It finally happened. After nearly three years of green smoothies for dinner, I got tired of them. Also, it's winter. I wanted something warm to eat. Which is just one of the reasons I decided to finally try a Whole30. Let's not talk about the KIND bar I was eating for breakfast every morning or the jars of candy on my co-worker's desk that I was regularly raiding.
Basically, I needed a food reset.
So I ordered this book, which has been my guide through the past two weeks. Well, three weeks if you count the trial week I did before I officially started. (I decided I needed to ease into this a little, and I think it helped.)
Honestly, this isn't that far off from how I normally eat. Except I was eating what is essentially a candy bar for breakfast every morning (I got lazy). I also wasn't diligently checking labels except for gluten. Now I'm also checking for dairy and sugar (IT'S IN EVERYTHING).
So what am I eating?
I've been making this Fiesta Egg Casserole, cutting it into 5 portions and storing it in the fridge. I made this recipe to the letter the first time, but the second time, I used some leftover ground turkey and roasted butternut squash. That's become my new favorite version.
I make 5 days worth of food on the weekend, so it's grab and go in the mornings. I've been relying on my Well Fed cookbooks for recipes. I already had a couple of favorites in the first book but received the second one for Christmas and there's a bunch of recipes I want to try in there, too.
I've been making what I affectionately refer to as a "food pile". Sautee some protein (usually ground meat cooked with onion that I made on the weekend), add some vegetables (chard, spinach, cauliflower rice, butternut squash), and top with some sort of sauce (guac, pico de gallo, etc). Since I've pre-cooked everything, this is a super quick way for me to make dinner.
I'm finding that I'm snacking less than I used to, but if I do need something, a handful of nuts (cashews, macadamia) is usually enough.
The hard part? Going out to eat. Any time someone suggests going out to eat, mild panic strikes because it can be hard to figure out where to go that will have something I can eat. I end up ordering a lot of salads with dressing on the side and then not using the dressing. Which actually isn't so bad. Thankfully, friends and family have been pretty agreeable about where to go so I can eat with them.
What about caffeine? I've seen some people mention that it's not allowed. In the book I'm using as my guide, it doesn't say anything about no caffeine, unless you're trying to eliminate IBS or IBD symptoms. Since that doesn't apply to me, I'm still drinking caffeinated beverages. I had been a one cup of coffee a day person and I couldn't drink it without milk and some sort of sweetener. During my trial week, I switched to green tea. I don't need to add anything to that to make it drinkable, and so far, it's worked out well.
Things I've discovered:
Today is day 14, and I guess I feel pretty good? I think I'm less groggy in the morning when I get up, which is nice. I'm hoping I feel even better in the next few days. After tomorrow, only 15 more days to go!
I missed the 15 year anniversary of this blog (it was December 31st). I've written so many blog entries - in my head - in the last 6 months. I just can't seem to sit down and type them out. I'm sure there's at least part of a 15 year anniversary post in my brain somewhere, but it seems a little silly to write it out now, on the 24th of January.
I'm not going to lie. It's been a rough year. I thought last year was rough, but this year was...I don't even know if I can find the right words.
I have, of course, learned a few things in the past year. Like I'm REALLY out of the habit of posting here. And I thought setting up a public Instagram account might help, but that's been a major fail. Until Instagram makes it easier to post to multiple accounts, I just can't manage more than one account. Unfortunately, it's the one that I keep mostly private. My views on sharing things have morphed over the years, I guess. Which may be another reason I'm not making the time to write here. When I was cooking, knitting and taking photos all the time, it seemed I always had something to write about it. When most of what I'm doing is working, it's not just about finding the time, it's about finding the content, too.
However! I started a Whole30 last week and I've been doing more cooking than I have in years. And I keep thinking about things I want to document during the 30 days. I should start taking notes, because I feel like I may actually want to write down some of what I'm thinking and learning, and this might be a good place to do it. I can't guarantee it's going to happen, but I'm at least going to try.
So, rather than write an enormously long post about it, I'm going to save some of it for next time. Which should hopefully be soon.
I never intended to take a five month break from blogging, but here we are.
I feel like there's some unspoken (or maybe it has been spoken/written) rule about not apologizing for blog neglect. I, however, feel like I need to apologize (to all three of you that are still reading). I could blame my new-ish job that's got me a little keyboard shy since there could be some potential googling from coworkers. Or, we could blame the fact that I'm really busy because of said job (it's good busy). We could blame a lot of things, actually. I've reached a point where I often feel a little bewildered by the state of the internet and blogs. Instagram is much more comfortable for me, so that's where I spend most of my time these days.
I get self-conscious about my writing here, and if I think about it too much, it's just easier not to write. But Shauna pointed out that there's so many people on the interwebs now, that some get lost in the crowd. There's so many voices that mine babbling over here in the corner is still pretty small and quiet and I don't think anyone is going to notice much. At least that's what I'm hoping.
ANYWAYS. I digress.
I have actually done more than just go to work in the past few months. I took a short vacation to Chicago (which I'm going to save for another post) and I've been going to a pottery studio and doing some pottery things. And...I'm sure there's more. When I remember, I'll try and actually write about it.
I think it's about time for another "catch-up" post, isn't it? Let's get to it.
Six years ago yesterday, I got engaged. It seems like it was so long ago. We celebrated by staying at home and watching old SNL clips and 30 Rock episodes while I made a nice dinner that took way longer than expected. Starting the whole process to make gnocchi (for the first time ever) at 6:30pm was perhaps not the best plan, but some cheese and crackers helped soften the blow of dinner served at 8pm. Also, there was ice cream for dessert.
