Keep Calm and Keto On

I’m Going Keto

I’ve decided to begin a ketogenic diet. Actually, today is day 4. I’m phlyersphan on MyFitnessPal if you’d like to follow along!

What is keto, you ask? It’s basically a low-carb, moderate protein,  high fat diet that maintains the body’s metabolism in a state of nutritional ketosis, burning primarily fat for fuel instead of glucose, keeping blood sugar low. (This is NOT the same as diabetic ketoacidosis, which happens when both ketone levels AND blood sugar are elevated). I won’t get into the nitty gritty here; to learn more, check out this Beginner’s Guide to the Ketogenic Diet.

Low-carb diets aren’t new. The Atkins diet started out in the 70s (and may or may not be ketogenic, depending how you do it). Likewise, I’m not new to low-carb diets. Many years ago (I did the math… 2003-ish? maybe 14 years ago?), I did the Atkins diet for 9 months, and it worked really well for me. I lost 45 pounds without much effort and no additional exercise, and I enjoyed eating that way. At the time, I still ate meat, but after more than 9 months of success on the diet, I suddenly started having bizarre symptoms – the inability to think straight, disruption of my menstrual cycle (even though I was on the pill), and a few other things that seriously alarmed me. I attributed them to the low-carb diet because when I went back to eating carbs, everything cleared up. In retrospect, I think I was suffering nutritional deficits and electrolyte imbalances because I was a junk-food low-carb eater. I grew up on convenience foods and fast foods, and didn’t start cooking and eating vegetables and whole foods until several years later (when I went vegetarian). I don’t think low-carb was to blame for my symptoms.

Why am I doing keto? I started thinking about my experience with Whole30. I enjoyed the Whole30 plan. The lack of protein options for vegetarians got old fast, but the improvement in my sleep in particular convinced me that there’s something to cutting sugar. I’m also starting to feel like invisible evils like inflammation are coming to get me and aging my body, and it’s mildly terrifying. I’d jokingly say that as soon as I turned 40, everything started going downhill with aches and pains for no apparent reason, but I know it’s more due to years of neglect and yo-yo dieting – metabolic abuse, essentially. My life has revolved around inflammatory foods, for the most part. If I want this body to look and feel any younger than its age, I’ve got to kick it into gear and stop the abuse.

The Whole30 diet was low-carb and paleo, and the paleo part is where it’s tough to be a vegetarian on the plan. I had to break a bunch of rules to modify the Whole30 for a vegetarian approach, and there weren’t many protein options besides eggs (since dairy is disallowed). The keto diet seems expansive to me, compared to Whole30!

While my primary desires from this are to keep my blood pressure in check and reduce overall inflammation, I’d also like to lose weight. My weight goes hand in hand with my blood pressure, as I’ve got a point where it’s like flipping a switch; one pound above, and my bp is 140/90. One pound below, and I’m back to 105/65. (My blood pressure is naturally on the low end of normal, even when I’m overweight, until I hit that switch-flip weight). My bp is still fine right now, but I’m closer to the danger zone than I’d like to be. Granted, my danger zone is “pre-hypertension,” but I don’t want ANY kind of hypertension, considering my blood pressure has been on the low side my entire life.

I don’t expect to lose 100 pounds like my last serious weight loss effort (which was based on calorie counting and running half marathons), but I’d like to drop a couple sizes. I’m calorie counting on keto via my macros, but I do not have the time nor the inclination to get back to running in the hilly Shenandoah Valley. I said RIP to running when I left the flat lands of suburban Chicago. I do plan to do some DIY weight training, as I really enjoyed the weight lifting component of Crossfit and miss it. Someday I’ll formalize my training and go back to the gym membership and personal trainer, but for now, my budget doesn’t allow it, and I’ve got enough weight to lose that I can sufficiently DIY it until I plateau and need professional guidance.

I’m combining the keto diet with an 8-16 intermittent fasting approach (eat within an 8 hour window each day, and fast for 16 hours). The fasting isn’t much of a change from how I normally eat. Typically, I eat 2 meals per day. I don’t “skip” breakfast (I guess I do brunch!), but my stomach can’t really take food right away upon waking up. So I usually don’t eat until a few hours after I get up. Then I go to work or whatever, and then come home and have dinner. Without dieting, I was probably fasting on average 12-14 hours, so 16 isn’t much of a change. I’m structuring it so that I eat between 1pm and 9pm each day.

I take a multivitamin (the same one I’ve been taking daily for a few years now – Mega Foods Women’s Daily 40+) and am also supplementing with magnesium and potassium, 2 things that some people run low on doing a ketogenic diet. I learned something new as I was researching keto – that my little heart palpitations that my doctor said are of no concern (after an EKG) are probably caused by an electrolyte imbalance. Two days into keto, I had a palpitation, and then got foot cramps that night. I had read that the fluttery-heart can be caused by an electrolyte imbalance. I ate some avocado and took a magnesium and a potassium the next morning, and voila. Back to normal. So I will keep on taking the magnesium and potassium as well. I need to get a pill-form B12 because I have been in love with cherry flavored B12 gummy vitamins, and since they’re full of sugar, they’re off the table. (Most vegetarians need to supplement B12, because it primarily occurs in meat. It used to also come from trace minerals in the soil from fruits and vegetables, but we grow food in such depleted soil these days that it’s not an adequate source of B12 anymore).

