Whole30 Day30: why does it feel like an anti-climax?

Today should be a day for celebration right? I did it! Well, barring falling face first into a bucket of donuts and wine with my mouth open in the next few hours, I did it. I managed a month without alcohol, gluten, grains, dairy, legumes and soy. I probably listed those in order of importance didn’t I? I was going to write about the NSV’s, the leaner, fitter me and the demons I might have conquered on the way, but that’s not how it has turned out. But I did it! So why am I not celebrating? It all feels like an anti-climax to be honest. I was expecting to be feeling great, happy and proud but instead I feel depressed, worried, sick and anxious.

I started today in the urgent care walk in centre. I have had a cough for about five weeks now, and it has ebbed and flowed in its severity, but last night while on my own, I had a few ‘attacks’ where I didn’t feel I would ever breathe again. It was so hard to suck air into my lungs that it was audible, probably about a mile away. I obviously survived and regained control of my breathing but it was horrible. So this morning, I skipped work (with the kindness, grace and care of my colleagues who covered me) and went to the urgent care centre. I waited for a bit, saw someone, waited again and saw someone else. I was diagnosed with a chest infection and given antibiotics and told to rest up, keep hydrated and take painkillers as necessary. It wasn’t the kick ass finish I wanted for today. I wanted to be seeing my students, going to the gym and ending on a high. We don’t always get what we want.

Do we?

The other thing that is stopping me celebrating is the current state of the UK. I am grieving for the result of the referendum. I am heartbroken at the rise in racist attacks, bemused at the backtracking from promises to possibilities, fearful of the lack of leadership from those who ‘won’, and scared by the uncertainty. Zimbardo famously carried out what has come to be known as the Stanford Prison Experiment. In it he randomly assigned a sample of normal, psychologically healthy young men to either the role of guard or prisoner. He put them into a mock prison, and watched the events unfold. The story goes that the guards became increasingly sadistic, the prisoners increasingly withdrawn and psychologically disturbed, until the experiment was ended eight days earlier than planned. Zimbardo argued that we learnt that the roles we give people dictate their behaviour. Much more recently this experiment was ‘repeated’ but with different parameters. This time the guards released the prisoners and they planned to live together as a commune. This result seemed much more humanity affirming. Perhaps we had, as societies might do, made progress in how we treat each other. The guards and prisoners recognised the inherent inequality in their assigned roles and decided they would not accept it.

However, it didn’t end there. Within 24 hours came uncertainty. Not all the members of the commune were doing their jobs, some of them were lounging, expecting others to work in their place, some were demanding more of members than had originally been asked. In the early hours of the morning, in response to this, some members decided to stage a coup- they would institute an authoritarian regime and police it how they saw fit. The ethics committee watching events refused to let this situation play out, fearing psychological damage to the participants. This included those who wanted the regime and those who passively supported it. What would they think about themselves when they stepped out of the experimental situation? What would others think of them? After all, this was being filmed and shown on the BBC.

I fear that the conclusions drawn from these experiments may now be tested in the real world. That we have assigned roles to the leave and the remain sides, that those who see themselves as ‘guardians’ of Great Britain feel empowered to become more sadistic as they enforce their ideals, now seemingly with a mandate from over half of those who voted. These ideals seem to embody a racist and xenophobic dehumanisation of those ‘not like us’. Just as the prisoners in Zimbardo’s experiment were purposely dehumanised and de-individuated, and the guards were given permission to enforce their order upon others, so those ‘not like us’ are experiencing a rise in abuse both general and specifically personal. It is dangerous and it is a society of fear.

I am fearful that the uncertainty that is pulsing across the UK, Europe and the world will end with people looking for authority, for a regime that offers certainty, regardless of the conditions attached to regaining certainty, as those who are supposed to lead hesitate, refuse to take action, and make contradictory and inflammatory statements. . In the real world we cannot simple halt what is happening because we do not like how our participants are behaving, or because we fear the ethical and moral consequences of that behaviour. What can we do? Look to the research into the processes of social change, minority and majority influence to convince people to behave differently? Again, there lies uncertainty.

