Tuesday, October 30, 2012

My Whole30 Experience

It's been pretty quiet around here for the past month, and of course there's a reason for that. I've just finished the last day of my first ever Whole30. I'll let you read as much as you want about it here, and if you're interested in learning even more, I highly recommend this book. The basic philosophy is a 30 day challenge or reset to change your approach to eating. The following sums up what my last 30 days have looked like:
It's definitely been a challenge, but it's also been one of the smartest things I've ever done. I first heard about the Whole30 from reading Carrie and Danielle's blogs, and decided to give it a try. I won't wax on about how much it changed my outlook, but I do think it really highlighted certain aspects of food and eating for me. First of all, do you know how many products contain sugar?! It's staggering and shows up in some unexpected places. By far, the hardest thing for me to adjust to was drinking my morning cup of coffee without the addition of raw sugar. After about a week, though, it was fine and I didn't even think about sugar or grains. I've come to enjoy a splash of canned coconut milk and appreciate coffee for its own flavors. Here is my little bulleted breakdown:

  • The key theme for me during my Whole30: preparation. I planned out meals for the week every Saturday and then went shopping for the entire week. It pays off in the long run. This isn't a plan where you can just grab something on the go when you're in a jam. It takes some thought.
  • Shop local and seasonal. I tried all sorts of new vegetables and recipes using foods from my farmers' market. I cooked a lot and used up leftovers.
  • Find a couple of staple snacks that you can rely on in a pinch. I'm on the road for most of the day for my job, so I don't always get to sit down and enjoy my lunch. I did my best, but it just isn't feasible for me every day. I packed lunches and would snack on some cashews or almonds, or if I was really in a bind, a Larabar (a flavor without added sugar).
  • Eat breakfast daily. Do not skip this step.
  • Don't be afraid to try new things. Cook from scratch so you can control the ingredients. I made roasted tomato soup from whole tomatoes several times. I tried roasted brussel sprouts (!!!) and liked them. I was really creative and even though my boyfriend didn't do the Whole30 with me, he was happy with all of the new menu items!
  • Enjoy the money you'll save by not eating/drinking out for a month! Seriously, though, there are tons of physical benefits (better sleep, clearer skin, more energy), but it was nice to lay low for the month and not worry about going out.
  • Don't worry about what every one else thinks. I gave up on trying to explain what I was doing to people because they looked at me like I had seven heads. Do it for you and your own well being.

I'm not going to lie, I'm really looking forward to going out for a sushi dinner and glass of wine on Thursday night (something I used to enjoy weekly), but this 30 day challenge was eye-opening. I don't think I'll ever go back to unnecessarily adding sugar to coffee or other foods and I really don't need cow's milk. I'm perfectly happy with the almond or coconut varieties. I plan on continuing to shop local and buy the highest quality poultry, meat, and seafood that my budget will allow. I'm enjoying the benefits of the challenge, such as the sound sleep, slimmer silhouette, and lack of intestinal turmoil (the past 30 days dairy-free confirmed the fact that I most likely have a dairy allergy). I really encourage everyone to try this, even if it's just for a few weeks. I promise that you will feel better and see results. In the mean time, I'm definitely looking forward to indulging in a couple pieces of Halloween candy tomorrow!

And now back to my regular blogging!
What's new with you?


Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Weekend Snapshots: Cape Cod

Can you believe I've lived in Rhode Island for almost five years and had never been to Cape Cod prior to this past weekend? Me either! It seems so silly since it's literally less than two hours from my doorstep. Fortunately, my friend/coworker Jan invited me to spend the a night at her adorable Cape house and showed me all around Yarmouth and Dennis. It was a whirlwind 24 hours, but we were able to pack so much into a short amount of time that it felt like a three day vacation! The highlights for me were lots of time spent walking on the beach, an early breakfast at the Red Cottage, and a surprise woody wagon show (that made me wish my dad was with me). I can't wait to go back and explore more of the little beach towns on Cape Cod, which seems to be much easier to navigate in the off season.

Friday afternoon walk on Seagull Beach.

New England beaches have so much character.

Admiring lots of old woody wagons in pristine condition.


I loved the surf board tied to the roof.

