Camel Races

Camel racing is a very old and very popular sport throughout the Middle East & North Africa (MENA) (and other places with deserts like Mongolia and Australia [1]). Qatar is no exception to this rule; camel races are quite popular here among locals and expats alike, and are held from October – March while the weather is nice.

Camel racing started as a way to entertain guests at multi-day weddings, and has grown to a professional sport with entrants coming from all around the world to race and spectate.

Races are conducted weekly, with 10 – 15 races per race day (on Fridays and Saturdays). Some days are royal family race days, some are general entrant days, and the season is capped by the Emir Cup: H H the Emir’s Main Race. [2]

Entry to the competitions is free and all are welcome. We went with a tour – Murex Tours – and I would highly suggest doing the same. Not only do you get interesting camel facts and taken behind-the-scenes, you also get a nice safe vantage spot for the races themselves. More on that in a bit.

Camel racing this way

In Qatar, the camel races take place in Sheehaniya – a small town located about :45 from downtown Doha dedicated to camels and camel racing. Fun fact: sheehaniya is the local name for a plant traditionally used to cure stomachache. The racetrack is named Al Shahaniya Camel Racing Track and signs can be seen from the highway. We didn’t see it on this tour, but there is also a virtual camel city with other things to see [3].

An entire lot of SUVs waiting for race winners

The winner of each race receives 100,000QR (about $25,000 USD) and a new SUV; subsequent winners get 10,000QR ($2,500) less (no cars) until 10th place. Since this was a royal family race, ceremonial weapons were also gifted.

More valuable than a car or cash prize is the prestige earned when your camel wins. During the big competitions in March and April, the winner not only gets bragging rights, but also takes away the prestigious Golden Sword of the Father Emir H H Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani. We didn’t happen to go on one of the big festival days, but we did see silver knives, spears and swords being awarded to some of the big winners.

Barely controlled chaos as we jockeyed for a good vantage of the race. This is not like horse racing, where you watch from the stands – or even falcon racing, where you wait and watch on the big screen (unless you’re in a chase car) – camel racing is up close and personal, with drivers chasing after their camels to urge them on – and spectators rushing to follow the action.

This was a lot of our view of the races – it is very clear where the some of the more unruly highway drivers learned how to do so – the track is barely contained pandemonium, with huge SUVs jockeying for position – just like the camels racing to the side.

As you can see from the above picture, the spectator track is split – the inner ring is for the royal family; everyone else fights for position on the outer ring. Some races are super busy like this one (earlier in the day); some seemed to be lower stakes and less crowded. You can’t see them in this shot, but Police cars are patrolling as well – and were actually quite impressive. They managed to signal to our driver amidst the chaos of following a race that someone in the back of the bus had removed their mask and needed to put it back on. I was in front, and I’m still not sure how either the driver or the Police could keep track of all of that at once – and keep us safe – but they did. I guess as lamented as the traffic can be here (and as dangerous as it is), there is something to be said for knowing exactly how to handle one’s machine in a stressful situation.

Caught a glimpse of this guy, who was placidly and gracefully just running his own race. I liked his attitude.
These guys – both the driver and the guy poking up out of the sun roof – are speaking to or operating the whips on their camels. It’s amazing that he managed to keep control of the car – and up with his entrant.

Guys control the jockeys with remote controls from the car with walker-talkies that allow them to work the whip arm of the jockey + talk to the camel, telling them to “yalla!” (Hurry!)

Camel jockeys

Camel-less jockeys. Qatar banned the use of children as camel jockeys in 2004 (kids were used because of their size and weight). Robots are now used – first generation robots were roughly the size and weight of a child; but have gotten smaller and lighter as technology has advanced, now weighing about 55lb (25kg) and featuring a speaker and long, thin, flexible whip. [4]

An attached jockey with walkie talkie affixed and whip arm at rest.

Each camel is decked out in a colored “saddle” with matching jockey adornment – for example, the Emir’s camels wear maroon & white, while Sheikh Jassim’s sport blue & yellow. Not sure who was in the black & white.

A camel tender looking after his charge
Either ready to go race or back for snacks
Camels in full rest mode
Camel minder supervising his charges. Camels wear these masks not only because they can bite (and spit) when angered, but to guard against poisoning. As I said, it’s a big deal here – and pride is on the line.

