The one and only new year’s resolution I’ve made — and kept was to never make a new year’s resolution. That’s worked for me for over twenty years.
On December 31, 2018 my friend, Deanna Reed-Foster (whom some of you may know from Chicago Fire) and I decided to make a change in our lives and our diet because the time was right. Yes, it coincided with a new year, but we were ready. So was her husband, Earl and we decided to do Whole30 together. Several of my other friends wanted to do it with us but said they were getting ready. Here’s the thing: if you’re getting ready to get ready, you’re not ready. I find that change comes easily when you want it.
Each of us had different reasons: for myself, it was time to lose the “election fat” I’d been carrying around since 2016. The stress-eating needed to stop — I wanted my waistline back. Plus, I hadn’t been exercising due to an ongoing shoulder issue and despite months of PT, I still had signs of inflammation and was in pain. For Deanna, she was getting ready for a show, (she’s one of the stars of Nina Simone: Four Women at Northlight) and wanted to feel better and also lose some weight. Earl was ready, too. He was going to the doctor for a check up and didn’t want to end up on a ton of meds for high blood pressure and wanted his figure back, too! So with that, together the three of us set off on our new adventure.
Initially, Deanna and I planned to get together on the afternoon of December 31st and make our “last supper.” This was going to be a HUGE BATCH of her famous mac and cheese (one of my favorite dishes on the planet) and while that was in the oven, we’d do a prep of the foods we were going to eat during our first week.
Here we are pre-Whole29.5 doing our meal-prep thing:
And here’s an after pic – Day 47 taken before I got on stage at Martyr’s — an event where I told an excerpt from “Eat This, You’ll Die!,” my memoir cookbook dedicated to my mother, Bernice and how I inadvertently became a food blogger.
And here I am on stage at Martyr’s in Chicago — telling the story about how Instant PotLuck was born, how I inadvertently became a food blogger, and a few of the passive/aggressive cooking tips from my mother, Bernice. Watch the video:
Meal Prep Day: When we went shopping, we decided that we didn’t want to end up in a carb coma and decided to just do the healthy meal prep and get started. Earl and Deanna had done Whole30 once before and liked how they felt, so she already had some good tips for what to make and how to go about it. Actually, Deanna is the one with the cooking tips and she and I laugh when Earl says: “we made ___.” Just to clarify: Deanna makes, Earl eats what she puts in front of him!
For those who don’t know what Whole30 is, you can read about it, but basically, it’s no dairy, grains, legumes, or sugar. You can eat any protein, veggies, and fruit. (Read the do’s and don’ts for the full list.) There’s a rule which says you can have coffee, BUT you must drink it black or with an approved milk such as almond or coconut. And no sweetener — not even Stevia. This is where I didn’t follow the program exactly and why I call it Whole29.5. Let me explain:
I drink one cup of coffee in the morning with almond milk and I can’t choke it down without a little sweetener so I used a half packet of Stevia. I decided, rather than beat myself up for not doing something perfectly, I would drink it this way. If the Whole30 police was going to show up on my doorstep and arrest me, so be it. As well, there is only one thing I’ve ever done perfectly, and that’s not drink alcohol one day at a time since 1995. Deanna and Earl did the Whole30 as suggested.
In any case, I’ve tried Weight Watchers, and while I like the program, I don’t like counting things. And I was ready for a change. A big one. So, here’s how we approached this new eating plan: we didn’t think of it as not eating something for 30 days, but simply, what we were eating one meal at a time.
We prepped on 12/31 and started on January 1st, 2019. We made amazing, healthy food, texted and/or chatted almost every day as we shared a variety of easy recipes which I’m excited to share with you. There are more recipes than those listed below and I will add to the list — but these are a great start and some of our favorites.
Here we are after Deanna’s show Day 45:
One of the things I found to be a complete game-changer: condiments. I either substituted or began using a variety of new brands and products… and I have to say, there is no reason to stop. I will continue to use them. Here are the top three that come to mind:
Ghee. This is clarified butter and it’s on the approved list. This is what we used instead of butter and it’s amazing. I also found it in a variety of flavors which are a must-have. This is one with garlic… which I LOVE.
Red Boat Fish Sauce. This kicks up everything to a new level. It sounded weird to me at first, but it’s now a staple in my pantry.
At this writing, it’s Feb. 24th I’m still doing the program because I like the way I feel:
- I have NO inflammation whatsoever in my shoulder. None. This is after almost a year in PT. I am not sure if it is the lack of gluten, dairy, or sugar, all three or a combo. Either way, I am not eating those foods right now as I want to continue to have the mobility I’ve been lacking. And, I plan on getting back on the tennis court this spring. I’ve lost 15 pounds, my “election fat,” and a pant size.
- Deanna has lost 15 lbs and she feels great. Earl lost too, and they’re both sticking with this new way of eating — remaining very aware of what they are putting into their bodies.
Here are just a few of the recipes we made:
This is my new favorite breakfast: Salmon, Avocado, and Scrambled Eggs – I love it. I use the leftover salmon from this recipe. Scramble some eggs, toss in some avocado and I’m good to go.
Deanna’s Egg Frittata with tomato, spinach, and onions
Smothered Pork Chops and Bacon with Smashed Cauliflower. Because as my mother Bernice would say: “Bacon grease is an essential oil.”
Pecan Crusted Chicken Thighs on a bed of Smashed Sweet Potatoes:
For me, I found I was rarely hungry and I had no cravings for sugar. If I did find I wanted something sweet, I ate a couple of Medjool dates. My new thing.
I also came up with my new favorite go-to snack: Almond butter drizzled over apples, cinnamon, unsweetened coconut chips and slivered almonds. It reminds me of eating a “Taffy Apple” when I was a kid. There’s no refined sugar and it’s crunchy and sweet and gooey. And I also toss in some dates, too.
So there you have it. Healthy, easy, and most of all you can change your life and someone else’s one meal at a time.
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Check out the new food storage containers that just got personal. Share your homemade food in the new Make It & Take It Containers proudly Made in the USA and dishwasher safe. As my mother, Bernice would say, “you made it, who else’s name belongs on the label?”
And for those who need a laugh along the way… check out the wit and wisdom from my mother, Bernice.