Empowerment, Food, Healthy eating

Starting Whole30 is HARD! (But the benefits are worth it!)

Let’s be honest. For many of us, eliminating grains, sugar, dairy, alcohol, legumes, and nasty food additives from our eating plans is not easy. “What will we/can we eat?” was the most common question Andrew and I asked ourselves during that first 30 days. I LOVE eating! Everything food – planning, cooking, eating – is one of my simplest pleasures in life. During my first 30 days of Whole30, I did not love to eat. I didn’t even like thinking about food. Which meant that I thought about food CONSTANTLY! My digestive system wasn’t happy with me either (diarrhea and constipation are both common as your body removes toxins and inflammation subsides) and I had an almost constant low-grade headache. I was HANGRY! (hungry and angry – well crabby, really,… actually REALLY CRABBY! CRANGRY?).

Everything I read on all the forums said, “Just stick it out. It will get better!” I kind of hated those positive, perky people. But they were right. For me, it took 5 weeks, but my digestive system moderated itself and my headaches decreased, then finally went away all together. For Andrew, headaches were the issue; headaches both that got him to try Whole30 and were his main side effect. They subsided after 3 weeks. Note: this was OUR experience. Some people don’t have any negative symptoms at all.

The biggest mistake we made during those first 30 days was overusing specific foods because we COULD eat them, and it was almost overwhelming early on to identify what we could eat. One example of our overusing permitted foods was coconut. I have always loved coconut. After 30 days of coconut yogurt, coconut oil, coconut cream, coconut milk, shredded coconut, coconut aminos, coconut manna, etc., I was OVER coconut. I still am. One of my goals with this series of blog posts will be to help you avoid that particular pitfall by sharing with you a variety of foods that we’ve grown to love that are Whole30 compliant, easy to make, and tasty. I’ve come to believe that the key to surviving those first 30 days is variety.

Starting Whole30 required some very significant changes in our eating patterns. For Andrew, sandwiches were a lunch staple. Thai restaurants were our favorite, as were rice based meals we made at home. Soy sauce was a staple. Andrew enjoyed cereal and milk. My favorite treats were a glass of wine and a piece of chocolate. Pasta was my comfort food. I made the best homemade macaroni and cheese you can imagine. Even foods that were generally on the right track had noncompliant ingredients. We had to read the labels on everything.  In short, we had to completely rethink our eating plan. To be honest, we just jumped in with both feet. We weren’t prepared. Preparation would have made this much easier for us. Preparation is helpful!

We feverishly scanned the internet for food lists, shopping lists, recipes. It felt overwhelming. Whole30 does really well with all this now. Check out their webpage. https://whole30.com/pdf-downloads/ for useful check sheets. They are also now partnering with a variety of food product providers whose foods have been identified as Whole30 compliant. You can find an updated list here: https://whole30.com/whole30-approved/.

If you’re interested in starting this journey, let me know. Support is key and I’ve been there! Here’s my story: https://dballardreisch2.com/2018/10/24/my-whole30-journey-reclaiming-my-health/. Whole30 has worked extremely well for Andrew and me. I feel healthier than I have in years and what I assumed were just symptoms of aging have disappeared. It might be just what you need! All you have to do is commit to 30 days of eating differently.

Finally, here is one of Andrew’s delicious recipes to get you started. All of Andrew’s dishes and easy to prepare and typically can be made in ½ hour or less.

Andrew’s Thai yellow curry and veggies with optional cauliflower rice

2 lbs ground pork
2 cans Savoy coconut cream
3 tbsp Mae Ploy Yellow Curry Paste (more or less to taste)

1 orange bell pepper (rough chopped – big pieces)
1 green bell pepper (rough chopped – big pieces)
½ large white onion (rough chopped – big pieces)
1 yellow squash (halved and sliced)

Note: We prefer coarsely chop veggies for this dish.


Cook pork in large skillet – Drain fat when cooked thoroughly

Add coconut cream and yellow curry paste and stir into pork

Stir and let simmer 2 minutes

Add vegetables and let simmer until vegetables are cooked to your liking. We like ours more al dente

5 green onions (diced)
1 cup cilantro (chopped)

Note: If you just can’t imagine Thai food without rice, try cauliflower rice.

1 head cauliflower

Cut cauliflower into chunks. We don’t recommend already chopped cauliflower as it seems to get mushy (too high a water content, we think). Pop the chunks into your Bullet or other blender. Blend for 30 seconds or until desired consistency.

When curry is done, put raw cauliflower into the bottom of each bowl, put curry on top. Stir. Enjoy!

