Tag Archives: life after Whole30

What Whole30 Taught Me About Cooking

One of my favorite implications of Whole30 has been the way it’s forced me to make friends with my inner Bobby Flay (or whatever celeb chef you prefer. No judgement, unless you pick Paula Deen. Then I judge you.) Unless I’m going out for a pre-planned meal like date night or dinner with the fam, I’m cooking and preparing meals at home.

My grocery shopping and at-home food strategy has barely changed since Whole30. We essentially have the whole “but there’s no food, just ingredients to MAKE food” thing going on. We have meat, fruit, veggies, eggs and condiments like nut butters and salsas. There’s some Luna bars in the pantry chillin with the oils/vinegars and some nuts, now added by Paleo baking ingredients. But there’s hardly anything that can just be heated up in a flash. We have to get creative and work a little for it. At first this was overwhelming, but now I absolutely love it.

So what has this experience taught me about cooking?

Lesson One: Keep it simple

  • You can roast just about any vegetable with a little olive oil, balsamic and random spices.
  • Everything is better if you just throw it on the grill.
  • Salads aren’t boring if you do it right. Open the fridge, pull everything out, chop it up and put it on lettuce. Wasn’t that easy?
  • Need a side dish? Have some snap peas with Sunbutter. Throw some carrots in the oven. It doesn’t need to be an ordeal. These foods taste good all on their own.

Lesson Two: Give yourself a break

  • It’s okay to take shortcuts that make cleaning easier. Slow cooker liners, Ziploc steamer bags, etc. There’s no award for doing it all by hand.
  • If you’re really out of ideas, just steam it and put some sort of sauce on top.
  • Eggs are easy, fast and cheap. Eat as many as you want for any meal you want.

Lesson Three: Get creative and just try it, already

  • Any dish can be salvaged or elevated with one of the following ingredients: salt/pepper, olive oil, a fried egg or hot sauce. And sometimes, all of the above.
  • You don’t have to make a traditional food. Our society is obsessed with naming our foods; everything has to “be” something. Get that our of your mind right now. Forget lasagna, gumbo, tacos, etc. Just throw some food together without worrying about what it “is”. Here are some of the traditionally nonsensical things I’ve been eating:
    • Roasted brussel sprouts with spinach turkey sausage slices and avocado
    • Microwaved sweet potato with fried eggs
    • Ground beef sautéed with zucchini and onion
  • I was scared of trying new produce items because I didn’t know what to do with them. That is ridiculous, because Google and YouTube exist and they can help you cook anything.

Lesson Four: Treat Yo Self


  • You really do need a food processor. Or super buff large arm muscles.
  • Get a couple Paleo or Whole30/Whole9 cookbooks. If nothing else it will give you inspiration and the motivation to make healthy meals.
  • New cooking tools (spatulas, zesters, slicers, peelers) are an inexpensive way to up your game.
  • You can’t cook every meal every day without going insane. Find restaurants that are Whole30 or close enough. For me, this is Agra Culture and D Brian’s. I know I can get lunch if I’m in a jam without stressing out too much.

I love that I can open my fridge and come up with a creative meal that takes little effort without that meaning I’m heating up a frozen dinner. I like that a snack can just be a handful of nuts. I’m loving my new sense of adventure and how I actually enjoy making things from scratch. And I can confidently say that this would have never happened without Whole30.

How’s that for proof that Whole30 can change your life?


Reintroduction: Rules Are For Breaking (Oh Well!)

It’s been exactly seven days since Whole30 ended. Remember when we were going to reintroduce foods very carefully one-by-one on a specified schedule? Yeah… that didn’t really happen. I blame ice cream and birthday dinner at Barbette and friends brunch and the fact that I’m just plain out of willpower. 30 days is a long time to be so strict, and adding another 10 on for reintroduction was apparently more than we could truly handle.

So we didn’t stick to a schedule, but I still think we’ve been pretty good. Below is what reintroduction has looked like since my cookie-baking incident.

Gluten Free Grains

Cookie day was also the official gluten-free grain day. I ate a little bit of quinoa with lunch. It was fine., I guess? I kind of had to force it down. We planned to have some jasmine rice with our curry pot roast for dinner but neither of us really wanted any rice. Turns out we just aren’t into GF grains like I thought. Friday night we really wanted pizza, but weren’t sure we were ready for straight-up gluten pizza crust yet, so we got gluten free.

