hi and hello.

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It’s been so long since I’ve said hello.

So, hello!

Spring is really here it seems and with that I’ve been finding myself driving to work in the sunshine, blasting my country music as loud as it will go. Spring has a way of bringing pure joy with it, doesn’t it? Take today, for example. I was running later than usual to work, and there were no eggs left in the fridge, but bygonnit! It was sunny out! And about to be over 50 degrees! And so smiling was what I had to give and I gave it all I’ve got. I just love that.

We are ONE WEEK away from our west coast trip and I don’t think I could be more excited about it if I tried. Can you believe it’s here already? I can hardly. Give it to me, California. GIVE IT ALL TO ME. My list of things to do is longer than a ball of twine, and each day I add more and more. Whatever we do, whatever we see, I know I’ll just be thankful to be there experiencing it. I’ve been dreaming of this for SO SO long. When Zan and I were talking about it the other day, which we do most everyday, we realized that this is the first trip we’ve taken together in a long time. We went out to San Diego forever ago, and since then, only road trips here and there or family vacations. So, we’re excited about that! Traveling together is fun and I can’t wait to see the other side of the country with that guy by my side. He did warn me once not to take TOO MANY photos, but I told him I can’t promise anything like that. HELLO. :)

In other everyday news, tonight I’m eating tacos and adding clothes to my “vacation pile”, which also seems to be getting bigger by the minute. I’m planning to travel with just a carry-on, so I guess I have some work to do in that department. I ordered the weekender from Everlane, and hooray! I think it will be perfect. Also, the Sandlot’s on currently, so you can’t really beat that. ABC Family! It never lets me down.

// see above:

some favorite instas from the past few months.
We’re visiting my Gram again this weekend
{she’s back at home!} and I’m so looking
forward to giving her a hug. ♥

ribbon, Studio Carta
necklace + bracelet, The Jones Market
hand lettered print, Brim Papery

ratatouille, and other delicious food talk.

ratatouille

Life has been such a busy piece of work these past few weeks. Week days have been about hustling. Hustle here, hustle there, wake up early, make dinner late. GO GO GO all dang day. I feel like such a busy body day in and day out, and mostly this is good, but also, I can’t help but feel the need for a good solid break. Today I got such a day and so, finally, FINALLY, I can sit down to write a little bit down.

I am so excited that spring is officially here. No matter the forecast, the warmth WILL arrive soon and the cold will just be a memory. The beauty in winter is that spring will come. Spring will always come, and that is something that can keep me going for a lifetime.

These days I’ve been cooking and sleeping and swimming and teaching. Not in that exact order, but those are the things that occupy my days. Also, West Coast planning. I could do our West Coast planning ALL NIGHT LONG, and guess what? I do. We’ve got all our accommodations in order, and now we’re planning our adventures— what we’ll eat, where we’ll walk, what we’ll see, e v e r y t h i n g we’ll do. It’s so exciting! And certainly helping me get through this last bout of chilly weather.

Lately I’ve been reading Molly Wizenburg’s A Homemade Life, partly because I love her writing, and partly because a night at Delancey is on the agenda for Seattle. If you haven’t read her blog or her book before, I highly encourage it. She’s got that smooth-like-butter way of story-telling that’s just my favorite– an instant friend, cozy, thoughtful and full of wisdom. Many of her recipes are filled with flour and butter and sugar, which I have plans to try here and there in the future, but yesterday I decided to go for her Ratatouille– a pot full of vegetables that TASTES LIKE HEAVEN.

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Ratatouille, inspired by Molly Wizenburg/Orangette:

For the stew:

Extra-virgin olive oil
2 eggplant {see photo above for size}
1 zucchini
I medium onion {chopped}
1 red bell pepper
5 tomatoes
3 garlic cloves
Salt and Pepper
3 sprigs of fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
Fresh basil {I left this out because I didn’t have any unfortunately, but I bet it’s top notch when you put it in.}

How to make:

{Molly likes to cook all the veggies in her ratatouille separately, so I followed her advice the entire recipe through. I just feel like she’s one of those people you can trust, you know?}

1. Cut the eggplant into 1-inch think rounds and roast them on a baking sheet at 400 degrees for about 30 minutes. I brushed olive oil over them, and flipped them half-way through.

