Azalea Fest

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Every year in April, Wilmington welcomes Spring when the native azalea bushes bloom. You can drive downtown for miles passing these beautiful red, pink, and white flowers. The city goes all out for Azalea Fest and Hubs and I make it a tradition to stroll the Riverwalk every year. I have to always make sure I pass every street vendor to check that I am not missing anything I cannot live without, while Hubs has to make sure he quenches his thirst at the Brewery.

This year was going to be a little tricky because we both had to work Saturday. Hubs was already going to be downtown when I got off work, so I had planned to meet him down there. Once I left work to go home though, traffic was congested and I was pooped. Hubs was already at the brewery, so I told him to have fun while I stayed in to treat myself to some Netflix.

Sunday would make a better day for street-strolling anyway, as it is always the lesser crowded day of the weekend festival. My day started with some delicious bulletproof coffee (recipe coming soon!).

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I then went outside and was welcomed by our very own baby azalea that was planted last Spring. It was very eager to celebrate this year!

azaleababeAfter making a breakfast bowl of sweet potato, onion, beef and fried eggs, I showered, got dressed, and headed downtown with Hubs. The weather was perfect. Sunny, but not too hot and there was a nice river breeze. I was curious to see how far we would be walking, so I calculated the distance with an exercise app on my phone called Nexercise.

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The weather was a perfect opportunity for my left arm to catch up on its Vitamin D. We also visited some of the fun boutique stores that I never go into because I am usually never downtown to shop. I found the most adorable dachshund button earrings.

doxieearringsAfter getting close to finishing up our route of street vendors, my stomach was churning. I had made sure to eat a big breakfast this morning to hold me over, but the smells of deep-fried sweets and kettle corn had my mouth watering. I told Hubs to keep a lookout for a produce stand inside one of the markets. Right after I told him that, I found a new hole-in-the-wall called Happy Bowls. They had mostly smoothies and granola concoctions, but they also had juice options with fruits like apples, watermelon, and pineapple. The Whole30 does not recommend juicing nor does it recommend drinking your meal; however, this was an emergency! I had to get some type of food in me pronto!

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I opted for a carrot and apple juice. I felt better about the fact that it had carrots in it and wasn’t all fruit. I expected it to be a thicker consistency, but it wasn’t. It did the trick just fine, but I was happy to get home and make myself something to actually eat.

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I was hungry and did not want to spend a lot of time making my meal right when I got home….obviously. I use the Applegate’s Grass Fed Beef Hot Dogs.

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I had dachshund kisses for dessert!

Hubs and I had a wonderful Sunday. Once we got home, we did a bit of yard work and watched our weekend dose of whatever Dateline Mystery episode was on Demand. We also started Turn on AMC, which is so good! Speaking of AMC, Mad Men’s final season premiers tonight. I don’t know if I am going to be able to stay up for it. It comes on at 10 and I was in bed by 9 last night. Maybe I can set an alarm to wake me up? Then again, according to my phone app, we ended up walking 4.3 miles today just while promenading along the river followed by some yard work. I may be done for the day.

Good night!

 

 

Salt & Vinegar

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So, my husband conveniently had the day off from work on Opening Day and went to watch the Red Sox play at our local Buffalo Wild Wings joint. He has been planning this for weeks. He is from Boston and loves all New England sports teams but nothing holds a candle to Red Sox baseball. I worked today and went to the gym afterwards so we both ended up getting home around the same time. He asked if I wanted anything from Buffalo Wild Wings. He is so cute; he even thought if he ordered some chicken wings to come “naked” they’d be compliant. I had to break the news to him that he also had to make sure the cooking oil that the wings are cooked in isn’t processed or refined. He then reluctantly gave up…but it is the thought that counts!

I do remember the Salt & Vinegar chicken wings I had ages ago the last time I ate at Buffalo Wild Wings. I really liked them. Of course I did….I love vinegar! Remember that one time I posted a picture of my empty unfiltered apple cider vinegar bottle? I go through them so fast!

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Anyway, I got to thinking of recreating my own Salt & Vinegar chicken wings at home. Except, I didn’t have any chicken wings at home. But I did have drumsticks….frozen drumsticks! I didn’t think about defrosting them earlier today so I decided to boil a pot of water. I threw the drumsticks in once the water was boiling and let them defrost and simmer for a good 10 minutes. I then let the drumsticks dry and lined a pan with parchment paper. I also melted some ghee and mixed it with a good amount of apple cider vinegar and a bit of poultry seasoning. I then patted down the drumsticks to make sure they were dry and lined them on the pan making sure they didn’t touch one another. I brushed the vinegar mixture onto the chicken and gave a few good churns of salt before baking them in the oven. After 30 minutes I flipped them over and cooked for 10 extra minutes.