The camel staging area is actually super chill – camels are pretty calm creatures. They can be cantankerous, will spit if they’re angry, and are stubborn as all get out – but they’re also content to sit and munch. You would be too, if you had a bag full of grains, dates and honey waiting for you. Can’t really blame the couple we saw nope out of the end of the race to beeline it back to this area. Camels are also known to occasionally just refuse to start the race – and when that happens, camels can’t really be reasoned with – it’s snack time.

These camels are all lined up waiting to start. The one in the foreground is sporting henna for luck – the cuts have something to do with muscle soreness and healing; I wasn’t sure exactly what.

Camels are separated from their mothers when they are somewhere between 6 months and 1.5 years old (our tour guide said 6 months; I’ve seen 1.5 years in articles) and start their race career at age 2. Young camels are placed on the track with retired racers, and run along to learn the sport. Camels train twice daily for about :45 each session and are fed specialty diets of grains, dates and honey to ensure they have the energy needed to run a race.

Camels run in age groups – between 2 and 4, they run 4-5 km (2.5-3 mile) tracks; 5-6 year old camels graduate to 7-8 km (4.3-4.9 mile) tracks; and the older camels run the full 10km (6.2 mile) races. Camels retire at about 10 to become trainers. Camels must race a minimum of 24mph (40kmph) to qualify, and can go up to 40mph (65kmph).

The price of a racing camel can range from 100,000QR (about $25,000 USD) and can go for 1,000,000QR ($250,000) at auction for the best bloodlines. According to our tour guide, the Emir routinely purchases winning females – and it’s a mark of pride to have your camel join his stable.

From the finish line – she was off doing her own thing.
I believe this is one of the Emir’s camels making a triumphant return
Cars chasing the lead camel
The car to the back of this camel is one of the TV chase cars – Qatar has a channel dedicated to local and foreign races.

If you’re in Qatar, this is definitely something to add to the must-do list. This is one of those unique experiences you can’t really do other places.

Video from the day – chasing the camels, the starting line & finish line. The video is about 9 minutes long.

Camel Facts

Camels come in two types: the one humped Dromedary, and two humped Bactrian. Local (Arabian) camels are dromedary.

They are also huge and can grow up to 6.5 feet (2 meters) tall at the shoulder and weigh anywhere from 880 to 1,325 pounds (400-600kg). [6]

Camels are incredibly suited to desert life, with three sets of eyelids and two rows of eyelashes to keep out flying sand, and thickly padded chest and knee skin to allow them to sit comfortably – even in the middle of summer, when temperatures can reach 120F (51C). Their height also helps with this – placing their bodies far away from the heat radiating off the sandy or rocky ground.

Camels can also completely close their nostrils during sandstorms – a skill I wish humans had.

Camels have keen eyesight and a great sense of smell – which would help greatly in finding food when your environment can look like a bunch of sand or pebbly sand to the naked (human) eye.

Camel feet are very wide, and come padded with fibrous tissue – this permits them to walk silently, painlessly and stably across soft, hot sand and hard, flinty ground; something horses, donkeys and oxen cannot do.

Camels can drink 31.4 gallons (113 liters) of water in 15 minutes and are incredibly efficient at using that massive amount of water, storing any excess in the fat in their humps – which they can use to live on when water is scarce.

Camels are incredibly important in this area of the globe – both historically and culturally, serving as the backbone of Arabian life until they were replaced by modern modes of transportation and readily available imports.

Historically, camels were the most efficient way to move either yourself and your community, or your goods via the vast trading networks that cross-crossed the MENA region. Roads weren’t actually super common or necessary until the camel went out of fashion as the main mode of transportation.

Camels can carry more than even elephants – 1,000 pounds (453kg) on short hauls and up to 600 pounds (272kg) almost indefinitely. They can cover 20 – 30 miles (32-48 kilometers) per day for weeks on end, can go days without water, and can sustain themselves on less-than-ideal (for other pack animals at least) desert vegetation. [7]

Lots of plants in the desert have thorns; camels have really thick lips which allows them to eat what other animals (like goats, donkeys, horses or even oryx) cannot. [5] Camel lips are also prehensile and extendable so they can examine their food by touch before ingesting it. Which seems weird given what camels eat, but it’s a big help, I’m sure. It also makes a chewing camel look a bit comical and kind of cute, in my opinion.