Can we please discuss GF pizza crust? What the hell IS that stuff? We ordered from Pizzeria Lola and all the reviews said they were known for having great GF pizza. If that’s the best there is… forget that. Go for the gluten my friends. Eat real pizza. GF crust has the texture, consistency and flavor of bad frozen pizza. No thanks, no way. I pretended to like it because PIZZA (duh!) and the melty cheese was delightful.

GF Grains Verdict: My body reacted fine to them both times but I’m just not really into it. I’ll likely have rice with my sushi, and when we go out for Asian/Thai/Chinese (but in reality I would prefer come cauli rice instead).

BEER & Wine (A Redux)

Friday night (GF pizza night) was also beer night! I wanted to test my reaction to beer as a gluten source stand alone. Mainly because I’ve had a huge fear this entire time that I would react poorly to beer. My first beer was a Surly Cynic (a top 5 beer for me), and later in the evening I had part of a Boom Island. Unlike my first experience with wine, I found the beer to be delicious right off the bat. It did take me forever to drink– 3ish hours total — and yes, I felt tipsy all the way through. I didn’t sleep the greatest, which I know is typical when alcohol is involved, and had a small hangover the next day. Other than that… no major reactions to the gluten! I tried another beer (Bell’s Two Hearted, another top 5 for me) last night and did great with that as well.

Out to dinner on Saturday I decided to give wine another chance. I started with a dry white, which I really enjoyed. With my steak I had a pinot noir, which was my favorite so far. Again, I was such a slow drinker… barely finishing my two glasses over a 3.5 hour dinner. And I definitely couldn’t have driven afterwards. Turns out I’m officially a cheap date. I also felt significantly crappy when I woke up the next day.

Beer/Wine Verdict: It’s a go in moderation. I’m certainly more susceptible to hangovers now and one or two drinks seems to be my current max. I’m fine with it as there’s rarely an occasion that actually merits more than two drinks (maybe a wedding or bachelorette party?). In which case I’ll make that decision in the moment based on how I feel. And with the knowledge that I’ll be paying for it significantly the next day.

Additional Reintroduction Thoughts

I still haven’t had straight-up gluten- or not in a significant amount. At dinner on Saturday night I had a couple bites of baguette (I mean we were at a french restaurant) and piece of breakfast quiche that had regular pie crust on Sunday. I do plan to have pizza or pasta or something, but I just haven’t really wanted it yet. I never thought I’d say that as gluten was a huge part of my life pre Whole30, but so far it’s been the reality. No legumes yet either, which I don’t miss in the least.

Dairy and I are getting pretty serious. It’s really the only non Whole30 category that is sneaking into my diet almost daily in moderate amounts. Some cheese in my eggs some mornings, or a latte every now and then. It isn’t a ton, but I seem to react well to it and really appreciate it. I’m trying not to eat it every day but I can say that I’m not going to be a strict no-dairy paleolite. Yes, I think I made that word up. What do you call someone who’s paleo, anyways?

Sugar is delightful but too much gives me a headache. Dairy agrees with me but I will get a rumbly tummy 2 hours on the dot after I have some. I still drink a TON of water. I’m gravitating towards Whole30/paleo foods even now that I don’t “have” to. I want veggies with every meal and I find myself appreciating/enjoying meat like I haven’t ever before. (Especially my grass fed steak at Barbette. HOLY CRAP that was good.) I’m still losing weight but I’m really not trying, it’s just happening. Coffee stays black unless it’s a delicious macchiato or some other purposeful indulgence. I’ve started to really want pasties and pie so at some point soon I need to stop a bakery and satisfy that urge. I’m obsessed with trying recipes from my paleo cookbooks.This day-by-day approach seems kind of reasonable and sustainable. I still grocery shop Whole30 with the exception of butter. Whole foods (not the store, but that too) are amazing.  I feel healthy and fit. I’m still in awe that we did this.