So my personal achievement seems small, insignificant and almost worthless in the face of the enormity of what seems to be happening around me. On the other hand, tomorrow I will be able to drown my sorrows for the first time in 30 days, and blame the shitty feeling I wake up with on a hangover. Is that a silver lining?

 

Whole30 Day23: Braised lamb with pepper and paprika

Cooking is my yoga.

One week to go! And I think it is time to start reflecting a little on my experiences. I started this because I wanted to check out the hype for myself. I didn’t think it would radically change my diet because I thought I already ate pretty paleo. To a certain extent that was very true, and people haven’t noticed a big difference- even my partner comments that it doesn’t really look any different to what I eat anyway. So I wasn’t expecting big differences, but a little part of me was hoping this would be the food equivalent of finding world peace. I haven’t found world peace, but I have found out some things. One of those things is my emotional responses to the Whole30 are not really about the Whole30 or food, but very much about other things that are happening in my life. This probably isn’t a huge revelation, but in the moment it is difficult to remember it isn’t all about food. After all, even the Whole30 plan says it starts with food. Food is easy to blame, as is a clean eating plan you decided to do. Here is how my thought process goes:

  1. Today was shit.
  2. I feel shit.
  3. I want wine.
  4. I can’t have wine.
  5. Fuck you whole30, if I could have wine then I wouldn’t be feeling like this.
  6. I can’t have wine.
  7. This fucking diet is stupid.
  8. I’m not having wine.
  9. Fucking fizzy water/herbal tea is fucking rubbish.
  10. I’m going to bed
  11. Brain, “ Hey Victoria, let’s go back to step number one, and while we’re at it why don’t we take a step down memory lane and re-visit everything bad that’s ever happened ever”.

Substitute wine for chocolate/bread/cheese or all three (plus wine) and this has been a sometimes quite circular and repetitive process. However, when I have calmed down and thought about it (which can take minutes, hours or days) I have realised it isn’t Whole30 I am angry with, it is a situation and/or my response to it. It is much easier to get angry with food than it is to think about a difficult situation and/or a difficult response. These reflections have not become automatic; I am not a Zen master. I still rant and rage and swear vociferously (and I think creatively), but the reflection is happening. Slowly.

I have also stopped using food/wine as an emotional crutch. Sort of. I think this statement needs to be qualified. Food has always been part of my emotional response to situations. But I don’t necessarily comfort eat when I am stressed or upset (although sometimes I do). I comfort cook. This first became obvious to me when I was on study leave for my GCSE’s which was many moons ago. I baked every single day. It started with recipes I knew well, and regarded as simple and were family favourites such as Victoria sponge. And I had to make them all by hand. Creaming butter and sugar by hand is surprisingly hard, but it was very therapeutic and it took my mind elsewhere. My mum went to the shops daily to re-stock the fridge with eggs and butter, less frequently to stock the cupboards with flour and sugar, but she did start bulk buying. Creating food that other people could eat and enjoy was also very important, and my brother still reckons that I make the best Victoria sponge he has ever tasted. As time went on, the food became more complex, peaking with a tiramisu cheesecake that, including hand-making the chocolate stars to decorate it, took 5 hours. (As an aside, none of this seemed to detract from my GCSE results, they were pretty good). The first items I bought after separating from my ex were two mixing bowls, wooden spoons, a set of scales and a hand whisk just like my mum had in the kitchen drawer. And I baked.

Clearly I haven’t been baking on Whole30, but I have been cooking. A lot. And I have spent a lot of time thinking and reading about cooking. My new wind down at the end of the evening is to think about new recipes, or plan new combinations of flavours. So food is still an emotional crutch, but it is not the kind of crutch that feels unhealthy. Doing something you enjoy to relax and focus is a very healthy way to deal with stress. Cooking is my yoga.

One of the things about cooking that is relaxing is the aromas that drift around while you prepare, and while the cooking is happening. Smells and sensations ground you in the here and now. If you don’t believe me try cutting up a juicy lemon just after you gave yourself a paper cut, or rubbing your eye just after chopping a chilli. You will be very focused on the immediate, very immediately. Preparing a slow cooking dish enables those aromas and sensations to float around for several hours, which has the added benefit/torture of making you hungry. Cooking focuses the mind on the present, gives you space and requires concentration and physical action to create.