Not only were camels the best mode of transportation over long distances, they were also the chief source of animal based nutrition, raw materials, and signifier of wealth.

Camel meat is a touch sweeter than beef and lower in fat. It can be tough, but is fantastic when cooked low and slow – or roasted over a fire. Camel burgers are quite delicious, but often need a little cheese or extra fat to help bind the meat together and provide juiciness. [9]

Camel milk is used in soap, for ice cream, and as creamer in coffee. It has a different fat structure than cow milk (less saturated and more saturated), has more vitamins, and is lower in lactose. The taste is also a bit sweeter than cow milk. [8] Camel milk is also used as a folk treatment (especially for kids) for diarrhea caused by rotavirus.

Camel urine was used to clean hair.

Camel dung was used as fuel – and even as a sort of diaper cream to cure rash.

Camel hair makes beautiful scarves and blankets, as well as rope.

Camel hides make great leather and rugs. Sinew makes a great glue used to bind wooden pieces together for all manner of things (like saddles and seating).

Camel humps were used as a cure for dysentery, camel marrow was used as a cure for diphtheria, and dried camel brain was used as a cure for epilepsy [7].

More super cool camel facts can be found at one of the sources used above: Aramco World. Check them out because camels are seriously cool animals.

Buffalo Chicken with Smashed Potatoes

This, admittedly, is a weird one. But bear with me – sometimes those weird-ass Chopped pantry situations work out well.

At the beginning of Quarantine Life, DH brought home a bunch of packets of tuna – one of those was buffalo flavored, and I thought that was just fascinating. Of course, it was the last one left in the pile, and it had me craving wings.

Which of course I had zero ingredients to make – so I had to get a little creative.

Note: Ingredients I wanted but did not have: celery, ranch dressing, cucumbers, pickle relish, capers

gluten-free

Buffalo Chicken with Smashed Potatoes

1 pouch (2.5 ounces) Starkist buffalo chicken

1 scallion

1/2 tsp. celery salt

2 Tbsp. mayonnaise

6 green olives

Black pepper

500g baby potatoes

3 Tbsp. zaatar

Juice of 1 lemon

Oil, salt & pepper

Set your largest pan over high heat. add the potatoes and enough water so they’re 1/2 – 3/4 covered. Boil 10 minutes or until fork tender.

Transfer the potatoes to a prepared baking sheet and smash flat. Spritz with oil and sprinkle with salt & pepper. Bake at 400F for 20 – 25 minutes or until crispy.

Pull and sprinkle with the zaatar and lemon juice.

In a small bowl, combine the buffalo chicken, green onion (diced), celery salt (celery would be great here), mayo, green olives (diced – capers or pickle relish would also be good) and a little black pepper.

To serve, divide the potatoes and chicken salad into two bowls and toss.

Serves 2 for dinner

Pantry Staple Diaries

My pantry is packed, and I’m annoyed about it.

Having a fully stocked larder feels great – and 100% supports the breadth of recipe types I create and the foods my family eats. But: I’ve got more stuff than my space can handle well, and I’m having trouble locating ingredients when I need them.

So, it’s time for a good run of pantry-clearing dinners.

Here’s what I have on hand:

Main pantry – this is a double cabinet, and finding ingredients has gotten a bit unwieldy – especially on that right hand side
This is just a mess – a great organizational start with mostly-labeled bins, but there is just more stuff than the space can support

