Trying the Slow-Carb Diet

My goal with Max was to not gain a bunch of weight after I weaned him like I did with Harper. So of course that’s what happened. I swore off diets and was trying to focus on small changes. But those were basically just producing small results. I felt totally disconnected with the good eating habits I developed before I had kids, and I just felt like I had to do something

A friend had mentioned that she lost a huge amount of baby weight on a Paleo-esque diet that included some cheat days and another friend had mentioned adopting a slow-carb philosophy (and listening to Tim Ferriss for some self-help type stuff). Then one day I was driving and listening to the Outside podcast and who comes on but Tim Ferriss. He talked some about how his diet plan works. So after all that I just felt like the universe was trying to tell me something and I started googling the slow-carb diet


Salmon salad with grilled veggies.

If you read his book, the 4-Hour Body, you understand the diet as a way to maximize results in minimal time (hell yes) by shifting your body into fat-burning mode. It has elements of Paleo and keto diets. You eliminate basically all carbs except for beans and legumes. Except for one glorious day a week, which you declare a cheat day and have whatever you want. It does serve an actual physical purpose, to keep your body from thinking it’s starving. But it’s also helpful mentally, since we are all likely to cheat anyway. 

So about 2 months ago I started the diet. This required a major shift in my cooking. But one of the main reasons I thought it would be okay is that because of my retail work schedule, I often eat something different than my family anyway. You’re also encouraged to eat the same meals over and over so you don’t have to think about it (another plus). 


Buttered cod and green beans with bacon. So easy and good.

I lost somewhere in the 5-6 pound range each month. Not fantastic, but definitely an improvement. My clothes fit much better and I feel motivated to keep going. I think the limited weight loss is because the cheat day inevitably undoes some of the progress you make during the week. So, I’m going to keep some aspects of the diet and change other ones going forward. 

Here’s what I like about it:

• It forces you to eat more vegetables. I’ve never been good about eating enough vegetables, even though I like a lot of them. I love fruit, so before this I was regularly eating 2 pieces of fruit a day and hardly any veggies. Well, that changed on this diet. I snacked on carrots. I ate more salads. I sauteed veggies with dinner all the time. I sliced avocadoes on all sorts of things. And that leads me to my next favorite part, breakfast. 

• I came up with this kind of odd breakfast that I have eaten religiously for weeks, so I thought I would share it. It keeps me full until about 2 p.m.!

Curry Chicken Breakfast

1 chicken breast (I cook these in some water in the slow cooker on Sundays so they’re ready to go)
1/2 cup frozen peas
1 Tablespoon ghee (olive oil works too)
1/2 teaspoon garam masala
1 teaspoon curry powder
2 eggs
Salt/pepper/hot sauce 

Saute the chicken and peas in the ghee until they are warmed through. Stir in the curry powder and garam masala. Pour mixture into a bowl while you cook the eggs. I like my eggs over medium, but you can make them however you want. Put them on top of the chicken and peas and season how you like. It makes this kind of ugly but good-tasting breakfast where your only carbs come from peas and you get the anti-inflammatory benefits of spices like cinnamon and turmeric. 

Just add eggs. I swear it’s really good.

• The cheat day keeps you in check during the week – you can always say no to something because you know you can have it later. 

• Cauliflower rice! Especially the stuff that comes already crumbled in steam bags. I found that I really didn’t mind either skipping rice or replacing it with this. Same with most crackers, cereal and bread. The carbs I missed are all sweet things – cookies, cupcakes, muffins, etc. 

• Zoodles – Another fun way to get your veggies in. I bought a mini spiralizer and used it on some zucchini. 

• I found some new recipes that are great replacements for weeknight dinners that my family also likes. Here are some of them:
Shrimp & Sausage Skillet
Easy Cashew Chicken
Slow Carb Beef and Broccoli
Slow Carb Bean Salad
Buttered Cod in Skillet
Chili is also a great staple

What I didn’t like:

• The cheat day ends up messing with your mind in a different way. Basically you hit your lowest weight and then have to purposely mess it up by cheating. Then it takes a few days to get back to where you were before (presumably you gain some water weight with the cheat foods). It just feels like a little roller coaster a lot of the time. 

