Nachos and cards

The kids and I are finally starting to sleep through the night, although bedtime is still earlier then usual and we are waking up before 8am.

Beautiful sunsets

After the second week of Whole30 and with us coming back to Canada, Kevin still stuck in a hotel in HK, the quarantine, the jetlag and having to rely on others to get groceries for us, we decided to stop our reset.

Our intention is to continue to eat healthier than we did before our Whole30 diet but without such a strict restriction on gluten and dairy.

The first thing I ate- oatmeal. Kevin- McDonald’s. Safe to say I won that round but the good thing was that he felt horrible after which was a good lesson on how eating healthy really does affect the way you feel.

Next I tried plain yogurt with honey; also fine. Then organic whole wheat bread. I might have had a reaction but I’m not sure because we had broccoli and cauliflower that night at dinner which can be gas producing. Will have to try again in a few days.

Also I made nachos for the kids and while we played cards I completely forgot that I was meant to avoid dairy still and ate the parts with cheese. Oops.

Homemade Nachos

3-4 cups blue corn tortilla chips. (My kids call them ‘Mom chips’ because they’ve never seen anyone buy blue corn chips except me)

1lb lean ground beef

1 cup shredded cheese, I use 4 cheese mix

1 cup chopped cherry tomatoes

1/2 cup cilantro, chopped

1/2 cup salsa

1/2 cup sour cream

2 tbsp chili powder

1 tbsp cumin, ground

1 tbsp paprika, smoked

1 tbsp garlic powder

1 tbsp onion powder

1 tbsp salt

1 tbsp pepper

1 tbsp arrowroot powder or cornstarch

Mix last 8 ingredients in a bowl, set aside.

Brown beef over medium-high heat. Once brown lower heat to medium and add spice mix and 1/2 cup water and stir until meat is coated and sauce has thickened.

Arrange chips on a microwave save plate. Spread beef mixture amd cheese over chips. Microwave on high 2-3 minutes until cheese is melted.

Add chopped tomatoes, cilantro, salsa and sour cream.

What’s your go-to card game? We are getting seriously stir crazy. 5 days to go….

The Flip

I think it’s Tuesday which means we’ve been here for 2 days. Night blends into day and days drag forever; we’ve been up since 3:46am.

Starving I made tuna and avocado wrapped in lettuce at 4am. Then I decided it was time to get our stomachs on Canadian time. We would eat at 9am 12-1pm and 5 or 6pm dinner if we make it that long. Bump it to 4 if needed.

It’s our stomachs that take so much time to switch. Not hungry through the day, starving by night. So routine is in need.

9am- fried an egg. Wasn’t satisfied without bread so I decided to try banana and egg pancakes. Its literally mashed banana and egg. It turned out really good. Added almond butter and coconut flakes.

12pm- Cobb Salad. I was told Primal Kitchen was Whole30 compliant so I ordered some salad dressing. But I’m a dummy and ordered the Honey Mustard which has honey in it. My resolve has weakened. It was my first intentional cheat.

Cobb Salad and board games

I am in quarantine and relying on family to fetch me groceries. You say ‘Can you help me with groceries?’ And they say, ‘Sure, no problem. Send me the list,’ expecting…

  • Milk
  • Bread
  • Eggs
  • Cheese
  • Chicken
  • A salad
  • Etc

They are not expecting this…..

  • Olive oil, light please I hate the taste of regular, no vegetable oil (palm, canola, etc)
  • Amond butter. It has to be 100% almond butter. Nothing else.
  • Sir Kensington Avocado Mayonnaise. Do not substitute.
  • Almond milk with no carragean, no sugar, nothing weird in the ingredients.
  • The bacon, has to be clean bacon.
  • Spices- make sure they aren’t the crappy ones with added ingredients.
  • And so on….

I’m glad my Mom has the patience to put up with an entire grocery list written like this but even with patience she couldn’t find all the things I asked for.

( Thanks mom and Joyce!! My grocery getters).

This reset just went to level 2 difficulty and I ate the salad dressing. I’m not starting over. Day 14. I think that was a pretty solid commitment so far. Its no wonder we eat convenience food.

Really hoping we can be awake at the right time for a fire soon.

The upside to now: our qtine location is a lot nicer then our first qtine. We stayed at the Novotel in Hong Kong in March after arriving from Brisbane. It was a tiny room with NO BALCONY. Thankful for my in-laws who graciously gave us their apartment. 12 days to go….