Braised lamb with pepper and paprika.

Usually I would cook this in the oven, but mine is broken, so I used a heavy bottomed frying pan with a lid.

Ingredients:

  • A nice big chunk of lamb neck fillet.
  • Coconut oil- about a tbsp.
  • Water- about a pint
  • 1-2 tsps. Smoked sweet paprika
  • 1-2 tsps. Hot paprika
  • 1 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1-2 tsps. Nutmeg
  • 1-2 tsps. Cinnamon
  • 1-2 tsps. Garlic granules
  • 1-2 tsps Onion flakes
  • 2tbsps tomato paste

In the big frying pan heat up the coconut oil and place the lamb in the pan- it should sizzle in a comforting crackly log fire in a story book sort of way. Let it snap and crackle until the edge is seared caramel brown, and turn it over. If it is sticking to the pan, you might want to give it a couple of minutes longer- meat seems to know when it is ready to turn and conveniently stops sticking to the pan with so much determination, bowing to the inevitable. Once your lamb is seared, turn down the heat and add the water and spices and paste to the pan- the liquid should come about half way up the lamb. Stir them around. Bring to a simmer and then leave with the lid off, to puff wisps of steam around, diffusing warm and spicy comfort through the air. Let this happen for 45 minutes, maybe an hour and the liquid should have reduced significantly. It should be thick and reminiscent of terracotta in colour. Remove the lamb and slice into thick chunks. Place the chunks on a plate and spoon over the sauce. Serve with whatever you like. I like this with sugar snap peas and baba ghanoush. The best ever baba ghanoush recipe is Nigel Slater’s, and I’d like to add a thank you to Mr Slater. Not only has he taught me to make the most amazing baba ghanoush, he has been an inspiration.

A Child Centred School

I didn’t promise coherence. I think all schools should be child centred. My musings on this topic were prompted by some feedback I had from an interview I recently attended. While I didn’t get the job, the feedback was overwhelmingly positive in one particular area: my responses were all incredibly child centred and this was something that had impressed the panel and had really made them think. I was obviously flattered by the positive feedback (I am only human), but it made me think. What responses to questions about education are not child centred?

However you choose to teach in the classroom it will, I think, inevitably be child centred. For a start the maths are against you. There will always be more children in the room than there are you, or other adults (at least in mainstream education). Therefore what happens in the room is always going to be about the students and if they feel it isn’t, then they will make it so. However you choose to teach, it will be about the students in the room. But, the classroom wasn’t what was being talked about in this interview, it was a much wider ranging pastoral role. That made me think about the school as an entity. The raison d’etre of schools must surely be students, what else would it be? If we start with this premise, it should inform all of our following actions.

However, schools are long lived beings (in most cases) and just like your grandma only has her cup of tea made a certain way, and only with PG tips (or Typhoo) and silver top milk and one sugar, schools very often operate in a particular way because that is what they have always done. Children who arrive in Year 7 (or afterwards) are very quickly socialised into the school expectations (and if they are not, then they are frequently removed). Socialising students into expected behaviours isn’t in itself a problem, unless you are the problem child (this is probably an issue for another blog), but increasingly the school’s policies can become problematic for those students who are perfectly compliant and who want to achieve. Schools move away from a child centred approach to a school centred approach, and in doing so perhaps they harm both individuals and the school as an entity. For example, time tables. Students select their GCSE subjects after much consultation, information, advice and guidance. They might do this in year 9, they might do this in year 8. This will be dictated by the school. Some students will be told they cannot do particular subjects because they haven’t high enough SAT’s grades, some will be told demand is too great for a particular subject and they must choose another, still more (usually the entire year group) will be told they must pick between subjects: history or geography, Spanish or French. All the time their choices are being denied, some subjects will be forced upon them: everybody must do, D&T for example. The argument for these choices being forced upon students is that their choices must be timetabled according to what is available (staff, rooms). But what if we started with student choices, rather than the timetable blocks? Why should a 13 year old be forced to choose between their love of history and their enjoyment of geography? If they choose history they cannot study geography in an academic context ever again until they are quite grown up. I went to a school where for GCSE’s I had to study English, Maths and Science. I chose to do History, Geography, Religious Studies, Spanish and French. Students who choose what they enjoy and what they feel they are good at then they might be more successful, which is good for them as individuals, good for their teachers, and good for the school as an entity. Time tabling to student needs must be a possibility. After all, the time table is a construct, not an objective way of organising time, and so offering a student peppermint tea instead of PG Tips, might mean they are more likely to drink it.