Top Shelf

  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 1 can tomato paste
  • 2 cans chili tuna
  • 3 packets nori strips
  • Furikake
  • Toasted sesame seeds
  • Red pepper flakes
  • Togarishi
  • 1 tin sardines
  • 1/2 bag panko
  • 1/2 bag jumbo shells
  • Mango powder
  • Japanese veggie sauce
  • Date molasses
  • Soya chunks
  • Cornstarch
  • Cacao butter
  • Stevia
  • Baking soda
  • Bicarbonate soda
  • 1/2 bag spelt pasta
  • 1 packet riced broccoli
  • Roast onion bouillon powder
  • 1 pack Hakka noodles
  • 1/4 cup macadamia nuts
  • 1/2 cup pecans
  • 1 jar chili pesto
  • 1 jar roasted Thai chilis
  • 2 packets dashi stock starter
  • 1 tube wasabi
  • 1 jar shrimp paste
  • 1 box baking soda
  • 1 jar tahini
  • 1 container turkey gravy granules
  • 1 can pumpkin
  • 1/2 bag wakame
  • 1 jar tamarind paste
  • 1/2 jar peanut butter
  • Red wine vinegar
  • East North Carolina BBQ sauce
  • Pomegranate molasses
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Honey
  • Sesame oil
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • Other NC BBQ sauce
  • Rice vinegar
  • Oyster sauce
  • Mustard oil
  • Ketjap manis
  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Black vinegar
  • Vegetable oil
  • Liquid stevia
  • Crystal Light
  • Snacks bin
  • Dates

Raw nuts in the metal canisters:

  • Cashews
  • Almonds
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Walnuts
  • Pistachios
  • Pepitas
  • Hazelnuts
  • Slivered almonds

Bottom Shelf – the jars

  • Overflow spices
  • Coconut flour
  • Sushi rice
  • Coconut shake
  • Chia seeds
  • Sugar
  • Quinoa
  • Nutritional yeast
  • All Purpose flour

Bottom Shelf

  • Black strap molasses
  • Brown sugar
  • Salt
  • Peanut butter powder
  • Schezwan stir fry sauce
  • Pickled jalapenos
  • Applesauce
  • Coconut chutney powder
  • Ghee
  • Coconut oil
  • Lowry’s seasoning salt
  • Chipotle Choula
  • Grape seed oil
  • Texas Pete
  • Oregano
  • Peppermint extract
  • Vanilla extract
  • Maple extract
  • Orange extract
  • Chaat seasoning
  • Toasted pumpkin seeds

Spices – loose

  • Curry powder
  • Caraway seeds
  • Dry mustard powder
  • English mustard tube
  • Garlic powder
  • Chicken bouillon powder
  • Onion bouillon powder
  • Cumin
  • Chili powder
  • Black pepper
  • White pepper
  • Za’atar
  • Kabseh spices
  • Cinnamon sticks
  • Bay leaves
  • Beef bouillon tubes
  • Chili garlic seasoning

Spices – in spice containers

  • Oregano
  • Basil
  • Indian chili
  • Chicken tikka masala
  • Celery seed
  • Dill
  • Rosemary
  • Yellow mustard seeds
  • Black mustard seeds
  • Sweet paprika
  • Coriander
  • Lemon powder
  • Black cumin seeds
  • Sesame seeds
  • Coriander
  • Turmeric
  • Ginger
  • Cinnamon
  • Nutmeg
  • Cardamom
  • Red chili
The fridge isn’t too bad, but it’s definitely not American-sized so it fills up *quick*

Fridge

  • Yellow mustard
  • Lime juice
  • Mango chili pickle
  • Tomato paste
  • Ginger garlic paste
  • Mushroom sauce
  • Anchovy paste
  • Red pepper pesto
  • BBQ sauce
  • Bombay sandwich chutney
  • Kewpie mayo
  • Regular mayo
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • Honey mustard
  • Fish sauce
  • Coconut aminos
  • Honey mustard dill sauce
  • American ketchup
  • Sriracha
  • Dutch curry ketchup
  • Olives
  • Pickles
  • Gochujiang
  • White miso
  • Sambal olek
  • Eggs
  • Butter

Lunch – To – Dinner Bombay Chimi

I set out to make a chimichurri-based salad, and ended up taking a trip to India instead when at the last minute I discovered my herbs had betrayed me. And it works.

Bombay chutney is a condiment used in a popular Indian street food sandwich and is kiiiiinda akin to the green mint chutney sauce served alongside a number of dishes alongside tamarind sauce. My version is a beautiful shade of emerald and has a nice spicy kick. It’s addictive, and I can’t wait to try making something akin to the actual sandwich, because I can only imagine how Bomb it would be with potato.