2. While the eggplant was cooking, you cook the zucchini {in cubes} in the olive oil over medium heat, stirring occasionally for about 20 minutes, or until soft and starting to brown. I used my 3 and 1/2 QT le crueset, which worked out perfectly.

3. Remove the zucchini and set aside, then cook the onions in the same pot, about 15 more minutes, before adding the bell pepper.

4. Add the tomatoes {I cut mine as best I could into cubes– Molly says to remove the seeds, but I just chopped them up {messily} as best I could, threw them in, and said a prayer. All turned out FINE.

5. Next, I minced in the 3 cloves of garlic, added 3/4 teaspoons of salt, the thyme, and the bayleaf. I let those cook in the pot while I chopped up the cooled eggplant into largish cubes, then tossed those in with the cooked zucchini and let it simmer all together for about 20 more minutes– until it was all soft and stew-like.

The finished product was perfect. I removed the bay leaf, had a bowl for dinner, then tucked the pot away in the fridge, excited for my next tasting, as Molly says it’s best on day 2!

{You can find the original recipe in this book– such a wonderful documentation of memories and recipes, I can’t help but smile through each and every page.}

//

Do you have any other favorite veggie-filled recipes? I’m really cooking more than ever lately and I’d love to try some new meals out if you’ve got them for me. Preferably Paleo, but I’m open. Also, do any of you grow your own veggies? We’ve been talking about making a garden out back this year, and I’m wondering what are some easy/favorite vegetables to grow?

If you’re thinking to yourself WHO ARE YOU AND WHAT DID YOU DO WITH ANNA, don’t worry, I’ve been wondering the exact same thing. It’s just, cooking is actually really kind of easy, and lately I’ve been all, wow! gosh! Who knew?

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Other food-related things that have been on my mind lately:

// I’m excited to share my Ratatouille at a dinner with friends tonight. I made it especially because my friend Edith is in the thiiiiiiiick of Whole30 right now {her words!} and so I wanted to bring something that everyone would enjoy. I hope it’s a hit.

// Yesterday morning, my sister and I had breakfast at Rifrullo Cafe in Brookline and I got the most delicious frittata of all time. It had sweet potato and mushrooms and whatever the seasoning was, it was SO GOOD! Seriously love that place. YUM.

// Because a Monday night is a good a night as any to have dinner out with your blog friends, we’re checking out Alden and Harlow in Harvard Square and I am SO excited. The menu looks divine and I am looking forward to my first drink since February. {MMMMhmmmm.}

// As for the blog agenda this week, I am FINALLY! going to share about Zan and my dinner at Neptune Oyster.  That place deserves it’s own post and I’ve been meaning to share some photos I took there {IN DECEMBER, whoops} for awhile now. THE BEST. Must visit again soon. :)

// And since I have no plans to turn this into a food blog {though it may seem that way} and we’re on the topic of food already, I think I’ll use this here post to compile all the places recommended to me from that time I told you I was going to the West Coast. So many gems! I must write them all down in one place.

Places on my San Francisco TO EAT LIST:

Tartine Bakery
Pizzaria Delfina
Bri-Rite Creamery
Tacolicious
Marlowe
And, obviously, In and Out {I have been dreaming of my return there FOR YEARS.}

And Big Sur:

Deetjan’s {this is where we’re staying, too!}
Nepenthe

AND! Seattle:

Delancey + Essex !
The Walrus and the Carpenter
Ocho
Pike Place Chowder
Dick’s Drive-In
Umi Sake House

All completely indulgent, and beyond amazing, I’m sure.

Ahhh. Delicious food is the spice of life, isn’t it?

sweet victory.

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I’m really truly proud of myself.

That’s what I am right now. YOU GO, GLEN COCO, I keep whispering in my head.