• You can’t have fruit or cheese. Or Greek yogurt. Or any whole grains. At some point it seems kind of crazy to eschew so many healthy foods. 

• I felt low-energy enough for it to bother me. And I need every bit of energy I can muster for life with 2 small kids. I remember when I did the cleanses I felt such an energy surge. So I know a diet doesn’t have to mean feeling tired all the time. 

 So yeah, it was a mixed bag for me. (Here’s another great post from someone else who had a lot of the same feelings). But I did learn a lot in the process. I remembered that daily journaling helps me a lot.  I started reading labels and I was reminded of just how much sugar is in everything. And I think it was a wake-up call that for me, certain foods are a slippery slope towards bad habits. I just have to always be vigilant and have some kind of plan. We’re all different, but that is my deal. 

On the exercise front I am just trying to walk or run Max to daycare whenever I can. I think a FitBit would be helpful to keep reminding me to get in more steps. And I also really want to get a kettlebell. 

Some dietary changes

I can’t believe I’ve already passed the 7 months pregnant mark. The rest of the pregnancy has seemed to move pretty slowly and somewhat uncomfortably. But now I actually feel pretty good and time is racing by. One of the reasons I feel better (I think) is that I’m eating differently now. I started this pregnancy 20 pounds heavier than with Harper and was pretty steadily gaining a pound a week, which felt like too much. With it being a lot warmer this time around, I had constant swollen cankles and just felt huge and puffy. So I decided it might help to start cutting carbs out of my diet.

Breakfast and lunch turned out to be a breeze, but most of my dinner recipes that I love to cook have some carbs. So I decided not to mess with dinner much. I switched from cereal or muffins to omelets for breakfast and then a lot of cottage cheese, salads, apples with peanut butter and that sort of thing during the day. The great thing about a low-carb diet is that it’s not a low-fat diet. You can have all the bacon, avocados and ranch dressing you want. So you get to enjoy these really satisfying foods. 

I noticed right away that the weight gain really eased up, even though I was in the third trimester, when the baby gains the most weight. I had just about outgrown all my maternity clothes, but some of them started to fit a little looser. And I just felt better during the day. I had felt so tired the past few months, but suddenly I had more energy. 

So, when all seemed to be going really well, I failed my glucose test. Just barely. It was kind of strange. They take blood 3 times, and only my fasting score was slightly over the limit. But it was enough to qualify me for the “Sweet Success” program they give to moms with gestational diabetes. At first I was PISSED. Mom was out of town and we had just started remodeling our bathroom, so it was already a super stressful time. I just didn’t need anything else on top of it all. But once I took the class where they teach you about what to eat and how to test your blood (4 times a day, eek), I got kind of into it. It’s really fascinating to see how your blood sugar fluctuates throughout the day and how your stress level or exercise can affect the numbers. Last week I got sick and my numbers spiked the highest they’d ever been. I’ve learned so much. So I am trying to turn a negative into a positive. 

The plus side on the diet part is that it’s darn similar to what I had just started doing. The emphasis is on eating more protein and fewer carbs. You still get to eat carbs, but you really have to restrict sugar. And that includes things that we are traditionally taught are healthy, like fruits, milk and yogurt. Obviously, desserts are a no-no. That’s the part that stung. But again, now that I’m not having them, I feel a lot better. For my birthday I did splurge and make lava cakes with vanilla ice cream (I figured a single-serving cake would be better than a whole huge one). And the next day I felt ravenous for something sugary. Amazingly I did not buy a single bag of Halloween candy! We have so few trick-or-treaters anyway that we decided to just skip it this year, and I’m glad. 