When a school does decide to change a policy, introduce a new initiative, go to a two week time table then the first question must be, who does this serve best? If not the child, then who? If not the child, then why? (to bastardise Primo Levi)

These kinds of issues clearly go far beyond the individual school, expectations about subject choice and achievement are dictated by government and schools frequently reflect the newest targets and ideologies that have been issued by the DofE. The measurements of school based on Ebac subjects chosen, insisting all children learn to read in a certain way, or use language in a particular way might be examples of some of these ideas. Again the question is, why does the Department of Education exist if it is not child centred? What edicts pass the child centred test? Who else is education for if not the child? It might be argued that education has benefits that go beyond the individual, we need our children to be educated for the successful functioning of society, to enable them to contribute, to support themselves, ultimately to make money. While all these things may currently be true, we are often told that we need to find something we enjoy in order to be successful- “Find out what you like doing best and get someone to pay you for it.”(Katharine Whitehorn). That is the individual child centred approach. Find out what you like doing and choose between all of those options because the system dictates you must is very different.

The school has decided that all the students have to have their tea (PG Tips)with milk and sugar regardless of how the students prefer their tea.

 

Whole30 Day17.. Crackling Coconut Chicken

I am writing this on day17 of my first Whole30. Overall, this whole30 process has gone reasonably smoothly, but perhaps this is because it is not radically different from how I usually eat. I have been following a pretty paleo diet (pretty as in mostly, not as in attractive) for a while now, and I have been eating low carb for a long time (apart from when I was in South America where carb is king. Seriously, you get a separate plate for your carbs, usually rice, potato and fried plantain). Anyway, food wise I haven’t found this particularly hard. I have, of course, had cravings and you can see this in my previous blogs. It has however, made me examine the emotional reasons for these cravings as well as the physical. Why do I want a glass of wine at the end of the day? Do I need it? What purpose does it serve? And can I get by without it? The answer is obviously, yes I can. Do I want to? That is a question I am finding more difficult to answer. I like wine. I enjoy drinking wine with friends. I even enjoy a glass by myself with a good book. Is this something I want to change permanently? No. But how do I decide when the difference between enjoying something and that’s ok (food freedom) and when it is an emotional trigger response. Do I want to think about it all that much?

I can’t see that I have lost any weight while doing Whole30. I know I am not supposed to be thinking about the number on the scale, but I am. I am thinking more about the number on the tape measure- have I lost any inches? If not, I am going to be very disappointed, but I think I will have to face that disappointment in 13 days as my clothes seem to fit exactly as they did two weeks ago.. Are non-scale victories enough for me? At the moment I don’t think they are because I am overweight and my body fat is far too high, so I am trying to reduce both through a healthy diet and exercise. If following the Whole30 principles doesn’t help me to do that, then I need to do something else and the only thing that has really worked for me is calorie counting. I am going to wait until the end, however, I know that my body usually takes 3-4 weeks to show any real change when I make changes in my diet and exercise. I should also take into account the cough I have had, which has reduced my cardio to almost zero for several weeks. I know people say you don’t need cardio to lose weight/inches, but I find it really, really helps.

So what are my non-scale victories?

