Today is day #14 on our effort at a Whole30. Nearly halfway! Have you checked out The Whole 9’s website? It’s a little trendy right now but they are doing some great things. I’d seen others on Instagram document their Whole30 and I kind of marveled at their resolve. And embarrassingly enough, the huge plates full of protein and veggies (often looking much the same day after day) grossed me out. I’d done a couple of 21-day cleanses or sugar detoxes over the years. And it was REALLY hard every time. But I’ve never done 30 days. And never entirely 100% pure paleo.
As I’ve previously discussed, we do not eat 100% paleo. We love raw, pastured and/or cultured dairy (milk, homemade yogurt, butter, kefir, etc); occasionally have gluten-free grains like quinoa, oats, corn; and very sporadically enjoy legumes: black beans, garbanzo, and red kidney. Oh, and let’s not forget the occasional/sometimes frequent sugar-y treats. Yeah, not even close to 100% paleo.
Don’t get me wrong–aside from an occasional vegetarian/raw meal, we eat “balanced” paleo meals. Meaning there’s almost always meat and veggie on the plate. Low on carbs, high in good fats and very little salt. But this Whole30 has completely redefined my definition of a “balanced meal.” The biggest change has been in proportions.
Previously, we might’ve done 2/3 of our plates filled with protein and the other 1/3 filled with veggies. By all means, this is still preferable to 2/3 of the plate being filled with carbs (in any form) so please don’t think I’m bashing on anyone’s efforts here. But for us to really commit to this 30 days, I knew we needed to do somewhat of an overhaul. Not just an overhaul of foods but of our mindset.
This new mindset includes a complete flip-flop: 2/3 of our plates being filled with veggies, and 1/3 filled with protein. This was the hardest part for me during those first few days.
Harder than giving up sugar.
YUP! Shoving all those veggies in my mouth. Chewing and chewing and chewing and chewing (I have jaw problems, ok?). It’s a lot of chewing!! But somewhere around day 5 or 7, I realized that my dislike for the larger portions of veggies was likely due to the slow-moving digestion I’ve been living with for the past 4+ years. My diet, being very low in grains (which is what a lot of people rely on to get their fiber), yet not high enough in the veggie proportion, was causing some seriously slow motion happening down there. So at first, shoveling all those veggies into my slow-moving system felt like I was causing a back-up, of sorts. And was likely the cause of my near-nausea at simply viewing other’s Whole30 Instagram photos.
So around day 5 or 7, I began to feel things speed up just a bit, if you know what I mean. Eating so many veggies began to get easier. And as much as I still love, love, love the good meat we buy, I found myself going for the veggies first more often. Getting a little more excited about scooping a huge pile of kale salad onto my plate. And I’m so excited that things are working a little bit better (I know, excitement about poop? I’m weird like that.) and it’s all due to great leafy greens, cruciferous veggies, and a good amount of daily flax/chia. No grains needed!
I have LOVED our Whole30 so far. It has quite literally been life-changing. And I’m not stretching the truth at all by saying that. Some of the other significant differences I’ve experienced:
-easier to fall asleep at night (no Netflix needed!)
-less frequent wake-ups at night and/or easier to fall back asleep when it happens
-improved GI & literally zero candida symptoms
-MUCH more even-keeled moods, less stress & a greater ability to deal with small daily problems
Have you done a Whole30? Please share your experiences, please! I’d love to hear how they compare with ours. And If you aren’t familiar with the Whole30, check out the website or message me with questions.
So here’s a recipe that came about because I’ve been eating quite a lot of sweet potatoes these past couple weeks. They’ve come in our CSA box every week this past month, plus they’re extremely high in soluble fiber, which as we just discussed, I need to get a lot more of in my diet. 🙂 I do love them so much so I actually haven’t gotten tired of just slathering a little coconut oil and cinnamon on them after baking. But it doesn’t hurt to switch things up a little.
Whether or not you try the recipe stuffed into a sweet potato, you have got to try this chicken! The combo of the smokey paprika, spicy chipotle and unexpected sweetness of cinnamon creates a really mind-blowing flavor in your mouth. It’s so, so good.
Alas, I still think it is preferable inside the sweet potato, where cinnamon seems a natural combo anyway. Plus if you’re working through a Whole30 or just trying to cut back on the sugar, the cinnamon is a great way to curb sugar cravings and lower your blood glucose levels.
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Grilled Chipotle Chicken Stuffed Sweet Potatoes
1-2 chicken thighs, depending on size
1 T. smoked paprika
1 t. ground chipotle pepper (or more if you like spicy!)
2 t. cinnamon
1 T. garlic salt
1 t. black pepper
2 sweet potatoes, baked (45 min – 1 hr at 450F)
1 c. kale, chopped
1/2 bell pepper, chopped
1 T. extra virgin olive oil
squeeze of fresh lemon juice
sea salt & pepper, to taste
For garnish: handful pepitas, lightly toasted (or whatever nut/seed you have handy)
Preheat your grill to medium-high heat. Coat the chicken breasts liberally with avocado oil. Season evenly with paprika, chipotle, cinnamon, garlic salt, and pepper. Allow to sit for 10-15 minutes before moving to the grill.
Grill for 5-10 minutes per side (depending on size of chicken thighs and what type of grill you’re using) or until grill marks show. Set aside to rest and come to room temperature. Once cooled, shred chicken using 2 forks held back to back, like this.
When the chicken is grilling, chop your kale and bell pepper and add to a large bowl. Mix EVOO, lemon juice, sea salt, and pepper in and massage lightly with your fingers to soften the kale. Add the shredded chicken in and toss well.
To assemble, slice the sweet potatoes open lengthwise and mash the insides slightly. Scoop large spoonfuls of the chicken/kale mixture into the middle of each sweet potato. Sprinkle with pepitas for garnish. Then gobble it up, skins and all! Can be served warm or at room temperature.