I’m trying to shop for more yummy snack foods, and I’m finding that there are a lot of great high-protein choices out there. Cheese sticks, cocoa dusted nuts (which come in 100-calorie packs), organic hummus from Target, cream cheese on brown rice thins — those have all been favorites lately. I got some almond milk so I can have that instead of regular milk in smoothies. I’m really trying to steer away from processed stuff when I do have carbs. I LOVE fruit, so I’m eating apples, pears and bananas when I can. The key is to always have them with a protein. I’ve made some incredible salads. And I really am not a salad person! But when you can pack them with hard boiled eggs, bacon, cheese crumbles, tomatoes, and have them with a rich dressing, they don’t seem so bad. 

I don’t see myself giving up my beloved baked goods altogether. But this has really shown me that I can live without them a lot of the time and still eat really well. I think I can continue on a similar diet once the baby is born and feel a lot better than I did with Harper. I’m still working on the exercise part. It seems like the first thing to go when I’m busy or stressed, but I see now that it has to be part of my lifestyle. 

Unfortunately, my fasting scores are still a little high. So we’ll see if they put me on any medication for the next 8 weeks. Hopefully it will return to normal after the baby’s born. 

If you’re looking for a great low-carb recipe, I can highly recommend these chicken satay lettuce wraps we had the other night. I don’t consider myself a lettuce wrap type of person either, but these were fantastic. Other things that are good this time of year: tortilla soup, beef stew, chili and roast chicken. Apparently Mexican street tacos are great because they come on thin corn tortillas, and some places give you a ton of meat. So I’ve been on the taco diet when we go out. I’ve discovered some really good al pastor at local restaurants. 

I’m sure it will be a challenge to make it through the 8 most holiday-filled weeks of the year on a low-sugar diet, but I feel pretty good about it. 

Making some changes

A few weeks ago I stepped on the scale and saw a number I’ve never seen before and never hoped to see. I tried not to be too hard on myself about it. The last few months have been full of upheaval — finding a house, buying a house, renovating a house, moving a new member into the house and then going straight from that into my busiest time of year. It’s been a lot and I’ve been eating my stress.

So I thought I’d see if running didn’t help me get back on track. It’s always been so helpful at bringing up my energy and metabolism, which in turn makes me feel better and eat better. I started the Couch to 5k app and it felt good. I eventually got up to running about 2 miles. But after 6 weeks I hadn’t lost a single pound. In fact I think I gained 1 or 2. That was a humbling moment.

I’m the kind of person who lives inside my head a lot of the time, so this made me really think a lot about all the times I’ve been in this position and all the things I’ve tried that didn’t work in the long term. There was obviously some connection I wasn’t making. Of all the things I’ve learned about food and nutrition, none of them have helped me find one healthy weight and stick to it. So what I was looking for then and what I’m working on now, is a way to eat for the rest of my life. Because running is not going to save me from overeating, and diets aren’t going to help me deal with being an emotional eater. That has to come from inside. 

So I kind of made the quiet decision to work on that. To ask myself what is the worst thing that could happen if I didn’t eat this or that unhealthy thing. I thought it might help to make up some food rules — ways to create better habits. 

I realized that even the super healthy cleanses I’ve done are effectively diets. They’re temporary and they don’t represent the way I eat normally. I went back and read a journal I kept around 2011 (after I had lost 27 pounds) and it actually had a lot of the same thoughts I’m having now. It was good to be reminded of them.

With the exception of sugar, which is absolutely addictive for me, I’m not trying to eliminate any one thing from my diet. I am trying to eat just enough to be full and nothing more. I’m trying to fill a smaller plate and not go back for seconds. If I eat a really big meal, I try to compensate by eating a smaller one later. It’s actually like a weight lifted just to have those “rules” in place. And wouldn’t you know, I’ve lost 11 POUNDS. 

Most of that has been after our trip to Kansas (travel always gets me overeating) and the Thanksgiving leftover bomb. That feels like a big accomplishment. I think the running helps, but I would attribute almost all of the weight loss to eating better. Of course this month is the hardest to resist temptation, and I have definitely indulged in a few things. But overall I feel like I’m finally dealing with bad habits I’ve had my whole life and just trying, little by little, to be better. It’s amazing how many things I’m realizing I do just because I’ve always done them.