I’m shooting for macro targets of 25g net carbs (carbs minus fiber), 125g fat, and 75g protein – approximately 1,525 calories per day. On previous calorie counting diets, I tended to do well around 1,600 calories per day (1,800 when I was running 20+ miles per week). So while this is slightly lower in calories, I wanted macro numbers that were easier to remember, because my approach is to hit my macros. Hitting the net carb macro is priority #1 (since low-carb keeps you in ketosis), followed by fat (since fat is the primary fuel while in ketosis), followed by protein (since it’s important to avoid muscle loss – though too much protein can kick you out of ketosis or result in gluconeogenesis, when the body converts excess protein to glycogen that can be used as glucose. We want to be burning primarily fat, not glucose). If I hit my macros, the calorie count will follow.

I’m curious to see if keto cures my vertigo. I have positional vertigo (usually only happens when I’m laying down, and comes and goes for a few weeks to a few months at a time, a few times a year). Years ago I tried medication for it (though the doctor didn’t do any tests – just took my word and prescribed something… can’t remember what), and the medication made me feel so awful that I went off of it quickly. Since I spend my days primarily upright, the vertigo is usually only an issue when I’m trying to sleep. It’s something I’m definitely keeping my eyes on. A couple weeks ago, a new round of vertigo started – just a minor bout this time. We’ll see if keto impacts it or makes it go away. It seems irrelevant (as vertigo is an inner ear thing), but I’m finding some indications that blood sugar and electrolytes can impact dizziness. Maybe my vertigo isn’t vertigo at all. While finding a solution would be awesome, I’d also be kind of pissed, since I’ve had the dizziness issue for the past 25 years…. and all I needed was to eat right?! We’ll see.

So far (4 days in), I’m finding that keto foods play nice with the things I like to eat. The fathead pizza crust recipe I discovered on Whole30 is back with a vengeance, and eating everything with glorious butter and cheese is out of this world for my taste buds. Today I made the Ultimate Keto Buns and they’re so good, I am in (veggie) burger bliss. The Beyond Meat plant-based proteins are fine for keto! And they’re the best faux-meats I’ve ever tried, so much so that sometimes they scare me a little… like, did they accidentally put a cow in here? Because it tastes like it… I also tried these 2-minute keto buns in a mug which – while a little eggy – weren’t bad at all and will do when I don’t have time to make a batch of buns.

By day 3, I was in ketosis (and confirmed via urine testing strips). That third day, I started to feel a little crappy for about an hour and a half – just long enough to think, “Here it comes… the keto flu.” I planned to hit ketosis going into the weekend so if I did feel like crap, at least I could stay home. But as soon as I thought the keto flu was setting in, it went away and I’ve felt great ever since. No hunger to speak of, and no trouble with fasting.

No complaints so far! While the first week will surely include some water weight loss, I’m down 3# as of yesterday. Here we go…


Keep calm photo: 

I did the Whole26

So, it ended up being the Whole26 for me. I intentionally ended the first phase of the plan yesterday by eating the most delicious falafel sandwich I’ve had in quite some time. It was a from a new little take-out place in Hburg called Babylon. Their homemade flatbread has 4 ingredients, so wheat is now the first ingredient I’ve re-introduced. (Chickpeas too, yes – but I wasn’t counting chickpeas in my Whole30. While I ended up not eating them, they were on my modified permissions list).

I am happy to report that I’ve noted no effects at all from eating the bread (24 hours later). I still slept at 100% quality and feel the same as I did before.

Yesterday’s breakfast and dinner were on plan, and for the first week or so while re-introducing ingredients, I’ll likely only do so during 1 meal so I can pinpoint causes of irregularity, should any occur.

I’ll be posting a wrap-up soon with my thoughts on the program and what I learned. Stay tuned!

What I Ate Days 18-23: Veg Whole30

I can’t lie. This week, I’ve been pretty much over it all. I’m sick of eating eggs. I’m back in the habit of shopping and cooking, which is what I wanted out of this. I’m ready to dive back into the two dozen clean eating vegetarian cookbooks I’ve got and move on from Whole30. I almost ended it today. I didn’t, but the only thing that kept me from throwing in the towel was another Fathead pizza… which I will definitely continue eating after Whole30, so maybe it was just an easing out of sorts.

It’s tough to be a vegetarian on Whole30. My favorite proteins are not allowed, and while I do like tofu and tempeh, I don’t like to get such a high percentage of my protein from soy. They’re like a once-a-week-ish thing for me, not an everyday thing. I’m not opposed to eating eggs, but I’m not convinced that 2-4 eggs per day is healthy, either. Same with turning to Greek yogurt every time I need protein; I do typically eat dairy, but not this much or this often. I realize this is designed as an experiment to see how various things affect my body, but I don’t know that the benefits I’ll gain from learning things about what I eliminated aren’t negated by the downsides of eating so much dairy and so many eggs.

I do sense at this point that I will not see this through the entire 30 days. I’ve got a week left, but I don’t see taking the next step as any sort of failure. If I do end it early, it’s not because I’m quitting and going back to my old ways. It’s because I am ready to move on and get back into my cooking routine.

I would much rather move on a week or so early than get so fed up with eggs that I order Dominos and damn it all to hell.

And with that, here is the next installment of What I Ate!

Day 18:

I made another batch of paleo muffins, this time with blueberries. Plain Greek yogurt with dark cherries and chai green tea rounded out breakfast.



Lunch at work! I actually brought one. Leftover Fathead pizza and kale chips. Note to self (and all of you): don’t use pre-chopped salad kale for kale chips. The pieces are way too small and shrivel to nothing after dehydrating. That’s all they had at Walmart, and I’ll be skipping it from now on. That’s what I get for trying to take the easy way out!