I started a new job a week ago. I'm not usually one to choose a big life change (I left my last 2 jobs due to lay offs) but it was an opportunity I couldn't say no to. So far, I like it.
I opened up a shop over on Society6. I took a couple of favorite photos and sized them for phone cases, pillows, prints, etc. I'd like to add some non-photography artwork items at some point, but that might take a while.
I have not forgotten that I promised a post on brewing kombucha. I'm still doing it, and it's been working out pretty well so I have LOTS of notes and links for you. I am going to compile it all. SOON.
Things I am enjoying on the internets:
I'm sure I had more to tell you, but that's all my brain can come up with at the moment. Let's do this again soon?
I'm sure we've all seen the salad in a mason jar thing going around the interwebs. I know I've pinned a bunch of different versions but didn't have any motivation to actually try this method of salad prep until a few weeks ago.
I fell in love with a salad. A Trader Joe's pre-packaged salad with kale, shredded broccoli, sunflower seeds, dried cranberries and chicken. I knew it sounded familiar, and there was a reason. It's this Broccoli Kale Slaw that Tracy blogged about ages ago. I've become obsessed with it and wanted to recreate it for my lunches, but knew that I'd need to find a way to prep a few days worth without it going all weird in the fridge. Cue lightbulb and subsequent scouring of pinterest for all those salad in a jar pins.
In Tracy's post, she uses a different dressing, but I actually like the dressing that comes with the salad, so I did a little googling and found a close approximation to that spicy/sweet dressing. I had a vague idea of how I should layer everything, but consulted some guidelines over on the kitchn to get a better idea.
I bought almost everything I needed at Trader Joe's, except a head of red cabbage (though you could probably leave this out if you wanted to). I don't actually own any quart size mason jars, but I did have some quart size ziploc containers with screw on lids and they worked just fine. The kitchn mentioned separating out soft proteins (like cooked chicken), but I decided to layer it in there anyways. I wanted to see what would happen, and if I really could layer everything in there without adverse effects, I would be much more likely to use this prep method again.
This is the layer order I used (from bottom to top):
I did this all on a Sunday afternoon, and put the "jars" in the fridge. On Monday morning, I grabbed a jar, a fork, and a large bowl and headed to work. When lunch time rolled around, I dumped the jar of salad into the large bowl, tossed it around a bit, and ate. Same drill on Tuesday, and the salad was totally fine, just as good as Monday. Same thing with the Wednesday salad. But Thursday, we went out to lunch, so the 4th salad ended up sitting in the fridge for 5 days. I brought it to work on Friday and didn't get my hopes up. I could always buy lunch if everything in the jar had gone to mush, but I'm happy to report that it was absolutely fine.
So I would say there's definitely something to this layering ingredients in a jar thing if you want to prep salads for lunch ahead of time. It was a bit of a pain to bring an extra bowl with me every day, but not so bad that I wouldn't do it again. The only ingredient that really changed at all through the week was the sunflower seeds. They were the very top layer, and they got a little soft. They didn't taste bad, they just lost some of their crunch. Not that they're super crunchy in the first place, but their texture was a bit lost once they were mixed in with everything. I might separate them out into a smaller container next time, or just add them to the jar each morning.
I'm super happy this worked and that I can now prepare and eat my favorite salad for lunch during the week!
Most of you know how much I love Instagram and my love for the app is still strong. But not too long after I started actively using my account, I made it private. With social media, I've found that if I have the option to make my account private, I will. I post photos of my husband and other family members who don't want to have photos of their mugs publicly available and I want to respect that.
However, there's a social networking aspect to Instagram that just doesn't work as well when your account is private. The majority of the food I cook is from recipes I find on the internet, and I like to be able to give a little shot out or hashtag to those recipe creators when I post a photo of one of their recipes. Unless they're also following me, they may see that I've tagged them somehow, but they won't be able to see the photo, which is kind of a bummer. So I decided to finally create a public Instagram account!
I'm going to try and keep content on the public account different from my other account. Which means that the UGC account may be lots of food photos and maybe a cat or two. The difficult part about this whole scenario is that Instagram doesn't make it easy to switch back and forth between accounts without logging in and out of each account. There's apps that let you switch between accounts for viewing, but not for posting. I may just have to change my posting behavior and not instantly post everything. We'll see how it goes.
The other reason I did this is because I post to Instagram almost daily. I post to this spot on the web once or twice a month if I'm lucky. So hopefully I can manage to post to the Instagram account that's now connected to this blog...
Please feel free to follow along!
Today marks the 14 year anniversary of this blog.
I'm not even sure what to say about that. I did write here a little bit more than I did last year, so I guess that's a good thing. Thank you, those of you that stop by to read and leave comments. I know there's still a few of you out there, and I'm so glad you've stuck around.
It's been a difficult year, not just for me, but for SO MANY people. 2014, don't let the door hit your ass on the way out. But then there's also the idea that the bad stuff makes the good stuff seem that much better.
I spent more time in doctor's offices this year than I have EVER. The good part was figuring out what was causing my breathing issue. The bad part was the outpatient procedure that turned into an overnight stay in the ICU. The end result is that I can finally breathe like a normal person. Sometimes good and bad travel together. And that's just one example. I could fill up a page with examples, and I'm sure you could all contribute.
I'd like to think that the hard stuff we've dealt with this past year has paved the way for some good stuff in 2015. I hope that for each and every one of you.
Here's to a happy new year!