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What is Whole30 and Why Did I Do It?

Food, How ToLibby RasmussenComment
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I love food. Period.  I feel very fortunate to have a healthy relationship with it. I don't have any food allergies, disordered eating habits, or even any real aversions to any kind of food.  There isn't a food item I won't try or likely, enjoy.  I do however, love a good challenge, especially when it comes to changing the way I think about what I'm putting in my body.  

Enter Whole30.  What started as a personal challenge to go "Sugar-Free For a Week" turned into a decision to try it out for a month.  So, let's talk about it, because a lot of people have some seeeeerious opinions about "diets" or "eating habits" without really listening to the person who is trying it out.  

What is Whole30?

According to Whole30.com, Whole30 (we'll call it W30 from now on) is a way to change the way you think and eat for 30 days.  "Think of it as a short-term nutrition reset, designed to help you put an end to unhealthy cravings and habits, restore a healthy metabolism, heal your digestive tract, and balance your immune system."  What could be wrong with that?  The W30 theory is that many food groups (like sugar, grains, dairy and legumes) could be having a negative impact on your health and fitness without you even realizing it.

Again, I don't have any stomach issues, I sleep like a baby each night, and don't have any food allergies.  I do, however, tend to get a little off-balance from time to time and am easily convinced (by myself) that what I'm eating, seemingly healthy, or not, isn't thaaaat bad for me. 

So I like to reset - which for me, is what Whole30 does. It puts things back into perspective for me and challenges me to think more.  Am I reading the labels? Are the foods I'm eating truly, "whole"? Or are there 13+ ingredients on the label, half of which I can't pronounce? Am I drinking that coffee because I love the taste of the coffee? No, it's because I want the cream and sugar.  When I do W30, I basically decide to take the plunge, and push the “reset” button with my metabolism and take a hard look at the food choices I made in the past and what I plan on doing with them in the future. 

Okay, So What Do I Eat on W30?

Probably the first question I get when I tell people that I'm cutting out sugar, grains, dairy, and legumes for 30 days is, "Okay, well what CAN you eat then?" and my answer, well, a lot of things actually. Rather than think about the foods I CANT have, I try to think of W30 as a way to eat more fruits, vegetables, seafood, with the occasional red meat and a lot of eggs.  HERE is my favorite Whole 30 Trader Joe's Grocery list and HERE is my favorite Whole Foods W30 compliant list. 

If I had to break down my top W30 foods it would be:

1. More green veggies.. hellllllooooo Sweetgreen salads
2. Pasture Raised Eggs (see here why I only eat these kind)
3. Clementines & other citrus fruits
4. Plantain chips
5. RXBars (here's their Whole30 pack)
6. Avocados 

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...And What Can't You Eat

Straight from the experts at Whole30.com here is the official list of no no's. "Omitting all of these foods and beverages 100% for 30 days will help you eliminate cravings, restore a healthy metabolism, heal the digestive tract, reduce systemic inflammation, and discover how these foods are truly impacting how you look, how you feel, and your quality of life."

  • Do not consume added sugar, real or artificial. No maple syrup, honey, agave nectar, coconut sugar, date syrup, stevia, Splenda, Equal, Nutrasweet, xylitol, etc. Read your labels, because companies sneak sugar into products in ways you might not recognize.
  • Do not consume alcohol, in any form, not even for cooking. (And ideally, no tobacco products of any sort, either.)
  • Do not eat grains. This includes (but is not limited to) wheat, rye, barley, oats, corn, rice, millet, bulgur, sorghum, sprouted grains, and all gluten-free pseudo-cereals like quinoa, amaranth, and buckwheat. This also includes all the ways we add wheat, corn, and rice into our foods in the form of bran, germ, starch, and so on. Again, read your labels.
  • Do not eat legumes. This includes beans of all kinds (black, red, pinto, navy, white, kidney, lima, fava, etc.), peas, chickpeas, lentils, and peanuts. No peanut butter, either. This also includes all forms of soy – soy sauce, miso, tofu, tempeh, edamame, and all the ways we sneak soy into foods (like lecithin).
  • Do not eat dairy. This includes cow, goat, or sheep’s milk products like milk, cream, cheese, kefir, yogurt, sour cream, ice cream, or frozen yogurt.
  • Do not consume carrageenan, MSG, or sulfites. If these ingredients appear in any form on the label of your processed food or beverage, it’s out for the Whole30.
  • Do not consume baked goods, junk foods, or treats with “approved” ingredients. Recreating or buying sweets, treats, and foods-with-no-brakes (even if the ingredients are technically compliant) is totally missing the point of the Whole30, and will compromise your life-changing results.  These are the same foods that got you into health-trouble in the first place—and a pancake is still a pancake, even if it is made with coconut flour.
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What Makes W30 So Hard?

