A Week of Real Challenges

This week has been a whirlwind.

We’re talking Threat Level: Midnight to peachy keen paradise.

Not to get too much into it, but I realized on Friday that we had FOUR DAYS to pack up and be completely moved out of our current place. And then there was the problem where we still didn’t have a place to move to. We had been looking for two months, and we had four days left, and we still had not found a decent living situation, and I was at work when all of a sudden it hit me and adrenaline was making my limbs feel real weird and I couldn’t think super straight and we really were going to be homeless and what would happen to our perfect kitties and

then I left work an hour early and Billy met up with me and we walked to Grand Central Station and I hated everyone and then we hopped on a train to Upstate New York when we finally received a text saying that the long and convoluted process we’d been working madly at for three days was finally paying off and we had a place to stay come Feb 1.

At least for a month.

And with that we arrived to the most dream-like place I could ever imagine.

Bills has a great-aunt and -uncle that live in White Plains, New York. To set the scene, all the homes are old and colonial houses – straight from the Revolution era. The rolling hills and woods seem to be holding their breath, waiting for Mr. Washington to lead his troop to the next battle. There are long, winding walls built back during the Revolutionary battles, upkept with the beautiful art of stone masonry. The inviting reservoir and horse fields and farms remind you that there is something more than city life and the hustle to get more money.

When we walked into their home I almost died from happiness. Robert and Camilla are two of the nicest people I’ve ever met. Oh man, I could sing their praises all day, but basically I want to be them when I grow up.

After we arrived and were warmly greeted, they took us to this amazing Italian (like, real Italian) restaurant and we all had three course meals. I will say this in full honesty – this was the best food I have ever consumed.

Billy had fried calamari with the best marinara dipping sauce and filet mingon. I had a superb pear salad (seriously the best thought out salad I’ve ever had, with pears sliced as thin as paper), Parmesan chicken, and a chocolate souffle to share.

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We got back to their rejuvenating home and sat around a homey fireplace and looked over books they’d made of their many travels, hearing stories of severed feet, hard situations, and the best of times.

The night was called and we were shown to our bedroom (roughly the size of our apartment) and we climbed into the most comfortable bed I’ve encountered in a long time. I’d be willing to pay $1300 a month for that bed alone!

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We slept like babies until we woke up and snuck downstairs and snacked away on the literal tray of candy dishes, brimming with an assortment of the finest snacks one can consume which Camilla (in all her infinite wisdom of how life is best lived) keeps fully stocked. When they came down, they made a lovely breakfast spread, containing items like chocolate pastries and almond croissants from the delicious bakery down the road, made by a real Frenchman, and jam handmade from just a town or two away by the Amish, and bacon in abundance bought from the ever-lovely Costco, and eggs, and hashbrowns, and the list goes on. After we stuffed our bellies and talked about how much we all love and admire cats (amongst other great conversations), we got a tour or their home. And let me tell you, their house is the coolest museum I’ve ever been to. Almost every item brought in to their home has a story behind it. They have some of the most beautiful things, the coolest pieces of furniture and artwork and pieces from around the world. They have Indian wedding shoes, and African earrings (bought straight from the earlobe of an African priest), and an impressive camelskin bag decorated so beautifully you’d never know it was made to carry coffee beans, and much more.

After a scenic drive around the massive reservoir, Bills and I were filled with history lessons. I couldn’t believe how rich this area is with history! I definitely want to read a history book or two now. Oh, I almost forgot to mention (not that this is important) their neighborhood sports people such as Martha Stewart and David Letterman. I couldn’t believe how perfect this place was!

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Our final act was to eat lunch at this amazing pub on our way out. The best dang chicken strips I’ve ever met. And their fries weren’t too shabby, either. Billy got a mondo burger and somehow ate it all. I was still full from breakfast, but I couldn’t stop myself from eating plenty of the perfectly fried chicken strips (my favorite!).

They drove us to our apartment where we were returned to reality. We thanked them for being so generous with us and said goodbye, with promises to return soon!

And now we’re back in the good ol’ city. Anyway, in case you hadn’t noticed, Billy and I have some exciting news! We finished the Whole 30.