I tried something new for dinner – the noodles are made from edamame and mung beans. They were pretty good, though this pasta sauce didn’t thrill me. It was some organic something-or-other with a clean ingredient list and basically zero flavor. Also, delicious asparagus soup (obsessed again) and crock pot cinnamon applesauce.


Day 19:


Look familiar? Yep.



This day was pretty much a fail. No lunch, and I was so starving by the time I got home that I made 3 eggs as fast as I could and had a double portion of asparagus soup with a Romaine salad (Tessamae’s dressing) on the side. Eggs and asparagus soup. wtf.


Day 20:


It’s deja vu all over again!


Dinner: leftover edamame noodles with pesto, 3 eggs, and a Romaine salad with Tessamae’s.


Sweet Potato Banana Mash Whole30

A couple hours later, I was starving again, so I tried out a new combo from Peanut Butter Runner – a sweet potato breakfast bowl. In this case it was one large sweet potato and one ripe banana mashed together, with cinnamon, raisins, and almond butter. It was tasty and is a good replacement for my usual oatmeal (my former “when-I’m-cooking-regularly” breakfast of choice). I’m pretty sure I will go back to oatmeal, but this is a nice change of pace to swap in every so often.

Day 21:

Sweet potato breakfast bowl

The sweet potato breakfast bowl made a morning return, along with a paleo blueberry muffin and green chai tea.


Dinner: I can’t remember if that was 2 eggs or 3 (I go with however hungry I am… this looks like 3)… plus asparagus soup, a sweet potato, and strawberries.



Day 22:

Not pictured: a Naked juice. Had to be up early and out the door, and in my world, that means I sleep in as late as possible and have breakfast in the car.


Skipped lunch. Dinner was a Romaine salad with Tessamae’s dressing and some of those kale chips that are too small to actually be chips, plus a couple of eggs and strawberries with a caffeine free chai rooibos on the side.

Day 23:


Back to the pineapples with my plain Greek yogurt, and a paleo muffin.


Fathead pizza

I almost threw in the towel today, but made a fathead pizza instead – this time with pesto and onions (like last time) but also tempeh bacon. I had 2 slices and nothing else with it because… I’m just over it. You know? Look at that crust, though. So beautiful.

I might hang in there a few more days, but I’m pretty sure I won’t. Stay tuned to find out!

What I Ate Days 13-17: Veg Whole30

Well, look at that! I passed the halfway point and didn’t even notice. Aside from being hella tired of eating eggs all the time, I don’t really mind this. I think the Whole30 is definitely breaking in a habit of preparing food at home instead of eating out. Still, I look forward to bringing vital wheat gluten back into my life. And chickpeas. I’ll likely continue to cut sugar out, but beans must come back. I do plan to keep some gluten free recipes in my rotation, but assuming I don’t notice anything bad when I re-introduce gluten, I really need my vital wheat gluten. I love wheat meat! I thought I’d miss bread more than I do. We’ll see how I feel in a couple weeks when I wrap this thing up.

Here’s what I’ve been eating for the past week. You definitely should NOT use me as a model Whole30 vegetarian! I was the queen of skipping meals and relying on shortcuts to get through this one. What can I say? I’m busy and it’s tough to fit everything in.

Day 13:

Whole30 Lunch

Skipped breakfast. Running late. This was lunch at work – leftover pesto zucchini and organic strawberries. I didn’t eat all of it. I’m over zucchini noodles.


Whole30 Dinner

Dinner, though… yum! I had the last slice of my fathead pizza (pesto and caramelized onions), a sweet potato, and crockpot cinnamon applesauce. I also tried out a new soup recipe – cream of roasted asparagus. It’s so easy if you’ve got a Vitamix or other high-powered blender. Roast a pound and a half of asparagus drizzled with olive oil and seasoned with salt and pepper (425F for 12 minutes). Throw it in the Vitamix with 1 1/2 cups vegetable stock (I also add a dash of garlic powder and onion powder). Whir on high for 5-6 minutes until it’s smooth and hot. Add 1/2 cup heavy cream and blend on low for 30 seconds or so. Voila. Amazing soup. Active prep time is 5 minutes, tops. I got 4 small bowls out of this as a side dish; assume 2 servings if you’re eating it as a lunch/meal.

Day 14:

Whole30 lunch

Breakfast/lunch combo again, eaten on the fly between classes at work. A paleo muffin and a veggie juice. I know. This is not ideal. It works in a pinch, though.

Whole30 dinner

Dinner saved the day 🙂 Romaine salad with Tessamae’s ranch dressing. (The doggone avocados I bought a week ago STILL are not ripe). 3 scrambled eggs this time. One sweet potato, one banana.

Day 15:

Whole30 breakfast

Breakfast – at least I ate it at home before work! My last paleo cranberry banana muffin. I need to make more tonight. They will be blueberry this time. And some plain Greek yogurt with pineapples.

Whole30 lunch

Late lunch. I was hungry as heck. 2 scrambled eggs with pesto, asparagus soup, a Romaine salad with Tessamae’s ranch, and some organic strawberries.

Whole30 dinner

This is where eating minimal food for a couple days catches up with me. Need. More. Food! For dinner, I made another Fathead pizza. This time I did not have the patience to fully caramelize the onions. They’re probably half-caramelized. 😀 Pesto on top. There is also a splatter of shredded organic mozzarella, because the bag I bought for the crust contained 8oz of cheese and the recipe only needs 6oz. So I had some left over and threw it on top. I don’t plan to start gnawing on bricks of cheese for the rest of the Whole30, but since I’m eating dairy anyway, and this possibility was part of my original planned modifications, I’m OK with it. The bag of cheese I bought for my next crust is 6oz, so… Also had a sweet potato and the rest of the asparagus soup. It’s so good, you guys.


