I am 6 days in to my Whole30 month and I have to say I am loving it. It helps that I am reading It Starts With Food which goes over a ton of science about why you are eliminating things from your plate, so while I am eating I am thinking, ‘my body is healing itself right now, I love this’. And I am also free from the pangs of hunger I usually get through the day which is honestly freedom for me.
In case you are curious about why I am doing it, lean in close because I’ll tell you. First off, please know that I hate fad diets, love learning about nutrition, and don’t believe in ‘get thin quick’ anythings. I love running and working out as a stress reliever, and the way healthy food makes me feel. But I also love wine and salt & vinegar Popchips (the worst nutrition, I know! They are my kryptonite) while watching movies, sigh. C’est la vie de la mère. After I had each of my kids I was usually able to get back to my pre-baby weight. But hi, Andrew is almost 2 and my last 10 lbs. are hanging on no matter what I do. So that is a big part of my motivation.
I feel like I have tried everything with no results, nada. I used to be able to work off my splurges with exercise but after reading the book I realize that unhealthy carbs were sneaking in so much – cheese and crackers here, wine and pop chips there, there and there, that I was stuck in a cycle of always being hungry. I am so thrilled with both the reset and continuing to eat in a way that I know my body will respond too. It really is a big freedom, and it is sort of under the “there is nothing new under the sun” umbrella because this is a Mediterranean diet, it is low-carb (with more veggies, less cheese), it is Paleo, it is everything your doctor tells you you should do and it is in a framework where you know what the benefits are going to be after 30 days. The first time I tried a different but similar cleanse, I didn’t make it past day 12 (a day when they usually tell you you will break, so true!) but I didn’t know the science behind it and I didn’t know my why. I was also fixated on weighing myself to see if it was working, and when then number didn’t go down, I got discouraged. Whole30 doesn’t let you weigh yourself (so smart!) and now that I know what I’m doing I am pretty determined to complete it.
I read The Nesting Place recently and even though it was about decorating and not food, it said constraints can bring out more creativity in us. And that is exactly how I feel about Whole30! I am so excited to eat this way and make something interesting with just really natural ingredients. I was staring at my fridge last night when my favorite flavors started to call me. Artichokes, olives, tomatoes, basil, garlic. Just love them. (Of course, feta cheese makes it great too but I didn’t miss it, really!)
There are 2 big take aways from this recipe: 1) How to pan sear and 2) this bed of onions, garlic, artichokes, spinach, tomato, and olives is so good, and can be used with anything – shrimp, fish, pasta, chicken.
I hope you can add both of these things to your arsenal of kitchen go-to’s to help your creativity/what should I make for dinner 5 o’clock routine. It is the easiest thing to make too. I promise! Even if you aren’t doing Whole30 you will feel great after you eat it. Scout’s honor.
Mediterranean Pan Seared Chicken with Artichokes and Tomatoes (printer version here):
A Whole30 Recipe
Ingredients (Serves 2-3):
1 lb. chicken
1 diced onion
3 diced garlic cloves
1 can quartered artichokes
½ c. chicken broth
1 pint cherry tomatoes
1 package of spinach
½ c. kalamata olives
4-6 basil leaves, cut
(feta, capers optional)
For Pan Searing: Pre-heat oven to 425. Turn on an oven safe pan on high heat. Pat dry the chicken, and sprinkle with salt, pepper, and any rubs or seasonings you want to use (I use Emeril’s home rub which lasts me a long time). Then heat 1 T. olive oil (it can take the high temps of the oven the best). Lay your steak/chicken/etc. in the pan (you should hear a sizzle) and leave it there for 3-5 minutes, so it gets a nice brown crust. Then turn it over when it looks brown enough and do the same thing on the other side. Once the other side is browned, put the pan in the oven for 6-8 minutes (depending on thickness) so the middle cooks. BE CAREFUL when you pull the handle out of the oven, use a towel, and I even tie my towel on there so I remember it is hot.
For the bed of veggies: Preheat a pan on medium-high heat. Sauté 1 onion, diced in ghee (clarified butter Whole30 allows), butter or olive oil. Then add 3 cloves of garlic and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the can of artichokes and cook for 3 minutes. Add 1/2 cup of chicken broth, salt and pepper, and cook for a few more minutes, reducing the liquid. Then add the spinach, tomatoes and olives for the last 3-4 minutes of cooking. Salt and pepper to taste – I think I added garlic salt too. (Feel free to use other favorite veggies, like broccoli, peppers, carrots, etc.)
Serve with ribbons of basil on top.