Like mashed potatoes. In a patty …. 🤤 But I digress.

This base recipe is great for lunch or dinner – I served it hash-style when fresh with some leftover Beyond Meat bratwurst & egg and again the next day for lunch with my favorite tuna and some bright crunch. Both ways were fantastic, but I think day 3’s lunch was actually my favorite.

gluten-free, vegetarian base, vegan base, paleo base

Lunch-To-Dinner Bombay Chimi

Base

1 head cauliflower
1 small red onion
4 cloves garlic
1/4 cup Bombay Chutney
1/4 cup neutral oil

Preheat the oven to 200C/375F and prep a baking sheet.

Break the cauliflower up into bite-sized pieces and spread out over the prepped pan. Halve and thinly slice the onion; add. Thinly slice the garlic; add.

Sprinkle liberally with salt & pepper.

In a small bowl, combine the chutney and oil. Pour over the veggies on the pan and toss well to combine, making sure to hit each piece.

Roast 25 minutes or until deeply browned.

Dinner Hash

1 leftover and cooked Beyond Meat bratwurst per person, sliced into rounds
1 – 2 eggs per person (optional)
1 handful chopped green beans
2 tsp. neutral oil
1 tsp. butter (vegan or otherwise)

In a large skillet over medium high heat, stir-fry the green beans in the oil until browned. Season with salt & pepper and add the bratwurst. Stir-fry until warmed through. Push to the side, add the butter and an egg per person to the pan. Fry until your desired doneness is reached. Serve with about 1/4 of the cauliflower per person.

Lunch Salad

1 medium cucumber, chopped
250g cherry tomatoes, halved
1 can chili (red pepper) tuna, drained (optional)

To your leftover cauliflower, add the rest of the ingredients and toss. Warm to room temp if desired by zapping for :30/:45 or so and tossing.

Serves 2 if you’ve got half the cauliflower left; 3 if you only fed 1 the night before.

This is not your weekly recipe post

Sorry, no recipe post this week, because I’m on vacation exploring a new cuisine – and the week before that, I ate pretty much nothing but Thanksgiving leftovers.

#noregrets

Some of my favorites:

Leftover “burrito” that basically consisted of throwing a bunch of ham/brussels sprouts/cranberry sauce and stuffing in a tortilla and calling that lunch.

A really frickin good breakfast-for-dinner fried rice dish featuring little mushrooms, egg, leftover ham and rice that was too simple to post a recipe for but was eaten multiple days (pictured here also in burrito form).

And just straight up rummaged leftovers: a bowl of brussels & pomegranate + little ham sandwiches.

Yum.

FODMAP Diet – Reintroduction Week 3

This was my third reintroduction week on the FODMAP diet.

Week 1
Week 2
Week 3
Week 4
Week 5
Week 6
Week 7
Reintroduction Week 1
Reintroduction Week 2
An explanation

Proposed Meal Plan

Breakfasts

  • The doc’s smoothie blend

Lunches/Dinners

  • I will be traveling most of this week, so I’ll mostly just try and eat on plan.

Snacks

  • I will try to limit these where possible

Actual Meal Plan

Breakfasts

  • Doctor shakes
  • Hotel buffet breakfasts – lots of fruit, a little meat, a little potato

Lunches/Dinners

  • Lots of Asian, some bbq, too many potatoes, and too much bread

Snacks

  • Was semi successful in avoiding while traveling
Monday: Fruit and a little egg thing for breakfast, a killer egg salad club sandwich for lunch, and too much sushi for dinner.
Tuesday: That lunch burger was 2 fried eggplant buns with baked sweet potato fries. Dinner was bbq brisket; the post-dinner snacks killed me – the desserts had a little dairy, and ended up being too much food all of a sudden
Wednesday: Travel day – lots of potatoes and meat at breakfast. Chicken kebab, rice and fries at home
Thursday: Emergency rice breakfast, PF Chang’s our for lunch, popcorn for dinner
Friday: Breakfast wrap, dinner wrap, popcorn for lunch
Saturday: Re-testing small amounts of onion (in the vegan tikka microwave meal); something in the morning eggs, potatoes & beef chorizo had me bloated for most of the day

What did I learn this week?