I don’t have a weight loss goal in mind. I don’t even know what I should weigh. I’m just going to see how this plays out. I actually think the exercise part is harder right now. I’m working day and night to finish orders and I just don’t have a lot of extra time and energy right now. Plus it’s the rainy season so, for once, we have weather conflicts. But even that I feel pretty good about and I’m set to run a 5k with Mike’s coworkers in March. 

This morning I read this post from Nourished Kitchen, which really resonated with me. It led me to this post about how the cycle of diets/binges/guilt is actually our addiction. I love this part:

It’s such a thrill to start a new diet, like paleo or juice-fasting. We’re like blushing virgin brides each and every time, looking forward to the pleasures to come… adapting recipes, finding new packaged foods, joining groups of people who eat like us, bringing our own food to every social event… (Geez, when I type it out like that it sounds pathetic.) Moderation, by comparison, is dull.

It’s so true! Moderation is totally boring to write about, but it’s the only thing that’s working for me. I have way too many things going on in my life right now to try to overhaul my meal planning, shopping and cooking and try to make it palatable for my entire family. The best I can do is try to be reasonable about food, so that’s what I’m doing. It’s weird. I’ve never really looked at it from this perspective, but I’m hopeful. 

I’m not going to do a bunch of before/after photos so that I can fat shame myself, but I will share anything that works for me going forward, just in case it’s helpful. One thing I noticed after the first month of doing this is that when I started eating a little more (i.e. not feeling stomach-growling hungry) I lost more weight. Also, a few times I skipped breakfast because I wasn’t that hungry in the morning and that wasn’t good. Instead of processed cereal, a longtime fave, I’ve been making omelets with cheese or whatever leftovers I can find. It’s a good protein boost in the morning. 

If you have other advice, especially at getting through the holiday feasting, please share!

Green smoothie time

So far my New Year’s diet plan goes like this: get sick, lose appetite. Terrible, but effective.

We’ve all been on a rotating schedule of sickness. First some digestive thing (Harper’s first real barf, ugh.) Then colds all around, followed by more serious colds/sinus infections. I think all the stress and germs from holiday travel have caught up to us.

Anyway, now that I can eat again, I’m finding myself wanting healthier foods. I fired up my Nutribullet and made some green smoothies. The formula is pretty simple: stuff the blender cup half-full with greens, then add sliced fruit, nuts or flax seeds or some other superfood, and water. Blend it up and you’re good to go.

I’m finding that the smoothies don’t taste fantastic, but they are refreshing and they’re the kind of breakfast or snack you can feel good about.

My go-to formula has been: kale with pineapple, pomegranate seeds and flax seed meal.

Body after baby

Now that Harper is 6 months old and starting solids, and my breastfeeding load is lightening, I think it’s time to focus on losing the baby weight. Honestly, I haven’t tried at all, so I think any effort would be helpful at this point. I have really enjoyed all the indulgences, but I’m feeling tired of carrying around the extra weight and eager to get back into all the clothes I used to wear.

I gained 43 pounds with the pregnancy. I was on track to gain about 35, but the last month was just nuts. With all the stress of the first month after Harper was born, I pretty quickly lost 30 of those pounds. But then I basically stayed there, and maybe even gained back a couple pounds.


“Mom, let’s do this thing.”

When you know you’re supposed to be eating extra calories for breastfeeding, it’s kind of confusing to know what and how much to eat. I couldn’t do the cleanse I normally do every January, so I missed out on my “jump start” this year. Then when everyone in my moms group went back to work, my exercise routine kind of died down, too.

My body has definitely changed post-pregnancy. I can feel my ab separation (creepy!) so I have that pooch that makes me look like I’m still pregnant. I totally see why you would look pregnant sooner the second time around. And speaking of that, why bother trying to fix the separation if you’re just gonna have more kids in the near future? I think the only goal that makes sense is just overall weight loss. And maybe trying to get some core strength back.


Feeling too much like a ‘before’ picture.

So here’s my plan to revive some healthy habits:

• Try to focus on eating healthy during the week and save splurges for weekends. I still need some extra calories so I don’t need to be super strict. But I think this is a very practical way to cut back on excess.