Andrew's Thai curry

Food, Healthy eating, Quality of life

Deborah’s Whole30 Chuck roast & veggies

This is the perfect, hearty meal for a cold autumn or winter evening, or Sunday dinner. IMG-5518.JPGWhen I was a little girl, one of my favorite meals was beef roast cooked with potatoes, onions, and carrots. My mom had a special skillet with a lid that she used to make this feast. The smell in the kitchen was heavenly almost as soon as she put the skillet into the oven. For me, this was comfort food.

I hadn’t made this meal for a number of years, making soups and stews out of beef roasts instead. Several months ago, Andrew mentioned that he loved beef roast with veggies. As we shared our stories it became clear that we were talking about the same favorite meal, down to the flavor of the potatoes and carrots after roasting in the beef broth. We only had to give up two parts of the meal, mashing the potatoes and carrots together and smothering them in butter, salt, and pepper, and making gravy (there are Whole30 gravy recipes, but this is so delicious, you won’t need one). Surprisingly, we liked the potatoes and carrots just as well without the butter and the beef broth is very flavorful. This delicious dish has become one of our favorites.


1 – 3-5 lb chuck roast (or beef roast of choice) ((Pick the size appropriate for your family.))

1 lb potatoes of choice (we like Idaho potatoes or goldens)

1 lb whole carrots (Peeled carrots are too sweet for our taste. But use what you like.)

2 large white onions

Salt, pepper, garlic to taste

We prefer:

Pink Himalayan salt (we use Sherpa brand and use a salt mill)

Quad-color pepper corns (we use Olde Thompson Pepper Supreme and use a pepper mill – I got this at Bed, Bath & Beyond last Christmas.)

Granulated garlic (we use Kirkland’s brand – available at Costco)

Preparing the meal:

Trim any excess fat off the outside of the roast

Sear the roast

Using a heavy skillet, heat on high heat on the top of the stove. Once the skillet is hot (sprinkle a couple drops of water off your fingers into the skillet. If they sizzle and evaporate, your skillet is hot enough), sprinkle the skillet liberally with salt and pepper.

Put the roast into the skillet and (using tongs) move it around to get all the salt and pepper on the side of the roast facing down. Sear for 30 seconds to 1 minute (until nicely browned). Add more salt and pepper to the skillet, flip the roast over and sear the second side, again moving the meat around with tongs to get all the salt and pepper on that side. Then, holding the roast with tongs, sear all the ends of the roast (10-15 seconds on each side).

Roast the beef

Put the seared roast into a roasting pan (with cover) big enough to allow for the addition of vegetables later. I prefer to put the roast in the bottom of the roasting pan.

Season the top side of the roast liberally with season salt (choose 1 without sugar or corn starch to be Whole30 compliant) and granulated garlic (We prefer Kirkland’s brand – available at Costco.), or whatever spices you prefer. (We also like McCormick Grill Mates Montreal Steak Seasoning.) Make sure to check spice labels for added sugar or corn starch. Avoid these. Many blends have both, so you might want to use seasonings individually.

Add 2 peeled, white onions (We prefer large chunks, so we cut 1 in quarters, the other in 8ths.)

Add 1 cup water.

Bake UNCOVERED in preheated 450° oven for 1 hour.

Flip the roast and season the second side with granulated garlic and season salt.

Prepare and add the vegetables

About 45 minutes in, begin to prepare your vegetables.

Use 1 lb of your favorite potatoes (or sweet potatoes). I prefer the “rustic” feel, so I don’t peel my potatoes. Wash them well and halve or quarter them.

Use 1 lb of carrots (unpeeled, whole). Wash them well and halve them. I usually scrub them with a scrub sponge to get all the dirt and root pieces off.

Add potatoes and carrots to the roasting pan. Add another cup of water. Salt and pepper vegetables to taste (Again, I’m pretty liberal as everything seasons everything else as well as the broth.). COVER the pan!!! This is important as the flavors and spices baste in the covered pan throughout the rest of the cooking process. Note: If you don’t have a covered roasting pan, aluminum foil will work as well. You want the juices and steam to stay inside the pan.

Reduce oven heat to 275° and cook COVERED for 1 hour. Check veggies and roast for desired doneness. For me, perfect doneness is when a fork goes in easily and doesn’t crumble the potatoes or carrots. Cook longer if needed to reach desired veggie consistency.

It’s not uncommon for the veggies to be done a bit before the roast. No problem. At 1 hour or desired doneness, remove veggies from the pan and put them in a covered dish in the microwave (or on the counter with a towel over the covered dish). (Just let the veggies sit, covered until the roast is done to your desired temperature).

I generally prefer my roasts to be fork tender, meaning that when I put a fork into the meat and rotate it, the meat pulls apart easily (probably about medium. I’m not a fan of pink, squishy meal, but I want it to be tender, juicy, and close to pullable).

