Hot apple-nut cereal is made with sweet apples, chopped nuts, raisins, shredded coconut, coconut milk and cinnamon. (Megan Campbell / The Herald)

Hot apple-nut cereal is made with sweet apples, chopped nuts, raisins, shredded coconut, coconut milk and cinnamon. (Megan Campbell / The Herald)

The Whole 30 diet changed my relationship with food

Megan Campbell cut out sugar, alcohol, grains, soy, legumes and dairy for a month. It’s now Day 108.

It’s Day 108, and I feel great.

A few months ago, I was eating Hershey’s chocolate while making breakfast. It was two days after Halloween and I was eating as much “non-compliant food” before I began this diet called the Whole30, knowing I wouldn’t be able to have added sugar, alcohol, grains, soy, legumes and dairy for a month. I was high on pumpkin-spice lattes, festive candies and sweet breads co-workers brought into the office.

I thought I’d miss these foods — especially the cream and sugar in my morning coffee — but, five days into the diet, I was feeling great. Truly, I woke up in a fantastic mood that sustained me the entire work day and into the evening. I woke up on Day 6 and 7 with some real pep in my step. It was the first weekend of the program and I was feeling energetic and ecstatic to cook and plan for my week. I even dreamt about making food.

The idea is, after 30 days have passed, you reintroduce each food group into your diet to see how that affects you. If you don’t have a reaction, add it back in. I tried adding sugar and had horrible stomach pain and diarrhea. I tried adding bread on Day 56 and fell in love all over again. But I stuck pretty strictly to the diet throughout Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Eve.

I didn’t think I’d make it this long, but for me Whole30 has become a lifestyle change. My skin is clearer. The eczema on my hand, which I had had for seven months, went away. I’ve gotten back into cooking. I have more energy. And I’ve lost 18 pounds. What I really credit to the Whole30 is teaching me how to make healthy food delicious and giving me back control over my diet.

Potato-cauliflower curry is a hearty Indian dish best served hot. (Megan Campbell / The Herald)

Potato-cauliflower curry is a hearty Indian dish best served hot. (Megan Campbell / The Herald)

There was a weekend, around Day 90, that I adventured off the diet for pizza and potato burritos. Man, it felt good to binge, but the next days were not worth it. I was bloated and sluggish. And when I eat dairy, bread and beans all at once, my eczema returns. So I’ve decided to mostly eat the Whole30 way indefinitely.

I highly recommend the recipes in the book “The Whole30: The 30-Day Guide to Total Health and Food Freedom” by Melissa Urban and Dallas Hartwig.

Here are two Whole30 recipes not found in the book I also love: A non-egg breakfast I found on Pinterest — trust me, you’ll want something other than eggs for breakfast — and a curry recipe my boyfriend taught me. Both are compliant and delicious. Ultimate plus, they’re easy to make.

Hot apple-nut cereal is made with sweet apples, chopped nuts, raisins, shredded coconut, coconut milk and cinnamon. (Megan Campbell / The Herald)

Hot apple-nut cereal is made with sweet apples, chopped nuts, raisins, shredded coconut, coconut milk and cinnamon. (Megan Campbell / The Herald)

Apple-nut hot cereal

1 tablespoon coconut oil

1 large, peeled and diced apple (honey crisp or pink lady for a sweet, crisp flavor)

¼ cup raisins or chopped dates

Salt

1½ teaspoon cinnamon

Dash nutmeg

3 tablespoons unsweetened coconut, finely shredded

1 cup chopped raw nuts (walnuts, cashews, pecans or a combination)

1 cup unsweetened almond milk or canned light coconut milk

1 sliced banana, for garnish

Unsweetened almond butter or coconut butter, for garnish

Additional almond milk, for garnish

Heat a large saucepan over medium-low heat and add the coconut oil until melted.

Add the apple and nuts, sprinkle with salt, stir and cook for about 1 minute, or until the apple is soft and the nuts begin to brown.

Lower the heat and add the almond milk, shredded coconut, raisins, nutmeg and cinnamon.

Stir. Raise the heat and bring to a boil. Allow the mixture to boil for a minute while stirring, then lower to simmer. Cover and cook another 2-5 minutes until the apple is soft and some liquid is absorbed.

Serve hot with toppings like sliced banana, almond milk and coconut butter. Makes 2 servings.

Potato-cauliflower curry is a hearty Indian dish best served hot. (Megan Campbell / The Herald)

Potato-cauliflower curry is a hearty Indian dish best served hot. (Megan Campbell / The Herald)

Potato cauliflower curry (Aaloo gobhi ki sabzi)

My boyfriend is from India. Over the past year, he’s taught me how to make many curries. It’s simple. The curry base is just onion, garlic, ginger, turmeric, chili powder and tomatoes. Add in a potato (aaloo), and you’ve got a potato curry. Add in some cauliflower (gobhi), and you’re got a feast. The potato cauliflower curry is my favorite, so I thought I’d share that one with you. Since this recipe is handed down by mouth, it’s not an exact science. Add more or less of the spices to taste.

Olive oil

1 onion

4-5 cloves garlic, diced finely

1-2 inches ginger, grated

Pinch turmeric

1 tablespoon chili powder (less for less spice)

3 diced tomatoes

2 peeled and diced potatoes

1 head cauliflower chopped into chunks

Water

Salt

Put enough olive oil to cover the bottom well in a medium sauce pan. Heat on medium-high until hot. Add diced onion. Cook until tender and translucent in color.

Lower heat. Add a pinch of turmeric powder and the chili powder. Stir. Add garlic and ginger and stir. Increase the heat to medium-high and add diced tomatoes. Let the tomatoes boil and simmer down into a paste. Add the cauliflower and about ¼ cup of water. Let cook for about 5 minutes. Add more water and the potatoes.

Cover and cook until the potatoes and cauliflower are soft and the water has boiled down, or about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add salt to taste.

Serve hot over cauliflower rice or eat on its own. Makes 4 servings.

“The Whole 30”

By Melissa Urban and Dallas Hartwig

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 432 pages. $17.99.

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