Whole30 - the food experiment: THE WRAP UP

How do I feel: RELIEVED! I made it to the end and didn't panic, freak out (at least not in public) and was able to eat (almost) enough food (almost) all of the time. Doing things and keeping commitments is HARD WORK, people! Not because it's actually difficult to not eat certain things, or cook specific ingredients or meals. It's hard because when you change something as elemental in your life as food, guess what? Everything and everyone around you continue to move about daily life as if nothing has changed at all. After all, for them, it hasn't! It's just business as usual. Maintaining your "new" way of operating can be difficult because you're used to using XYZ foods every day, you miss having said foods, or you don't have the time to figure out how to do a dish differently. Also, you might realize things taste different/bad/not satisfying, things you're not supposed to eat are in front of your face all the time and damn, they smell good too, and also because lazy (just being honest).

I am relieved that I was able to commit to a project and execute on it every day. I am relieved that I don't have to blog every single day anymore (no offense, but aren't you sick of me yet?! Lord knows I am!) or worry about letting a reader or two down, or more importantly letting myself down if I weren't able to complete the challenge.

Before we get into answering some much anticipated questions and sharing details with you, please take a second to read this part (seriously, you guys, don't skip forward, this part's important to me):

I want to reiterate my purpose of this experiment: [here's what I wrote on Day 1]

This experiment, while only 30 days, will teach me more about what I’m capable of cooking within ingredient constraints, time constraints and also give me a true idea of my own food preferences, minus all the junk that gets added to everyday ingredients I’m used to using on the fly.

If you know me IRL (In Real Life), you know the following:

  1. I love a good challenge
  2. I am INSANELY competitive (but now mostly in a good way, and primarily just with myself)
  3. I love projects that have a beginning, middle and end
  4. I love seeing results, being able to measure empirical data, and analyzing how to move forward based on concrete evidence
  5. I am hyper organized, sometimes to a fault

For the course of this experiment, I’m not going to put up any fake fronts about how I am or am not eating/feeling/looking – you’re going to get the real deal. I’m taking this back to the old school version of blogs, back when they were still “web-logs” (glorified online journals, if you will).


That was the point of this - take a process that many people use or experience for lots of other reasons (to discover food allergies or sensitivities, to help with immune disorders, to change their relationship with food, to feel better or make physical changes, etc.) and approach it strictly for a "what happens to my cooking when I only allow myself limited ingredients" experiment.

Here is a link to the Whole30 program if you are interested in educating yourself about it. I am not affiliated with it in any way whatsoever.

Getting back to how much I like data and understanding deltas now. I wish I would have kept a written log (besides daily posts) of all the vegetables and how many pounds of each I consumed. (yes, I could go back and calculate it all, but we all know that's not happening. Like, ever.)

On the off chance the last 30 days proves to be remotely helpful or encouraging for anyone thinking about embarking on the Whole30 for any reason, I'd like to maintain the transparency I started on Day 1. As you may recall, the Whole30 program recommends you keep track of where you start and end (not vital to my reasons for doing the Whole30, but I know everyone is curious, so why not!) with pictures and measurements.

Last reminder - I’m keepin’ it REAL, this is seriously first thing in the morning, no make up, puffy eyes, right out of bed. I am normal. There are no delusions of grandeur that I look like a model without 2hrs of hair and makeup, and certainly not before 8pm. I do not wear makeup to bed and I am the angriest morning Gremlin you've EVER MET. Seriously, it's rough. You'll see the face I'm making below....that's supposed to be me smiling. Notice how I am not *ACTUALLY* smiling? It's because I haven't had coffee yet.

**Also, please notice all the pictures on the left were definitely taken without my contacts being in, which explains why they're all blurry - I checked them after taking them, but since I didn't have contacts in, they totally looked like they were in focus! HA! well.......meh, whatever, we're not going for picture quality here (obviously).

Copyright 2014 Siiri Sampson. All rights reserved.

Copyright 2014 Siiri Sampson. All rights reserved.

Copyright 2014 Siiri Sampson. All rights reserved.