• Eliminate daily desserts. The sugar is always what gets me stuck in the overeating cycle. I’ve already cut back some and I can tell a difference.

• Watch portion control. I’ve allowed myself a lot of seconds during the eating-for-two phase, but I think I need to be done with that.

• Try to add more fruits/veggies and drink some green juice. I’ve been buying some green juices, but I think I might get a Nutribullet. I love my juicer, but it’s a pain to clean, and our blender isn’t strong enough to pulverize the greens.

• Review my old recipes. I learned a lot from doing cleanses before, so I have a pretty good resource in my own blog. I’ve been looking back at my nutrition posts, and finding some inspiration there.

• Switch the emphasis on meal planning from easy to healthy. Of course, anything I make still has to be relatively easy. But how I eat during the week all starts with planning and shopping. I’ve been trying to buy more healthy snacks too (hummus, trail mix, whole wheat fig bars and the like) so I always have good choices around me.

• Bring back my exercise grid. I kind of dropped this once I got mired in morning sickness, but it worked wonders for me before. I just check off boxes for the equivalent of 30 minutes of exercise each day.

• Set up the bike trainer in the basement. This way I have a built-in exercise machine I can use anytime.


The grid doesn’t lie.

• Invite moms to walk with me. There are still a few of us home all or part-time, so I need to take some initiative in getting us together.

• Dare I say try running again? It sounds weirdly appealing. I think it’s the “me time” aspect. Hey, whatever gets you to run.

• Find a yoga or pilates class to take occasionally. Money is tight with Mike taking Fridays off, but I think it would be worth the investment to take some classes.

So I think between all those things I ought to at least be able to shed the 13 pounds, and maybe eventually more. I know sleep is key to getting your weight under control, and that’s always a factor with a baby, but we’re making progress.

Butternut squash bisque

I’ve written about this recipe before, as my version is inspired by the one in the Clean book. But I’ve never given a full recipe, and I thought that since it’s feeling all lovely and fall-ish, now would be the perfect time.

This soup could not be healthier, but it’s sweet and satisfying as well. So few recipes really have all those qualities, but this is one of them. If you want a little crunch, sprinkle some chopped toasted nuts on top.

Butternut squash bisque
If nothing else, remember the 1-2-3 measurements of the first three ingredients and add water!

1 small or 1/2 large butternut squash, peeled and chopped into 1-inch pieces
2 tart apples, peeled and chopped into 1-inch pieces
3 carrots, peeled and chopped into 1-inch pieces
1 small or 1/2 large onion, diced
1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more for roasting
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
4 cups water

Start by roasting the veggies. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Toss the squash, carrots, and apples with a little olive oil and the teaspoon of kosher salt. Roast for about 40 minutes, or until you can easily press a fork into the squash.

In a big pot or dutch oven, heat a tablespoon of olive oil over medium and saute the onions until they are just starting to brown. Add in the turmeric and toss to coat. The smell is heavenly.

Pour in the water and vinegar and then add the roasted vegetables. (I guess technically there is a fruit in there, too.) Put the lid on and reduce the heat to medium-low. Simmer for 20 minutes, just to let all the flavors meld and make sure the carrots get nice and soft.

Turn off the heat. Blend the soup using an immersion blender. Or you could do it in batches in a regular blender.

If you don’t want to eat all the soup now, freeze some of it to enjoy later!

Butternut squash bisque
The perfect healthy soup for fall.
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Ingredients
  1. 1 small or 1/2 large butternut squash, peeled and chopped into 1-inch pieces
  2. 2 tart apples, peeled and chopped into 1-inch pieces
  3. 3 carrots, peeled and chopped into 1-inch pieces
  4. 1 small or 1/2 large onion, diced
  5. 1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more for roasting
  6. 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  7. 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
  8. 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  9. 4 cups water
Instructions
  1. Start by roasting the veggies. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Toss the squash, carrots, and apples with a little olive oil and the teaspoon of kosher salt. Roast for about 40 minutes, or until you can easily press a fork into the squash.
  2. In a big pot or dutch oven, heat a tablespoon of olive oil over medium and saute the onions until they are just starting to brown. Add in the turmeric and toss to coat.
  3. Pour in the water and vinegar and then add the roasted vegetables. Put the lid on and reduce the heat to medium-low. Simmer for 20 minutes, just to let all the flavors meld and make sure the carrots get nice and soft.
  4. Turn off the heat. Blend the soup using an immersion blender. Or you could do it in batches in a regular blender.
Notes
  1. If nothing else, remember the 1-2-3 measurements of the first three ingredients and add water! -
  2. Soup can be frozen and reheated later.
Adapted from Clean Program book
Adapted from Clean Program book
Cara Corey http://www.caracorey.com/