HUMMUS guys.  I missed it so much.  Probably of all the foods, not having legumes when cooking for myself is a particular challenge.  As someone who doesn't really drink soda (unless I'm getting fast food) or is a habitual coffee drinker (other than Colada Shop) cutting out the sugar wasn't really that hard.  One exception though, I LOVE LOVE LOVE condiments and sauces and guess what, pretty much every condiment has sugar in it.  Ketchup, Sriracha, Ranch, BBQ sauce, Honey mustard, tartar sauce, they all have sugar.  

My affinity for hummus and sauces aside, eating out tends to be a bit of a challenge.  If you're planning on going on a trip to Europe or long trip back home, don't do Whole30. Unless you really have the determination, it would just be far too hard.  This is why a lot of people choose to do W30 in January.  It can be a great way to kick off the new year, and rid your body of the holiday weight and poor decisions you may have made in the early winter months. Plus, many choose to participate in Dry January which leads me to the next topic of W30, alcohol...

So What About Alcohol? 

This is where I chose to "opt-out" and no it has nothing to do with needing alcohol. I've gone weeks and months at a time without drinking alcohol and take no issue with cutting it out.  However, I did my second round of Whole30 in July and much of my social life revolves around eating and drinking. So when I'm needing to be cautious about my food choices, simply opting out of alcohol didn't feel like something I wanted to do.  Did I avoid mixed drinks? Yes, if I could help it.  My intent was to have mostly clear, low sugar alcohols like vodka and gin.  If I was a guest at an event where wine is served or a mixed drink is prepared for me, I wasn't necessarily going to turn it down. Overall, I did make an effort though to consume less alcohol during W30.  

Why less? Well we all know what happens when we drink, and I know it's not just me here, we make poor choices, especially when it comes to food.  What has been a great personal "challenge" of having alcohol while on W30 is coming home from an event or a bar and making the decision to pass on the pizza or Chinese food and go straight for the cold bowl of watermelon in the fridge or dried (sugar-free) mango. The next day I wake up feeling guilt-free and refreshed.

If you do decide to consume alcohol during W30, be prepared to get a little heat from the W30 pros, and (somewhat) rightfully so.  They are doing it 100% and you're not.  But, I think I'll keep my sanity and social life! #chinchin #thanks

Did I Lose Any Weight?

Of course I did. Do you even know how much gluten I eat on a regular basis? (Hint: I was on Buzzfeed for it lol.)  So yes, I lost a few lbs' and this was pretty noticeable by week 2. I looked and felt lighter, my clothes fit better and yes, my skin was great too.  Strangely enough, my fingernails grew a lot.  I'm a fidgety nail-biter, and I didn't find myself doing that while on W30 for some reason.  This was also the case a few years ago when I went vegan for a few months, but we'll talk about that some other time...

Girl kneels at the altar of gluten @libby_livingcolorfully #girlswithgluten

A post shared by Girls with Gluten (@girlswithgluten) on

Will I Do It Again?

Easy answer. 100% yes.  I'm not particularly sure when, but definitely in the near future.  I've also considered doing small stints, like a Whole15 or 20. Just going long enough to feel refreshed and cleansed. Next year I will probably partake in Dry January along with my W30 just for kicks.


Have any of you done Whole 30 before? What did you like? What didn't you like? Will you do it again? 

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Photography by: Kara Schab of Right Foot Creative 

How To: Make a No-Brainer Cocktail

Food, How To, EntertainingLibby RasmussenComment

So in spite my bar cart being one of my favorite pieces of furniture in my home, I tend to keep a pretty light stock of alcohol.  And if it's one thing I've learned about hosting, it's that your guests are rarely there when you have perfect flowers blooming, or the right cocktail garnishes and fixings.  So, enter the solution, and one-stop-wonders of the two ingredient cocktail.
Yes, two. 