Challenge foods for this week were accidental dairy (super out), overeating (also super unpleasant), a small amount of onion (less pleasant once – ok a second time), and a Chinese food amount of cooking garlic (fine I think; I was bloated but I think from the salt content of PF Chang’s).

Wheat is still in, but based on the pics of my food this week I look like I need to reign in my consumption of unnecessary breads and fried foods. I’m also tired of potatoes again, and have picked back up a wicked Diet Coke craving, so I may be doing a Whole30 to reset my tastebuds soon.

FODMAP Diet – Reintroduction Week 2

This was my second reintroduction week on the FODMAP diet. Week 1 went fairly well, and it seems as if everything I’ve introduced so far is fine. I may switch to monthly updates or a big go/no-go list of foods in a few months, because this phase is going to take awhile. Like, could take 9 months awhile, and I don’t want to bore you all with the details.

The procedure for reintroduction is to eat a little of a food from the high FODMAP list, pay attention to what my mind and body is telling me for 2 days, record any and all reactions, and either re-test the same thing on day 3 or go for something different. I’m starting with foods that I’m fairly certain are on the ‘go’ list, and working my way up to foods I suspect I have a reaction to or have had reactions to in the past – and crossing my fingers that whatever form of inflammation or whatever it was that was going on in my gut when I started this journey stays as calmed down as it is now when I go for the biggies (to me) like garlic, onions and brassicas.

Week 1
Week 2
Week 3
Week 4
Week 5
Week 6
Week 7
Reintroduction Week 1
An explanation

Proposed Meal Plan

Breakfasts

  • The doc’s smoothie blend

Lunches/Dinners

  • Grapefruit salsa salmon
  • Rice noodles and veggies salad

Snacks

  • Popcorn, my love

Actual Meal Plan

Breakfasts

  • Doctor shakes

Lunches/Dinners

  • Salmon with leftover poke bits
  • Salmon with roasted potatoes and grapefruit salsa
  • A bunless burger & sweet potato fries out
  • Popcorn because #adulting
  • Sushi
  • Scrounged and cobbled together noodly bowls with rice noodles and leftovers
  • Smoothie bowl out
  • Yaki udon out
  • Travel day food – alcohol, mixed nuts, some chicken, a bite of squid, and a bite of olive maybe pasta something – avoided the onboard snacks.

Snacks

  • Popcorn
Monday: Grapefruit salsa salmon and leftover poke bits with another salmon filet
Tuesday: A late lunch of bunless burger & sweet potato fries while out and dying of starvation and then an adulting win for dinner – half a bag of popcorn with a little garlic oil, furikake and salt
Wednesday: Yaki soba out. Challenge food(s) – wheat, mushrooms
Thursday: Quick sushi grabbed on the way home from yoga and a leftover bowl
Friday: Smoothie bowl and lots of leftovers
Saturday: More leftovers and a travel day. Kinda challenge folded more than a Tablespoon each cashews and almonds – but my stomach was already a bit iffy, so I’m going to retest these on a non-travel day

What did I learn this week?

Mushrooms and wheat are in! Not sure on a bowl of cashews & almonds, because I think travel always makes me bloated and burpy – so I’m counting that as not a real challenge.

Smoothie bowls are also fine – I think all the ingredients were either FODMAP-friendly or I’ve already tested, but quantity was key here regarding fructose.

FODMAP Diet – Reintroduction Week 1

This was my first reintroduction week on the FODMAP diet. For this phase, the doctor has taken me off the odious vitamin regimen, has swapped those for a smoothie-based morning booster, and wants me to keep super-detailed records of everything from my gut to mood as I try something from the no-go list every 3 days.

