The Learner Observer

Aaaaahhh choo!

Excuse me.

Please excuse the Kleenex everywhere as I cough and sneeze my way through the March Break (that’s Spring Break for you Americans out there). I’m writing this from my couch as Luther sleeps (twitching like crazy) right beside me and I’m surrounded by my best friends in the world right now: water, tea, tissues, Buckley’s and Season 3 of Project Runway All Stars. Be jealous… be very jealous! Ha! Anyway, let’s get to today’s post…

The Whole30 challenge - The Learner ObserverSo… what about this Whole30 thing? Well, the 30 days are over and we survived! I know I’ve said this before, but I will say it again: this challenge has completely changed the way I look at the food we eat! I have become so aware of how much sugar is in EVERYTHING! Here are a few more things I’ve learned:

  • I was addicted to sugar. I still struggle not to go straight for a chocolate bar when I feel really hungry – I think our brains naturally crave sugar when its been deprived of food for a long time. If you can learn to go for healthy instead of sugary, you’re in the clear. Easier said than done? No way. If I, the sugar addict, can do it, anyone can!
  • Avocados, mangos, strawberries and natural nut butters are my new chocolate and ice cream. Laugh all you want, I’m serious! The fat in avocados fills you up and cuts sugar cravings. That’s fact, people. Mangos and strawberries are so sweet that I feel like I’m eating candy! And put some nut butter on an apple, banana or celery and I swear, it’s dessert.
  • Healthy food is not boring! We eat a lot more vegetables (all fresh and organic, too, not frozen!) and I never find myself bored with what I eat. Between all of the uses of cauliflower and always buying different vegetables instead of going for the same safe things every week, we eat a very varied diet while being healthy. Trust me, I never ever thought I’d be saying any of this.
  • I’m excited to keep going! Another thing I never thought I’d say because I have always been anti-cleanses, anti-dieting, anti-boring food. And now? Alex and I are actually keeping up the Whole30 eating 6 days a week until we go on vacation next month. We’ll have one “cheat” meal a week and continue our sugar, wheat, dairy and soy-free eating for the other days.

My goal for this challenge was not about weight loss. Did I lose weight? Yes. I have no idea how much because I didn’t weigh myself before or after, but my clothes fit slightly differently now. My goal was to see if eating this way would make me feel better and to see what was causing my migraines. I feel great despite the nasty cold I’m fighting off right now and I haven’t had a migraine since the hangover stage in the first 4 days of the challenge. That’s almost a month without a migraine, which is unheard of for me!

Now allow me to leave you with one of the best accidental meals I ate this month!

Pork Burger with Onion and Mushroom

Paleo Pork Burger with Onion and MushroomI am a huuuuuuge fan of homemade burgers, but I have to say that eating beef all the time just does not jive well in this household, and turkey or chicken burgers can be a little dry. This is where the pork comes in. It was a last-minute moment of desperation dinner, but this was SUCH a delicious option because pork is so savory!

Here’s how I made it:



  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1 sweet onion
  • 1.5 lbs of ground lean pork
  • 2 cups of sliced mushrooms
  • 1 egg
  • onion salt (to taste)
  • coconut oil or pork fatPaleo Pork Burger with Onion and Mushroom

Preparation & Cooking Instructions:

  • In a food processor combine half of the onion and 1 clove of garlic.
  • In a bowl, mix onion and garlic, pork, egg and add onion salt to taste. I used about 2 teaspoons, and you can also feel free to use sea or table salt instead. Mix everything with your hands to make sure all ingredients are evenly spread out.
  • In a grill pan, heat up 1 tablespoon of your oil of choice over a medium/high heat. Coconut oil is great because it can withstand high temperatures, but for extra flavour, use lard or pork fat. I saved some fat from cooking extra thick pork side slices and it’s amazing for cooking with!
  • Add the other half of your onion, sliced, along with mushrooms which you can leave sliced or cut into smaller pieces.
  • While onions and mushrooms are cooking (about 3-5 minutes), start forming your burgers.  Again, use your hands. I literally make mine the size of my palm and about 1 inch thick. No measuring here…
  • Add uncooked burgers to the pan and brown both sides of the burger (about 2 minutes per side). Because pork has to be cooked more thoroughly than beef, it can be helpful to put a lid over your pan. Lower the heat to medium and allow the pork to cook. This should only take 5-7 minutes depending on the thickness of your burger. This is also a great time to get some onion and mushrooms on top of the burgers for the flavours to meld a little more.
  • Once finished, serve burgers with onion and mushrooms on top along with a fresh arugula salad, or, if you’re non-paleo, enjoy it with a nice fresh ciabatta bun!  YUM!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis is a super easy dinner and will be AMAZING when we can BBQ it up in the warmer weather! I was worried about not using bread crumbs to hold everything together, but the egg did a great job of it. Does anyone know if there’s a Paleo-friendly flour that can be used if the mixture is too runny?

Alright this almost 1000-word post NEEDS to be cut off so I’m off to drink some Neo Citran and SLEEP!


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  1. Reply

    Lauren @ The Thinking Closet

    March 12, 2014

    Ahhhhh! I feel so convicted by this post and so terrified to ever try something similar (I, too, am addicted to sugar) and yet your takeaways embolden me at the same time. Conflicted much, Lauren? Lol. It’s definitely a sign I need to make some changes in my diet, too.

    Also, I’ve definitely heard of the power of avocados to curb those sugar cravings, but hearing your affirmations of that rumor make me want to stock up next time we’re at the grocery store.

    Wow, and I can only imagine the sweet (pun intended) relief you feel having shaken off the migraines. I actually don’t think I’ve ever had a true migraine in my life, but my sister has, so I’ve caught glimpses at how debilitating they can be. So glad you’ve not had one in weeks!

    Also, happy March Break! I hope you get healed from your sickness so you can enjoy it all the more. See you on Google Hangout soon! (I’ll email you.)

    • Reply


      March 12, 2014

      Haha I know how you feel – I took a few weeks to commit to this challenge, though because it sounds scary and crazy to give up so much of what you’re used to eating!

      The avocados really are the ultimate sugar replacements! I especially like them in avocado form :)

      It has felt SO GOOD to not have migraines! I get headaches, but they are nothing in comparison to the typical migraines I was getting before, which literally ruined my entire day.

      I’m still attempting to get rid of this cold which has now claimed my vocal chords :( Makes me sad to miss our hangout!

  2. Reply


    March 15, 2014

    I’m so proud of you for sticking with this, and agree with Lauren, your takeaway sounds very tempting! Hope you feel better really really soon! <3

    • Reply


      March 17, 2014

      Thanks, girlfriend! I do feel way better, though not 100% – this Winter is dragging on over here!!!

  3. Reply


    March 18, 2014

    This looks so delicious! I don’t know if I could ever do Paleo but good for you sticking with it :)

    • Reply


      March 23, 2014

      Thanks so much! This burger is one of my favourites to make (because it’s so easy) and to eat (because it feels like it’s junk food, but it’s not).

  4. Reply


    March 30, 2014

    New reader! I really need to read more about this Whole 30. Seems like everyone is talking about it. I’m not a big burger fan but it does look good.

    • Reply


      April 3, 2014

      YAY! New reader!!! Thanks for coming to follow my madness along! So the Whole30 is not as scary as it sounds, I swear! My husband and I have kept it up 6 days a week because we just feel way better eating cleaner. The Whole30 site is chock-full of info!

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