Home Sweet Home

The flight to Canada was surprisingly stress-free and easy. It probably helped that there were only 81 passengers on the Airbus 350 which can carry almost 350 people so the normal crowd was thinned making the lineups, the waiting, the trying to maneuver around people and people trying to maneuver around you add on to that everyone trying to distance socially and you have to recipe for low stress and easy travel. Too bad were not allowed to go anywhere!

With all the uncertainty and constant rule changing I was waiting for something to go wrong. At some point we would be stopped, we would be short a document or requirement and turned around but it never happened.

I break traveling down into steps in my mind. I think I started doing it subconsciously the same way you do so you dont forget anything. Kids, check. Passports, check. Get through security without being searched for contraband, check. Get through customs without interrogation, check. Land without crashing, check. Now add get through Covid-19 screening to the travel checklist. And being a new requirement I was nervous even though I had all the requirements ready to go. You never know if the rules changed while you were in the air and the flight from Hong Kong to Toronto is almost 15 hours. That’s a long time in Covid-19 hours.

I packed a bunch of snacks for the trip and was lucky that both meals on offer we probably 90% whole30 compliant. (Who knows what the sauce is made with). First meal was beef with vegetables and potatoes (I didn’t eat the potatoes) and second meal was chicken breast with vegetables and potatoes. (OK I ate ONE potato. )

I watched as she approached our row, little weaved hostess basket full of full sized Häagen-Dazs ice cream cones. Yes you heard that right, not the little tiny personal sized ice creams they usually hand out. Full sized Häagen-Dazs cones! I quickly said only one please so there would be no hesitation, no chance for her to say, ‘Are you sure?’

The food was okay though. My daughter ate my bun, my little chocolate in a white box. I ate the vegetables she left.

It was strange because normally Cathay Pacific flights are more Asian inspired, meat with rice, fish, so I really lucked out and didn’t have to resort to the can of tuna in my carry on.

Now we are in quarantine, again. We are completely jet lagged and my body doesn’t know what’s going on. I’m hungry at weird hours; we just ate vegetable soup and homemade beef burger patties at 11pm for dinner.

They say it takes a day for each hour time difference. We can usually get to almost normal in about 4-5.

In the meantime we eat at weird hours, play boardgames, we star gaze at 1am, we watch the sun come up just before 6. It’s not all bad.

And I have an actual stove and oven to cook on again!

Disclaimer: Major jetlag =bad writing, possibly incoherent, probably a few missed grammar mistakes or spelling mistakes. Sorry!

Saucy Saturday

If you have a fear of flying, spending an extended time living at an airport hotel might make you feel more at ease. With over 1100 flights in and out of just Hong Kong it makes it more apparent that flying is very safe. Watching flights take off and land all day long was something we used to love to do pre-Covid. Right now is it eerily quite around here. I hope things start going back to normal soon before Covid Pychosis sets it.

The Regal Airport Hotel

We are currently staying at The Regal Airport Hotel which is adjacent to HK International Airport. This isn’t the first time we lived here; we stayed for over 2 months when Kevin first got the job here in HK. I like it here, the staff know us, there is a bit of community as the majority of guests are other airline crew.

Sort of starting to dig this look TBH

But after 4 months of hotel living we have decided we need a change and are heading back to Canada. We have been lucky to have been able to spend this time together as a family. We know a lot of people who have been separated from their loved ones for months. But for the sake of our sanity and our kids we have decided to chance it and go home while Kevin stays here to work and commute. Hopefully a commuter schedule will work out with all of the quarantine rules and rules changing almost daily it seems.

We will miss the pools

Alright, back to food because thats more interesting anyway….

A big way to avoid bad ingredients in your food is to make your own condiments. At first it seemed intimidating, there’s already so many steps in putting together a healthy home-cooked meal. But like all things, after a few times it becomes a part of your routine.

Easy to make and free of additives

Chicken Fajita Sauce Mix

Whole30 compliant

2 tbsp chili powder

1 tbsp paprika

1 tbsp cumin

1 tbsp oregano

1 1/2 tsp onion powder

1 1/2 tsp garlic powder

1 tbsp sea salt

1 1/2 tsp pepper

1 tbsp arrowroot powder

Mix together in a bowl and add to your fajitas just like you have done with the store bought mix. I use about 1/2 cup of water, I think the store bought mix says 1 cup but I find there is usually water from the peppers already.

Faking Desert Not Allowed!?