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So, maybe you're like me and aren't always fully stocked up on well, the good stuff.  Here are a few tips to remember for the future when you're scrambling to put something together. Try to always have a bottle of champagne. Why? Because when you're lacking in the booze department, spritzers, Bellinis, mimosas, you name it, these. are. your. friends. More times than not, you're going to have a juice in your fridge and using it to top off your bubbles is a great option to a complicated cocktail. But, also, don't underestimate your liqueur like; St. Germain, Campari, or Aperol.  All of the above are great ways to add a little extra specialty to your cocktails. And most importantly, portable cocktails are a lifesaver. They're all great, whether it's canned wine and these cute mason jar cocktails or pictured below, Element Shrubs.  There are tons of great options that help you craft your own drinks. 

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Below, I used the Honeydew Jalapeno element shrub and a little vodka, with a hint of fresh jalapeños to whip up a quick drink for a friend! 

So What About Garnishes? 

Citrus: Every time I go to the grocery store, I try to get a bag of clementines, lemons, and limes. When in reality, I typically end up eating more of the clementines, using some of the limes, and maybe all of just one measly lemon before I have to throw the remaining out
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Jalapeños: Spicy alcohol is the best. This is a fact.  And if you don't believe me, then you're not experimenting with your alcohol enough and I encourage you to step outside your vodka soda snoozefest.  I mean, even think about how good a vodka soda would taste with a few slices of spice.  Yum.  Spicy margs, spicy mules, spicy bloodies. The list goes on and on.  Even with a fruity, bubbly bevvie, the kick adds just the right amount of interest to make your bottled-booze taste like a craft cocktail. I snagged a few of these peppers from a new friend's roof at the Apollo a few weekends ago.  He's lucky enough to have a small garden up there with a very very generous amount of jalapeños. Yum! 

On the plus side, most, but not all, of the time, I typically have plenty of garnishes when need be for cocktails. But, the greenery poses a problem. 

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Herbs: This is where I fall short, I rarely have fresh mint, basil, or rosemary sprigs in the fridge because, we all know this. They go bad so quickly! Which is really such a shame considering most herbs grow like, well, WEEDS outside.  My goal for this year is to try to keep a few herb plants in my apartment for fresh garnishes for cocktails and food dishes. Another thought, walking over to my local community garden and picking some myself... 

Edible Flowers: Obviously this is even less obtainable than having fresh herbs ready 24/7 in your fridge. But, I am encountering more and more edible floral options here in DC. Local farmers markets: DuPont, Bloomingdale, Columbia Heights even, have edible flowers for sale at their markets on Saturdays and Sundays.  Or in this case, you could pull a me and pluck some from the rooftop of your apartment.  

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And all of that other cute shit.

Stir Sticks: A few weeks ago I received these darling tropical bird wooden swizzle sticks from Shelby herself, from Shelby Dillon Studio.  They are hand carved and painted so everyone at the party knows which tropical bird represents their cocktail. So cute. 

Coasters: While the coasters pictured above were a thrift-gift, I have some coasters from The Blush Label that I love and use on the reg.  Here are some of my favorites. (use the code: Libby15 to get 15% off!) 
 

SHOP THIS POST

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Photographer: Kara Schab, Right Foot Creative 

How To: Make an Avocado Rose

Food, How ToLibby RasmussenComment

If you follow me on Snapchat, you know I'm no stranger to topping my eggs, salads, or a piece of toast with an avocado rose.  There's also a good chance you've spotted some on Karen McLean's feed @secretsquirrelfood. They're hard to miss but are actually incredibly easy to make! Follow along for the easy steps!

1. Pick the Perfect Avocado. This can always be tricky, but when it comes to an avocado rose, you will actually want an avocado that is a little more firm.  If it's too ripe, you'll run the risk of it falling apart or having brown spots.  Really ripe avocados are great for guac, not so great for avocado roses.  Tip: A nealry ripe avocado's "belly button" if you will, will be green underneath when gently pulled off. A ripe avocado, for guacamole, will be slightly brown and will fall off easily. 

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2. Cut the avocado lengthwise and gently peel off the skin.  The perfect avocado will be firm enough to do so.  It's very important that you don't scoop the avocado out of the skin, as you would while making guacamole.  This will leave you with a dented avocado.  You need to pull the skin off piece by piece to keep the avocado smooth. Obviously, remove the pit as well. 