  • I have more energy. My work outs have become more intense and I am working out more often, as well as lifting heavier. I feel like I am properly full of nutrients that are helping me to perform.
  • I have had some difficult moments and I have reflected upon them, and got through them. These have been personal and food related. Some have been more difficult than others. Smelling the fresh baked bread in the supermarket made my mouth water, but I was able to resist tearing off a big chunk and stuffing my face. Victory is mine!
  • I am able to be more alert and in the moment.
  • I am sleeping better. It has become normal to feel tired at around ten pm and I am falling asleep much more quickly and waking much more naturally at around 5.30-6.00am. This might be something to do with my physical tiredness, but my natural patterns are no longer interrupted by sugar highs/lows or affected by alcohol.
  • I have proved to myself that I can do this. I don’t need to wine-d down at the end of the day, I can resist temptation, even when a student buys me a massive box of Lindt chocolate truffles, I put them away in a drawer. Now I am thinking about them. Damn!

Now one of the things that has helped is making food I really enjoy, and Crackling Coconut Chicken is one of them. This is based on Cracklin’ Chicken by Michelle Tam @nomnompaleo which is great by itself, but I was looking for something a bit more saucy and I had coconut milk to use up.

 

Ingredients (for 4 meals)

  • 4 large chicken thighs (skin on, bone on)
  • Ghee (about ½ tbsp. more if you like)
  • ¾ can of coconut milk
  • ¼ pint compliant chicken stock
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • And inch and a half of ginger
  • Tumeric (about 1tsp.)
  • Cayenne pepper to your taste (I used about ¼ tsp.)
  • Green veg (I used sugar snap peas, green pepper, red chard, baby spinach)

Method:

This starts as nomnompaleo’s crackling chicken, but you don’t need to remove the bones. Instead use scissors to snip along the line of the bone so that you can flatten out each thigh. Turn over and salt the skin. Melt the ghee in a heavy bottomed frying pan and place the chicken thighs in the pan skin side down and let them crackle. This should take about 7-10 minutes. Meanwhile, pour the coconut milk, stock and spices into a food processor and blitz together. Taste. Add more of anything you feel like. Once the crackling chicken is all crackled, remove from the pan and remove the skin from the top. I give it away to be eaten, but if you like it have a quick chicken snack. Let the pan cool a little and return the chicken to the pan, uncooked side down. It might frizzle a little but that’s ok. Add the coconut milk mixture to the pan and bring to a simmer. Leave the chicken to cook through (about 20-25 minutes). While this is happening, prepare the green veg you are going to add. Once the chicken is cooked through and the sauce is reduced a little, add the green veg and cook for 3-4 minutes until tender enough for your taste  (like mine quite crunchy).

Et voila! Tasty and Whole30 compliant. Oo la la!

 

Ps it keeps pretty well in the fridge and tastes great heated up the next day..or even the day after, so great if you like to meal prep.

 

 

Returning to teacher centred learning

I would describe my classrooms as child centred, if I was pushed. I would go so far as to say I am lazy in the classroom because I don’t feel like I do very much. I change the power point slide, I put students in groups or pairs, hand out questions, sometimes I even ask them, I very rarely answer them with the answer, I frequently tell students ‘I don’t know’, sometimes I don’t even let them talk to each other (silence is golden). My power points contain little information, just a series of instructions that I expect students to read and then follow. I say child centred because it is the students that are working and I am a wanderer, at least that’s how it feels to me most of the time. So why am I there? Because I know how to teach; I have planned that lesson with very specific goals in mind, because students need someone in the room to direct them (even if it is just to the right page in the textbook- I did say lazy).But also because on occasion I need to be standing at the front telling students about the subject, because I know what happens when you remove a child’s right hemisphere and the resultant effects on their learning, I can tell them what happens during brain surgery, the difference between sticky and non-sticky brain tumours, what we mean by being fruit aphasic, how to do a sigh test. But mostly my work happens outside of the room in the planning, preparation, reading, marking, and all the paperwork. That is, the bit that feels like work anyway.

Recently in the twittersphere there seems to have been a swing back towards teacher centred ideas about education (from my brief forays into the world of twitter). The pendulum has swung back again from student led learning, group work and student leaders, to teachers being central in the classroom, and to any learning that happens. Perhaps this is a response to the battering the profession has received politically- actually we are important, we might be one person in the room but we control that room, sometimes with an iron fist, sometimes with a velvet glove and sometimes just with the LoLz. Without a qualified teacher, planning, directing and reflecting on what happens in the classroom, students will rarely get anything out of the lesson (see what happens when I leave my year 12’s work to do if I am absent vs. what happens when I am in the room).

