Best Decision of 2013: Charlottesville SOUP

First Edition: Monday, January 14th at The Bridge



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Second Edition: Monday, May 27th at the Charlottesville Day School

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Third Edition: Tuesday, November 12th at Meade Hall

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All of this happened in 2013? Wow.

Agreeing to photograph the year of SOUP was definitely one of my best decisions of 2013. I don’t even know what to say about it, which is okay since other people are more eloquent or more informative.

I have been consistently blown away by how well-organized, well-supported (by local businesses), well-staffed (all volunteers), and well-curated (all decor made by local artists and volunteers) this event has been. And let’s not overlook how well-fed the attendees were! But what I love most is that this is such a simple, accessible way for a community to come together, share a goal, and support an artist’s vision. The original SOUP (Detroit) website shares tips for creating a SOUP event to fit your own community.

If you’re in the Charlottesville area, you should go to the Charlottesville Soup website and join their mailing list right now.

Nalle30 Update

Most of the time, when there’s no update, it means I have a backlog of photos on my camera, waiting to make it onto the computer, then the internet, then the blog. I can’t blog without a photo to talk about.


The amazing dessert spread from Katie’s birthday dinner. Also known as The Day I Fell In Love With Macadamia Nuts.


These pork pineapple kabobs were AMAZING!


It’s almost tomato season! Are you as excited as I am?


After this, we decided that red onions and avocado should be a new food group.


Coconut chicken? Yes, please.

Now, let me update you on the last two weeks.

My Nalle30 ended with a bit of a tantrum. I’m still processing what I learned, and how it’s going to impact my relationship with food, but I can say that it definitely changed my relationship with food. Unfortunately, I don’t think all the changes were healthy.

I’ve always had a positive relationship with food. I’ve never struggled with an eating disorder, have never tried or been tempted to try a fad diet, and have always enjoyed eating fresh whole foods. This, I realize, is fairly amazing and I thank God and my parents for all that.

What I have struggled with is being a rule-following judgmental prig. (In christian circles, one might call this “legalism.”) This has expressed itself in so many different ways in my life – excessive fear of TPing someone’s house as a kid, straight-A student fierceness, unwillingness to attend parties with underage drinking or drug use, relational awkwardness – but it had never entered my food experience, until Whole30.

In my thirst for knowledge and perfect execution of this food adventure, I quickly discovered that I could google almost any food question + whole30 and I’d find a forum filled with people who have answers, experiences, and strong opinions. I LOVED THOSE PEOPLE AND THEIR STRONG OPINIONS! They were helping me to sort the world of food into Good and Bad. I was so angry about the bad food, because My People were angry too. But then, I was judging people around me for associating with that bad food, and I knew I didn’t want to do that, but YOU GUYS THE INTERNET AGREED WITH ME!

And then, strangely and hilariously, the internet turned on one of my friends. It’s not my story to tell, so I won’t, but it was totally innocuous, and we all laughed about it, because everyone has crazy stories about people yelling on the internet. But it made me step back and take a good hard look at this community I had started to identify with. I realized that they were making good choices, and they were working hard for their health, and so much of what they were doing was admirable…but there was no grace. There was no room for mistakes. Literally. The hard line of Whole30 is that if you eat something outside the diet, you should start over at day one.

So, a few days before our expected end date, I was feeling a lot of anxiety. I found some dissenting views online, that helped me to clarify what I was thinking/feeling. In dramatic fashion, I blurted out at dinner that I needed to break up with Whole30, and that night I went out to buy some greek yogurt and some Graeter’s ice cream. I had the yogurt immediately. I waited until the next day to start eating the ice cream.

I discovered that dairy consumption increases congestion in my sinuses, which is exactly what I was hoping to learn from this diet. And though I still need to test individual grains, I discovered that they lead to joint pain.

I’m in this uncomfortable middle-ground where my old diet is no longer acceptable (because of the negative affects on my body) but I need to emotionally separate myself from Whole30 (Katie wisely suggested I give up THE INTERNET FORUMS instead of the diet). To emphasize the break-up, I had lots of ice cream this past weekend, and pizza, and a cupcake. I bought a candy bar at the drugstore yesterday, and ate it all. I didn’t really enjoy it, though. I might have been craving sweet potato chips instead.

Three out of four in our house decided to continue on a paleo-type meal plan, and to split responsibility for buying food and cooking meals. I think it’s a great transition for us, but I’m probably going to have an awkward relationship with food for a while. This makes me sad, and a little angry, but I’m sure I’ll get back to a healthy place in time.


First meal post-Nalle30. Potatoes and summer squash from our CSA, tomatoes from our neighbors garden!

Nalle30 Days Sixteen through Eighteen

The days are all stringing together at this point. I’m spending less time thinking about food cravings (though the daily craving for ice cream persists).

