Day 11 of Whole30 Eats

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Today was a bit trickier in the Whole30 compliance department because I had to navigate through a Paleo-unfriendly family get-together and scramble to grab lunch on the run.

The day started out fine with a breakfast of leftover sous vide chicken breast over leftover stewed vegetables (all the beef shanks are long gone).

I nuked my bowl for about a minute and spooned on a dollop of guacamole.

In anticipation of a non-Paleo-friendly family lunch party, my mid-morning snack consisted of a can of sardines and kale chips. After pretending to eat some dim sum at Fitbomb’s cousin’s party, the two of us made a pitstop at Chipotle Mexican Grill and we each ordered salads with half carnitas and half barbacoa, extra guacamole, no beans, fresh tomato salsa, and tomatillo-red chili salsa.

In the afternoon, I popped my marinated pork leg in the oven to slowly braise over 3.5 hours. (I’m serving the pork later this week.)

While I puttered around in the kitchen, I scarfed down some more coconut flakes and macadamia nuts.

For dinner, I made some pan-grilled sumac pepper finishing salt seasoned shrimp

…that I served over a bed of arugula, shredded carrots, and diced avocados.

The greens were dressed with some freshly squeezed Meyer lemon juice, avocado oil, salt, and pepper.

Only 19 days left! I kinda can’t wait until the Whole30 is over. Don’t get me wrong: I’m happy to push the reset button on my diet, but I can’t live like this all year round. I need me some dark chocolate.

Dining Out Paleo: Chipotle Mexican Grill

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I’ll admit it. I’m a huge food snob. I’ll only eat out at a place once I’ve thoroughly done my research and know the food is supposed to be delicious. I’ve been a food tourist and made pilgrimages across the country and abroad for the sole purpose of visiting restaurants (e.g. Pizzeria Bianco in Phoenix, Alinea in Chicago, Per Se in NYC, Cibreo in Florence, and back when I was flirting with vegetarianism, Kodaiji Ikkyu-an in Kyoto). Eff the landmarks and historical sites — I just want good grub.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t need trendy or fancy. The restaurants can be hole-in-the-wall places where I can only communicate with the server by pointing at other diner’s dishes. Frankly, I don’t even care if the place is unsanitary. If it tastes good going down, I don’t care if it comes out painfully a few hours later. Really. Just ask Fitbomb. I’ve hauled his butt all over the globe for good eats.

I like restaurants that are run by passionate food lovers because you know that they put their heart and soul into whatever they’re serving you. You know, like Chef Primo from the movie Big Night or Chef Remy from Ratatouille. (Yes, I haven’t watched too many movies since I hatched my kids.) I just don’t believe you get that kind of passion at a chain restaurant, so I avoid them like the plague. Sure, chains provide a consistent minimum standard of mediocrity; the food won’t totally suck, but you won’t be wowed by anything at Macaroni Grill or Applebee’s.

Well, stop the presses because this afternoon, I ate lunch at a chain. A FAST food chain, no less.

A little backstory…

Lunch today was going to be a bit more problematic. We were headed to Fitbomb’s cousin’s birthday luncheon and we knew we’d be served a dizzying array of dim sum dishes. Fitbomb’s family LOVES eating dim sum.

I HATE dim sum. Besides, the stuff certainly ain’t Whole30 compliant. To make sure I didn’t starve, I ate a can of sardines at home and I packed emergency packs of coconut flakes and macadamia nuts. At the party, everyone kept nagging me to go get food, but I just pretended to be busy feeding my kids. I finally had to flat-out lie and say that I ate when they weren’t looking. Fitbomb was even sneakier and spread a few stray pieces of food on his plate and pretended he ate a full plate. I’m just glad that we were able to escape early because we had a mandatory preschool open house to attend.

After we left the party, we were still hungry after eating our pre-packed nuts and flakes. We were in a bind ‘cause we didn’t have time to go home to eat. To top it off, the food scene in in this particular corner of the East Bar is abysmal. Then, I remembered that Paleo guru Robb Wolf recommends eating at Chipotle Mexican Grill so I told Fitbomb to aim our Paleomobile in the direction of one. I think he thought I was punking him but I was HONGRY.

As we stood in line, we took out our iPhones and studied John Durant’s post on what good and proper cavemen order at Chipotle. We both ordered salads topped with carnitas, extra guacamole, and two kinds of salsa. No beans, por favor.

