Category: cooking

My Whole30 review: the good, the bad and the ugly

Whole 30 title

720 hours. 43,200 minutes. 2,592,000 seconds. A lot can happen in 30 days. If you’re on Whole30, mainly A LOT OF COOKING.

It’s 30 days since my boyfriend James and I started the challenge. I know a few of my friends have read with interest our voyage into this unfamiliar and slightly strange territory, so I thought I’d share an update on our progress.

To re-cap, Whole30 is a restrictive version of the Paleo way of eating. Whole30 is about eating real, unprocessed foods and high quality meat, fish, fruits and vegetables, and healthy fats such as olives, nuts and seeds. That means no grains, no dairy, no sugar (yes, that includes booze and more natural sugars like maple syrup and honey) no legumes (that’s peanuts, chick peas / beans / lentils etc to you and me) and no preservatives like MSG or sulphites (surprisingly ubiquitous in so many foods).

You’re not allowed to re-create ‘healthy’ versions of treats that fit within the guidelines, such as pancakes or cookies. They are ‘treat’ foods and contribute to an unhealthy attitude towards food as a reward.

It’s about re-setting your body, boosting energy, pinpointing foods that don’t agree with you and re-connecting with food.

It’s a strict regime; the slightest slip and you’ve failed

one bite of pizza, one splash of milk in your coffee, one lick of the spoon mixing the batter within the 30 day period and you’ve broken the “reset” button, requiring you to start over again on Day 1….Don’t even consider the possibility of a “slip.” Unless you physically tripped and your face landed in a box of doughnuts, there is no “slip.” You make a choice to eat something unhealthy. It is always a choice, so do not phrase it as if you had an accident.

PHEW. Ok. So, how did we get on?

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Crunchy nut cottage pie – a delicious Whole30 paleo recipe

I’m on day four of the Whole30 Challenge and I’m feeling cautiously fabulous. By now, according to the challenge timeline, I should want to ‘kill all the things’. But – aside from totally normal fleeting moments of disdain or fury (people who stop at the top of tube escalators, people who say 100 words when they could see 15, that sort of thing), I’ve felt pretty fucking great.

J and I have both noticed we’ve not had our usual peaks and troughs of energy – no 3 o’clock slumps where I’d normally hunt down a biscuit or two with a cup of tea to keep me going. I’ve had a pretty full-on week and have really felt I had the energy to power through it.

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Fitspiration overload

I’ve just finished a 30 -minute YouTube workout in my bedroom. My face is its usual shade of post-workout mahagony and I’m feeling grateful that my window isn’t overlooked. Hauling myself into a downward dog in knickers, trainers and half-rolled up Karrimor t-shirt isn’t my best look.

I’m also on day 5 of Paul McKenna’s hypnotic weight-loss app plan, teamed with his book ‘I can make you thin’. Having to disguise his beaky-faced book cover and hope the size 16 Arial isn’t as easily readable on the tube as I think it is bad enough. But I’m also working through feeling guilty if I chew my food less than 20 times (muesli is MUSH, IT’S IMPOSSIBLE!!!) or because I accidentally didn’t leave any of the delicious pasta I made for dinner on my plate like a reformed character.

This is the latest in what I jokingly call my ‘weight-loss fads’ to friends and colleagues. Though Paul disagrees – he (and many of his formerly fat and disturbingly convincing Amazon reviewers) says it’s a total change in your attitude to food. We’ll see how I’m getting on after 21 days of falling asleep to Paul’s hypnotic trance – spoken in tones not dissimilar to The Fast Show’s Swiss Tony. I half expect him to kick off with ‘losing weight is a bit like making love to a beautiful woman’. But alas, I remain disappointed.

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Earl Grey and Rose Water Bundt Cake

Just a few weeks ago, newspaper headlines declared we were in drought, and decried the start of a hose pipe ban. ‘But how will I clean my block paved drive way witouth my fully-loaded penis-esque Karscher pressure washer?!’ demanded middle-aged men with middle-aged spread.

Fear not, hose-wealders. As if by magic – or by the power of that lesser known phenomenon, Sod’s Law – at the very mention of a hose pipe ban, the mighty sky retaliated by rounding up a gang of the greyest, densest, meanest clouds around, and heartily encouraging them to piss down upon us all for the best part of ten days.

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Triple-layer trilogy part 2: Coconut and Lime Cake

Following on from the Drizzled Lemon Curd Cake I made recently, the second installment in my triple-layer triology is this utterly charming, porcelain white beauty.

Coconut and lime are one of my most favourite combinations; whether in a cocktail, a thai curry, or these super-cute coconut and lime cupcakes, there’s something about the sharp zing of lime paired with the sweet, creamy flavour of coconut that makes it simply irresistible for me.

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Triple-layer Trilogy: Part one – Drizzled Lemon Curd Cake

This post showcases the first of three tantalising triple-layer cakes I’ve baked recently. Why have I baked so many of them, you ask? Especially when most people are on a new year, clean-eating-boot-camping-green-tea-swigging-booze-craving de-tox.

Well, there are two reasons; one, I prefer dirty eating – particularly in January and February, generally the coldest, most depressing months of the year.  Secondly, when it comes to cake, I feel there are few things more satisfying than watching a cake slice gently glide through three decadent, fluffy layers of sponge, and lifting up a resplendent, towering triangle to endless ‘ooh’s and ‘aah’s.

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Chorizo and Sweet Pepper Winter Warmer with Cheddar Dumplings

With ear muffs, hats, gloves, scarves and several layers, I headed out to join the celebrations for Chinese New Year this Sunday in London’s Trafalgar Square and Chinatown.

After a couple of hours squeezing down colourful streets crammed with excited children bringing paper dragons to life and hungry grown-ups hunting out the best dim sum, I moved on to take in some of the dancing and music in Trafalgar Square.

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