The Whole Cook

My Food Story

Prior to having children my eating habits could best be described as “anything and everything, bonus points if it’s fast food”. I had an intense Diet Coke habit (6 to 8 cans a day), a love for Burger King, and popping a Totinos pizza in the oven was my idea of cooking.

Once I became pregnant with my son I knew I needed a change. He was relying on me for all his nutritional needs. My Taco Bell bean burrito habit wasn’t going to cut it. So I began familiarizing myself with the kitchen a bit more. I became a decent cook but it wasn’t something I necessarily enjoyed doing. I did it though! And that’s how it starts!

After the birth of my daughter I was tired all the time (small children can do that to you) and really struggling to lose the last of my pregnancy weight. That’s when I first heard of Whole30. The idea of committing to 30 days of healthy eating really appealed to me. I knew it would be hard. Oh it was. It was also really worth it.

I completed 30 days and then rolled that right into 30 more. And then 30 more! So my first Whole30 was actually a Whole90! While I wouldn’t recommend that for everyone, I can say that it was exactly what I needed. That time taught me to read ingredient labels and pay attention to how my body feels. It was truly life changing.

I started sharing my meals on my Instagram account not knowing whether there was really an audience for it. Turns out there was! I then launched my website thewholecook.com as a place to publish my recipes. It’s been an exhilarating five years and I can’t believe how much it’s grown. This food journey has turned into a full-time job that I love! Everyday I am honored to share my passion for cooking and healthy eating education with all of you.

Food Allergies in the Family

Peanuts

I’ve never had any food allergies so my first experience with the whole world of allergies occurred when my son was less than a year old. He had red patches on his skin. He was tested and soon diagnosed as having allergies to all nuts, eggs, and dogs. Since I was still breastfeeding and he wasn’t eating solids yet that meant his skin reaction was the result of my own consumption of peanut butter and eggs. Plus we had a dog. (Still do. We’re big dog lovers.) Pretty amazing that the doctor was able to get this diagnosed so young, isn’t it?

For the first few years he underwent allergy testing once a year in hopes that he’d outgrow them. His dog and egg allergy went away in a year. His allergies to most nuts went away shortly after. So now he’s left with a peanut allergy that he may not outgrow. Our home is a peanut-free home for my son. We’ve embraced almond and cashew butter – they can really be just as good as peanut butter!

Dairy & Red Meat (Alpha-Gal)

In 2017 my husband began experiencing some strange ailments. The most obvious was swelling. One morning he’d wake up with a giant swollen lip. Another morning it would be a golf ball shaped circle protruding from his forehead. Some days one foot would suddenly be larger than the other. And on and on it went. We never knew what would swell or when it would occur. A few times he threw up and he was once hospitalized with severe stomach pain. (We later learned that those were caused by internal swelling we couldn’t see.) I started documenting each incident in a list on my phone so we could keep track of it. It was terrifying how often this was occurring.

After many tests and doctor visits he finally received a diagnosis for Alpha-Gal. This is a condition that occurs when a lone star tick bites you. This tick transmits a sugar molecule called alpha-gal into the person’s body. The body can then develop an immune system reaction that causes an allergy to red meat and/or dairy. Pretty wild, right?

So now David is allergic to both red meat and dairy. If red meat even touches something he eats, he’ll have a reaction. We’ve been told that there are some cases where the allergy goes away in 6 or 7 years; however, that’s not the case for everyone. We’ve read about other people who have had it for ten years and it still hasn’t gone away. Only time will tell how long this will last for him.

How We Eat Today

Other than accommodating the food allergies referenced above, we aren’t restrictive eaters. We do not eat 100% Paleo or Whole30 (that’s a question I get asked often). You could say that we eat Paleo-inspired since we focus on including a variety of whole foods in each meal with a heavy emphasis on organic meats, fresh vegetables, and fresh fruits. But we don’t really have any foods that are off limits.

I like to emphasize the things we ADD to our plates rather than the things we omit. If I’m trying to load up on sautéed veggies, roasted potatoes, and grilled chicken then I’m not going to have much room for the things that maybe aren’t as beneficial for my body. That Whole Foods focused perspective works best for us and doesn’t feel limiting.

That is not to say that we don’t enjoy some unhealthy foods. We do. Saturday mornings are often for donuts and there’s usually a pizza involved on the weekends! Ice cream and chips happen here too! It all just happens in moderation and I go with the higher quality options when available.

But, friend, this is just how we eat and your diet is your diet. I don’t believe that one size fits all. Do what works best for you!

What You’ll See Here

I strive to provide healthy recipes with a focus on real whole food ingredients. Lots of fresh ingredients and seasonings.

Each recipe is labeled so they’re easy to search and filter. If you’re completing a round of Whole30 you’ll see plenty of recipes that are perfect for those 30 days. The same is true if your diet is strictly Paleo, dairy free, gluten free, or low carb.

You’re going to love them whether your diet fits into one of the categories referenced here or whether you, like me, just focus on overall good for you meals!