When I started the blog in early 2014, my original intent was to share my designs, recipes and inspiration. At the time I was (and still am!) in love with making up recipes for anything and everything, heavily revolving around starches and grains. I was accustomed to cooking with Israeli couscous, orzo, risotto... if it was in the starch family, I was all over it. I thought I was healthy, but my body felt otherwise.
In early 2015 I finally decided to try the Whole30 and give my digestive system the support it needed. I temporarily gave up grains, legumes (a main source of protein for me at the time), dairy, sugar and alcohol for 30 days. It sounds easy, and it is, in essence, but it was a huge challenge in shifting my emotional relationship with food, and moving away from my go-to "healthy" staples like the recipes I used to make. If you're interested in reading more about my experience, here are a few posts: week 1 recap, week 3 recap, and my overall recap.
While I hadn't switched entirely to a Paleo diet, I did put in place several things I learned while on the Whole30. I increased my protein, having a hardboiled egg for breakfast every morning, and tried to eliminate dairy - sneaking in delicious goat / mozzarella / feta cheese when I wanted. The biggest takeaway for me was knowing HOW I'd feel after eating certain things, rather than trying to guess what the culprit was or just recklessly eating things I knew would upset my system. I ate less legumes and grains. I also tried to cut down on my sugar intake, reminding myself how I'd crash and feel terrible after a bag of Skittles, Sour Patch Kids... etc. All a total guilty pleasure!
Since I had changed my diet, I posted less and less recipes. It made me sad to deviate from my original vision for the blog, but my diet constraints made me feel less creative and willing to share recipes. I stuck with the new "diet" (I really do hate that word) for about a year and a half, until I found out I was pregnant. At that point, my outlook on my diet and my relationship with food changed again, now knowing I wasn't just eating for one!
There are dozens of blog posts and forums arguing why it's safe to do the Whole30 (and implement those lifestyle changes) while pregnant, but for me, I knew that this was not a time to restrict my intake (or risk the inevitable food mood swings WITH my extra hormones... noooo thank you!). While everyone's opinions are different, I felt strongly that if I needed to increase my calcium and whole grain intake, I would do so for the health of our growing baby. (I know there are several ways to add / increase calcium into your diet without eating dairy, but adding dairy to my daily routine was the easiest and healthiest way for me increase my calcium intake.)
Now that I'm 6 months pregnant (!), I've found that my system is adapting to dairy, grains and legumes once again. Many people experience a change in food tolerances and sensitivities while pregnant, and I've been lucky to benefit positively from that. It also gives me peace of mind knowing that our little peanut is getting all the calcium, carbohydrates and other nutrients I wasn't consuming - or consuming in limited amounts - prior to being pregnant.
Other things I've been eating and can't get enough of lately?
First Trimester: My all-time favorite food was grapefruit. I could NOT get enough! I'd have a half or a whole grapefruit for breakfast every morning. They are rich in folic acid so it was a win-win, knowing I was indulging in a (healthy!) craving and giving our peanut a little brain boost.
Second Trimester: I've moved on from grapefruit and am fully obsessed with cantaloupe. Before I was pregnant, I loved cantaloupe but would always have a mild allergic reaction afterwards (itchy throat and ears). I gave it a go again and I was SO excited to find out I could eat it without any allergic reactions - to the point where I could eat an entire cantaloupe in one sitting if it wasn't completely excessive. I also crave raspberries and fruit popsicles, so I think it's safe to say this little peanut loves healthy, fresh (sweet!) foods.
Here is one of my favorite go-to recipes lately, hitting on all of the food groups I mentioned above (that I was avoiding and now embracing!):
summertime Pasta Salad
1 bag Trottole pasta (or farfalle, fusilli or bowtie)
1 can Great Northern beans, drained and rinsed
6 strips thick cut bacon, cooked and crumbled
1 cup low moisture mozzarella, diced (the solid kind, not shredded)
1/2 red onion, diced thin
1 large tomato, diced
2 ripe peaches, diced
Handful of fresh basil, chopped
Dijon Vinaigrette Dressing (recipe from About Food)
3/4 olive oil
1/3 cup red wine vinegar (sub apple cider vinegar)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 T. Dijon mustard
1 t. sugar
1/4 t. pepper
1/4 t. salt
Cook pasta according to package instructions. When noodles are al dente, drain pasta and allow to come to room temperature (or run under cold water).
In a small mixing bowl, whisk together all Dijon vinaigrette ingredients and set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, combine red onion, tomato, peaches, bacon and white beans. Add pasta (once cooled) and dress with Dijon vinaigrette. Add basil and stir to combine. Serve immediately.
*Note: the Dijon vinaigrette is the brightest and most tangy when served immediately. When refrigerated overnight, the vinaigrette flavor subsides quite a bit and becomes really mild.