I bought myself some gorgeous flowers and Mast Brothers to celebrate.

30 days and I’m done.

Except I’m not done, not really. I’m going to keep eating clean/Paleo as much as I can. I did it for 30 days and feel AMAZING, so why would I stop now? The plan is to keep eating the way I have been at home– all breakfast, lunch, and dinners. Yes it requires some planning and prep work, I’ve discovered, but that’s something I’m completely willing to stick to. If we plan dinner out or want to be social? My feeling will be, ENJOY IT.

Above all I do know this: Eating clean = feeling good = worth it.

I do want to add some things back into my diet in moderation. I will be eating legumes at the end of this week because Zan’s making an incredible Bison chilli {from this cookbook} that I love. Will I add cheese and sour cream to the chili like I used to? I think I’ll steer clear of that for now. I did buy my favorite cracked pepper goat cheese that I plan to add to my salads {and eat with a spoon} and also, well, CHOCOLATE. Goat cheese and chocolate. Ha! Those are the only real things I’m craving. That’s weird right?

This past weekend I saw a picture of a juicy cheese burger and I was all OOOMAAAGAAHHHHHD. Neeeeeeed. But really, I don’t think I NEED that right now. It looked good, and eventually I’ll be sure to have one, but all in good time.

In the past month I’ve slept better than I ever have, I’m feeling good in my clothes again, and found more uses for coconut oil than I ever could have dreamed up myself {so. many. uses!}. I feel SO energized. I started working out. I stopped my itchy skin!! As far as I can tell, my smell is the same {not great}, but my sinuses are definitely better in terms of sneezing/allergies {no more Zyrtec!}, so I’m still holding out hope for someday.

This month was about doing what I set out to do and giving it my all. And I’m proud of myself for that. Really darn proud.

And now, I just really want a piece of dark chocolate.

And so, sweet victory, dark chocolate it will be. :)

every last detail // my whole30 experience.

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21 days in! B O O M.

L E T ‘ S  G E T  C L E A N.

I’m trying to figure out how to start this post. I want to tell you all the things– all the decisions, and details, and reasons, but I’m just not sure how to begin. I think I’ll start with me, a month ago, feeling lazy, and heavy, and blah. A good a place to start as any, I guess. The holidays were over, we were deep into winter, and I just didn’t feel good about the way I felt or the way my clothes fit. I was eating whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted, my skin was itchy, and my sinuses were crap. And so, I went out to change a few things.

//

My decision to try The Whole30 came from a mix of different places. A little over a year ago I talked with my friend Kristin about her experience with Whole30. I felt encouraged by her success, asked a lot of questions, and then basically put it on the back burner of my mind. Did I think it was awesome? Yes. Did I think I could do it? No.

In February and March I knew of two other friends that were trying Whole30. My good friend Liz loved it so much, she’s continued to live a Whole30-inspired lifestyle, which really got me to think more about trying it myself. And yet. I put it on the back burner of my brain AGAIN. But every time I’d get together with her {and saw how TERRIFIC she looked. Seriously.} I’d think to myself– I should do that someday. I should try that.

Another friend of mine from college switched to a Paleo lifestyle, and she called me on the phone one day SO EXCITED about her sinuses. You see, she used to get sinus infections A L L  T H E  T I M E. Every month, every week, it seemed– but when she stopped eating like she used to and started eating clean, she stopped getting sinus infections completely. WHAT? As a long time sufferer of allergies, and more recently, some serious sinus trouble, this sounded AMAZING. Sign me up! Someday.

Someday.

Someday.

Someday.

Always someday, never today.

Until now.

I don’t know exactly what finally caused me to commit. I’m thinking it was a combination of feeling unhealthy, and seeing others’ success. My two friends Janee and Molly have been huge inspirations. My friend Jolie started eating clean, and is making a real effort to get fit. And so, one weekend in early February I just said LET’S DO THIS. TODAY.

And I am so glad I did.

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You can read all the nitty gritty details about The Whole30 here, but I’m going to write a little bit about my eating experience, and what it’s meant to me.

