Beating the Bug

It happens to us all; one day everything is fine, the next you’re tucked up in bed running a temperature of 102 and it feels as though your body has been used as a punching bag the entire night. You’ve got “that bug” that’s been going round. On Day 10 of my whole 30, I got a bug that totally wiped me out for an entire week, food was the furthest thing from my mind and for the first 3 days of was completely bed bound and sick as hell. This was not quite how I was hoping my week would go. No training of any kind to be had, and no eating; food all of a sudden seemed like the last thing on Earth that I would ever want – I may have even questioned if I would ever feel the desire for food again during some fever induced delirium. What was I thinking? Me, not like food? Impossible. Still, when you’re really sick, even the impossible sometimes seems plausible.

All this got me thinking, normally when I’m sick I turn to brown rice or toast to stop the constant waves of nausea, but on a Whole 30 that simply isn’t going to cut it. So after two and a half days of pure starvation, when my stomach was finally feeling almost strong enough to eat again, I did the unthinkable and attempted to consume scrambled eggs with avo, spinach and bacon. It didnt work, I just felt sick again and gave up eating for the rest of the day. Food Test number 1 – FAIL. The next day I decided to try again. So, on day 13 of my Whole 30 I made a Green Smoothie; easy to digest and relatively pain free – SUCCESS, there was no late onset nausea or bad vibes of the stomach. For lunch I attempted a whole meal; coconut baked chicken with veg, and then salmon for dinner. Felt pretty good for a while during the day but it didn’t last long. On Day 14 I limited myself to chicken broth. Day 15 I managed a light breakfast but that was about it. This was starting to get silly.

sickness

Day 16 – by this stage I was beginning to feel better but weak from having so little nutrition and my stomach was bloated and extremely sensitive. Feeling at a complete loss and unable to muster up the courage to eat very much for fear of returning to my previously sick state, the thought of cooking was enough to send me crawling back to bed. Time to seek help, I thought; so I tweeted the team at Whole 9 Life to find out their thoughts and Melissa kindly suggested bone broth, vegetable soup, eggs and banana. The thought of eggs was a bit too much for me at this point but I went along with the rest. FINALLY, On Tuesday the 26th of April (Day 17) I could eat again, like a normal person, one full week after the bug had reared its ugly head. My stomach is still being ridiculously sensitive but the enormous vat of vegetable soup I made seems to have fought through and I have energy again, sort of. Still playing catch up from a week of malnutrition. Baby steps, but steps nonetheless, and definitely in the right direction.

This leaves me thinking that since I am completely averse to medicine of any form and prefer natural alternatives, my new mission is to devise a quick go-to list of easy ‘get-well’ Paleo, Whole 30 approved recipes for a few of the common bugs that go around every year. New mission; easy paleo nutritional medicine. Its going to have to wait until next month though, because it’s EASTER this weekend and I plan on making Easter treats for everyone at home. Paleo Easter Treats, obviously. In the mean time, if you’re at home with the bug, I suggest lots of vegetable broth, bananas and egg, if you can stomach it, and plenty of water. The more hydrated you are the better. Drown the damn bug!

 

Eating Out Dilemmas

Eating out on a Whole 30 can be challenging; what’s made it particularly difficult are some of the restaurant waiting staff I have encountered on my recent culinary journeys. A good restaurant with well trained waiting staff who are helpful and understanding can make a world of difference when trying to enquire about the possible dairy and grains which might be lurking inside an apparently harmless, seemingly whole 30 compliant meal. You can’t be too careful when it comes to these hidden nasties and believe me, there are many more than you might think. This doesn’t just apply to eating out when on a Whole 30, anyone who eats a relatively Paleo diet will find that certain restaurants cater better to our fairly basic food requirements than others. It’s easy enough to leave out all the simple carbs, but sugars and dairy hide in the most unlikely places and can sometimes be tough to spot on a menu description; I mean it’s not like you can simply read an ingredients list from the packaging.

#Whole8

A lot of waiting staff, if they don’t know the exact content of a meal, will be kind enough to ask the kitchen and help you on your way to making the right choice; exceptional waiting staff will know the answers, make alternative suggestions or advise the kitchen to leave out certain parts of the meal to keep within your specifications. These are rare and extremely welcome when on a Whole 30; the issue I have is when I have to fork out a reasonable chunk of change to dine out at a ‘good’ restaurant, only to encounter unhelpful, uninformed and sometimes rude waiting staff who are simply unaware of what goes into each dish and who are unable or unwilling to meet your requirements.

