It’s still zucchini

3 Oct

I’ve been cooking a ton lately (as in, yesterday I cooked no less than 5 recipes). I’ve been trying to meal-prep as much as possible since I changed my diet to low-carb. I’ve also been trying to trick myself as much as possible.

Some of the reason diets have always been a challenge for me in the past is that I don’t like much – I’m a picky eater and food is very important to me. In addition to being picky, I use food as reward or to wallow in (don’t worry – not literally). So what I eat is a BIG DEAL.

In the past I would try to change what I ate completely and try to force myself to eat stuff that was way healthier for me but that I just didn’t like – this was not ever sustainable.

So this time with this not-a-diet “lifestyle change” prompted more by health concerns than aesthetics, I’m really prioritizing experimentation to try to find foods that are both healthy for me AND delicious. The good news is: it IS possible! The bad news is sometimes you spend an hour on a recipe and then you take a taste and guess what? It’s still zucchini, no matter how much Parmesan you bake it with.

A few nuggets of wisdom from my first few weeks of trying to trick myself into eating better food:

  1. I just don’t like zucchini that much, or cauliflower. Sometimes a recipe that has a ton of cheese or seasonings might pass muster (I made zucchini tots that I genuinely loved) -but, generally speaking, they’re both kind of a pain to work with when you’re asked to grate or shred them and I’m usually not happy with the outcome. So those much-pinned cauliflower pizza crusts and mashed potato substitutes are not the saviors I once hoped they would be.
  2. Almond meal/almond flour has never worked out great for me. I once made a biscuits and gravy recipe using almond flour in the biscuits and that was really good….because it was covered in gravy. The biscuits themselves? Meh. The pancakes I made yesterday? Meh.
  3. I have more success when I just take things I know I like and try new preparations to keep them interesting. Chicken 3 days a week gets pretty boring, but less so when one day is curried and another day is chicken salad and the third day is pan-fried.
  4. It’s kind of cruel how many of the foods I I like and have in the past considered healthier choices are kind of bad carb choices: butternut squash, carrots, etc. But I still incorporate them, I just try to use them less than greens and other veggies.
  5. Calorie counts are secondary. I had a “bad day” last week wherein I ate really well all day and still went over my allotted calories for the day. It was super frustrating – it made me feel like I would never be successful if even when eating well – and eating stuff I actually liked, too – I was going above my calorie goal. But I spoke to my doctor shortly thereafter and we both concluded that, while it’s important not to bust through my calorie goals every day or by a huge margin, the calories are secondary to making sure I am keeping my carbs down and my protein up.We both chalked that once-disappointing day up as a success because I had, after all, eaten healthy, whole foods that I actually enjoyed eating and that met all my protein goals for the day.

Here are a few of this past week’s success stories:


  1. Low-carb taco shells. These are made of cheese, people! I did my own filling and it was rather saucy. The only thing I would do differently next time would be to do a drier filling, probably shredded seasoned chicken instead of beef. These were easier and quicker than I thought they would be and they tasted decadent without the carbs to match.
  2. White lazy lasagna. There’s something about the name “White Lazy” that makes me laugh every time, but this recipe worked out great. I did use a homemade marinara sauce instead of the canned alfredo (so I guess it’s technically more of a Red Lazy Lasagna). This was another one that turned out tasting really rich while still being acceptable for me to eat – it’s a good thing my new way of eating doesn’t limit fat as much or I’d really be in trouble! Cheese has been my savior.
  3. Spaghetti squash “spaghetti” with meat sauce. Kendall made this one and we just used a canned meat sauce we like (not gonna lie, it’s Ragu Meat Sauce). We prepared some Italian sausages to go with as well. I liked it so much I asked him if he would make it again this week. I’m a pasta fiend so that has been the hardest thing to give up. When I find substitutions I actually like, such as the “lasagna” and this “spaghetti” it makes me really happy!


2 Responses to “It’s still zucchini”

  1. Karen November 1, 2016 at 8:25 pm #

    Hey girl, I’m on day 16 of my 2nd or 3rd whole30. Keep on making the effort, it’s worth it. I personally HATE counting points or calories so it works best for me and I do believe that it is sustainable. As long as I don’t get too crazy between whole30s I’m good to go.

    • emimakes November 2, 2016 at 2:55 pm #

      Having to track the carbs is a pain, so I’m trying to build a repertoire of foods I know I like that I know are in the right range – I will definitely keep on keepin’ on – thanks for the encouragement!

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