First off, you can basically eat only 6 main staples. Protein, vegetables, fruit, oils and butters, coconut and olives, and nuts and seeds.

It’s not a lot, but it’s plenty.

You cannot eat grains, dairy, sugar, legumes, or alcohol. Basically, any kind of processed food is out, and only REAL NATURAL food is in.

For me, this has been a life change. I used to eat a lot of processed food, a lot of grains, and dairy, and chocolate. It’s what I grew up with, it’s what all the commercials and even doctors told me was good, it’s all that I knew. This new way of eating is different, but it’s not bad. Also, I picked a time of the year when not much is happening and I can easily make my own food and be successful. No vacations, no celebrations, just me, making a lot of trips to the grocery store, spending a lot of time in my kitchen.

You’re supposed to eat 3 balanced meals a day, following this meal plan, and avoid snacking. I sometimes snack, because I just can’t help it, but the things I’m snacking on now are way better than anything I was ever snacking on before.

Here are some of my go-to meals:

BREAKFAST

Always eggs {scrambled or soft boiled}.
Greens {cooked kale, broccoli} or butternut squash, or sweet potatoes, or carrots, or any veggie, really!
Sometimes maybe a banana with almond butter. Or raspberries. Or blueberries.
Black coffee. {Not as bad as you’d think. I tried coconut milk in it {whole food brand, in a can}, but didn’t love the way it seemed oily.}

LUNCH/DINNER

I mix up my proteins and veggies and try to make enough for leftovers.

Turkey meat sauce over spaghetti squash
Fish with turnips and collared greens {Zan made this one night. YUM.}
Beef Stew
Paleo Pad Thai
Marinated chicken and salad {My friend Liz told me about this dressing and it is amazing.}
Mom’s Chicken Soup {from Whole Foods}

Also, always a little side of fruit. Usually berries. Sometimes watermelon. Today mango. YUM. And nuts. I like cashews and pistachios. Mmm.

People swear by avocado, but I got sick on an avocado once {like reeeeeeallly sick} and remember getting stomach pains when previously eating them, so I haven’t been adding any to my meals. I know, I know, HOW CAN YOU NOT LOVE AVOCADO??, everyone always asks. To which I answer, I just don’t like feeling sick. Duh.

Mostly, my meals are simple. Which is fine by me, I was never a terribly fancy meal eater anyway.

Another note: Zan is eating grain-free, dairy-free right now. He’s been traveling a lot for work lately, so hasn’t been able to commit to Whole30 completely {you really do need to have control of a kitchen}, but when he’s here, he eats what I make OR if I’m lucky, he’ll make a delicious clean dinner for me. He is WAAAAAAAY better in the flavor department, so I relish in this.

//

Things I miss:

Egg salad sandwiches on wheat bread
Chocolate chip cookies
Bruegger’s bagels.
Going out to dinner.
GOAT CHEESE.

For the most part, it’s actually surprising how painless this has been for me. When you delve into the internet and read other people’s Whole30 experiences they talk a lot about cravings, and headaches, and weird dreams, and “hating everything”. I never experienced any of that. I really just try to eat until I’m full and make sure to have a snack with me in case of emergencies. Once I’m satisfied, I don’t feel any cravings. Do I still claim to love chocolate? Obviously, forever, but it’s been fine to go without it for the time being.

When I told my friend it wasn’t that hard, she responded with, “It’s your attitude.”

And I completely agree.

It’s 30 D A Y S. Not a lifetime.

I’m sure some people are rolling their eyes at me. I know it’s not so easy for everyone. I know it’s hard to be social when you can’t eat what everyone else is eating or drink what everyone else is drinking {or even at all}. And believe me, I KNOW that dessert is amazing and that grilled cheese is heaven {I remember}, but I  also love the perspective they give on the Whole30 website: “It is not hard. Don’t you dare tell us this is hard. Beating cancer is hard. Birthing a baby is hard. Losing a parent is hard. Drinking your coffee black. Is. Not. Hard. You’ve done harder things than this, and you have no excuse not to complete the program as written. It’s only thirty days, and it’s for the most important health cause on earth – the only physical body you will ever have in this lifetime.”