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They came out quite nicely! I wished for a stronger vinegar taste, but Hubs said it was very flavorful (granted he is a vinegar wussy and has the palate of a 5 year old). The texture was perfectly crispy though which was great! Not a bad alternative compared to the list of added ingredients that go into the BWW Salt & Vinegar wings: “SALT,SOYBEAN OIL, SODIUM DIACETATE, SUGAR, MALTODEXTRIN, SPICES, CITRIC ACID, MALIC ACID, DISODIUM INOSINATE AND DISODIUM GUANYLATE, AND SODIUM ACETATE and Less than 2% Silicon Dioxide to prevent caking.” 

What’s crazy is that this list of ingredients was probably one of the most minimal compared to the other flavors.

The Red Sox lost today; but luckily I am winning. 🙂

Date Night

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I’d be happier it was Friday if I knew I got to relax this weekend. After such a crazy week, I am happy it ended well but this weekend is going to be a whirlwind as well! Tomorrow morning I am waking up early to drive to the Piedmont for a UNC reunion with some of my very best friends from college. We usually do this every other month or so, but we haven’t met up since my wedding back in September, and I really wasn’t able to hang out with everyone then because I was doing other things (like getting married)! It will be so awesome to see everyone.

After Saturday’s festivities which will include a brewery tour and paintball (hopefully in that order too!), I’m going to drive back down to the coast (but about an hour north of home) to visit my parents. It is my mom’s birthday on Monday so I will spend Sunday with her. I’m hoping we can go to a yoga class early in the morning since she is on a yoga kick right now and then I can finally watch the season finale of Downton Abbey. She has it recorded and I have had absolutely no time this week to watch it. It will be better watching it with her anyway since she is the one who got me into it! Maybe we can even fit in a pedicure or a chic flick that day too. But I want to make sure I give myself plenty of time to get home Sunday and start prepping for the week ahead.

I’m a little nervous about how traveling will go without being as prepared as I was during Whole30. I thought about cooking some chicken salad or burger patties to take with me on the ride, but 1) I don’t feel like adding it on to what I’ve already got on the to-do list tonight: laundry, dishwasher, dinner, pack, blog! and 2) I want to start letting myself become more intuitive with balancing how to eat the way I want off plan. Besides, I will have some handy dandy on-the-go Paleo-approved goodies with me just in case. And once I make it to my parents house, I should be able to keep on course.

In spite of all the busyness this week has brought, it has been a great one! And honestly, I’d rather be busy than not. I finished my last day of Whole30 on Monday. Tuesday was business as usual, so I guess that means I completed a Whole31….actually, a Whole31.5 since I didn’t actually off-road until Wednesday night, right? 😉

Before we went out for dinner, Hubs and I split a beer from one of our favorite breweries, Rogue. Rogue actually inspired our Honeymoon plans to do brewery tours around the Pacific Northwest. We flew into Seattle, rented a car, drove across the Columbia River and spent the night in Astoria and then finished the drive to Portland where we flew home out of. It was perfect!

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Oh my god. It was so, so, so, so good! It was the most I’ve ever enjoyed drinking a beer….it was an experience! Thank you Whole30, for giving me the renewed sense of taste and the in depth appreciation of everything I now consume. Besides, look at that beautiful frothy head in that glass!

After we sampled our beer, we went out to dinner at a tapas bar. I thought it would be super easy to stay on track there, but the only thing that was kind of friendly was the $25 steak dinner with green beans and whipped potatoes. Plus, you could tell our waitress was new so she didn’t know the answers to any questions about the food and when I asked her if she could bring out the smoked salmon without the cream sauce cooked with it she looked like I pointed a gun to her head and said “Um, I don’t know-I’ll have to ask.” Never mind, I’ll get the steak. It was so delicious. I went ahead and ate the white potatoes too. I didn’t have any of Hubby’s pizza bites or crab dip because I honestly didn’t want any. This balancing thing may just work itself out!

After dinner, we headed downtown to the concert venue. It was such a great night! The Carolina Chocolate Drops played such an amazing live show. After we got home, I went straight to bed. Before I fell asleep, I wondered how I would feel the next morning after waking up. Would the dark ale I drank give me headaches from Hell? Would the whipped potatoes whip my stomach with knots and churns? Would my face break out into red patches that I’ve never experienced? No, no, and no. And better yet, I woke up feeling pretty damn great. I brewed my coffee and made myself one of my favorite breakfast meals  from the past 30 days: ground turkey, butternut squash, and onions sauteed in coconut oil with two fried eggs!