I think this swing is an important one. It is difficult to argue that teachers are important when the profession itself was removing the word teaching from what it does. It is no longer teaching and learning, it is learning and teaching; you will no longer be judged on what you do in the room, rather you will be judged on the progress made by each student in the room at that time; I am a facilitator is very different to I am a teacher; students lead the learning is very different to teachers direct the learning. Perhaps by doing this we made it seem abundantly clear that teaching isn’t a profession with experts in their field practising every day, but more of a sales pitch to the people in the room to engage with the learning as they saw fit. In which case, why would we need to be qualified? After all, the students are leading the learning, making the rules and teaching each other. They are even marking their own work, or the work of their peers developing their own learning and that of others. Why, then, do we need an expert in pedagogy in the room? We simply need an administrator to put students in groups and remind them occasionally that they need to go and look at another student’s work.

We owe it to ourselves and our colleagues to acknowledge our own importance and value in the classroom, in the corridor and in the pastoral meetings we have with students. Teachers are professional educators, and we need to take that mantle back, and wear it with pride. We need to remember that students need professionals in the room if they are to succeed, people who know what they are doing and reflect on how to do it better. A teacher centred school is one that enables teachers to do the best for their students because it enables good teaching. It tells the world that teaching is important.

What teacher centred is not:

  • An easy life for teachers;
  • Doing what you have always done;
  • Working 9am til 3.30pm (despite what people I meet out and about seem to think);
  • Coasting (although I hesitate to use the word);
  • Cynical and self-serving.

What teacher centred learning is:

  • The best for children.

Next blog: on being child centred.

With thanks to Tom Sherrington: https://headguruteacher.com/2016/06/12/schools-should-be-more-teacher-centred/

 

 

I am a teacher

If you have looked at my blog, you will see it is mostly about food. That is because I like food, a lot. I do like teaching to, but I haven’t blogged about teaching. Until now. It is my job and I am exceedingly lucky to share an office with amazing colleagues with whom I can discuss my concerns, frustrations, and even those moments where you feel like something good has really happened, whether in the classroom or just a passing comment or occurrence in the corridor. Perhaps this is why I don’t use the medium of blogging to record or analyse my thoughts because they are writ large every day.

But that may be changing. I still have my colleagues with whom I can reflect, and discuss and argue. They challenge me and make me think, but perhaps I need to spend more time in self-reflection, or even (and this is risky) gaining a wider view of what I think. There is always the danger of working closely with people that you hear back what you want to hear. So, there are things that are on my mind that I might be blogging about, inconsistent as those thoughts might be. I am not promising coherence.

I have been a head of department, a pastoral lead (in a minor way). I trained just over ten years ago as a Religious Studies teacher, but swerved into teaching psychology accidentally, and I now teach psychology and sociology A-levels, and a little key stage3 religious studies (for the first time since 2007). I no longer have any management responsibility and I have just returned from a 12 month sabbatical, which I used to travel the world with a brief foray into the world of teaching English as a foreign language.

And now here I am pondering the profession I have rejoined.

 

Whole30 Day14…Self Awareness and sausage recipe

Day 14 could be considered the polar opposite of day 13. I feel so much better. I was still up at the crack of dawn, but I didn’t mind. I had coffee and breakfast in bed and read a bit, then I got up and went to the gym where I had a cracking work out that I really enjoyed, although it was challenging. I also managed to do ten minutes of cardio without coughing up a lung which is progress, even if it was incredibly low level and very slow.

I also spent a little time thinking- the gym is a very good place for that. Yesterday was rough for reasons that go way beyond the whole30 thing. It was the anniversary of my mum’s death, in case you are wondering, made all the more poignant by my dad’s death earlier this year (which raised its own emotional minefield) Usually I deal with those things by having some wine, perhaps a bit of a cry and going to bed. But yesterday I couldn’t do that. I had to actually think and feel and make a decision about how I was going to do that. I externalised it- partly consciously and partly unconsciously as I didn’t want to acknowledge that I could be affected. So, is that an NSV? Being made to think and feel? I don’t know. There are a lot of boxes to unpack if that is the case, and I am not altogether sure that I want to. However, I also decided that my mantra for today (and it should be everyday really) is to be kind to myself. So I have tried to be. And you should too. Everyday.