Food Safety

If you use thermometers, the Food and Drug Administration (https://www.fda.gov/food/resourcesfor you/healtheducators/ucm082294.htm) recommends cooking beef to 145° F (63° C) for food safety. According to Certified Angus Beef (https://www.certifiedangusbeef.com/kitchen/doneness.php), the temperature range for beef roasts is:

145° for medium

150° medium well

160° well

Note: take the roast out of the oven at these temperatures. They will reach your desired temperature after resting for 5-10 minutes.

Note: The au jus (broth) from the pan will be delicious and can be spooned over the roast, potatoes, and carrots to enhance their flavor.

Note: You can also make this meal in a crockpot. Sear and season the roast as described above, put everything in the crockpot at once. (I put onions on the bottom, then the roast, then potatoes, carrots, and more onions on top. Add 1 cut water. Set cooking time to desired dinner time. I start mine in the morning and let it cook all day (7-10 hours). The meat is pullable when I get home and everything is juicy and delicious.

You can complement this meal with a side salad or other veggie, but my family prefers just this. The recipe above provided food for one dinner and several lunches over the next couple days for 3 adults. If you like leftovers, add more potatoes and carrots. The meat is also great later, sliced on a salad.

Enjoy! More Whole30 meals to come!


Food, Healthy eating, Quality of life

My Whole30 journey: Reclaiming my health


Last January (2018), my partner Andrew and I were settling in to what we thought “aging” meant. We both had migraines or headaches regularly. I had recurrent aches and pains in my left hip, right knee (on which I’d had surgery years ago), right ankle (which I’d sprained multiple times), right heel (which hurt with every step I took). I hated the idea that chronic pain was going to be a way of life for us to manage. Over Christmas, we’d spoken with Andrew’s daughter Tiffany who was using the Whole30 eating plan. (I don’t call it a diet for reasons that will become clear.) She indicated that her migraines had significantly reduced in frequency and that she felt better than she had in a long time.

We were curious, so we started to read. The idea behind Whole30 was that many people have food sensitivities that they are unaware of. Some of these sensitivities cause inflammation. The invitation is the dedicate 30 days. During that time, you eat no grains, no sugar, no dairy and you avoid processed foods, eating as naturally as possible. This means checking ingredient lists and becoming aware of what is actually in the food you eat. Then after 30 days, once your body has had a chance to eliminate all toxins and remnants of food to which you might be sensitive, you can begin to slowly, one by one, add foods back in again, remaining aware of your body’s response. When you find something that your body is sensitive to, you eliminate it from your diet permanently. If you’re not sensitive, you can add it back in.

This sounded grueling (What?! NO CHOCOLATE?! NO WINE?! NO RICE?! NO BUTTER?! Then what will we EAT?!!!) Then again, it was ONLY FOR 30 DAYS! I could do anything for that long. To be honest, for us the first 30 days were hard, but we’ve learned a lot since them and plan to share our insights with you to make things easier.

Here’s the real deal! Now, 10 months later (and this has been true for some months now), both of us have fewer headaches, less severe seasonal allergies, and for me, NOTHING HURTS ANY MORE. Not my hip, not my knee, not my ankle, not my foot, and I typically walk at least an hour or two a day as part of my commitment to my mental and physical health. Walking is my processing time, my creative time, my grounding time. I feel healthier than I have in years and I hesitate to mention this, but as an interesting side effect, I’m 3 sizes smaller than I was last January. I need to be clear. My goal was not to lose weight. I have no idea how much I actually weigh as I don’t have (or want) a scale. Losing weight just happened. I think that when we get all the crap out of our food, our bodies are healthier. We feel better. Our bodies function better. I think health comes in a variety of sizes. I was just surprised to have lost weight without prioritizing doing so. The only reason I know I’ve lost 3 sizes is that I got to the point this last weekend when the skinniest of my skinny pants hung off my hips and I could pull them on and off without unfastening them. I hadn’t allowed myself to buy any new clothes, but I thought it might be time. I bought 2 pairs of jeans, a shirt, and 2 pairs of boots (No my feet didn’t shrink. I was just celebrating how great I felt and that I could wear shoes other than the Brooks and Chacos I’d been relegated to all spring and summer because everything else hurt my foot).

I should note that I also have issues with all the manipulation the food and agricultural industries do to our food. GMOs, additives, preservatives, hormones, antibiotics, all impact our bodies. While I cannot live, as some of my friends do, on food I grow myself, I do try to eat fresh, organic, non-processed foods as much as possible and I try to shop locally. (I love local farmers’ markets.)

After 30 days, we decided to do a second 30 days. We were seeing improvement in inflammation, digestion, a decrease in headaches, and we were feeling better than we had before we started.  If you’re interested in this journey and seeing what Whole30 can do for you, follow along and I’ll lead you through our experience, making things as straightforward and easy for you as I can.

Onward! To our health!