Day 16:

Naked juice

Yep. Juice for breakfast. I know the program says “no smoothies” but this is so normal for me. I’ve literally had smoothies for breakfast 90% of mornings for the past 11 years. Yep, I just did the math (because I remember my first homemade smoothie). I can’t often stomach the thought of food first thing in the morning, but I’m usually hungry. Smoothies have not only been a fast and easy way to get something in me that my stomach can take, but also one of the primary ways to get leafy greens in me that aren’t Romaine. I’m not a huge fan of eating other leafy greens (unless they’re kale chips) but I will throw spinach or swiss chard or any doggone thing into a smoothie. The Vitamix can turn anything into velvety goodness. This, of course, isn’t as good as a homemade smoothie, but this time of year, I don’t have the time in the morning to make smoothies from scratch. I just saw a video of someone that makes them ahead for the whole week and says they keep well enough in the fridge, and I may try that next week – but for now, I’ve got 3 more Naked juices in the fridge to tide me over, and I’m fine with this.

Whole30 Lunch

Lunch: Romaine with Tessamae’s ranch. Plain Greek yogurt with dark cherries (!!!!). Green chai tea on the side.

Whole30 dinner

I know. I’m like a broken record. But look – I split up the strawberries half and half! 🙂 Leftover fathead pesto-onion pizza, 3 scrambled eggs, and organic strawberries. This pizza is kind of giving me life. I bought more ingredients today to make it again.

Day 17:

Naked juice

Breakfast. At least I’m taking new pictures every time and not re-using the same old ones.

Whole30 Lunch

This dinner looks a lot like yesterday’s dinner! Only 2 eggs, though. No lunch. Wasn’t hungry.

I didn’t time things very well so my new batch of soup wasn’t ready until an hour later. I had to taste-test it, though.

Roasted asparagus

The hardest part of making this soup is not eating all of the asparagus right out of the pan.

Roasted asparagus soup

Taste test 🙂 It passed with flying colors.

I’ve got another dehydrator full of kale chips working overnight tonight, and I am going to go bake another batch of paleo muffins right now. 13 more days. Honestly, I don’t mind it. I’m glad I haven’t had any invites to go out to eat, because I don’t think I could manage the restrictions of both Whole30 and vegetarianism at a restaurant. But I’m the kind of person that can eat the same thing every single day for months (years) on end if it’s something I really like. So as I find things I really like, they’ll be on repeat here – which isn’t the best for nutritional variety, but it’s better than saying F it and ordering pizza every night. I’ve learned over the years that I’m far more successful when I set realistic expectations rather than striving for absolute perfection.

Here’s to Whole30, week 3! Bring it!


What I Ate Days 10-12: Veg Whole30

We are officially into the double digits, folks!

In an effort to stave off boredom this week, I switched up some things.

First, I pulled out the dehydrator:

Kale chips in the dehydrator

KALE CHIPS!!!!!!! Oh how I’ve missed thee!

Seriously. Why don’t I make these more often? Kale, rubbed with EVOO, sprinkled with salt and nutritional yeast.

Then, I tried out an infamous low carb, paleo, grain free, yada yada yada pizza crust – the Fathead pizza crust recipe. This won’t work for those of you doing a strict Whole30, but as I explain in my modifications post, us vegetarians aren’t “really” doing the Whole30 anyway (according to the authors of the plan), so I chose to include dairy, and Fathead pizza crust it is!

Fathead pizza

This was legitimately one of my favorite recipes of all time. The crust is so delicious and I will continue to make and eat it no matter what diet (or not) I’m on. This is just pesto and caramelized onions on the crust. So good. The onions took 4x as long as the crust to make; that’s how easy it was.

I’ve also got some asparagus with plans to make a paleo asparagus soup with it for lunches, even though I’m in a bad habit of skipping lunches.

In other news, I finally broke my streak of 100% sleep quality. Last night, night #11, I only got 86% sleep quality (which is still better than my 6-month average of 82%). The reason? I rearranged my bedroom. There are certain things I did not anticipate when I rearranged my furniture. There’s always the odd sensation of not knowing where you are when you wake up and see something unfamiliar in front of you. What I didn’t realize is that my new bed position combined with my preferred sleeping position puts me facing a window, and through that window is a traffic signal a few blocks away. Every time that traffic signal turns green, it’s like a tiny alien shining a green flashlight in my eyeballs. It woke me up a few times – when I wasn’t already awake from the cats deciding that because the bed was on the opposite side of the room, they had to fight over their bed territories all over again. There aren’t too many things as disconcerting as waking up to two hissing cat faces poised right above your head, ready to pounce on each other (and your face, in the process). So, yeah. I didn’t sleep very well last night!

At any rate, I’m still feeling fine and…. there’s no point in lying by omission. I stepped on the scale this morning. Weight loss isn’t the top reason I’m doing this, but it’s amongst several benefits. I’m down 8 pounds.

So, let’s get into the eats….

Day 10:


Whole30 breakfast

A familiar looking breakfast by now… but look! The bananas are in the lower lefthand corner this time!


Whole30 lunch

I actually ate lunch! A slice of that blah paleo flatbread (the last of it went in the garbage), pesto, strawberries, and a salad with the amazing Tessamae’s dressing that I am now out of. Oh sad.