I don’t think I remembered to list my supplements for Phase 1 for y’all, either. I was taking (tried to always take with lunch):

1 Digestzymes (Betaine HCI and a proprietary blend of Ox Bile extract, Peptidase, Amylases, Pepsin, Proteases, Glucoamylase, Lactase, Invertase, Lipase)

2 CoreBiotic Sensitive Probiotics (Bacillus Coagulans SNZ1969 and MTCC5856 Lactospore, Bacilius Subtiis)

3 LV-GB Complex (Vitamins A, B-6, B-12; L-Methionine, Milk Thistle, Taurine, Inositol, Ox Bile, Artichoke, Beet Powder)

4 Gastromend-HP (Vitamin C, Deglycyrrhizinated Licorice, Mastic Gum, Methylmethionine Sulfonium Chloride, Zinc Carnosine)

I didn’t feel any different with this regimen of supplements (other than hella annoyed because I am not great at swallowing pills), but I guess they may have done something, since the doctor noticed a marked difference in my skin the second I walked in the door (and tbh I haven’t felt like I look quite so crappy in the face skin lately), and my gut has been feeling a bunch better.

At the end of Phase 1, I don’t feel like my GI system is in crisis any more (I was having pain after 95% of my meals and was almost ready to give up and go on a chicken & rice diet), my dry skin is still there but isn’t as flaky, my nails aren’t peeling and chipping as much, and I only have a little stomach stabbiness for a few minutes every few days or so. I’m also a touch more regular with less need to head for the hills any time my digestive system is on the move, and I’m less bloated overall.

Whether that is a function of cutting out most of the foods causing an issue (frustratingly, the intermittent nature of my issues hasn’t stopped, a week with on-again/off-again cucumber sensitivity being the most recent) or the supplements – I don’t know. We shall see.

Week 1
Week 2
Week 3
Week 4
Week 5
Week 6
Week 7
An explanation

Proposed Meal Plan

Breakfasts

  • The doc’s smoothie blend

Lunches/Dinners

  • I’m still not tired of canned tuna for some inexplicable reason. I think I’ll have a repeat of bowl life, just with different flavors. I’m thinking Thai and/or poke sauce.

Snacks

  • I didn’t really snack last week, so I still have oat crackers leftover.

Actual Meal Plan

Breakfasts

  • Hard boiled eggs
  • Buckwheat pancakes
  • Doctor shakes

Lunches/Dinners

  • Made a batch-prepped Thai-style tuna bowl
  • Bought sushi for lunch while grocery shopping, which led to my first challenge food: avocado
  • Made the tuna poke bowls
  • Had a soba lunch out
  • Had chicken & rice lunch out
  • A non-compliant meal out introducing a friend to local cuisine
  • Zoodles with tuna and/or eggs

Snacks

  • Blueberries
  • Oat crackers
Monday: Sushi with a challenge food – avocado – and a Thai-style tuna bowl
Tuesday: My first doctor shake, chicken & rice out at Nando’s, Thai tuna bowl & popcorn
Wednesday: Soba out for lunch and “single” lady adulting win with the second half of last night’s popcorn for dinner
Thursday: Poke bowl and a concoction of rice, leftover veggies from last week & tuna
Friday: Zoodle bowl for lunch, lots of snacks, non-compliant dinner out
Saturday: Big second breakfast out with challenge foods (spelt flour, banana, almond butter) & Light Zoodle tuna concoction for dinner

What did I learn this week?

Introducing challenge foods is hard, and the impetus to run before I can walk is strong. Avocados, mangoes, spelt, banana & almond butter all seem fine – and all are things I was pretty sure I could tolerate.

The morning shakes the doc gave me are kinda making me bloated – but I’m not sure yet if it’s bloated bloated, or if my body may get used to them. I’ll give them another few days.

FODMAP Diet – Week 7

This was my seventh week on the FODMAP diet.

Week 1
Week 2
Week 3
Week 4
Week 5
Week 6
An explanation

Proposed Meal Plan

Breakfasts

  • Overnight Oats with blueberries

Lunches/Dinners

  • Chirashi bowls
  • Crab salad with zoodles

Snacks

  • Finish those fairly joyless oat crackers

Actual Meal Plan

Breakfasts

  • Overnight Oats with blueberries
  • Açaí bowl out with semi-compliant ingredients
  • Leftover deviled shrimp with rice

Lunches/Dinners

  • The last of the miso orange orange things with rotisserie chicken from last week
  • Chirashi bowls, both home and out
  • Lemon pepper tuna + Kewpie mayo + cucumber + pickled ginger bowls
  • Game night at a friends’ – beef roast, shrimp deviled eggs and definitely non-compliant dessert
  • Chicken & rice out at the wings place one night