Part of the Whole30 reset rules include not remaking any desserts or treats with compliant ingredients. The philosophy is that if you keep eating ‘treats’ you won’t reset your emotional connection with food which is just as important as the physical reset of reducing inflammation and improving digestion, etc.

We are on day 8 and I honestly can say I don’t think I would have made it if I hadn’t made compliant ‘treats’.

By day 3 I was already on the hunt for something I could bake in my toaster oven. (It has convection.)

I found a recipe for Banana Bread Drop Muffins on Pinterest. I made a few changes and they have become a life (whole30 reset) saver for me.

Photo from the original recipe on Pinterest because I always eat everything before taking photos apparently.

I know it’s I’m breaking the rules but I think it’s a fair argument that relearning how to enjoy ‘treats’ is an important part of reestablishing a healthy relationship with food. I have already come to love the flavors of banana, cinnamon and coconut with no sweetener to overpower these flavors.

Ingredients

1 banana, mashed

2 eggs

1/2 cup almond flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/8 cup ground flax seed

1/3 cup unsweetened coconut flakes, the small kind

1 tablespoon almond butter

After mashing the banana push aside and mix flour, flax seed, coconut flakes, baking soda and salt. Add eggs and stir until mixed. Drop onto a greased baking sheet and bake at 350 f for 15-17 minutes. Or until firm. (Cooking time taken from the original recipe because I bake in a toaster oven. That’s my life now).

How cute is my toaster oven? We got it for free from saving up 480 stickers at the grocery store!

Egg Roll in a Bowl

Or in our case on a plate. A plastic plate.

Taken with the food photo function on my Samsung 10.

While we we’re staying in Okinawa, Japan last year I discovered chopped bags of onion, cabbage, carrots and bell peppers.

Japan is a great place to be if you want to eat healthy. The convenience stores are stocked with grab and go meals of seaweed wrapped rice, salads, sandwiches, yogurt, fruit, etc. Not the standard American style convenience store that consist of chips, chocolate, soda, alcohol and cigarettes. Sure you can find these things but they are not displayed front and center, to their credit, the healthy stuff is.

Each time we visit a new country I always scour the internet for recipes that are in line with what’s available in that particular location. While in Japan my Pinterest feed showed me a recipe for Egg Roll in a Bowl. Perfect.

Shopping in a new country can be intimidating when you can’t speak the language

Whole30 reset is a perfect time to revisit this amazing dish.

The traditional recipe uses soy sauce which is off limits so I was pretty stoked to find a Whole30 friendly version in my quest to keep us well fed and happy. And it can be done in my Instant Pot using the sauté mode. I had to chop my own veg but even still this recipe comes together in less then 30 minutes.

A Shop on the famous Kokasai street in Naha, Okinawa

Ingredients

2 Tbsp. olive oil divided

1 lb.  beef 

1 ½ cup sweet onion finely diced

1 cup carrots shredded

½ tsp ginger minced

3 cloves garlic crushed

¼ cup chicken broth

5 cups cabbage cut into ¼-inch shreds

2 Tbsp. coconut aminos

2 tsp. apple cider vinegar

½ tsp. salt to taste

¼ tsp. pepper to taste

Toasted sesame seeds optional

Green onions optional

Instructions

  1. Over medium heat 1 tablespoon olive oil and add ground beef. Cook for 5-6 minutes, or until beef is cooked through.
  2. Push beef to the side of the pan and add onion and other tablespoon of oil. Saute for 3-4 minutes.
  3. Add shredded carrots, garlic, and ginger and saute for 2 minutes. Stir the vegetables and turkey together.
  4. Add chicken broth, cabbage, coconut aminos, vinegar, salt, and pepper.
  5. Sauté for 4-5 minutes or until the vegetables are tender crisp.
  6. Just before serving top with green onions and toasted sesame seeds.
Kevin loved trying every possible intriguing drink from the multiple vending machines that are on every corner in Japan.

Kevin absolutely loved the Egg Roll in a Bowl. ‘Put it in the rotation’.

Done.

Markets are a fun place to explore and find fresh fruit, vegetables and meats.
Another market in Naha, Okinawa

The one week mark!

Well it’s day 7 and I feel good! The tiny bit of sneaky cheese doesn’t seem to be affecting me and Kevin only complained about mild indigestion but that’s not unusual for him- hence the recommendation for him to do Whole30 as well.

