So, it seems weird to not talk about this thing we’re doing here at From Away World Headquarters. There’s no reason NOT to talk about it, especially since, right now, it’s consuming pretty much all of our thoughts and actions from day-to-day. What’s all the excitement about?
This month, we are doing the 30-day Whole30 program.
For the uninitiated, Whole30 is a pretty radical system of cleansing your body over a 30 day period, which is not normally a concept that appeals to me on any level. My diet, at age 37, remains embarrassingly similar to a college student’s: Cheesesteaks, pizza, and barbecue are the order of the day.
Not surprisingly, my body isn’t responding to this onslaught of meat, cheese, and heavily-processed frozen foods the way it once did, in my wiry, reckless 20s. A mostly sendetary lifestyle (except in the summer, when I am sweating like a monster, slingin’ sandwiches on my food truck) means that the stuff I eat tends to stay with me, usually right around the middle. Each year, my t-shirts get a little bigger, and my already weak chin regresses further into my ample neck. Because what am I going to do, push-ups?
That was one of the most appealing things to me about Whole30: This notion that, as a people, we’ve basically forgotten how to feed ourselves real meals made of actual food. There is so much sugar and so many sweeteners hidden everywhere, so much refinement and processing of grains, that the food supply we all depend on is basically poison.[blockquote author=”” pull=”pullright”]That was one of the most appealing things to me about Whole30: This notion that, as a people, we’ve basically forgotten how to feed ourselves real meals made of actual food. [/blockquote]
I know, I know. This is some real hippie talk. Especially coming from someone who makes it a point to eat as many questionable processed foods as possible for the sake of his art. But the idea of a total, one-time reset really appealed to me, the restrictions on diet the perfect antidote to the nearly nonstop onslaught of microwave burritos and McDonald’s. The challenge of making such an abrupt shift in the things I am putting in my body was appealing. I also really like how no-nonsense the language of the program is. The Whole30 program discourages you to whine about how difficult these changes to diet are, reminding you that “beating cancer is hard, you can drink black coffee for a month.” A radical structure for resetting my body’s chemistry, reminds me how to eat again, and that ALSO gets all up in my face? That’s what I’m talking about.
That’s enough babbling about the program. After all, this is the internet, and you can visit the official website to learn more about the details. So what are the rules, in a nutshell? No sugar or artificial sweeteners of any kind. No bread, grains, rice, or legumes. No dairy of any kind. No alcohol (yowtch!).
So what is allowed? Meat and vegetables like woah. Seafood, eggs, nuts and most fruit. Again, you’re urged to eat FOOD. Like, made out of plants and animals and stuff. I know.
Is it hard? Yes. You wouldn’t BELIEVE how much sugar you’re eating in your regular diet, day in, day out, without even thinking about it. It’s insidious. It’s in everything. Mayonnaise. Bacon. Sriracha. Essentially, my three major food groups.
Is Whole30 rewarding? That remains to be seen. As of this writing, I am only on day four, which means that the dramatic mood and energy swings are offset by the pleasurable novelty of the whole thing. However, I do think we’ll be able to finish the thirty days, which didn’t seem at all likely on day one.
What is the point, then, of this very long-winded intro? It means that for the next couple of weeks, we’re going to be taking a bit of a break from our heavily comfort food-influenced cooking, introducing a new Whole30 category on the site, a new Whole30 Pinterest page, and figuring out how to continue eating the kinds of foods we like, made Whole30 compliant for anyone else on a similar journey. “Journey?” Ew.
If you’re not into it, I understand. Check back in a few weeks, and I’ll be back to deep-frying chicken thighs in Jameson. But for now, try a few of these experiments. You might, like us, be surprised at how much delicious, healthy cooking you can do with such a restrictive list of ingredients, and how (at least at dinnertime), doing Whole30 can still feel like “you.”
- 4-5 boneless country-style pork ribs, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
- 1/4 cup coconut milk
- 2 teaspoons massaman curry paste (see note)
- 2 tablespoons coconut or safflower oil, or clarified butter or ghee
- 2 yellow potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
- 1 14.5 ounce can of unsweetened coconut milk
- 1 cup green beans, trimmed
- 1 cup fresh pineapple, cubed
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 1 head of cauliflower
- 3 tablespoons extra light olive oil
- In a medium bowl, combine pork, coconut milk, and curry paste. Stir well to coat meat, ensuring curry paste is dissolved. Set aside 30 minutes, up to a few hours.
- In a high-sided pan over medium-high heat, brown pork (including curry marinade) in oil or clarified butter. Add potatoes and canned coconut milk, and simmer until potatoes just begin to soften. Add green beans, and simmer a few minutes longer until cooked through. Add pineapple, allow to heat though, and adjust salt and pepper, to taste.
- Cut cauliflower into large florets, removing tough inner core from the head. Pulse in a food processor until desired consistency (larger to simulate rice, smaller for fakey couscous). Saute in extra light olive oil, covered, for a few minutes, until cauliflower just barely begins to soften and turn golden brown. Serve with pork.
- Double check your Massaman curry paste, to makes sure it contains no added sugar. Since the potency of these pastes are all different, start with two teaspoons, then add more at the end for a stronger curry flavor, if needed.