I don't really notice a difference being in my own body, as in, I don't notice the weight change, size change or any difference in my clothes. But here is what happens when you restrict your ingredients, are in your early 30's and still attempt to workout, run, take dance class, etc. during this process: bust 36″ → 34", waist 28″ → 25", and hips 38″ → 37.5". And lastly, straight up height and weight: 5’9″ → 5'9" (imagine that, my height stayed the same!) and 148lbs → 140lbs.

What I find particularly compelling are the new habits, new culinary practices, new favorite things that have crept into my daily life. As a cook, these are the things that fascinate me and the reason I am so very glad I did this. What you see below is a Chimichurri sauce I recently made from this recipe over at How Sweet It Is. I'm having it tonight on top of one of my other favorite new things - cinnamon pot roast with mint! Post coming in the next few days on my process for this staple sauce.

Copyright 2014 Siiri Sampson. All rights reserved.

You may recall I found this awesome recipe for cinnamon pot roast with mint earlier in the experiment and now I've made it three times. A roast can be so very many different cuts of meat. And if you just bother to ask the butcher for "an off cut to roast in the slow cooker" they're more than happy to get you a budget friendly, beautiful piece of meat. This particular combination of ingredients yields a wonderful depth of flavor. And I basically created a sauce starter which I've reused each time I've made the roast. So it is literally cooking itself down into a deeper, more concentrated flavor profile every time I use it! SMART, Sampson, SMART!

Copyright 2014 Siiri Sampson. All rights reserved.

I love my new morning routine with all the soft boiled eggs and their luxuriously thick yolks, along with my coffee and almond milk. I am NOT making my own almond milk anymore. It tastes way better, but I've got better things to do with my time, and I just don't care enough to bother. Plus, welcome to saving a boat load of cash by purchasing a container of unsweetened plain almond milk (a half gallon) for $3.25 instead of getting 2 cups (which is? That's right, a quarter gallon....we can do math) for about the same price and an extra 10 - 15 minutes of labor (which always happens to take place at 7am on a Monday when I'm swearing at myself for not realizing I was out during the weekend).

Copyright 2014 Siiri Sampson. All rights reserved.

All the fruit with my eggs and coffee - keeping this. I actually am looking forward to incorporating all the extra almond meal I now have in my freezer into my green smoothies as the weather gets warmer. They travel great (for the bus ride) and I will use almond milk instead of yogurt, but keep up with my 2 cups of spinach plus 1 piece of fruit and some cinnamon.

You know what else I totally love now/again? Dates! (I mean the edible kind.) (OH MY GOD YOU GUYS, I MEAN MEDJOOL DATES THAT GROW ON TREES! wow. just wow......you guys are really immature sometimes, you know that?!?!?!) Anyway, (eyeroll) I love having a couple as a snack while I cook dinner, or I can add them to my smoothie for some sweetness, even though I usually won't because I'm not a sweet tooth.

I bet you're wondering what I ate on DAY 31, aren't you? Well, maybe you're not. Maybe you're totes over my food diary. It has been really weird to not keep one, I'll tell you that much. I have done food diaries many times before, but this was different because I was sharing it with all of you, something I'd never done before.

I'll at least share what I had for dinner that night. I made dinner for my friend Bridget, and took it to her house. I made the cinnamon pot roast with mint, and a baby greens salad with kalamata olives, capers, tomatoes and my other new favorite - avocado tahini dressing.

Copyright 2014 Siiri Sampson. All rights reserved.

Copyright 2014 Siiri Sampson. All rights reserved.

WP_005410And I even had a glass of wine! That was my first add-in and I picked a red I thought would go with the pot roast. It was fine, but too sweet. Oh well, nothing ventured, nothing gained. It was still a nice treat, almost as nice as all the awesome catching up and conversation. Bridget is awesome, funny, talented, smart and fun to spend time with - great friend!

That was part of Day 31. I bet you can guess what I had for breakfast that day, right?