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It was a perfectly balanced post-Whole30 date night. And hopefully this upcoming girl/birthday weekend will be too!

Day 30!

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I can’t believe today is Day 30! I seriously feel like I’m just beginning; yet I also kind of feel like a bad ass pro at the same time. I woke up super excited that today was my 30th day. Maybe even a bit too excited?

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I especially feel like a bad ass pro after the surprisingly challenging day I had….Ironically enough, my last day of the Whole30 started off its morning with a staff retreat to a cooking class! We knew we were going somewhere, but no one had any idea what we were doing until we pulled up to the location. Ha! The menu items were a crusted quiche, cornmeal fritters with bacon and corn, followed by the ooziest-gooiest cinnamon rolls. Half the time was spent cooking and the other half of the morning was eating at a family style table. Ha! I couldn’t believe the irony. I got my hands dirty and helped roll and slice the cinnamon rolls. After all, I am still a kitchen queen and I do not diet discriminate.

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The other half was a little uncomfortable. I waited for everyone to ask why I wasn’t partaking in the fruits of our labor. It was awkward being the only one not eating but it wasn’t hard at all. In fact, I didn’t once give into thinking of off-roading. I could have easily talked myself into eating with everyone else by ending my Whole30 a few measly hours early, but the thought of how I would feel afterwards trumped any mouth-watering that my have occurred. I knew how sluggish and gross I would feel afterwards. I wouldn’t want to be productive once we returned to work. I wouldn’t have any motivation to exercise because I would be too full. I was having none of that! So, it really wasn’t hard. The experience actually has given me a lot more confidence in officially finishing my 30 days and starting to transition into a more balanced day-to-day life. Perhaps, there will be a moment that arises and it will most definitely be worth it to off-road. But today was not that day. And tomorrow doesn’t have any prospects of looking that way either (unless there may be another work surprise I don’t know about).

I couldn’t even eat their fruit salad because it was glazed with honey! There were a few grapefruit and orange wedges I was able to at least nibble on. I honestly wasn’t even hungry, but I felt like I should be chewing on something along with everyone else.

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So, after I dodged my Day 30 Bomb, the rest of the day fell right into place. Once we returned to work, my co-worker and I worked out right away before I locked myself into to my office to play catch up for the rest of the day. I made a delicious salad for lunch with my own dressing.

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I took the leftover Chile and Lime Chicken I grilled the other night and sliced it with some Bibb lettuce and cherry tomatoes. I used a magic bullet to make the dressing: cilantro, olive oil, apple cider vinegar, a dash of jalapeno pepper, garlic clove, lemon juice, and avocado. It was super easy! While eating my lunch, I was so grateful I pushed throughout the morning. I enjoy the food I eat now so much and am so happy I didn’t settle for the lack of quality in nutrients I put into my body. By the way, how pretty is Bibb lettuce?! It’s so wavy!

The rest of the day flew by while playing catch up. I made myself eat a serving of mixed nuts before I left work to go to my 5:30 gym class. I blew off some steam and lifted some weights and then finally came home. I didn’t feel as good as I thought I would coming home though. I feel a little bit anxious and sad. I have no idea why. Because my Whole30 is over? Because I am scared about what will happen next? Because I felt strong this morning when I thought I wouldn’t? Not to get too deep and philosophical here, but I kind of feel like this morning was a huge stepping stone for me. I have not been able to trust myself in so long. Self-sabotage was weekly, if not daily. Even though today was a success (Hell, these past 30 days were a success),  it has been a long journey to get to where I am now, mentally. I am scared about what will happen next, but today has also made me really realize how strong I am going forward.

Speaking of going forward, I had the best dinner to top off my 30th day. This past weekend I bought some Sunflower Seed Butter on sale at my local coop. I’ve never tried it and have always wanted to. Trader Joe’s sells a product, but it has cane syrup in it. This type just had one ingredient: raw, organic sunflower seeds.

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Hubs put some beef tips in the fridge to defrost this morning. We also had a bag of frozen veggies: carrots, sugar snap peas and water chestnuts. I tossed everything into the cast iron with some diced onion. After my medley cooked a bit, I mixed the sunflower seed butter with coconut aminos, lemon juice, coconut oil, and garlic clove. I dolloped my sunflower sauce on the stir fry and let it all simmer.

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Then I added salt and pepper and topped my bowl with some raw cashews.

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This was probably one of my favorite meals. I am kind of mad it took me so long to make this. Oh, I just remembered that I did just find the sunflower seed butter the other day. Good thing I have a whole jar to keep playing with!