And here’s where I go into what I hated didn’t like and what I loved about this food challenge.

I loved that:

  • It made us explore foods that were out of our comfort range before. Every grocery trip I picked out a vegetable that neither of us had ever tried before. And sometimes I picked foods that I knew neither of us loved yet. I made eggplant twice this month. I have now tried eggplants two times (and guess what – they’re pretty yummy). This is something that I know I’ll keep doing even after the thirty days.
  • Limitation sparks creativity. I had so much fun playing around in the kitchen, figuring out the best meals I could with a limited amount of ingredients. Some meals were amazing, and some are not worth mentioning ever again.
  • We ended up liking foods that both of us determined a while back that we didn’t. Example – both of us grew up not liking eggs very much. When we got married I was glad that neither of us cared for them so I wouldn’t ever have to think of them. After a month of eating eggs in so many different ways, we now both love eggs. Even though we’re finished, we’re both still wanting to eat them.

These are some of our favorite meals:

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These mashed potatoes are yummier than they look. Instead of dairy milk, I used coconut milk. And I used some left over pork drippings as a kind of gravy to make them delicious.

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These bad boys are zoodles. I’ve had a zoodler for a while now, but I’d never gotten around to using it. Until now! I seasoned up the chicken real well, and used tomato juice with chunks to give everything a nice flavor. It turned out better than expected.

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This is a pretty standard meal. Meat of some kind (we would by meat in bulk, cook it up, and eat it over time), veggies, and potatoes so we wouldn’t be starving.

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We discovered tacos at the last week. Shredded pork, salsa, heavenly guacamole, plantain chips for that perfect crunch, all wrapped in a refreshing lettuce shell. Best idea ever.

And that’s pretty much all I liked about the challenge. Now to what I didn’t like.

I didn’t like:

  • How restrictive it was. At first I thought it was a good thing. Isn’t it kind of the whole point to do the whole 30 in the first place? But as time went along I started noticing that I was growing unhealthy relationships with certain foods. I hated that I wasn’t enjoying eating. Food to me should always be enjoyed. I firmly believe that you can eat healthy most of the time and occasionally eat whatever you want. Now that I’m done with it, I’ve been eating everything I’ve been restricting like crazy. (Don’t worry, I’m starting to slow down.)
  • I disagreed with certain foods that weren’t allowed. I don’t think that eating beans is unhealthy. I don’t think eating a slice of our homemade whole wheat bread we make from scratch from real, whole kernels of whole wheat that was grown from the ground is unhealthy for you. Or a bed of brown rice, covered with delicious veggies. Or a glass of milk.
  • I felt hungry a lot. And trust me, I tried my best to make sure we stayed well fed. But vegetables only stay with you for so long. I don’t think carbs are evil. In fact, I think complex carbs in the proper amount are the best way to fuel your body.
  • I felt I had overall less energy. I’ll be the first to tell you that I think sugar makes my mind feel more sluggish, and my body more tired. But on the Whole 30, I really had trouble going up flights of stairs that I normally take every day. It was honestly a mind game I had to play to convince myself that I could make it to the top.
  • And lastly, it’s more expensive. In December we paid $107.24 for our total groceries. In January (on the Whole 30), we paid $208.05. Yuck. We normally go to the store every other week and spend between $40-$60. On Whole 30 I found we were going to the store every week, easily spending the same. It was making me sick how much we were paying for food.
  • Well, one more lastly. I hated how anti-social it was. How many times did we duck out of a party early because everyone was chowing down on pizza, feeling weird because they could see the longing in our eyes? How many times did we take a rain check on going to a new place with friends because we knew nothing on the menu would be Whole 30 approved? How many times did we have to decline a kind gesture of a cupcake or cookie from acquaintances or peers because of our weird diet? We’re in New York City. There should never be a time that you’re in New York City and you turn down free pizza.qlokk` <–my cat wrote that last bit, but I agree.

And here are some of our favorite meals now:

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I was about to say it was fun and I’m glad we did it, but I don’t think I can truthfully type those words.

I will try to keep the good points I learned in mind as I enjoy some of the best foods New York has to offer.

Because seriously, the food here is amazing.

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