Meat Month: Days 26-28

You know what's a nice word? Penultimate. I think it means more than ultimate. You know, like infamous means more than famous. PENunltimate. As in, this is the pen! ultimate! day of my extended tour of Meatsylvania.

Anyway, you may notice that the pictures in this entry are extra dark and sad-looking, but ask yourself: is it due to Erica's recent apathy regarding decent lighting as well as almost everything else? Or is it just that a gloomy meat-cloud has descended upon the entire house, impenetrable to anything but refined flour and sugar?

(Trick question, it's both.)

That up above is some chicken apple breakfast sausage, which tasted good but had a weird texture so I crumbled it up with some other stuff and put an egg on it and uuuuugh that was even more boring to write about than it was to do in the first place.

This is butternut squash. It was actually my favorite thing this week, probably because nuts are on the "LIMIT CONSUMPTION" list and I felt like I was being naughty. I served it with tilapia, which has rarely if ever been worth photographing.

I also used nutritional yeast without checking the source of it I am OUT OF CONTROL.

I made some blackened catfish fajitas but left out the sugar, butter, tortillas, sour cream, and cheese. To make up for it, I added mashed cauliflower.

This grim and grainy staging is starting to make sense now, right?

And finally, cabbage. With, I don't know, pork...strips. This was in place of going to Black Star's Oktoberfest this week. Who even wants a lineup of local and international Oktoberfest beers? I have water! So much water. Some of it sparkles. Good for washing down pork strips.

It's almost over it's almost over it's almost over
I know it seems like I would have started keeping Anna's food out of Ivy's reach by now, but I kind of like having an 11-month-old who feeds herself, sue me.

Good job, second baby. Keep it up.
I do get the feeling that everyone is ready for some delicious carbs to start emerging from the oven.


Meat Month: Days 22-25

It is Day 26, my friends. So close. So very, very close. I can see you from here, October, and you look like a shimmering stein of German beer. Perched atop a hill of soft pretzels. Covered in a gentle dusting of powdered sugar. If you follow me on Pinterest you may have concluded, based on my 24-hour dessert-pinning rampage, that my head is not exactly in the game anymore. And you would be right! Why, today at Central Market I committed my very first intentional cheat: a sample-sized cup of coffee even though it was after 12 pm. SHUT IT DOWN, THE EXPERIMENT HAS FAILED.

No, it's fine, I will push through this shocking transgression and finish out the week. I recently came to the conclusion that maybe I don't actually need to come up with new and unique meals three times a day. And that maaaaybe my mood would improve with a little bit less work. So I threw in a couple of repeats--chocolate chili and meatza (Yes! A meatza repeat! Za!) and looked for a simple way to generate several servings of food. Where to turn for inspiration? Holly seems much, much, better at this than I am, I thought. Probably because of all the taco salad.

And with that, I figured out Paleo.
Incidentally, if you're interested in reading some Whole 30 reporting that is different than mine in every way imaginable (which is to say, thoughtful and interesting and grown up), Holly's got you covered. She even has a post with Whole 30 tips where I have a small but pivotal role as "Whiny Commenter."

Or, you know, you can just stick around here for four more days of complaining. Four! More! Days! Four! More! Days!

Since today's entry is a little light on food, how about some Food Lush posts that I keep forgetting to link to? Okra, port, roasted nuts, and ratatouille. What more could you need?

The girls spent some quality time with their grandparents this weekend, mostly being mesmerized by their respective toys. And when I say Ivy was "mesmerized" by this crab, I do not mean that she was very interested in it. I mean she attained some different level of consciousness every time it made its little crabby noise. Keep in mind that there is absolutely nothing in front of her throughout this entire series of pictures.

Kinda takes a turn at the end.

Anyhow, Anna really enjoyed her activity too.


Meat Month: Days 19-21

Good morning! Who's ready for fish and kale? Always a delight.

Actually, this only took about ten minutes, so I loved it very, very much.
I also busted out the crockpot and made some chicken tikka masala. For several years now I have been professing to love curry and it has recently come to my attention that I might actually just love naan.

I could take or leave everything nann-adjacent.
No idea what inspired me to make ratatouille this week oh wait yes it must have been the 438th viewing of that film. The first 437 viewings only inspired me to pine after red wine and cheese. And wonder if I could train rodents to help me in the kitchen.