I will post my results sometime this week. Tomorrow is my crazy busy day. Wednesday night is our concert date night. We will also be going out to eat Wednesday night for dinner. I plan on drinking a beer Wednesday night, but that is it. Hopefully I will have successful follow ups to report later this week! Happy Day, Whole30ers.

Eating Out

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Today marks the end of week 3. I can’t wait to recap on all of the amazing changes that I’ve felt this past week, but I will save that for tomorrow. My mom came down to spend time with me today. We had initially planned to do this 3 weeks ago, but first there was the snow episode (from two weeks ago) and then she had to be out of town last weekend. I am really glad she came down today. I love spending time with her and she is seriously my best friend. She brought me a Valentines Day present which was a bottle of red wine. I love red wine. I will hold onto it until I can have a glass! Luckily my husband is a beer connoisseur instead of a wino.

We made plans for her to get here at 10 AM. That gave me enough time to attend an 8:30 morning spin class, get home, hop in the shower, get dressed, and eat a post workout meal. She got in right when I started eating; I even had time to make the bed once Hubs got up to take Lady on a walk. Back to spin class for a second….I had such an awesome workout! More to comment on that though for tomorrow’s recap post.

We went to several consignment shops. I splurged on two pairs of shoes that were pretty pricey, but they were 60% off! One pair were leather ankle boots, originally 80 bucks. I have been itching to buy myself a pair of ankle boots that I can actually walk in. The heel needs to be thick and short to help support my right ankle. These were perfect! The other pair were some loafers that had a wedge on them and were too comfortable not to walk around in all day. They were originally $70. With the sale, I got both pairs for $64. I cringed when she rung up the price, but then I reminded myself that I hadn’t bought myself shoes in years and that the sneakers I still wear to the gym everyday have holes in them that display the socks on my feet to the world.

After some shopping it was lunch time. I had not done any research beforehand on scoping out the most Paleo-friendly restaurant in town. I just figured that wherever we go would be a challenge and that I’d make it work the best that I could. I honestly figured I’d just be ordering a bare minimum salad with the saddest looking naked chicken breast on it with oil and vinegar on the side. Fortunately though, we ate Thai. Thai! I haven’t had Thai food in so long. I’ve mentioned before that my husband has a very “sensitive” palette. Lets just say he drinks Diet Dr. Pepper, because the regular Dr. Pepper is too spicy. Now, I must give him props because he has really come a long way since I have been cooking. Plus, my family and I love spicy food, so he oftentimes will try new things just from the peer pressure that comes with family meals. However, we never go out to eat for Thai, Vietnamese, Indian, or Mexican. We really hardly ever go out to eat at all unless it is to a brewery.

The restaurant was packed. I forgot that the town has been confined to their houses most of the week without power. My mom and I got seated pretty quickly, but I instantly took the menu and looked it over before we were called. The Panang Curry was instantly calling my name. It had your choice of beef, pork or chicken with green beans, onions, sweet potato and coconut milk. I asked our waiter if the menu item had any added sugars or soy cooked with it and he said that none of the curry menu items did. I felt pretty confident with my lunch choice and with the information he gave me (even though it was barely any). I have also read that Thai food is pretty Paleo-friendly considering that coconut is a staple ingredient. Besides, I was staying very clearly away from any peanuts or rice. I started considering in my head the possibility of added ingredients and preservatives to the coconut milk or the refined cooking oil they may use, but then I told myself that I did the best I could. In the end, I am so glad I let myself enjoy the meal with my mom. It was a perfect girls out lunch. I forgot how much I love Thai food!

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I ordered the pork for my Panang. My mom ordered the Yellow Panang that had beef, avocado, cauliflower, basil, onion and coconut milk. You bet I had some of hers too.

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I took the rice and the fancy mints that came with the receipt home for Hubs. I finished about half of the lunch and am going to finish the rest as soon as I finish this post. I may or may not have kept compliant today, but I know that I tried my best to be. I also think that no matter what, I have been successful with the Whole30 today because I thought about what was in my food and I actively enjoyed my meal (if that makes sense). Before the Whole30, I used to stress over eating out. I would experience awful anxiety about where to go out and what to eat there. I have a history with disordered eating patterns (to say it lightly), specifically with this past year. The added stress of wedding planning had taken a huge toll on me most of last year. So, when I say that I really enjoyed this meal out with my mom….I really did. So, whether I was compliant or not–it doesn’t matter. The Whole30 has given me the experience to enjoy my lunch out today with my mom. And I will enjoy the leftovers for dinner!