Healthy eats roundup

Last week I made my favorite brown rice casserole, and it got me thinking about how I need to get reacquainted with some of my healthiest recipes.

Such as:

Quinoa with corn and scallions

Sweet potato and black bean burritos

Guilt-free mac ‘n cheese

Salmon with (or without) caper-dill sauce

Raw coconut macaroons (scroll down to the bottom of the post)

Tofu hummus dip

And the best carrot muffins

I try not to get too repetitive with meal planning, but sometimes you need to be reminded of the best recipes you can always go back to.

Cooking through Super Natural Every Day

A few weeks ago I was feeling like I was in a cooking rut. I was looking through my cookbooks for inspiration, and when I got to Super Natural Every Day, I realized that I hadn’t just marked a couple of things to try one day. I had pretty much marked the whole thing.

So I thought that instead of taking years to get to all those, I would commit myself to making all of them in the coming weeks. I ended up making all but I think two of the ones I had marked. I feel pretty good about that, and sure that I’ll get to the rest of them soon.

Along the way I added some items to my pantry that I hadn’t used before. I think I will keep them on hand regularly now. First, whole wheat pastry flour. Not only is it healthier than white flour, it makes your baked goods light and fluffy. The batters I made with it were downright silky.

The other item is natural cane sugar.

It’s somewhere in between fine white sugar and turbinado sugar. Since sugar seems to really affect my diet, I appreciate any ways I can take it back to its more natural form.

Both of these (and the copious amounts of maple syrup in her recipes) are more expensive than traditional baking ingredients. But not terribly so, and I think they’re worth the extra dollar or two.

One of the first recipes I made was a blackberry compote.

It’s pretty easy to make, and nice to have around since you can use it as a topping for pancakes, ice cream, and the like.

I went ahead and made the multigrain pancakes to go with the compote. They were awesome!

I think I liked them even better than my whole wheat pancakes, so they might become my go-to pancakes now.

The book is packed with great breakfast recipes, so I continued making those. I had never cooked with millet before so I was excited to try the millet muffins.

They came out a little crunchy on the outside, sort of like a cornbread muffin (but a healthier one). Again, the whole wheat pastry flour seemed to help a lot.

I also tried the bran muffins.

They were good, but I think if I’m looking to make a “healthy” muffin, I’d probably rather have my carrot muffins.

I can’t say the same for the granola, though. It turned out so much better than any granola I’ve made before.

I’m not sure why I’ve struggled (and burned) so many pans of granola before. But I think using the thicker shreds of coconut makes a big difference. I will definitely start making this instead of getting the storebought stuff.

It couldn’t be easier. The only thing I might change is halving the recipe because it makes a ton.

One week I was craving biscuits and gravy, so I thought it would be a good time to make the yogurt biscuits.

I don’t get too excited about baked goods that I have to roll out, but these were pretty easy to assemble. And the layering of dough produced exactly the stacked look I was hoping for.

They’re good by themselves, but they also make a perfect base for sausage gravy.

Though it’s in the dessert section, I ended up having the buttermilk cake for breakfast a few times.

It’s not overly sweet at all. I put apricots on top instead of plums, and used about 1/3 the amount it called for.

These apricots were really tart raw, but that made them perfect for baking. I can’t believe I’ve never baked with them before.

Another dessert we loved was the sweet panzanella. It calls for golden raspberries, which I haven’t been able to find yet at the store. So I used regular raspberries, and I thought they worked well.