Can you see the skepticism in my face? I was just reciting the mantra, “Food is fuel. Food is fuel. Food is fuel…”

The verdict? Drum roll, please…

Not bad. It’s pretty good for fast food. I’ve definitely had much better (and cheaper) Mexican at authentic taquerias near our house, but in a pinch, I’d eat here. Since I’m on the Whole30, I like the transparency of the ingredients on the Chipotle website. That being said, almost everything (except for carnitas!) is cooked in soybean oil, so if you want to go 100% Paleo, stick with the carnitas. The guacamole’s pretty awesome, though. Next time I find myself in a Chipotle, I’m doubling up on the guac.

Late Night Eats: 1/2/11

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As some of you are aware, I’m a night shift worker so I always need to pack meals to eat in the dead of night. I’ve decided to only write one post per night detailing my eats because it gets kind of repetitive. And I’m lazy, remember?

My first snack of the night was at midnight, when I ate some crudites and Aubergine dip. I would’ve eaten earlier but I snarfed down some macadamia nuts post-workout prior to coming to work, so I wasn’t hungry until the witching hour.

Around 2:00 a.m., I ate my “lunch,” which consisted of a lovely salad (greens with sous vide chicken breast, avocados, cucumbers, and shredded carrots) made by my fabulous hubby.

My second snack of the night was at 4:00 a.m.: A yummy bowl of coconut milk and blueberries.

I wolfed down my last meal at work shortly before 7:00 a.m., when I attacked a container of leftover grass fed beef shank and cabbage stew and cauliflower rice.

I think the key to keeping sane while working the graveyard shift is having a set routine and packing lots of leftovers. I’m glad I stopped experimenting with intermittent fasting, because that was a complete failure.

If I’m hungry, I’ll eat — but now, I’m paying greater attention so I don’t do it mindlessly.

Lunch at work: a yummy salad made by my hubby. Since I’m on the Whole30 program, I requested (with a smile) no nuts, cheese, or bacon. Hubby frowned but complied. He made me a salad with mixed organic greens, shredded cabbage, shredded carrots, sliced cucumbers, cubed avocados, diced sous vide chicken breast, and sliced hard boiled egg. Even though this was mighty tasty, I still had a hankering for some more fat so I scarfed down a half cup of unsweetened coconut flakes. Okay, now I’m all good.

Lunch at work: a yummy salad made by my hubby. Since I’m on the Whole30 program, I requested (with a smile) no nuts, cheese, or bacon. Hubby frowned but complied. He made me a salad with mixed organic greens, shredded cabbage, shredded carrots, sliced cucumbers, cubed avocados, diced sous vide chicken breast, and sliced hard boiled egg. Even though this was mighty tasty, I still had a hankering for some more fat so I scarfed down a half cup of unsweetened coconut flakes. Okay, now I’m all good.

Start of the Whole30 Program…

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Today is the day I start the Whole30 Program. Yes, it can seem restrictive to many people but I already basically eat this way except that I’ve been nipping at dark chocolate, nuts, and coconut flakes ALL THE TIME. Plus, I want to see what happens if I don’t eat dairy (except for occasional ghee) and processed meats (e.g. sausage, prosciutto, bacon, etc.) for 30 days. I’m sure I won’t be 100% compliant (see below) but I’m gonna do my best.

For breakfast, I fried up three scrambled eggs in macadamia nut oil and nuked up some leftover stovetop cabbage.

Yes, the cabbage was sautéed in ghee but since it was from grass fed cows, it should cause little intolerance. And ghee tastes good.

For lunch, we hit up our go-to brunch place, Rick’s Café. It’s a bit harder maneuvering the menu when you’re on the Whole30. Since dairy and processed meats are verboten on Whole30  I opted to order an Alfredo omelet (omelet filled with grilled chicken breast, onions, and mushrooms topped with Alfredo sauce) without the sauce and I subbed in a salad and fruit cup in place of potatoes and bagel.

I was a troublesome customer. This tasted okay – kind of dry and plain. Surprise, surprise. Plus, the salad came tossed with a sugar-filled dressing so I didn’t eat it. Fitbomb felt sorry for me and shared some of his Cobb Salad with me.

I ate some bacon and it tasted good.

Sous Vide Tabil-Seasoned Chicken Breasts and Salad for Lunch

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My cousin and her husband came over for lunch and I was able to serve them a tasty, fancy-looking meal all thanks to my SousVide Supreme. Did I mention that I was out all morning running errands with the kids? I love my SousVide Supreme.