As I move forward, with the reintroduction phase (which I'm now half way through) I find it is hard to really know exactly what I am getting (as I've been dining out a bit more) and sometimes I'll add-in two 'new' things in one day, which I'm not supposed to do, but you know what? I'll live. I am figuring out what ingredients are staying off my plate for the most part, and what ones will get to make guest appearances. Most of all, I'm stoked that I have a new set of foundational standbys like raw almonds for snacks, eggs for breakfast every morning, new one-pot dishes, new sauces and dressings, and with all the seasonal crops changing, I get to explore new produce on the weekly.

Lesson of the day: The experiment NEVER really stops, does it? Extrapolate that in any way you want, it's still true.

Even when something scares you, in fact, especially when something scares you, do it anyway.*

*I can't take credit for that nugget of wisdom, but I will reuse it every day. A very awesome person told me that before I started this experiment, and they were totally right.

Thank you for being a part of this experiment with me, and for your ongoing inquiries, encouragement and well wishes! If you have questions or comments, it would be awesome if you would leave them below, rather than over email or Facebook. This way, it'll all be together. Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to finish this croissant. Just kidding.....?

Whole30 - the food experiment: DAY 30!!!!!

How do I feel: Accomplished! It's here! My last day of the Whole 30 - funny, it doesn't feel like it's been a whole month in certain respects. On the other hand, someone has a glass of wine and bucket of sugar for me to eat immediately, right?! Just kidding...sort of.

Found this one from this past weekend when Lindsay and I were at Taylor Shellfish. Can you see the excitement on my face?! I *really* love oysters!

Maybe I should have planned for some super interesting, Whole30 approved meals to finish this experiment. I didn't though. Truth be told, I was pretty happy that, by and large, I've been able to just cook and just eat normal things if need be. Today was really no different, except that I noticed I'm short on certain staple ingredients, so my days worth of meals is really an exercise in consuming leftovers and ensuring fresh ingredients don't spoil. In fact, I ate almost the exact same thing today as I did yesterday:


  • coffee (one cup while getting ready and another for the bus commute to the office), 2 soft boiled eggs, a banana and a pint of water.


  • Salad of baby spinach, diced tomato, half an avocado, chicken and lemon garlic dressing again. Plus tea and water

Dinner: Super random, prepare yourself (I didn't realize I was so short on produce once I got home, but just didn't feel like making a trip to the store)

  • 3 eggs, sweet potato chips, an apple and raw almonds

I know you're all dying to hear and see what the differences are in my before and after stats (how do I know this? Because I've already had a handful of friends ask me on the side, remember, this post is delayed by about a week or so in comparison to real life). BUT, you'll have to wait till tomorrow, because I did all my check in stats on DAY 31, which is when "reintroduction" begins with a glass of wine. Plus, you'll want to see the delicious dinner I made and took to my awesome friend, Bridget, who recently had her ACL repaired and is not-so-mobile.


Lesson of the day: In the ever-applicable words of Henry Ford, "Whether you think you can, or you think you can't, you're absolutely right!"

Whole30 - the food experiment: DAY 29

How do I feel: Nervous.....I now realize the switch back to "regular life" is going to bring some changes I might not be fond of.... I am sure this feeling is normal, right?! Let's consult the guide....

[from their site]:

Days 29-30: HolyOprahIt’sAlmostOverWhatAmIGoingToEatNow?!?!?!

It’s day 29, and you’re still rocking. The thoughts you had yesterday of throwing in the towel are gone. You cruise through the day and as you crawl into bed you have a small thought that then grows into full-blown cold-sweat panic. Holy crap. Tomorrow is day 30. The last day. What the hell are you going to do after that?! You worked so hard, fought through all the anger, the naps, the cravings to get to the awesome you’re feeling now. The rules have been your backbone, your lifeline, your excuse for being “that person” in social situations. Are you just going to give them up on day 31? No. You firmly resolve that there will be no deviation on day 31. If it ain’t broke… It’s totally normal to feel a twinge of panic as your Whole30 comes to a close.  For the past month, you’ve lived, breathed, and literally eaten the rules. You feel incredible in your new high-octane body. It’s natural to hesitate at the thought of making any changes – even if the change is a return to what was “normal” for you before. And, the truth is, you don’t have to go back to the way you used to eat. But keep in mind that the Whole30 was intended to be a reset, an introduction into the world of Good Food. I know it’s scary, but keep an open mind, okay?