Sunday lunch (day 8 of the Whole30) was a wonderfully simple meal at Dean Street Townhouse where I experienced some of the most attentive and extremely helpful waiting staff I’ve come across during the Whole 30. Monday night’s dinner was quite the opposite; I took my mum out for a quiet dinner at Villandry on Great Portland Street where the waiting staff were not only rude and inattentive, but had absolutely no idea what each dish contained, nor did they make any effort to assist in obtaining any information from the kitchen. Quite besides the food lacking in flavour, the entire experience made it quite difficult to stomach the £60.00 bill for only a few simple starters. Disappointing, to say the very least.

#Whole7

To recap the last few days of my Whole 30:

Day 7: Brunch of Scrambled eggs served with sauteed kale, mushroom and courgette and half an avocado. An early dinner of leftover Tricolore Paleo Pie to finish off the day, and a banana somewhere in the middle to keep me going on a lazy Saturday!

Day 8: Brunch of poached eggs with almond milk poached smoked haddock; simple and satisfying. Having arrived back in London in time for a late lunch I decided to stop by Dean Street Townhouse for an amazing Sunday Lunch which consisted of a smoked salmon and pickled cucumber starter, followed by Sea trout served with fennel, cockles and monks beard (a type of chicory); aside from having to remove the butter from the lemon sauce, the entire meal was Whole 30 friendly and utterly delicious. A big thank you to the fantastic waiting staff for their patience and helpfulness.

Day 9: Monday morning began with a gentle 15km run – long and slow and utterly fabulous in the early dawn watching the sun rise over the Thames. Sunrise is my favourite time of day for running because even on grey and cloudy days, somehow the sunrise still manages to find it’s way through the clouds and it never ceases to amaze me how incredible nature can be at the most unexpected moments. Breakfast was the usual green smoothie, followed by half a grapefruit and then a plate of scrambled egg and avocado. Light and protein packed for post run refuelling. Lunch consisted of very simple steamed broccoli, bean sprouts and spinach topped with a small grilled salmon fillet. Dinner out at Villandry – almost inedible duck breast salad, flavourless salmon tartare and overcooked lemongrass prawns with a side of equally undercooked green beans.

 

Day 6 – the day of the Pie

I basically only ate pie today, but it was goooood pie. I had 2 boiled eggs and half an avocado for brunch; a severe loss of appetite restricted me to protein and healthy fat snacks. I finally got the hunger later in the day; I had taken some left over beef ragu (bolognese) out of the freezer earlier that morning, planning to make a paleo lasagne with it, only to figure out I had less bolognese than I originally thought, and not enough courgette for “lasagne” sheets to be made. Time to improvise.  It took a little thought, and a lot of improvising, but I got there in the end.

Tricolore Paleo Pie

  • Beef Bolognese (250g beef mince, 2 garlic cloves, 1 onion, 1/2 tin chopped tomato, 1 cup home made beef stock)
  • 2 cups of kale
  • one large courgette
  • 1 large cauliflower
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 tin coconut milk
  • olive oil

~Whole6

This is a very simple pie indeed, colourful and super light and tasty. First, heat oven to 180 degrees C. Using a small to medium sized shallow lasagne dish, pour the bolognese into the dish and spread to give an even covering. Next, cut the large stalk off the cauliflower and discard, put the rest in a food processor and blend till extremely finely chopped (think couscous sized). Place all the cauliflower in a pot and fill with just enough water to be level with cauliflower, cover and simmer on low heat for 15 mins.In the mean time, finely chop the kale and courgette and fry gently on a medium heat for 10 minutes in olive oil.

Take both the pan of veg and pot of cauliflower off the heat. Drain cauliflower of water, open the tin of coconut milk and add only the thick white coconut milk from the top of the tin to the cauliflower, place on low to medium heat and gently simmer for 5 minutes. Beat 2 eggs in separate bowl; take the cauliflower off the heat and stir the egg into it until thoroughly mixed.

Spread the green vegetables over the mince evenly. Gently pour the cauliflower mix over the top of this and spread evenly ensuring to get into the corners. Place the dish in the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes. Remove from the oven and leave to stand for 10 minutes. Cut into portions and devour immediately. Careful, it may be hot.