Whole30 dinner

Dinner was roasted root veggies, 2 scrambled eggs and pesto, a sweet potato, and plain Greek yogurt with pineapples. While you certainly can roast veggies from frozen, they just don’t taste as good as fresh.


Day 11:

The only way I’m eating veggies with breakfast is if it’s actually lunch time (slept till 11, whoops!) and they’re kale chips! 2 scrambled eggs, kale chips, and a banana with almond butter. Black chai tea down the hatch. Check out my new mug! You can’t really see it, but my favorite people on earth (the outreach team at the Wildlife Center of Virginia) made it for me. It has my favorite WCV education raptors on it. (I volunteer there). <3



Skipped lunch because I ate breakfast so late. Just wasn’t hungry. Dinner, though, renewed my joy in life and all things good and tasty! It’s a slice of that Fathead pizza dough topped with caramelized onions and pesto. Sweet potato, strawberries, and a Romaine salad with half an avocado and Tessamae’s ranch dressing. This was joy on a plate.


Naked juice

I would definitely get lectured by the Whole30 purists for this one, but it fits in with my modifications. I had things to do this morning, so I chose a portable breakfast with zero prep time. Upon inspecting the ingredients, I saw that it has wheatgrass in it – so, a violation of the ban on wheat – but I made the executive decision that I will allow it. It’s so far down the ingredient list that I’m pretty sure I didn’t consume the equivalent of a loaf of bread or anything. I drank half of it, and then forgot it on the counter when I left for work, so it was still a fail, if that makes anyone feel better.

I remembered to bring a lunch to work, but forgot to photograph it before I ate it. It was just a slice of that Fathead pizza and some strawberries, with a delicious mint tea that my colleague brought me from Brazil.


Whole30 dinner

Dinner – Fathead pizza, the rest of the roasted root veggies, 2 scrambled eggs (was craving them), and half a bunch of kale chips.

I did not mean to eat an entire bunch of kale in 24 hours, but…. that happened. I need to get to the store ASAP for more kale and more Tessamae’s dressing!

Does anyone have ideas for no-cheese vegetarian options to top this pizza with? There is cheese in the crust, but I’m trying to keep the dairy to just Greek yogurt and minimal cheese (where it’s useful, like in this crust recipe – not just eating a block of cheese).

I think I can definitely make it through the Whole30 with kale chips, Fathead crust, and Tessamae’s ranch to see me through. They are all things I will continue to eat exactly as they are even when Whole30 ends, which is part of why I really don’t buy into the whole concept of “pancakes are evil! Pizza is evil! All of the things you love are evil!” I just don’t agree with that approach. Bring on the Fathead pizza!

What I Ate Days 7-9: Veg Whole30

I’ve hit the point in the Whole30 plan where 2 things are happening: 1) I am bored out of my mind having so few protein options (so much so that I actually felt a bit jealous of meat eaters for a minute last night), and 2) I’m about ready to cut a b… for an ice cold, fountain poured diet coke.

The diet coke might have an explanation. Long story short, last night I had about 3 gulps of a drink that had artificial sweetener in it…. from my probiotic/greens powder. I was a few sips in when I thought to myself, “This tastes WAY too sweet to be natural…” Sure enough, I checked the ingredient list and it had maltodextrin, a starch-based food additive/sweetener with an astronomical glycemic index. I poured the rest of the drink down the drain, but the degree to which I’ve been craving a diet coke today is probably the fallout of those few sips. Ce la vie. As stated in my modifications post, I am not following the rule that even accidental slip-ups require a start-over. I will check labels on EVERYTHING from now on, and move forward.

Other than that, I’m feeling fine. I need to sit down tomorrow and plan out some new food options, though, because the boredom is going to lead to catastrophe next week if I try to repeat this week’s meals.

I am STILL getting 100% sleep quality every night! How is that even possible?! I don’t think I have ever in my life gone 9 days with even 90%+ sleep quality (at least not in the last thousand-ish days that my app has tracked). I definitely want to pay attention once I start reintroducing foods to see if it’s a caffeine quantity/timing issue or something else.

Let’s get into the eats, shall we?

Day 7

Whole30 Breakfast

Breakfast was not exciting: paleo muffin (I’ve got to make more of these, because they totally hit the spot in the morning and I’ve only got 3 left), banana with almond butter, and plain greek yogurt with unsweetened raisins. Chai tea on the side.


Whole30 Dinner

I didn’t bring a lunch to work (again), so next up was dinner. I did get to the store to grab some more zucchini to make zucchini noodles. They only had 2 green zucs so I got 2 yellow squash, too, and figured they’d be the same. I didn’t really like this version as much as the zucchini-only version, so I think I will stick to green zucchini for noodle purposes. I threw some pesto on there, and had 2 scrambled eggs and strawberries on the side.

I did eat a Larabar in between work and dinner (the fruit-and-nut-only ones). Definitely check the ingredients, as some of the newer flavors are not so simple on the ingredient lists.


Day 8

Whole30 Breakfast

I’m sure you’ve caught on to my breakfast variations by now. I don’t really need a lot of variety with breakfast. I like a handful of things and I can enjoy them repeatedly. The deciding factor on the protein is whether or not I have time to make eggs or made extras the night before. This meal had one paleo muffin, 2 scrambled eggs (with heavy cream = heaven), and a banana with almond butter. Black chai tea on the side.


Whole30 lunch

I actually had lunch! (Working from home on Fridays = yay, food!) This was leftover from the sweet potato and leek frittata from the other night, with strawberries.