[See more at: http://whole30.com/2013/08/revised-timeline/#sthash.GrfinILM.dpuf]

And yet, I know that I cannot continue to live strictly within the Whole30 guidelines forever. It's just not manageable. Today is a Monday, and having my regular structure of bus, work, bus, workout/run in the dark/rain, cook dinner, etc. is a welcomed set up for coming off the weekend.

Copyright 2014 Siiri Sampson. All rights reserved.

Saying Mondays are less than glamorous would be an understatement, but I try my best to just push right through and be present. Breakfast is the same as always, sorry to disappoint - although I suppose you could look at it from the "glass is half full" perspective and say that I am dependable, if nothing else, right? Coffee (2 cups, one while getting ready and dancing in the kitchen while my eggs boil, and then a second one in my go mug for the bus ride), homemade almond milk, a large banana and those hearty 2 soft boiled eggs.

I glide through the day with a basic salad composed of grilled chicken, tomato, avocado, baby spinach and Tessemae's lemon garlic dressing. Plus, I have an apple and huge mug of tea with a handful of almonds.

Dinner? You guessed it, curried mussels leftovers, but the portion is a bit meager, so I add more green beans and some sautéed chicken breast to it and enjoy a couple glasses of sparkling water with lime juice. Today is one of those days you could set your watch to - completely normal, uneventful, and for that I am grateful.

Copyright 2014 Siiri Sampson. All rights reserved.

I also put my car up for sale tonight on Craigslist, after getting it completely ready (cleaned it out, detailed it and took pictures of it myself yesterday before heading out on my adventures). Fingers crossed for a quick, easy and reasonably priced sale!

Lesson of the day: Food is for enjoying, but also for nourishing and I shouldn't be hard on myself if I only successfully fulfill one of those on some days.

Whole30 - the food experiment: DAY 28

How do I feel: Brrr! Silly snow! But, it's still the weekend and I'm not mad at any of that! Copyright 2014 Siiri Sampson. All rights reserved.

The snow is basically gone and it appears everyone made it home last night (or else the towing company had a field day getting all these cars into their closest impound lot!)

I can't believe we're just about out the other side here, everyone. If you've been sticking with me for the duration of this wacky rollercoaster, thank you so much! If you jumped on mid-stream, then I admire your adventurous attitude! Let's consult with the timeline one more time before our final day, shall we?

[From their site]:

Day 28: 28 is as good as 30…right?

It’s day 28. DAY 28! You’ve almost made it!  You pushed through all the rough spots, fought off the food boredom, and you’re really loving where you are right now.  You’ve had a solid breakfast, packed a delicious lunch, and planned a stellar new recipe for dinner. You’re primed to make it through day 28 without breaking a sweat. But then you get to work. Today is your department’s monthly birthday celebration, and at the mid-morning break a co-worker teases, “You’ve been so good for 28 days! Isn’t 28 as good as 30? Just have one cupcake with us to celebrate.” You brush the comment off – you’re used to them at this point – but it really gets you thinking. What have you got to lose at this point?  What benefit could two more days possibly bring you? Isn’t 28 days just as good as 30?

The answer is a loud and resounding NO. 28 days is NOT as good as 30, and we’ll tell you why: You owe yourself 30 days. You made a commitment to give yourself 30 full days of Good Food and improved habits. When you make a commitment to self-improvement, it’s a big deal! If you cop out now, you’re telling yourself that the commitments you make to yourself are open to compromise. You’re telling yourself that you are not important enough to honor your commitment to you.  But that’s not true, is it? You ARE important. You ARE worth a full commitment. Require that of yourself and celebrate with a renewed sense of integrity, not a cupcake.