So, that was pretty much all I ate yesterday, except maybe a date and nut ball for dessert. 🙂

Whole 30 – Day 5

Day 5: Breakfast – 1/2 a Grapefruit followed by a pretty mean frittata made with fried onion, artichoke hearts and gammon. Lunch was a bit more creative;

Almond Milk Poached Haddock

  • 2 Smoked Haddock Fillets
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 6 cabbage leaves
  • 1 large courgette
  • 1 pepper
  • 1 lemon
  • cumin
  • olive oil

Finely slice the cabbage into thin strips and finely dice the courgette and pepper – set aside. Gently remove the skins from the Haddock Fillets; add olive oil to a pan and gentle fry the fillets on medium heat for 1 minute each side. Add 1 cup of unsweetened almond milk to the pan and turn the heat down low and cover. In another pan, add 1 tablespoon of olive oil and gentle fry the cabbage for 2 mins, then add the rest of the veg and fry on medium heat for a further 2 minutes.

Take the veg off the heat and cover it to stop it from getting cold. Transfer fish to a warm plate and cover. Place the pan of almond milk back on the stove and turn the heat up high, grate the zest of the lemon in and squeeze the juice into the milk, add a pinch of cumin and reduce to desired thickness before plating the vegetables with the fish on top and then drizzle the sauce over and serve. Simple lunch but very tasty 🙂

Whole5

I made a lunchtime snack of #Whole30 friendly Date and Nut Balls – something similar to these – only without any of the agave or dried fruit, just ground up nuts, dates and hazelnut butter…. NOM! Dinner was a fairly simple salad of Spinach, cucumber, artichoke, eggs and avocado with lemon juice and olive oil.

The Whole 30 is making cooking more and more interesting by the day – it seems like there is actually no limit to what you can have if you simply take the time to find a way of making it fit within the guidelines of the Whole 30. It is a tough challenge but it does get easier every day and I am really starting to enjoy it for the first time. I’m testing my own skills in the kitchen and some of the results are quite wonderful. 🙂 HAPPY Whole 30.

Day 4…The Red Lion and Me

Day 4 was a special sort of day; breakfast was ordinary – scrambled eggs, gammon, avocado and roasted cherry tomato. It wasn’t until lunch where things got really interesting; on our drive down to Devon we decided to stop for lunch, but without much idea where we might be able to find decent food; thank god for google! I googled “restaurants off the A303” and read through a bunch of recommendations on the Pistonheads website – a car enthusiasts website may be a strange place to read restaurant recommendations but it was perhaps the one site with the most suggestions. Having read through and found something not too far off the beaten track, I promptly typed the pub name into google. When one types in ‘Red Lion Freehouse, East Chisenbury,‘ not knowing what to expect, it is always a nice surprise when the second page from the top on google search results is a stellar review of the place from Jay Rayner (he seems to be featuring quite heavily in my posts this week).

The Red Lion Freehouse is a quaint gastropub, certainly; but the couple who own and run it are not what you might expect. Guy and Brittany Manning hail from the old school of fine dining restaurants, having both been through the kitchens of Martin Berasategui in San Sebastian and Per Se in New York; two of the worlds finest eateries and exceptional training grounds for any chef. The pair moved over to the UK to open their country pub quite a few years back, and since then they have been building notoriety in all the right circles, with a legion of locals who have helped them along the way, and support from the guys over at The Good Food Guide who have showed their support from the start, this small country pub has won critical acclaim and even a Michelin Star; a fact I found out only after we had eaten there. Not that it would have made a difference, the fact remains that the food here is impeccable, the service friendly and the place itself genuinely warm and welcoming in the way very few country pubs manage to be.

#whole4

I digress; the food, that’s what this is about. The starter of Fennel cured salmon was served amidst a perfectly laid out garden of baby beetroot, fennel shavings and wafer thin crisps, and along the side of the plate was a single thin slice of creamy horseradish topped with a hazelnut crumb; immaculately presented in every way, perfectly balanced and delicate – quite simply, bloody delicious. As a main we both ate roast Cornish hake served with River Fowey mussels, grapefruit, gem lettuce and a chive beurre blanc. The three new potatoes on the plate were of course not something I was able to eat, nor was the sauce or horseradish,  but aside from my bizarre dietary restriction, the entire meal was Whole 30 friendly and absolutely jaw-dropping. I am a bit of a fish fanatic, and anything that tastes that good should be illegal. I don’t care who you are, this is a dish not to be missed; it’s going on my list of recipes to try and recreate at home, immediately.

As  much as it pained me not to try one of the incredible desserts on the menu, I resisted; I even resisted the warm, freshly baked bread which sat in the middle of the table, although not for long. I was informed by my companion that the bread was fantastic, although I’m not sure this was something I needed to be told having watched him devour all four slices in just as many minutes. It has to be said then, this was no ordinary Wednesday afternoon lunch; it was something incredibly special and one of the nicest surprises I’ve had in a very long time. I recommend it, particularly if you happen to be in the vicinity, or driving down the A303 at any time.