Whole30 dinner

I cooked a couple of things for dinner that were supposed to last me a few days, but unfortunately, they didn’t turn out great. The first was a paleo flatbread. I have no idea how long the open bag of tapioca flour in my pantry has been in there, but I’m pretty sure that’s why the flatbread was a dud. It’s edible, but nothing to write home about. The second was even more disappointing: a crock pot full of what was supposed to be a cauliflower bolognese sauce. It’s just… blah. I really don’t like cauliflower. I don’t know why I keep trying.

So, this meal was organic spring mix with half an avocado and that amazing Tessemae’s dressing (doggone it! I forgot to grab another bottle when I was at Walmart tonight!), zucchini noodles with pesto, cauliflower bolognese, and paleo flatbread. I didn’t finish it all, not because I wasn’t hungry, but because it was just… meh.


Day 9

Whole30 breakfast

Breakfast started with a fresh batch of eggs of the gods, a paleo muffin, strawberries, and black chai tea.


Whole30 dinner

No lunch today, for no reason other than I wasn’t hungry for lunch. This was a sad, sad dinner. I knew I had nothing but blah leftovers, and I wasn’t in the mood to run to the grocery store, so I just put together what I had: unstellar paleo flatbread with a scoop of blah cauliflower bolognese, and a sweet potato that I hoped wouldn’t kill me because I had just thrown out the rest of the bag because they had scary looking black patches on them. I had cooked them last night (the steam-in-bag ones), just purchased from Walmart, and I had an inkling when I grabbed the bag in the store that they weren’t the freshest things in the world, but did the old, “Awww they’re fine!” and brought them home and cooked them. This is the only one that looked like I could eat around the bad spot, so I did. If I die of spotted potato poisoning tonight, you know why.

That beverage on the side is a smoothie made of homemade almond milk (I don’t strain it, so it’s nice and frothy and contains the whole nuts), a ripe banana, some frozen pineapple, and plain greek yogurt. I needed a protein somehow and didn’t feel like cooking more eggs. I thought I had whey protein powder but… yep, it’s got sweetener in it. So no protein powder in this one.

I’m definitely a little bit cranky about my dinner options.

That’s it for now! Tomorrow, I will browse the cookbooks again and come up with a plan for next week.

What I Ate Days 4-6: Veg Whole30

I’ve made it through day 6! According to the Whole30 timeline, I should’ve been a murderous sleep zombie these last few days, but… nope. I’ve felt fine. This is also my back-to-work week after the winter break (university schedule), so I did hit some stumbling blocks, but they were logistic and not the result of cravings or lack of energy.

So far, I’m feeling fine and I’m still recording 100% sleep quality every night. My guess is that not having a ton of caffeine in the afternoon is helping; I generally have my tea in the morning, instead of 32oz of diet coke with every meal into the night.

The only negative issue so far has been random muscle cramps the last few days. I’m drinking more water than ever (no less than 64oz a day), but other signs do point to dehydration. I’m surely consuming far less sodium than I would with all of my usual processed food meals, so I’m not sure what’s causing it.

I demonstrated very clearly to myself this week that in order to have a lunch to eat at work, I have to pack it the night before. Even when I got up a few minutes earlier to pack said lunch, every single day this week, something has come up and I’ve run out the door with no lunch. I’ve only got 25 minutes between classes (if I’m lucky; I’ll inevitably be stopped in the hall or visited in my office during that little window of time) so there’s no time to go out in search of food. I have to bring it with me.

One fun discovery this week has been the most awesome scrambled eggs. You’d swear there’s cheese in them, but no. 4 eggs, scrambled with 3 tablespoons of heavy whipping cream (check the ingredient lists – a lot of whipping creams have carrageenan in them; avoid those!). Salt and pepper to taste. Cook over low-ish heat (my stove has #6 as medium; I use #4), stirring constantly. It’ll take 8-10 minutes for the eggs to set and cook, but it is so worth it. That’s 2 servings for me, and if you have a big enough pan, I’m sure you could double or triple the recipe. They’re freaking amazing and they will be the reason I can stand to eat so many eggs over these 30 days.

Here are my eats for days 4-6:

Day 4:

Whole30 Breakfast

Hello again, paleo cranberry banana muffin, plain greek yogurt, pineapples, and strawberries! I just can’t stomach vegetables in the morning. I am happy to report that these muffins freeze perfectly well. I just pull one from the freezer, nuke it for one minute, and it’s ready to devour.


Whole30 Dinner

I had no lunch on Day 4, so here’s what I had for dinner: a romaine salad with a new Whole30-approved dressing that I found at Walmart of all places (whaaaaaaat???) in the produce refrigerated section. The brand is called Tessemae’s and it’s got the Whole30 logo right on the label. The ingredient list looks clean. It was $5 for the bottle ($6.50 on the manufacturer’s web site), but the expiration date was in 11 days. No worries; I will definitely finish the bottle in time! It’s delicious. I got the zesty ranch dressing, but they have a wide variety of dressings and sauces. I’ll take any time savings I can get!

I also had a slice of leek and sweet potato frittata, a recipe from the Paleo for Vegetarians 28 Day Meal Plan book. Delicious. And some strawberries.

It was a lot prettier before I cut it up:

Sweet potato leek frittata Whole30



Day 5:

Whole30 Breakfast

Breakfast joy! Behold, the magical scrambled eggs! So creamy and good. Plus a paleo muffin and a banana with almond butter. Chai tea on the side.


Whole30 Dinner

Big dinner. I was starving after no lunch. Salad had tempeh cubes and half of an avocado with the Tessemae’s dressing. Sweet potato leek frittata with a dollop of pesto on top, plus a sweet potato (there’s no such thing as too much sweet potato), and strawberries. Water to drink.