Also, I've been eating it for breakfast with scrambled eggs. You know. The traditional way.
It might seem like I took the easy way out on this one, using packaged sausage and sauerkraut, but you are severely underestimating the amount of time I spent reading and re-reading the labels in search of hidden badness. I think the 8-hour crockpot chicken was faster.

I know it seems fine, but I had to go over it with a black light in search of "CONTAINS SOY."

What if the traditional method of making sauerkraut somehow involves peanuts?? These things take time to research.
I'm withholding final judgment until next week, but as of right now I feel good. I do not feel amazing. I feel the same amount of good I always do when I work out and cut out junk food and alcohol. My runs are back to normal, but not really any better than normal. I. Am. Tired. Of. Cooking. So things will have to take a pretty phenomenal upswing in the next week (still possible!) to prevent a big ol' pile of pancakes from landing in my mouth on Day 31.

Remember when I had to trick 11-month-old Anna into eating strawberries and was very proud of myself? This has not been an issue with Ivy, who happily scavenged them off of her sister's snack plate.

I guess it beats her normal television snack.

It's often hard for me to pour Anna's morning cereal without just sticking my face right down in it and going to town. But it helps that she's not taking all those delicious dairy-carbs for granted.


Meat Month: Days 15-18

When last we spoke I was a bit low. A bit tired, a bit meat-laden, a bit so sick of cooking you wouldn't believe it. I decided a mid-point break was in order, so we set our sights for Elevation Burger, where I was so happy to not be creating more dirty dishes that I didn't even mind having to order a head of lettuce to stay on-plan.

Lettuce that someone else rinsed off! I hope!
Okay, there was a burger somewhere in there. A burger that I did not enjoy one bite of due to my obsessive concern that they were sneaking sugar into the pickles or soy into the tomatoes or beans into the mustard or WHO even knows WHAT because I am a legitimate crazy person now. So this eating plan designed to make me stop worrying about my food is doing a bang-up job.

At any rate, it was enough to get me back up on that dirty-dish-making-horse. Saturday morning I hit the ground running (literally, I had running class) and also made some Brussels sprouts hash. I used coconut oil instead of butter and prosciutto instead of bacon because everything on earth has sugar in it and is terrible. I've had kale and asparagus for breakfast in the past, but somehow Brussels sprouts first thing in the morning seems like a new low high point in self-betterment.

Passion for eggs: rekindled. Whew, that was a rough couple of days.
I'm afraid that between these Moroccan meatballs and last week's Rogan Josh I am forced to concede defeat in my quest to like the taste of lamb.

Good news, sheep! I do not like eating you.
I changed so many ingredients that it's tough to call this Coronation chicken, but I'm giving it a "loosely based on" credit. It follows the same general curried chicken salad idea.

Plus many carrots because I need caaaaaarbs to ruuuuuuun.
This onion and pepper smothered round steak from Emeril was really good even leaving out the flour (which meant there wasn't really gravy per se, just juice) and throwing it on top of mashed beets and sweet potatoes (instead of white rice).

So now you know how desperate I am for carbs. I will take them from beets.
Now let's take a gander at some of the things I did not eat this weekend.

Why yes, there WERE two different sets of chocolate cupcakes in there! Good eye. It's fine though, I was distracted by how much fun Anna was having, between multiple birthday parties:

And working on her indoors-art:

Who needs chocolate cupcakes when you have all this youthful exuberance filling you up?


Meat Month: Days 12-14

Here we go, Day 15, halfway there! I think! My math skills are fueled by bread, so it's hard to say with any confidence! Let's check the timeline and see how we're doing. Oooooh, tomorrow I get to the "Tiger Blood" phase. That sounds pretty fun! Who doesn't want to feel like Charlie Sheen? Oh, everyone? Everyone doesn't want that? That's okay. A mental-illness induced manic spell is probably an improvement over my current mood, which is ranking pretty, pretty high on the NOT GOOD scale, though I'm certain you hadn't noticed due to my very sunny demeanor.