So, back to the positive vibes I woke up with…and the pork ‘sausages’ in the title. I haven’t found any whole 30 compliant sausages in any shop I have been in. They all contain gluten or rice flour, but I have found a million recipes for breakfast sausage spice for minced pork (or ground pork in American). They are really burgers, but I prefer sausages for breakfast, so that is what I call them.  They would be equally good for lunch or dinner though. They are really easy to make and they freeze well once you have cooked them.

Ingredients- makes about 6/7 burgers depending how big you make your balls..nudge nudge.

500g pork mince

Onion very finely sliced- I have used both red (about ¼) and spring ( approx.. 4) . Either work equally well.

1-2 tsp. smoked paprika

1-2 tsp. nutmeg

1-2 tsp hot paprika

1-2 tsp. garlic granuals

1-2 tsp. cinnamon

1 tsp. salt

I say 1-2 tsps. because it is really up to you how much you like each flavour.

1 egg beaten.

Method:

Put all the ingredients in a bowl and smoosh them altogether with your hands. When they are thoroughly mixed, take a handful of the mixture and make into a burger shape.

Once you have used up all the mixture, heat some oil (I use coconut) in a large frying pan and cook over a medium heat until browned on one side, flip them and cook the other side.  They will be firm when they are pressed if they are done. Eat them straight away or let them cool a little and put them in the freezer.

Meal prep. Done.

Whole30 Day13 .. Wine on my mind

I woke up at about 5.30am today. Went back to sleep…sort of. Gave up at 6.00am and got up and started the day. Admittedly starting the day just meant making coffee and getting back into bed, but it was started. That’s how I always start my day, but usually under protest. Not this morning, this morning I was happy to be alive. I had a whole day!

Well that lasted until about 3.00pm. And it’s been downhill since then. I had lunch which was delicious- chicken thighs pan fried in ghee (see nomnompaleo crackling chicken for the recipe). Although I am assured these are compliant and they were delicious, they still left me with that slightly depressed ‘junk food’ hangover. I really like them, but I don’t think I’ll do them again in the same way. Secondly, it is day 13 and I feel fat. Clothes don’t seem any loser, my stomach seems bloated and I have that heavy feeling. It might be a physical ‘junk food’ hangover after the fried chicken, but it is discouraging. I know there are 17 days still to go (oh god how I know), but I was sort of hoping for a bit more.

The good things:

  • I have more energy;
  • I have worked out harder;
  • I am awake early;
  • I have tried new recipes;

BUT…

  • I am in bed much earlier…around 9pm so no wonder I am awake earlier;
  • I have a hacking cough from hell so I can’t cardio (this might be why I feel ‘fat’);
  • I am so bored of drinking water, fizzy water, herbal tea (for the record most herbal tea tastes like fermented grass and is horrible);
  • I feel quite isolated- the online shit and approbation from strangers doesn’t really make up for going out with good friends and enjoying food and wine together. I don’t care what whole30 say about being allowed canola oil when you go out, it is fucking impossible to remain compliant;
  • There are 17 days to go….

So today I am not really happy with my decision to do 30 days. I am not feeling the boundless energy and optimism, or self-efficacy or pride in my ‘acheivement’. I am feeling pissed off, grumpy, fat and I want a glass of cold sauvignon blanc while I sit on the sofa and watch Zombeaver- yes that’s right- a film about zombie river rodents.

Whole30 Day9…I’m hungry

I’m hungry. I am not sure why either. I have eaten a good breakfast, a decent lunch. I nibbled some nuts, at some fruit and had a good dinner. But I still feel hungry. At the end of a meal I feel satiated, but a little while later, hunger comes calling. Am I bored? Possibly. I spent writing Year 12 reports is never one filled with excitement, but I have been occupied. Besides, I thought I had become quite good at distinguishing between I am bored ‘hungry’ and I am actually really ‘hungry’ and that was before I started Whole30. And I think I am eating a lot. Loads! I am drinking a lot of water and herbal tea (also quite a bit of coffee too) and I have been doing less cardio than usual because I have had a chest infection that makes me cough at anything that resembles heavy breathing.