To which I say, A M E N.

Although, I do plan on eating like this at home indefinitely {probably more Paleo, which is very similar}, I also plan on enjoying the occasional dinner out or indulgence when we’re traveling. Of course! Because, LIVING! But I’m liking the way this food is making me feel, and I like knowing EXACTLY what I’m putting in my body, so why not continue to eat this way as much as I can?

After 21 days, consider me sold.

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A little bit about the results, so far…

I’m not done yet, but as of day 21 I want to write down some of the differences I feel since starting the Whole30.

SLEEP

Best sleep ever.

I put my head on the pillow, and OUT LIKE A LIGHT. I don’t wake up in the night, I don’t toss and turn, and when my alarm goes off in the morning, I don’t feel like I want to cry.

{Also, and this isn’t necessarily Whole30 related, but ever since getting my Fitbit, I feel like I’m in a race with myself to get a good amount of hours in each night. I’m trying for at least 7 hours, which means I have to put some effort into settling in earlier than I’m used to.}

SINUS /ALLERGIES

I used to be ADDICTED to Zyrtek. Not even kidding. I’d take it every day for itchy nose and sneezing, and also itchy skin. I took it every day for probably close to 5 years. Two weeks before I started Whole30, in an experiment to “see if I could do without it”, I stopped taking it. Just up and stopped. My skin itched LIKE CRAZY for maybe three weeks, and now it doesn’t! I can’t say for sure if this is because of the Whole30, but I’d like to think so.

Also, my sinuses are really bad. I can’t smell that well, only really strong scents, and even once had an MRI to look into it. {I’m fine.} Turns out I’m prone to sinus infections, but I don’t get symptoms like other people do {face hurts, headaches} so I could go a long time without even realizing I have one or worse, having it treated. So far, my smell seems to be the same, but I’m hopeful. Another reason why I’m going to keep this way of eating up– I’ve read that people do have improvements in smell, so maybe I just need more time.

ENERGY

I feel so good. So so good. I feel well rested, and energetic. I don’t get that tired feeling after work that I used to get, which is amazing. The first two weeks I didn’t exercise {and maaaaany weeks before that}, but I went to the gym to walk every day last week and today I woke up early and did 30 minutes in the pool. ROCK STAR STATUS. I attribute this change in exercise to both the Whole30 and my fitbit. It all feels so fantastic.

WEIGHT

As far as weight goes, I am curious to see how the Whole30 changes my body. I’ve never been terribly obsessed with my weight, but the months leading up to this, I did feel heavier than usual, and the scale told me the same. Mostly, I want my pants to fit like they’re supposed to and it would be nice for my stomach to be flat. :) Technically, I’m not supposed to weight myself until the 30 days are up. I cheated, obviously, and checked in a few days ago {I’m only human}, and yes, I’ve lost a few LBS, which is awesome– but what’s more awesome is the way I feel, and that, FEELING GOOD AND ALIVE, is the thing I want to remember best– the most important thing of all.

//

Lastly,  some of my favorite resources:

For questions:

The Whole30 website has been my go-to. I basically google ” _______ (food) Whole30″ every single second and I’m brought to the Whole30 forum, where someone, naturally, has had that same question already. Very helpful.

For recipes:

Against All Grain

Eating Whole {and her instagram feed is awesome, too!}

{For true Whole30, Paleo recipes often need to be tweaked a little, but only in the slightest!}

For life:

The Eighty Twenty {I’ve linked to it once or twice before, but it’s a wonderful online space that truly celebrates living a clean, real lifestyle.}

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And that’s basically it. How I loved and lived Whole30 for 21 days, and how I will happily carry out the next 9 and beyond.

//

Thanks for reading this monster of a post.
I never read posts like this myself,
so if you’ve gotten to this point,
A GOLD MEDAL FOR YOU!

Questions/comments? You know where to find me.

And if you have favorite recipes or blogs, send away!