It probably just boils down to the fact that I am tired of loading and unloading the dishwasher constantly. That is generally enough to ruin my day. This diet is lucky it's not also generating extra laundry, or I'd be out the door. That's right, I would abandon my own home in order to escape all the meat inside of it.

I am also so extraordinarily tired of cooking, as impossible as that sounds, that I would probably eat absolutely anything prepared by another human being, even if that human being were Scandinavian.

Anyway, let's eat, I guess, because what else is there to do, really? Nothing good. Nothing good. So here's some Rogan Josh over roasted spaghetti squash.

Spaghetti squash: significantly less magical the second time around.
And here's some baked eggs. With stuff. Specifically, no cheese and five times the spinach.

Here we are. Indifference toward eggs. Oh, cruel fate.
"Chinese" "Pork" "Fried" "Rice." Okay, the "pork" and "fried" are accurate.

Cauliflower "rice": not very magical in the first place.
I also need the daily newsletter to stop suggesting that I "treat myself" by engaging in one of the rather expensive activities they list, due to the fact that I have spent all of my money on meat.

At least it's raining! That's not sarcasm. Rain is goooooooood. It's good for our very brown yard and good for the temperature and good for Anna's street art, which flourishes under adverse conditions.

I noticed Ivy plotting her escape into the wet wilderness pretty hard.

So I turned her loose in the garden bed and let her chow down on some mud.

Someone in this house should be happy about what they're eating.


Meat Month: Days 8-11

Here's something you might not know about me: the pervasive aura of laziness that surrounds me much of the time in terms of cleaning the house, reading things that aren't online, showering, moving around, etc., is really just my way of carefully storing any stray bits of motivation for when I need them. I'm like a camel. An ambition camel. This allows me to be very disciplined in one arena for a short burst of time when needed.

I say this to dispel any doubts that I am approaching this WHOLEFREAKIN30 with anything less than obsessive, rule-following dedication. My internet search history includes a sad list of queries such as whether bean sprouts are okay because beans aren't (typed, I swear to you, in a panic), and what is one serving size of banana (one...banana). I have not snacked. I have surrounded my protein with veggies. I have not had more than two servings of fruit in one day. And, most tellingly, when I finally had my "Oh no I cheated and have to start over" dream, which is apparently very common, I was not just eating donuts. I was making them. I was making donuts and desperately trying to keep the sugar from jumping into my mouth. Nothing half-assed here!

Anyway, I feel better now than I did. Running is still terrible. I mean, running has always been kind of terrible, but it is significantly more terrible than normal. But I am no longer fantasizing about being hit by a bus, so things are definitely improving. (Not FATALLY, you guys! Just...enough to score some sugar water in an IV.)

So, breakfast. Breakfast has been good around here! These zucchini fritters (four shredded zucchini mixed with six eggs, cooked in coconut oil) don't look like much, but they're good and very convenient. I especially recommend them alongside some turkey breakfast sausage.

Also, if it's going to keep being summer, I'm going to keep eating heirloom tomatoes.

The first time I saw this Cowboy Breakfast Skillet (six months ago), I knew that I must make it. And I did. And I'm glad.

And I added spinach to it like an overachiever.
Dinners have been a little more hit and miss this week. Somehow my blackened pork chops didn't turn out right. Not as much flavor as I expected, and I think I overcooked them. The mashed sweet potato and Swiss chard with tomatoes and onions were all good, though.

The fact that I had a LOT of trouble with both the Damn Fine Chicken and the rutabaga fries leads me to believe it was my wonky oven's fault. (Although, attempting to make rutabaga fries in the first place falls squarely on my shoulders.) I realize I could just buy an inexpensive oven thermometer and take away the guesswork, but that would 1) be less exciting and 2) rob me of my valuable "my oven is wonky" excuse.

Maybe it's best just to go back to the cookbook, yes? Ah, slow-simmered Cinnamon Beef Stew over mashed cauliflower, much better. (That recipe is slightly different than the version in the book, and obviously I used beef broth, but it's close.) Also, this makes the house smell like cinnamon all afternoon and that means it's FALL. It's fall.

The oven is whack, but the stovetop is legit.
I'm starting to feel like my children do not want their pictures taken during bath time anymore.

That's okay. I'll focus on their favorite activities instead. Hanging off of the couch:

And kickin' it old school.