A game I’ve been playing this month is to pit two cravings against each other to see which one is the winner. This is helping me to clarify my “bad” food priorities – I hope cheese and greek yogurt will be a part of my regular life after this, but I’ll have no trouble cutting drinking-milk completely. Baked goods haven’t really factored into my cravings, so I could easily cut them down to monthly indulgences (the biggest sacrifice will be my occasional mid-morning scone from Albemarle Baking Company, and celebratory cakes). Ice cream, you may have noticed, is my favorite treat. Chocolate would be the cold-weather counterpart to that. The re-introduction period is going to help me gauge my personal limits for these items.

Okay okay okay, what did we eat?


BAM! I love throwing one utterly delightful dish into our weekly schedules, and THIS WAS UTTERLY DELIGHTFUL!

We each added a dollop of organic mayo, which was exactly right. Next time, we’ll probably chop up the burgers and shred some more lettuce and serve it as a fancy salad.

We also had some more sweet potato hash for breakfast, another nice serving of salmon in parchment, and superfood salad, which we’d all been dreaming of having again. Tonight, we’re trying this cajun jambalaya for the first time. I hope it’s a winner!

Let me end with something for your amusement. Our fridge looked like this on Monday night:


Nalle30 Day Fifteen and a Half

Remember when I tried to run last week? It has been haunting me. I did some research, and discovered that every workout means an extra meal thrown into your daily schedule!

So, this morning, I woke up 15 minutes earlier, had a small breakfast, drank a bit of coffee, and went for a run.

I didn’t die. That was promising. I also managed to run about twice as far as last week (which means just under 2 miles, instead of just under 1). Hills that I’d been able to power through a month ago were still difficult, but I did notice that my energy was staying steady during the run. I’m excited to see what Thursday’s run brings.

And then, almost immediately after the run, as advised, I had some chicken and carb-dense vegetables.

What did it look like?

#latergram Second breakfast. Lunch!

That next picture was lunch – some sweet italian sausage (which had added sugar – oops), some oven-roasted tomatoes (OMG SO DELICIOUS), and an attempted recreation of my salad from the weekend.

Yesterday I forgot to bring snacks to work, and was VERY GRUMPY about that. Also, I went to the drugstore to pick up some things during my lunch break, and realized that I’d NEVER gone to the drugstore and NOT bought a candy bar. It was a bit shocking, really. These sugar-related habits are everywhere!

Have I told you about coconut flakes yet? These babies are my new best friend. I bring them everywhere with me. They’re great for chewing when I’m bored or stressed (two times when I tend to reach for sugary snacks), they have an amazing sweet/savory flavor (and fat content) that somehow satisfies my cravings for greek yogurt or rich vanilla ice creams.

Nalle30 Day What?

We’ve hit the halfway point! (Confession: Nalle30 is only going to be 28 days. Or, if we’re honest, it might be 26 if some of us start re-introducing foods on the weekend.)

What does that mean?

Tiger blood? Hmmm….not quite yet. I’m still curious – and a bit incredulous – about these extreme levels of awesomeness they keep predicting.

have been waking up at 6:07 am on the weekends, which has done wonders for my productivity. It also means that I’m nearly a zombie once 9 pm hits, though I’ve managed to push through and stay up until 11 on multiple nights.

Reaching for the right food is more natural now, though I still have fantasies of driving toward ice cream every time I get in the car. (The main temptations: Kohr Brothers custard (chocolate-vanilla swirl with chocolate sprinkles), Graeter’s chocolate chip ice cream, Cookout’s heath milkshake (though, I suspect toffee will be overwhelmingly sweet), and, oddly, chocolate-dipped Digestive cookies.) I’m getting better at shaking off the cravings, though.

Friday night we had an amazing pumpkin-based chili, with turnip fries – they tasted nothing like regular fries, but sure were pretty.


A friend was visiting, so I subjected her to our diet for the weekend. For breakfast, I sautéed some swiss chard (my favorite greens) and fried some eggs in clarified butter. For lunch, we went to Chipotle. For dinner, I fired up the grill to cook some sweet potatoes and steak while she made a delicious kale salad (the vinaigrette was made with lemon juice, lemon zest, apple cider vinegar, garlic, and olive oil).

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(I ate the leftover steak for second breakfast the next morning.)

At this point, I’ve tried almost every flavor of Nuggets Raw Kombucha – my favorite is chai.

I still don’t miss coffee, and think my cold brew with almond milk tastes more delicious every morning.

I’m back on meal-planning and grocery duty this week, and it seemed like less work this week than the first. And, since I had a better sense of how much we eat, I don’t think I’ll have to make an emergency trip mid-week to buy more food!

Don’t expect daily updates anymore, but perhaps a recipe summary as the week progresses.