The only thing I would change is the bread. I used a big loaf of white bread, but it called for an artisan loaf of wheat bread.

We’ve since discovered La Farine’s wheat levain, which would be perfect. Next time!

You top the sweetened crisped bread cubes with the mushed raspberries and there you have your bread salad. It could not be easier.

Getting to some of the savory dishes, I tried the frittata one night for dinner. My expectations weren’t too high since baked egg dishes aren’t usually my favorites. But this one really surprised me.

The golden potatoes and salty feta cheese with the fresh asparagus made for an excellent combination. And again, a pretty easy dish to throw together. I finally found some better quality eggs at the grocery store that don’t cost a fortune, and I think those made a difference too.

I had high hopes for the vegetable curry, but it was just OK.

I think the vegetables and tofu produced a lot of water, which thinned out the sauce. Then you were supposed to add broth, which thinned it out even more. I think I will try it again, though, because I love the overall concept.

I got excited about the cauliflower soup because I finally had an excuse to buy orange cauliflower. I always notice the interesting varieties of cauliflower at the Berkeley Bowl, and this time I got to buy one!

I also loved the idea of the Dijon flavored croutons that go on top of the soup.

The soup itself came together well with some help from my immersion blender. It doesn’t sound terribly exciting, but it’s definitely the kind of soothing dinner that sounds good on dreary days.

So, after all that I have some recipes that will become staples and some that won’t. I got to try new ingredients: millet, apricots, orange cauliflower. I found a new way to make croutons and a technique for rolling biscuits. And I certainly feel like I have accomplished something!

I think the only thing to do now is buy her other cookbook.

End of the cleanse

So, 28 days of cleansing — complete! It feels great to have the full spectrum of food options again, but it’s also kind of confusing. I don’t want to undo all the good work I just did, after all.

In addition to feeling like I reset my good habits and ate really well all month, I lost 7 pounds. Mike lost at least 10 pounds, maybe closer to 15. It’s definitely good motivation to keep eating well. I’m going to try to get back into my exercise routine, too. We’re having great weather compared to last year, when it seemed to just rain and rain all winter. I want to enjoy it!

One little tip if you’re interested — like the Clean program on Facebook. They post healthy recipes pretty frequently, so they will show up in your feed.

Stuffed turkey tenderloins

I didn’t even know there was such a thing as a turkey tenderloin, but I was looking for a turkey breast in the store and this was all I could find. I didn’t have a plan for cooking the tenderloins, but I wanted something sort of comforting, so I made up this Thanksgiving-ish recipe and it turned out pretty well.

Stuffed turkey tenderloins

2 turkey tenderloins
1 apple, peeled, cored, and diced
1/2 an onion, diced
1/3 cup walnuts, chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil (plus a little more for browning)
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup chicken broth

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. First you want to butterfly your tenderloins so there’s room for the stuffing. I just made a long cut down the middle until I got a piece that would lay out flat. But what I probably should have done was to pound it out a little thinner so it would be easier to roll. Next time. (If you do that you might need to reduce the baking time.)

Next, prepare your stuffing. Heat the 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a pan over medium and saute the onions and apples until the onions are just starting to brown. Add in the walnuts and thyme and season with salt and pepper. Remove from heat.

Let the stuffing cool just a little before you start working with it. You’ll also want to set aside about 1/2 a cup to make a little sauce.

Scoop some stuffing onto one of the tenderloins and spread it out a little. Then just roll it up so that all the stuffing stays inside. Secure with some kitchen string. Repeat with the second tenderloin.

Before you bake them, you want to sear the tenderloins on the outside so they’re nice and brown. Get a pan with a little more olive oil up to high heat and drop in the tenderloins. Sear them on all sides so they get some nice brown color but aren’t cooked all the way through.

Then bake these for about 30 minutes or until the juices run clear.

Meanwhile, heat up the chicken broth until it starts to bubble and add in the 1/2 cup of leftover stuffing. Let it reduce just a little.

When the tenderloins are done, slice them up and pour the sauce over the top.