Antique Massachusetts license plate + flags.

Sleek hood ornament.

Monogrammed doors, apropos for the Cape.

West Dennis beach after the storm clouds cleared.

There was an abundance of horseshoe crabs washed up on the beach.

Hunting for the perfect seashell.

Late summer beach days are so peaceful.

Footprints in the sand.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Impromptu Peach Pancake Brunch

The entire week of vacation I spent at home was hot and sunny, that is until a big group of us had plans to spend the day at the pool all day Saturday. That morning I woke up and it was drizzly and overcast (of course). Instead of letting the rain ruin our plans, we hit the farmer's market for a big bag of ripe white peaches and sliced them up for pancakes. I used this recipe with a few adaptations. Instead of making ginger syrup, pancakes were served with real maple syrup (my favorite!) and the amount of milk was reduced to only two cups. The end result was crispy on the outside, but fluffy on the inside pancakes, with lots of peaches and of course laughs with friends. 

Mixing all of the ingredients together.

Table set with brightly colored napkins and gerber daisies.

Pancakes on the griddle.

Camera fun with glassware.

Hot pancakes ready to be smothered in syrup.

The perfect brunch!

Thanks to David for snapping lots of great photos!

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Adventures in Northern Michigan-Part Three

On the girls' last day in Michigan, we celebrated my youngest sister's birthday. It was hot and sunny, so she wanted to rent a jet ski to take out on the lake, which ended up being one of the highlights of the trip for everyone! It was great to be able to spend the majority of the day on the beach and zipping around the lake. We capped off the perfect evening with margaritas, fajitas, and live music alfresco at the only Mexican restaurant in town. 

Chips + salsa. Pretty much the best snack ever.

Guacamole + lots of bright colors.

Sangria/margarita hybrid: the sangria splash.


Michigan sunsets are unreal.

Snapped just after the sun dipped down over the horizon. People on the beach applauded!

Friday, September 7, 2012

Annual Crab Feast + More Photos From Home

One of the greatest 'final hurrahs' of summer vacation last August was a crab feast with friends and family. This year, we decided to do it again, and so a new tradition has officially been born! I have really started to appreciate the Chesapeake Bay crabs because we can't get them up here in New England. The menu was kept pretty simple: steamed crabs, bruschetta, and a new crostini recipe I wanted to try with burrata, thinly sliced fresh figs, a drizzle of honey, and a sprinkling of toasted hazelnuts. I can't wait to experiment with more crostini toppings. They're as fun to make as they are to eat!

Steamed crabs hot and fresh from the waterfront. 

Giving Emily's chocolate chip cookie recipe a whirl for dessert.

Toasted and chopped hazelnuts that topped crostini.

Fresh figs that were sliced and put on top of creamy burrata + drizzled with local honey.

Baguette ready for slicing.

Crostini in the making.

Jackson tried crabs, but really loved the watermelon.

"It's SO juicy!"

Mom prepping flowers for the table.

Wooden utensils from Sprinkles in Georgetown.

Sticky s'mores cupcake.

Cinnamon-sugar cupcake (my favorite!).

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Adventures in Northern Michigan-Part Two

I think one of the best parts of being in Michigan was the relaxed pace of just about everything. The hardest decision of the day was usually where to go out to dinner that night or what kind of ice cream to order for dessert. I had a lot of fun just being around my sisters; I forgot how much their crazy antics make me laugh. It was so nice to have long, drawn out dinners with lots of wine and storytelling. I think we were 'that table' on more than one occasion! 

Dining alfresco was such a treat with the cooler temps.

A glass of wine enjoyed on the porch with the fam at Coho Cafe.

I played manicurist to my sisters during our trip.

Seared scallops with mango salsa.

Mussels simply steamed in white wine, lemon, and tons of garlic.

Sesame seared tuna-one of my favorite meals!

A rainy day was spent shopping and checking out a local brewery in Traverse City.

Vintage cherry labels at the heritage museum.

A maze of galleries and shops housed in a former insane asylum in Traverse City.

Nautical wrapping paper.

Breathtaking views from Sleeping Bear Dunes.

Fruity sangria on sushi night at Fusion.

The cutest little post office that could've fit inside my living room.