Day 6:

Whole30 breakfast

Breakfast: those glorious scrambled eggs (they’re not as pretty when you make them the night before and reheat them, but they were still delicious!), a paleo muffin, and plain greek yogurt with pineapple and raisins (because I was low on pineapple). Black chai tea on the side.


Whole30 Dinner

Missed lunch again, so dinner was a big romaine salad (tempeh and half an avocado, plus Tessemae’s ranch), sweet potato leek frittata with pesto, green beans, and a sweet potato.

That’s where I’m at as I get ready to wrap up week 1! I miss peanut butter.

Veg Whole30 Days 1-3: What I Ate

I’m wrapping up day 3 of my modified vegetarian Whole30. The rest of the Peanut Butter Runner group starts tomorrow, but I knew with my schedule (I go back to work after winter break tomorrow) it would be pretty nutty to try to juggle it all. I’m glad I have a few days under my belt starting back to work.

This week is going to be crazy busy for me, and I suspect the theme is going to turn out being, “Just put some pesto on it.”

Day 1

Whole30 Vegetarian

Breakfast was 2 scrambled eggs with dill, strawberries, and a banana cranberry muffin (recipe from Paleo for Vegetarians 28 Day Meal Plan). Before you go off on a SWYPO rant, I’ve explained my planned modifications to the Whole30 and I will consider sticking to my version of the plan a success. (I’m going to try not to constantly note my disdain for the tone and attitude of the authors of Whole30, but… even the whole SWYPO approach to describing their rationale annoys me. /end rant).


Whole30 Salad

Lunch was a big ol’ salad. I prepped two salad proteins for the week: tempeh cubes fried in coconut oil with salt and pepper, and balsamic glazed tofu. I also made a paleo ranch dressing from cashews and coconut milk. I suspect there are better recipes out there, but this one was easy and tastes fine. The rest of the salad is romaine with carrots and half an avocado. I couldn’t finish it all.


Dinner involved a spiralizer, woohoo! And… a pesto spill. womp womp. I spiralized 2 zucchini to make zucchini noodles, then mixed the noodles with baby spinach and heated it with some basil pesto (and then spilled some more on there). This is one zucchini worth on my plate. I ate a whole freakin zucchini. Note to self: buy 4 next time so you get more than 2 meals from this. I also had a baked sweet potato and a tub of plain greek yogurt with pineapples on top. For a beverage, I tried kombucha for the first time. It was nasty and tasted like straight up apple cider vinegar. Is that true of all kombuchas, or should I try a different kind?


Day 2

Whole30 Breakfast

Day 2 started out with 2 scrambled eggs, another muffin, and plain greek yogurt with pineapples.


Whole30 Lunch

For lunch I had a smaller salad – same ingredients as yesterday, but with the tofu on the side this time – and a baked sweet potato. An hour or so later I was still hungry, so I had a banana with almond butter.


Whole30 Dinner

Dinner was the rest of the pesto zucchini, balsamic tofu, green beans, and a sweet potato, with some chai tea on the side. A couple hours later I was still famished! My stomach was growling, so I scrambled up 2 eggs with pesto and had that. I didn’t go to bed full, but I wasn’t starving. I just felt hungry all day.


Day 3

Mmmm this one was yummy. Breakfast was 2 scrambled eggs (with pesto hiding inside there!), a paleo muffin, a couple strawberries, and a banana with almond butter. Black chai tea on the side.


Dinner was 2 scrambled eggs with pesto (again!), green beans, plain greek yogurt with pineapples, and a small romaine salad with tempeh cubes and half an avocado, dressed with oil and vinegar. Where’s lunch, you ask? For as hungry as I was yesterday, I just wasn’t hungry today. I had a banana a couple hours after dinner, but it was more for a brain boost than anything. (I had to do some programming – which normally prompts me to go buy 2 chocolate long johns from Dunkin Donuts, but today, prompted banana consumption).


How Am I Feeling?

These first 3 days haven’t been particularly hard, though it is fairly annoying to be so strictly limited in my food choices (not because of the actual limitations, but because most things require preparation, and I’ve only prepped what I can eat before it goes bad – so I can’t have many options on hand at any given time). I’m sure I will get more creative as I go.

Mid-day-2 I was nearly on the, “F- it, I’m going to order a pizza” bandwagon, but I talked myself out of it. I was a bit cranky and headachy (and friggin starving all day).

Day 3 (today) I felt pretty great. I felt like my head was clear all day and into the evening.

One excellent side effect so far is that I’m sleeping phenomenally well – 100% sleep quality these past 2 nights, according to my sleep app – and that’s in a bed with 4 cats! To give you an idea of how good that is, relatively speaking, my average sleep quality over the past 6 months has been 82%. (I’ve got over 1,000 nights logged since 2013). Granted, I sleep pretty well overall (the US average is 72%), but I do have bouts of insomnia that last a couple weeks at a time. Knock on wood, I haven’t had one in a while. My sleep could also be improved because it’s the tail end of 3 weeks off work and I’ve just finally unwound and de-stressed; we’ll see about that when I go back to work tomorrow.

That’s it for Days 1-3! Time to hit the hay and get back into the swing of things.


My Vegetarian Modifications for Whole30

I’ve started a Whole30 diet vegetarian-style, and since modifications to the original Whole30 plan are required in order to make it vegetarian, I’m going to lay out my planned modifications on Day 1 and stick to them.