I had my second Osteopath session today and its a magical mix of hands on therapy; bone adjustment, massage, acupressure but it’s also like a therapy session. I’m lucky my Osteopath leans towards the spiritual side. He radiates kindness and love for humanity as he works, he listens to past traumas and nods, knowingly as he presses on different parts of my body, clearly understanding the connection of trauma induced chronic pain.

When you look for a therapist you try a few, you want to make a connection to ensure your money is well spend and you get the most out of treatment. Same thing goes for Osteopaths, for all things really. I lucked out, I found him first try. He says I was clearly ready to heal. I agree with this.

As for the Whole30 reset which was originally from his recommendation followed by the naturopath appointment after, today was…

Sweet Potato Hash with Eggs

Ingredients

1-2 Sweet Potatoes (use judgment here, they come in all sizes) chopped in small cubes

1/2 yellow onion, chopped

1/2 yellow, red, orange pepper, chopped small

Green onion, chopped to garnish

Avocado, sliced to garnish

1 tablespoon Olive oil

1 tablespoon Thyme

Salt +Pepper to taste

Using the sauté function on my Instant Pot simple fry the first 3 ingredients and thyme until the potatoes are soft. Push aside and crack an egg into the pot.

Cook until desired doneness, season with salt and pepper.

I totally stole this photo from Jessica Gavin because I was in a rush to make my appointment and forgot to take a photo.

Of course if you live in an actual house you can make this using a regular person frying pan.

Cheers to something other then a poached egg!

Our Challenging Day Six

So far our first 5 days have consisted of staying close to our hotel room, our carefully selected groceries, the pool for a bit of exercise….but before we knew we were doing the Whole30 challenge we bought tickets to Ocean Park. We were nervous. What would happen so far away from the safety of my home cooking? Would we smell the delicious smells of a theme park and crack? I know KILL EVERYTHING day was yesterday but what if that is just an estimate time frame of when you will go off the rails and start swinging?

After months of shut down Ocean Park was open again as cases of Covid-19 have remained very low for over a month here in Hong Kong. At 25% capacity only to allow for social distancing, we were expecting to breeze through this theme park without lines or crowds. Or stress.

Turns out that they also closed every 4th seat on rides and closed them every hour to clean everything. So the lines happened. But the worst part was the one super healthy, probably as-close-to-whole30-friendly you can find in a theme park had a 2 hour wait for a table. They were only letting in 16 tables at a time.

So I threw another handful if macadamia nuts into my mouth and waited until 2pm for lunch. Breakfast of a poached egg, fruit and salad at 8am at the hotel and I was STARVING. I focused all of my waning energy on taking my daughter on the same roller coaster over and over.

Finally she said, ‘Can I have an ice cream?’ Of course she can. We’re at a God Damn theme park after months of quarantine, lock downs, not being able to go home, play with her friends….you get it, right? Life looks almost normal right now.

I watched her eat a Häagen-Dazs Cookies and Cream ice cream bar in its entirety. I watched people walking by with their foot-long hot dogs, fries, little pizzas, curry and rice, some hash brown sandwich thing I have never seen before but let me tell you it looked damn good. I looked down at my fresh fruit cup. Day 6 at a theme park doing Whole30 is HARD.

Doesn’t this look yum?

We finally got our table at Tuxedo Restaurant which, you guessed it, is next to the Penguins. You can watch the Penguins as you dine which was super cool and unexpected. I had looked ahead at all the menus at the various restaurants and this was our best shot to sticking to the rules.

Our waiter was extremely patient as I ordered our dishes without grains, dairy, sugar….all in all it was a very good and successful meal out. We did it! We ate out without totally screwing up.

Mixed Organic Salad with Balsamic
Roasted Pepper and Tomato soup we couldn’t eat. (Hidden sugar)
Roasted Chicken and Vegetables with Mushroom Sauce (didn’t eat the sauce, just looked at it, longingly)
Our kind waitor brought this for dessert because we couldn’t eat this….
But my oldest daughter had no problem with. (Not the Häagen-Dazs child, this went to the other daughter.)
And to finish, black coffee. Just like the psychopaths take it.

Because lunch was super late it screwed my eating map of the day and we ended up not having dinner at the park. Problem was, I didn’t have anything available for dinner at the hotel room. (We have the standard hotel room size fridge and yep I get groceries every two days. Fun fun.)

We searched the menus for all of the restaurants at the hotel on the train ride home. We searched the menu of the one remaining restaurant at the airport. We scanned the room service menu. Not a lot of choices.

