only freaked him out more and he fell right into one of the bumpy plants and that did it. He screamed louder the whole rest of the ascent until I turned on him and yelled, “you have got to stop screaming! someone is going to think a little kid is lost or hurt down here!” This didn’t help either, so we just got to the car as quickly as we could and that was our hike.

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Whole 30 Day 26: Ginger and Scallion Meatball Salad with Herbs and Fried Shallots. I made the meatballs from this recipe from It’s All Easy (Gwyneth!) with pork instead of chicken and coconut aminos instead of soy sauce and put them on top of an approximation of the bo bun salad from the same book- which meant all the green stuff I had plus the lime/fish sauce/ginger/garlic dressing and a pile of fried shallots. Really good. Henry and George opted to have noodles with olive oil and parmesan instead, and slurped them up happily, but then Henry asked to try a meatball, and then ate bites of greens and carrots and meatball all together. I asked him which meal he preferred- the salad or the pasta, and he picked the salad. He and George loved the lime-y fish sauce dressing and took turns spooning up the little pool of the stuff that was left in the bottom of my bowl. It’s really been wonderful to see how my kids have responded to my whole 30 month. Henry especially has been eager to try what I’m having- I think it helps that everything looks so colorful and interesting- and has surprised us both by mostly liking it. It’s so easy to settle into a rut of making things for dinner that I know the kids will eat- lots of bread and rice and pasta and taco things- I did it almost without realizing it. Sitting down at the table with a big plate of fresh and vibrant green things feels rebellious, in a wonderful way. I’m taking the time and effort to do something for myself, and I sure am hoping that it will change the way my whole family eats, for the better.


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