Dinner was not worth much of a mention after that; Salmon, mixed veg – basically more fish, thrown on a plate with some green stuff, incomparable to my lunch to be honest but still nice.

The Red Lion Free House | East Chisenbury, Pewsey, Wiltshire | 01980 671 124 | www.redlionfreehouse.com

Whole 30 Day 3

Forgot, or perhaps decided not to, eat breakfast on Tuesday morning – still managed the green smoothie though, which was better than usual; mostly down to the slushy ice from all the frozen melon I now seem to be loading my smoothies with. Just need to remember to drink the damn thing before it melts and yet still drink slowly enough to avoid the inevitable brain freeze one often experiences when downing iced green drinks. Obviously. I then almost certainly forgot to eat lunch, having been reminded around 3pm by my growling stomach – the noise it was making was something akin to the noise made by young teenage lions when they are hungry, not quiet by any stretch of the imagination. Had I been in public I may have sought the nearest table to hide beneath out of sheer embarrassment. Ok, enough about my stomach… Lunch consisted of a tin of sardines, an avocado and 2 eggs – can someone say PROTEIN.

#Whole3

Dinner was a far better prepared affair; Chicken and stir fried fresh veg with lemon and chilli. The veg in question consisted of broccoli, mushroom, asparagus, beans, spinach and red peppers. Thoroughly enjoyable meal and honestly the best, and certainly the only complete meal of my day. Definitely much needed after the killer Real Ryder spin session at the gym – slowly getting used to these crazy bikes and loving them more and more. I don’t know if it was the morning run or the evening bike ride but I have done some damage to my left foot; very frustrating when one is training for triathlons and half marathons and such nonsense. I’m going to use it as an excuse to buy new running shoes… there is a silver lining to every bad situation.

I’ve realised lately that while I love writing down all that I’m eating, you lot might find this hideously boring – so just so you all know, from now on I’m going tot try and intersperse the Whole 30 blogs with some more relevant and interesting blogs about more relevant and interesting stuff; sounds riveting doesn’t it? This is really just me being overindulgent in my own progress, but it does help me monitor my progress (she says having failed once already). Lets just hope I can stick to it this time.

Whole 30 – Day 1&2 (AGAIN)

Following my failure to comply, or even try; I must now begin anew. Day 10… or as it is now called, day 1 – take 2. I was up at sparrow fart (roughly 3am) writing nonsense, responding to a backlog of emails and feeling rather pleased with myself and all that I had accomplished by sunrise at 6am. I ran a 10.9km run and arrived back feeling hangover free and full of energy; having had only 4 hours sleep, this surprised even me. Nevertheless, Sunday went smoothly. My Sunday brunch of Scrambled Eggs, Bacon, Spinach, Avocado and Tomato was enough to make me realise that I should start appreciating the things I CAN have, and stop worrying about the list of foods I cannot have during the Whole 30. This realisation was compounded by the following meal that day of Roast Chicken accompanied by a Roast Vegetable spread of carrot, sweet potato, parsnip and broccoli. A toast then, to the finer foods in life; particularly that old classic, the simple Sunday roast.

#Whole1

Day 2: I have never been a big fan of Mondays, and I don’t think I’m alone in saying that. Best cure for a Monday morning is a GREEN SMOOTHIE 🙂 and then some healthy eats; Ham, Egg, Mushroom and Avocado which I made very short work of. Lunch was a bit of a random prawn and veg salad, nothing too exciting but enough to lift the spirits and keep me going.

Monday night was pretty spectacular as far as Mondays go, I set off early from work to Kings Cross for a Guardian Masterclass with the one and only Jay Rayner – food critic extraordinaire and sometimes TV personality who ponces about on Masterchef occasionally. Funny guy, but more than that, the man is eloquent and engaging; he has a superior command of the English language which can only come from so many years of writing. His writing, as we know, is brilliant; I just never thought of him as a speaker. I felt the need to share this simply because I was somewhat taken aback by just how wonderful he is to listen to. The man is an excellent teacher and has the ability to make you feel smarter simply by being in the same room; the mark of a truly intelligent person. I will say this; perhaps I am not destined to be a journalist or reporter, but I did learn a lot and for that I am truly grateful. I take heed of the wise words and will be using the lessons learnt to my advantage in future writing endeavours.

I treated myself to braised beef cheeks and roasted root vegetables at Corrigans of Mayfair for dinner and then promptly went home to sleep. No, I didnt take any pictures of my dinner, and no, I’m not going to bore you with the details. It was fabulous, it always is at Corrigans.