[See more at: http://whole30.com/2013/08/revised-timeline/#sthash.cExRNPbU.dpuf]

I didn't really have anyone trying to get me to cheat - although I have still had the crazy "oooooooo, I want a whole entire _____________ right NOW!!!" moments today. I'm just kind of pacing myself for what I know will be a little bit of the MUST. HAVE. NOW. imbalance on Day 31. But to avoid actually indulging in all that and hating myself for it later, I'm going to work up a plan of action to really stick to the reintroduction phase. I will certainly put up a post here or there to let you know how that's going.

Just a smidge of snow left on the park at the end of 1st and Virginia...love seeing the Sound from the edge of the Market.

Since my plans of taking my mom to the flower and garden show were foiled by the weather, and I already had a ton of fresh produce to make breakfast for us, I cooked up a little bit of that for my own breakfast. Still started with my coffee and last batch of homemade almond milk, plus two soft boiled eggs. Then I had a banana and some strawberries which were delicious (thanks Whole Foods). Since I had some time and daylight, and it wasn't snowing or raining, I decided to step out and roam my city. Put in the headphones, grab some supplies for the Girl Scout Cookie Recipe Contest I entered (which I posted about a few days ago now...) and snap some pictures.

I saw this wonderful store front under construction, behind a fence line. I put my camera over the top to get a clear shot...

I love the fun, semi-art deco details they're highlighting with color and can't wait to see what this space turns into!

There's just something about the mason work around the windows that sets off the laid back arches of the first floor windows.

I had to perfect and bake my recipe all in one day to make sure I had what I needed in time to edit down my pictures, write up my blog post and get it all finalized by Wednesday night. On my way home from getting all those ingredients, I saw some wonderful buildings, sights, and well, moments. I just had to capture them. The building above is somewhere around 2nd and Virginia and between the beautiful lead glass window above the door (is that technically a transom, or not?), the brass suite numbers atop the door jamb, and the construction lights strung up inside with all the promise of a new start sitting inside, it's just an exciting scene.

WP_005564 WP_005565


 Then I happened upon this parking garage which is filled with these old wooden beams, boards and framing. Juxtaposed against the fresh coat of fire engine red paint, it stood out among neighboring spaces.

Copyright 2014 Siiri Sampson. All rights reserved.

I just couldn't resist....I only wish the color in my reflection came out better. But still, I had never seen this place before, and of course, now I must go!

Copyright 2014 Siiri Sampson. All rights reserved.

On the walk home......

Copyright 2014 Siiri Sampson. All rights reserved.

I passed by a patch of grass still covered in snow....

Copyright 2014 Siiri Sampson. All rights reserved.

And I just couldn't resist hearing the crunch of the snow under my feet. So I took a little time out. I'm sure the people passing by though I was a complete dork. And they'd be right! :)

Copyright 2014 Siiri Sampson. All rights reserved.

A few blocks down the road, this little alley way had a quiet charm about it. Old and new, function and design, all smushed together in this one little byway. It's not much, but....still.

Copyright 2014 Siiri Sampson. All rights reserved.

Those bricks, walls and roads, used and worn and utilitarian. This is the Seattle I grew up seeing, and is such a large part of what I identify with when I think of Seattle.


Copyright 2014 Siiri Sampson. All rights reserved.

Just around the corner from there, the theater was all lit up with the promise of a couple hours escape from reality. I have always loved the throw back feel of the Cinerama sign and the neon. It's been AGES since I've seen a show here...I should change that.

Copyright 2014 Siiri Sampson. All rights reserved.

With Valentine's Day right around the corner (from when I took this), the corner store had lovingly wrapped the tree out front in red and white lights. Pretty cute - even I couldn't resist smiling (and seriously, I might be the Valentine's Grinch this year).

Copyright 2014 Siiri Sampson. All rights reserved.

Copyright 2014 Siiri Sampson. All rights reserved.

A little closer to home, more twinkling lights welcome me as the daylight dwindles. What a way to spend a day, falling in love with my city, yet again, and cooking up a fun new recipe (that, of course, I still can't eat because I'm two days away from ending my Whole3o).

Lesson of the day: Keep looking, see the unseen, take a different road home. Let yourself be swept away by the little things, smile just because you can.