Is it the sugar dragon calling through a sneaky disguise? Whispering temptation to eat more and more? If so he’s not asking for anything particularly sugary, in fact he doesn’t seem to want anything sweet at all…just hungry. Do I just keep eating until I stop feeling hungry? I don’t really know if  is a whole30 thing…

In other news, according to the timeline I will be feeling bloated and ready to give up today and tomorrow and probably the next day. Oh good.

So I have a personal training session booked tomorrow…that should keep my mind off eating anyway.

Whole30 Day6: A confession … and a recipe

Let’s start with the confession. I cracked. It was about 2.30am and I had been trying to sleep for hours. Hot drinks failed to sooth, I couldn’t find anyway of lying comfortably, I was angry and frustrated and in pain. I got out of bed and decided enough was enough! I had a strepsil. Yes a strepsil. It has only taken 6 days of coughing to the wee hours but I finally had one of those sugar filled throat soothers. And it was bliss. My throat calmed down, I could breathe and finally I could sleep. I think this technically means that I should start over on the whole30. The ‘tough love’ approach of whole30 gets my respect in a way, but you know what, this was hard, and not because I was desperate for sugar or bread or donuts. So fuck that. I am not starting over.  I did not awake the sugar dragon. I did not self-sabotage because I hate myself (let’s be honest, if I was going to that it would be with a bottle of gin, not a strepsil). I did not wake up and eat a whole loaf of bread and a tub of ice cream. So, I think I am ok in not starting over. Besides which, I reached the end of the first row in my little whole30 calendar today and no little strepsil is taking that away from me.

So following my minimal (maximal?) over-reaction to eating a strepsil, what about today? I still feel rubbish, but caved to the inevitable and decided to spend the day in bed, or at least, inside. I bought a fuckton of new (old) novels from ‘the golden age of detective fiction’ from a host of new (to me) authors and I have read half one called ‘From Information Received’ by ER Pushon. Highly praised by Dorothy L Sayers when originally reviewed, I am enjoying it. It has a promising start with the over bearing financier refusing to countenance marriage between his daughter and a solicitor, while he is being embezzled by his own solitcitor. Ripe and ready for a good murdering he is. I have also cooked rather a lot in preparation for going back to work next week so there is plenty of stuff in the fridge/freezer and no excuse for going off-plan. Which brings us somewhat haphazardly to the recipe alluded to in the title.

Whole30 Compliant Mediterranean Braised Lamb

Notes: this is a one pot super easy, absolutely delicious meal. You can add veg to the sauce if you like to braise along with the lamb, or cook it separately.

Ingredients:

Coconut oil

Lamb neck fillets (enough to stop you feeling hungry, I am going to use 200g)

3 or 4 cloves of garlic

½ tin of tomatoes

½ pint chicken stock (compliant if you are whole30)

2 tsps capers

Handful of olives

3 or 4 bayleaves

2-3 tsps of mixed herbs or basil, organo, thyme to your taste

 

Method:

Heat the coconut oil in a large heavy frying pan. It should be hot hot because you are going to seer the lamb once it is. Hold the lamb so each sized is browned, and then turn the heat down. Add the stock and use a spatula to scrap up and crispy meaty goodness from the bottom of the pan.

Add the tinned tomatoes and the rest of the ingredients. The stock/tomato mixture should be approximately half way up the side of the lamb. If not add some more liquid (water if you are whole30 or red wine if you are not) and then bring the liquid to gentle simmer and leave it alone to simmer away for about 45-60 minutes, checking occasionally it doesn’t need more liquids. If you are worried then you can cover it. If you like your lamb thoroughly cooked through then leave it for longer, less so if you prefer it a bit pink. Sorry to be timing vague but it depends on how much lamb you are using and its size and shape.

I like to serve this with green stuff, especially peas. Tonight it will have to be sugar snap because of the stupid whole30 pea protocol. It would also taste great sprinkled with a little feta, if you eat dairy.