3. Slice Evenly Across. Lay the avocado down and begin slicing it thinly and evenly from one side to the other. Move slowly enough to make sure you aren't bringing up any pieces on the knife. 

4. Slowly Fan Avocado. Create a semi-circle by fanning the slices out.  Make sure the slices are still touching one another on the sides, but don't be afraid to really spread them out for a larger, more spiraled avocado rose. 

5. Spin into a Rose. Slowly cupping the sides, continue to gently spin the slices into a rose. Make sure it's tight enough that the outer edge of the rose stays neatly on the sides. However, you want it to look like a rose, (kinda) so keep it loose enough to keep the blossoming effect.  Tip: Use a little lemon juice to keep the rose from browning. And remember to move it with a spatula if you are plating it or placing it atop a salad, or piece of toast. Tip: It helps if your cutting board is a little damp. 

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26 Things Before Turning 26

How ToLibby RasmussenComment

Last year, I turned a quarter-century and before I did, I made a list of 25 things I wanted to do before turning 25 (thanks to the inspiration of my best friend).  I found a new mentor. I wrote to my Grandpa regularly. I started wearing rompers and jumpsuits. I traveled to 3 countries and above all else, I learned so much about myself.  I love these lists because they're the perfect medium between a to-do list and a bucket list. For me, it's been the best way to achieve my goals, big or small, in just the perfect amount of time.
 Starts December 7th 2015 & Ends December 5th 2016.    

 

1.      Become a Bone Marrow Donor - (Registered Donor 12/22/15)

2.      Make homemade sushi

3.      Apply and get into law school – (Done and Done!)

4.      Learn calligraphy - (Started, with a beginners kit)

5.      Become a member of a church and attend regularly – (Advent DC)

6.      Go to the top of the Washington Monument

7.      Become a “regular” somewhere in DC

8.      Become Mom’s Pen Pal – (Started January 2016)

9.      Learn more about wine

10.  Start a recipe binder with friends and family – (Started December 2015)

11.  Host a formal brunch – (3/19 Easter Brunch)

12.  Take an art class

13.  Go to the movies more – (Spotlight, Room, Wild)

14.  Start blogging again – (Libby Living Colorfully Relaunched 2/23)

15.  Invite someone to volunteer with me 

16.  Raise $ for N Street Village($176 raised thus far)

17.  Go skydiving

18.  Do at least 5 informational interviews – (3 out of 5)

19.  Start wearing sunscreen daily - (Thanks to Elta MD)

20.   Donate blood 5 times this year – (3 out of 5)

21.  Bring a friend home to Wisconsin - (Emily's visit in June) 

22.  Go completely sugar free for 7 or 21 days

23.  Buy a Gray Malin print - (Loving my Beach gallery wall) 

24.  Let go or resolve any grudges - (Lent 2016)

25.  Spend an entire day without iPhone or internet

26.  Visit 10 new museums or galleries – (4 out of 10)

**Bonus** Do Something/Make a decision 100% for myself
 

The best part about having a 26 Before 26 List is that I can encourage others to make their own.  What will you put on your list? It's never too late to start thinking of what you can do with the next year.

How To: Fold a Fitted Sheet

How ToLibby RasmussenComment

No one enjoys folding a fitted sheet. This is a fact. Pillowcases, of course. The flat sheet, duh. But the fitted sheet, forget it. For most of us, we save it for last and it ends up in a clump and stuffed into the linen closet.   

Until now...

Instructions

1. Lay your fitted sheet with the open side and gathered corners facing up.
2. Fold a 6-inch (or so) border around the edges, so the ungathered edges and the gathered corners fall in line and you have 4 straight sides.
3. Fold in half, over and over until it's perfectly compact. 

Finally!

If you're still struggling with this, check out this Martha Stewart video on more tips and tricks to folding a fitted sheet. Also, check out some of these adorable and affordable sheet sets. 

Green Stripe Boone Splatter Border Frame Grace Red Sheeting
Fouta Stripe No Iron Embroidered Embroidered Percale  Cactus Marfa

Make Sure to check out my post about Biscuit's Cactus Marfa bedding and sheets.
 They are too cute!