We settled on the one grill that does steak, potatoes and veggies. Very expensive but we will stay our course.

Then Kevin noticed chicken fajitas on the menu for a 1/3 of the price of a steak. No problem we said to each other and high-fived , we’ll just tell them to hold the tortillas.

Our meals came and one forkful revealed cheese! Mixed into our chicken! Just a bit, but enough that we both feel like we cheated. It was unintentional but still it really sucked. After battling the challenge of the theme park on Whole30 ! And I didn’t have the heart to send it back after already asking for changes to the order so we just ate it. And I was STARVING.

Anyone who has done Whole30, has this kind of day happened to you? Anyway, we are safely tucked back into our hotel room again and we have no plans to venture too far again.

Need Some New Small Appliances?

Let me show you how to get some shiny new small appliances with very little effort…

Kevin has been complaining since day 2 about the lack of variety this challenge presents. I think it’s a preemptive complaint, so far, I have managed to make delicious dinners every day and we usually eat the leftovers for lunch the next day. The only boring thing to me is the hotels breakfast buffet, poached eggs, salad and a bit of fruit. Every. Single. Day.

Beef stew, chicken cacciatore (which was more like chicken veg stew), fajita bowls with guacamole, and the last post -beef and broccoli …I would say that’s not bad Jaime, way to go…. but not Kevin. Kevin said on day 2, ‘stew everyday?’ Not to make him sound like a total ingrate but if you know my husband, you know his biggest non-person love is food.

So this brings me to ‘how to get your husband to buy you shiny new kitchen appliances with very little effort.’ He is currently watching YouTube reviews on table top griddles. He said the only way we will get through this month is if we have some sort of BBQ style cooking available. I don’t disagree and whole heartily encourage this type of thinking.

On Whole30 you start dreaming about food, sometimes things you don’t really even like and I can honestly say I want my grilled steak dreams to come true. Not to mention the grilled veg which in my opinion is one of the best ways to eat veggies.

This Cuisinart Griddler is the one he is considering! Yes please!

So there you have it. If you need new kitchen gear, make the same dish over and over. Not that it even came close in my case, this purchase is clearly Kevin in panic mode.

June 30th…

A big reason we we chose July 1 to start our Whole30 journey was because we had a Junk boat party to attend on June 30th. All you can eat, all you can drink.

Junk boats are a popular excursion in Hong Kong. There are tons of companies to choose from and trips range from lunch trips, all day trips, night trips. There are water sports included on some, even on-board masseuse if you’re really lucky.

Our boat and crew just before boarding

The bad news, for us, is that when you binge before a cleanse you can potentially have a harder time detoxing. Both of us have suffered from digestion issues, sleepiness, I even had a slight rash on my stomach. But we are now almost the whole way through day 5 and no one has killed anyone yet. Which is great news considering its KILL EVERYTHING DAY.

Tonight’s dinner to keep everyone happy: beef and broccoli. I am going to is the sauté function on my Instant Pot and a side of mashed potatoes to keep us sane.

Instant Pot Beef and Broccoli:
15 ingredients
Gluten free, Dairy free

Ingredients

  • 1.5 pound flank steak, thinly sliced against the grain
  • 2–3 crowns broccoli broken into florets
  • 3/4 cup beef broth
  • 1/2 cup coconut aminos
  • 2 tablespoons avocado oil or olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon arrowroot flour
  • 1/2 tablespoon grated ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • Sesame seeds to garnish
  • Chopped green onions to garnish

Instructions

  1. Turn instant pot onto “sauté” mode and add olive oil.
  2. Once oil is sizzling, sear sliced beef (about 30 seconds-1 minute on each side) in batches, ensuring not to overcrowd or over cooked.
  3. Add in the beef broth, ginger,minced garlic, coconut aminos, onion powder, red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper. Close the lid, and set to “sealing”
  4. Select manual and set the time for 10 minutes
  5. Once beef is done, add broccoli and press steam.
  6. Once done, do a quick release, and put the instant pot back into “sauté” mode
  7. Make a slurry of arrowroot flour and water. Add to beef and broccoli and continue stirring as the sauce thickenens
  8. Garnish with sesame seeds, green onions or additional red pepper flakes

This simplified recipe for hotel cooking turned out so good I didn’t even take a photo before we polished off every last bite. Next time. Because this one is definitely going into the rotation .