Snacks

  • I didn’t really snack much this week
Monday: The last of the orange miso veggies from last week & dinner out – chicken + rice
Tuesday: I love it when a plan comes together. I don’t know if dinner (right) is quite worth a recipe post, but it was delicious. 1 small can lemon pepper tuna + 1 Tbsp. Kewpie mayonnaise + 1 small cucumber + 1 Tbsp. chopped pickled ginger + togarishi seasoning or salt & pepper = yum for a light dinner or lunch
Wednesday: Banana peanut butter açaí bowl out, a repeat of that tuna bowl for lunch, and Chirashi at home
Thursday: Chirashi bowl out for lunch – Skipped dinner
Friday: Game night out with friends – shrimp deviled eggs, Dutch-style pot roast, desserts that weren’t compliant but were worth it
Saturday: Today was a ‘clean the fridge’ day full of rice and seafood

What did I learn this week?

Having 1 thing you batch cooked that can be switched up a ton of different ways makes every meal feel full of possibilities.

Sure, I only had a set number of toppings to choose from, but I could load my bowl down with a couple bites of a ton of different tastes and textures.

I think this is the key to batch cooking – good thing, since I love me a good dinner/Buddha/nourish/whatever the Pinterest kids are calling it this week bowl.

FODMAP Diet – Week 6

This was my sixth week on the FODMAP diet, and it went well. I ended up eating at home a bunch and even managed to stay, at least in my calorie macros, pretty on track.

Week 1
Week 2
Week 3
Week 4
Week 5
An explanation

Proposed Meal Plan

Breakfasts

  • Overnight oats
  • 1 planned breakfast out

Lunches/Dinners

  • Salmon fried rice
  • Miso orange roasted veggies
  • Rotisserie chicken
  • Probably 1 lunch out, maybe 2

Snacks

  • ? Find something?

Actual Meal Plan

Breakfasts

  • Overnight Oats with blueberries, tahini or peanut butter, and pumpkin seeds or granola
  • Chicken breast/poached egg/hashed browns out

Lunches/Dinners

  • The salmon fried rice was even better than anticipated (recipe coming soon!)
  • Rotisserie chicken is such an easy staple to keep on hand – whip up a batch of rice early in the week, and you’ve got 3/4 of dinner ready in minutes
  • Roasted sweet potato/butternut squash/carrot mix with orange miso dressing to toss in with chicken
  • Chirashi and steak out for lunch
  • Mussels frites out for dinner – chose Thai style because the broth was made from compliant ingredients; didn’t end up eating much of the broth anyways
  • Scrounge dinner of leftover rice with a little butter, some furikake seasoning and a touch of sweet soy sauce to hit macros one night

Snacks

  • Bought some more mostly joyless carbs – this time in the form of oat crackers. Must do more snack research. I’m sucking at snacks lately, and my favorite go-tos are off limits (almonds, corn nuts, wasabi peas, dried fruit)
Monday: Started off strong, then derailed when DH wanted to go out for dinner and I wanted to escape the house – had a basket of tortilla chips instead of wings
Tuesday: Managed to eat all prepped foods today. Whoo hoo! And on a day I usually eat lunch out, too.
Wednesday: Chicken breast, poached eggs & hashed browns out – the rest was batch-cooked goodness
Thursday: Chirashi out, and yes – it had some non-compliant avocado. Super delicious and this dish may be making an appearance soon – I think I could batch cook something like this to nibble all week.
Friday: DH came home and wanted to hit the local pub for dinner – had Thai-style mussels & frites
Saturday: Emergency ‘I waited too long to eat’ breakfast, lunch at Texas Roadhouse (I only ended up eating to tomatoes and egg off my salad, plus a third of the ranch), and a scrounge around the house for dinner

What did I learn this week?

Salmon fried rice is delicious. And I’m sad I ate all of it – will have to make again soon.

Also, because I was digging that dish so much, I kinda re-discovered being excited to come home to a batch-cooked meal. It’s not like what I usually make isn’t good – or isn’t exciting – but something about this dish had me wanting to choose to go home for lunch rather than deal with finding something to eat while out.