I prepped the chicken breasts by seasoning them with salt and pepper, vacuum sealing them, and plunking them in my SousVide Supreme (140 F) before we left the house at 9:00 a.m. When I returned at 11:30 a.m., I took the breasts out, dried them with paper towels, and sprinkled on some Tabil.

I prepared a simple salad with organic greens, sliced carrots, diced avocados, bacon (nuked in the microwave), and sliced apples. I seasoned it with salt and pepper and drizzled on some extra virgin olive oil with truffles and Banyuls wine vinegar. When I was done throwing together my salad, I heated up some ghee in my cast iron skillet on medium-high and browned my chicken (2 minutes on the skin side and an additional minute on the bone side).

Here’s my lunch plate:

Total hands-on time: 20 minutes tops. Quick and yummy.

Day Two of Good Eats At My Sister’s Place

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It’s so nice visiting my sister. I know I’m sounding like a broken record but I feel so damned spoiled here. I just sit on my ass while my brother-in-law entertains my restless kids and my sister cooks me fabulous food.

For lunch, I chose to eat another helping of meatballs and slow-cooked broccoli.

I know this is the third time I’ve eaten them in 24 hours but they’re damn good.

Shortly after lunch, my sister hosted a small get-together at her home and she made a plethora of carb-y goodness (e.g. homemade char siu baos, sausage rolls, and cinnamon rolls). She also made sure to make a Paleo-friendly slow-cooked broccoli, ham, and cheddar frittata and a beautiful salad. Guess what I had two helpings of?

Dinner was something my sister happened to have ready in her freezer: braised short ribs with cavolo nero and carrots. She served it with roasted kabocha squash (my favorite winter squash in the whole wide world) and more yummy salad.

Life is good.

Eating Paleo On The Plane

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As I mentioned in an earlier post, I’m visiting my sister and brother-in-law with my two rugrats. Although the flight down to L.A. is less than one hour, it can be potentially treacherous since I’m alone with two squirmy boys. Thanks to Mr. Jobs, my kids were pretty well behaved and the only minor disaster was a spilled cup of apple juice all over my pants.

Since our flight was at noon, I was going to break my fast while up in the air. I packed myself a can of sardines…

…a Tanka bar and some of Fitbomb’s Paleo trail mix.

Not super satisfying but it quieted my complaining stomach. FYI - the TSA guy made me open up my luggage and asked what was in my unlabeled tin. When I told him it was a can of sardines, he winced, and let me pass through.

When we arrived at my sister’s house, I ate a snack of homemade meatballs (grain-free just for me!)…

…and a delicious salad with super fresh organic greens, toasted almonds, and a balsamic vinaigrette (made with homemade mustard!).

This is the stuff my sis just has hanging out in her fridge. I wish she lived nearby ‘cause I’d be raiding her ice box all the time.

Dining Out Paleo: Tootsie’s (Palo Alto, CA)
I’ve wanted to try this place for a while because it gets all sorts of love on Yelp and the menu always makes me want to cheat on my Paleo diet by sneaking in some grains.  Today, we finally stopped here for lunch. While everyone else munched on Tootsie’s delicious sandwiches, I ordered the Spinacio salad (baby spinach mixed with sautéed cremini mushrooms, peas, and seared chicken, topped with ricotta salata and balsamic dressing). It was good, but not as great as the slow-cooked short ribs I nabbed from the filling of my mom’s sandwich. Now that was yummy, tender, and delicious! Next time, I’m gonna order that sandwich sans bun with some greens on the side.
[UPDATED: The slow-cooked short rib sandwich sans bun turned out to be AWESOME!]

Dining Out Paleo: Tootsie’s (Palo Alto, CA)

I’ve wanted to try this place for a while because it gets all sorts of love on Yelp and the menu always makes me want to cheat on my Paleo diet by sneaking in some grains.  Today, we finally stopped here for lunch. While everyone else munched on Tootsie’s delicious sandwiches, I ordered the Spinacio salad (baby spinach mixed with sautéed cremini mushrooms, peas, and seared chicken, topped with ricotta salata and balsamic dressing). It was good, but not as great as the slow-cooked short ribs I nabbed from the filling of my mom’s sandwich. Now that was yummy, tender, and delicious! Next time, I’m gonna order that sandwich sans bun with some greens on the side.

[UPDATED: The slow-cooked short rib sandwich sans bun turned out to be AWESOME!]