Here are the “rules” I am modifying:


The original Whole30 advocates meat and animal proteins as the primary sources. I have never eaten seafood and I no longer eat meat, so I will not be eating those on my vegetarian Whole30. For protein, I will eat organic eggs, tempeh, tofu, and Greek yogurt (see below).


The original plan says no dairy, but recommends pastured, organic, fermented dairy sources like yogurt or kefir for vegetarians. I will eat plain, unsweetened organic Greek yogurt for protein. I plan to avoid cheese, but will not consider it a failure if I change my mind. The plan also recommends whey protein powder, which I may use.


I will avoid gluten grains and vital wheat gluten, as recommended. Quinoa is listed as a possible option. I don’t plan to eat it though I won’t specifically avoid it. Quinoa is OK but I tend not to like it when I make it myself.


I plan to avoid legumes as recommended, though I will decide as I go when it comes to chickpeas. They’re a staple protein source in my salads and I don’t like getting so much of my protein from soy. If I decide to eat chickpeas, so be it. I’ll start out without them, and make them from scratch with soaking if I do add them.

Baked Goods & Smoothies

The plan does not allow for re-creation of baked goods, even with approved ingredients.”A pancake is still a pancake, regardless of the ingredients.” – It Starts With Food. Ummmm…. true. The word “pancake” describes a form and method of cooking where ingredients are formed into a cake that is often flipped in a pan. How does shaping an ingredient into a cake shape and flipping it in a pan make it evil? I completely disagree with the concept here. I will eat things shaped like cakes that have been flipped in pans, assuming they are made with approved ingredients.

The program also recommends against drinking smoothies. I will not be following these rules. I require portable breakfasts, as I eat breakfast in the car on my way to work most days, in the form of muffins or breakfast sandwiches or smoothies. This will not change. I will use approved ingredients to make them Whole30-compliant.



Another modification I plan to make is with regard to the start-over rule. If you slip up on the program, even accidentally, you’re supposed to re-start the 30 days. I won’t be doing that. I am a busy human. Busy humans are busy. Busy humans make mistakes. Busy humans don’t have time for ridiculous punishments for landing on the Whole30 naughty list. (See previous post; I really can’t stand the condescending attitude of the authors… but the premise of the program seems sound, so I’m trying it. Be forewarned: I will not be masking any snark). Bad vegetarian. Bad!


I plan to adhere to the rest of the rules (no sugar or sweeteners, no alcohol, no peanuts, no carrageenan, MSG, or sulfites). I will also refrain from weighing myself, taking measurements, or counting calories/macros, as recommended.

Those are my planned modifications! If I stick to this plan, I’ll consider it a success. If I change the plan along the way, so be it. My goal here is to get back to cooking and eating whole foods and kick the junk food. I have no gluten or dairy sensitivities, but will eliminate gluten and most dairy for the sake of experimentation. That’s not my primary objective, though.

Feel free to share your thoughts on Whole30!

I'm doing the Whole30

I’m Doing the Whole30 – Vegetarian

Yep, it’s the start of a new year, and I, like so many others, am once again jumping on the bandwagon to attempt to make some positive changes in my life this year. Initially, I was not planning to diet to kick off 2017. I’m at a point in my life where I accept that I will never maintain a size 6 (heck, I’m doing great when I can maintain a 14), and my focus now is on keeping my blood pressure in check and other health markers a-ok. What I eat has a lot to do with those things.

So I’m going to tackle a Whole30 (vegetarian style) and reset some of my eating habits. If I lose some weight, bonus.

If you’ve never heard of Whole30, it’s a whole foods based eating plan that eliminates wheat/gluten, sugar, and processed foods. It is paleo-ish but not low carb; the estimated macro breakdown is 35% fat, 40% carbohydrates, 25% protein – though the program specifically advises against counting calories and macronutrients. The idea is that you eliminate things that could be causing inflammation, sleep disturbances, etc, and once you’ve completed 30 days, you reintroduce various things slowly to determine how they impact your body, and develop  your future eating plan from there.

It sounds like a great plan, but I do have one bone to pick with the program. The book that kicks it all off is called “It Starts With Food.” The program heavily relies on animal protein (meat). They put forth some scientific evidence for their approach, which is fine, but a good 10% or more of the population doesn’t eat meat for a variety of reasons – medical, ethical, religious, etc. The book attempts to accommodate a vegetarian approach, but not before condescendingly pointing out that vegetarians are wrong (just read all the science we laid out for you!) and ethical vegetarians are wrong (just eat non-factory-farmed meat!) and… the attitude just doesn’t sit well with me. The authors repeatedly state that you can do Whole30 as a vegetarian, but you’re not REALLY doing Whole30. So, sure, you can follow along and pretend you’re doing our program, but you’re not really one of us. Just remember that; we’re smarter than you and healthier than you and you’ll never reap the full benefits of the program with your lowly vegetarian ways.

I’m only slightly exaggerating here! It’s so condescending that the first time I read the book, I decided NOT to do the program because, well, the authors seemed like jerks.

I changed my mind this year because a blogger that I follow, Jen at Peanut Butter Runner, is hosting a Whole30 Facebook group to kick off the new year. With a whole lot of people to bounce the experience off of, chances of success and enjoyment go up. And I would like to get back into cooking and eating more whole foods.

Since a vegetarian Whole30 requires modifications of the original Whole30 rules, I will be making some modifications. I plan to lay out my own “rules” at the outset and follow the plan that way. I’ll be sharing those modifications and some of my meals here on this blog, so stay tuned!

The official kickoff is Monday, Jan 9, 2017, so if you’re interested in joining this Whole30 group, check the link above! Happy new year!