I know a few people out there are considering starting their own Whole30’s. I have to say that I fully recommend that you do. I’m working on compiling a list of Whole30 resources all in one post for those who have been asking. Look for it in the next few days– and let me know if you do decide to start this journey! I’m here to help.

Reintroduction: Phase 1 (Wine & Dairy)

We started our reintroduction phase a little early (dinner on Day 30) with some red wine. I have to say, I expected this to be a complete non-issue. I love wine, I love wine with dinner, and this seemed like an awesomely enjoyable plan.

I don’t remember exactly what wine we had- it was a red (cab maybe?) 2011 Trader Joe’s reserve wine. Full bodied and not at all sweet which is usually my preference. We each poured a glass, got really excited, took a sip and… what the hell? Why does this taste so strong and intense? Do I like it? I’m not sure that I like it. No, I’m sure I like it; it’s just been a while. Better have some more. It took me three hours to drink one glass of wine. And if you know me, this is not usually the case. Tim had two glasses in the same amount of time (he’s 6’4″, mind you) and admitted that he felt kind of drunk. We didn’t finish the bottle.

I went to sleep just fine but woke up at 2:30am with horrible nightmares and some stomach cramps. Tim told me he also slept poorly and had strange dreams. DAMN YOU, WHOLE30, FOR RUINING MY WINE TIME.

Wine Verdict: Jury’s out. I plan to try another glass when out to dinner on Saturday to reevaluate. I’ll try a lighter red or maybe a dry white to experiment. My pre-Whole30 self loved wine way too much for me to call it quits after one go.

Of all food groups, I’ve been most excited to reintroduce dairy. I mean please… we’re talking about CHEESE here.  I adore cheese like a good Midwesterner. I firmly believe you cannot have too much cheese. I’m sure it’s not recommended to follow up your wine night with dairy reintroduction right away in the morning but the cheese was calling my name and I just couldn’t resist.


We kicked it off with some herb chevre in our morning scrambled eggs. It was heaven. I’m still thinking about it. I realized that I’ve really missed that creamy sensation and texture in my food the past month. There’s really nothing like it, at least not that I’ve found. I also added some organic half and half to my coffee. It was flat-out disgusting. No one is more surprised by this than I am, really. Prior to Whole30 I’d probably had black coffee twice in my life (and never by choice). I LOVE fancy coffee drinks, creamers, etc. Apparently that’s no longer the case. This tasted… sour, maybe? I can’t describe it. I drank less than 1/3 of my mug before heading to Caribou for something black. I’m shocked  but at least I’ll spend less money on coffee drinks, right?

…I also had some mid-afternoon chocolate. Chocolate, my lover, I’m so glad we’ve rekindled our romance. Don’t panic – my chocolate was Paleo/Whole9 approved. Dark 72% cacao organic chocolate, to be exact. And I just had one square. And it was so delicious. Here’s a great article about how to look for compliant chocolate, if you’re wondering.

But the real star of the show was heading to Linden Hills after dinner for ice cream at Sabastian Joe’s! I have been on a countdown to ice cream since Whole30 started. I LOVE ice cream in the summer. It’s nostalgic and cute and wholesome and I just adore the entire concept. I had a cup of swiss almond chocolate and Tim enjoyed some chocolate praline pecan.

I am thrilled to say that, unlike coffee creamer, ice cream did not disappoint in the least. The first bite was AMAZING, and I wish I could say I was one of this people who found it “too sweet” or “not worth it” after two or three bites. Nope, not a chance in hell. All two scoops were gleefully eaten with no hint of remorse or slowing down. So apparently that whole “things become too sweet after Whole30” benefit did not extend to me. I’m not even upset.

And the best part? I appear to be tolerating dairy pretty well! About 90 minutes after the cream in the morning and 90 minutes after the ice cream at night my tummy got a little rumbley – as if I was hungry. There is no way I was hungry given what I’d eaten, so that seems like an interesting side effect. But so far, that’s it.

Dairy Verdict: Bring it on- in moderation. I don’t need to have dairy every day but I’ll likely be making it part of my regular diet. I enjoy dairy, my body agreed with it, and in my humble opinion dairy is the the weakest of the Whole9’s manifestos.

Tomorrow (probably) will be non-gluten grains like rice, corn, etc. Aka the boring ones. Woohoo.