I completed a Whole 30 and I didn’t die.

And that is the only positive thing I can say about it. Just kidding, I did lose a solid ten pounds, and I do plan to do one again in September. (It will take me all of August to get hype for it.) If you speak to me about any health issues whatsoever, I’m now going to be that annoying person who says “you should do a whole 30!” because if I can do it, literally ANYBODY can do it. The list of vegetables I like is about 5. Not joking- carrots, cukes, potatoes, lettuce, asparagus, and I’ve forced myself to get used to bell peppers, so that’s about 5 and a half. If you already like cauliflower and spaghetti squash, the w30 will be a walk in the park. And if you don’t discover exactly what it is that ails you, at the very least you will sleep better than a formula fed baby who’s not cutting teeth. You will have actual dreams. Before the whole30 I don’t remember the last time I slept deeply enough to dream about something. I would do it again just for the sleep.

Since I decided to start a whole30 basically on a whim, I’ve been thinking a lot about things I would do differently that would have made it a little easier.

1: Start searching for whole30 meals on pinterest and incorporate them into your regular eating now. Get a few recipes under your belt that you know well how to prepare and that you and/or your whole family enjoys (or tolerates). One of the most annoying things was trying to figure out a brand new recipe when everyone is cranky and hungry. The hubs commented (several times) that it seemed to just take me forever to cook. It was always when I was trying out a new dish- prep time was easily doubled. Start getting good at cooking up those weird dishes and sauces now, or figure out which of your go-to meals are compliant (or how to make them that way). Your future hangry self will appreciate it.

2. Also annoying: being at the grocery store every two seconds and also spending one billion dollars on food. If you run a very tight food budget my best advice is to start stocking up on pantry items a few weeks in advance. You may not need everything on this pantry list , but some staples are almond and coconut flour, arrowroot starch, coconut aminos and cans of coconut milk, oils and vinegars. It will majorly suck if you have to buy all of these things on Whole 30 Day 1, so grab some items here and there. If you follow tip #1, you’ll already be incorporating some whole30 meals into your budget by knowing how much meats and produce to plan for, and by picking up one or two pantry items each week, you won’t see a major jump in your grocery spending.

3. I would not have wasted time and ingredients on 5 minute ketchup. Seriously. There’s a great bbq sauce recipe out there but nothing will come close to the beautiful bottle of tomato-flavored high fructose corn syrup you know and love. Even the recipes that say “best homemade ketchup ever!!!!! Can’t taste the difference!!” No. These were written BY health nuts FOR health nuts. Unless you’re an existing health nut, just leave it alone.

So anyway, September. You should join me. The summer parties and happenings and campfire s’mores and holidays are basically non-existent in September, and it’s (hopefully) still warm enough to just throw things on the grill. Who’s in!?

Whole 30- Home Stretch!

This is dayyyy….somewhere in the 20’s. 24 I think. This coming Sunday is FINALLY the last day. According to “The Timeline” days 16 through whatever are the days you’re supposed to feel “tiger blood.” I don’t really notice feeling any different other than maybe more energy, but it’s hard to gauge since the amount of sleep I get varies so much. Day 21 is supposed to be the day you feel like “I am SO over this.” Now that’s a day I can relate to, I would say its more like days 4-30 however. 6 more days to go…

Subject change! I was planning to share a little “recipe round-up” of my go-to’s, but I decided to focus today one on of my favorites. It was introduced to me by the same friend who loaned me a cook book, found coconut aminos for me, and made a ton of beef jerky for me. After you read the following observations, return to this paragraph and note that this friend made this for a group of TWELVE. The first time I made it was for a crowd of ONE, and I would rather have gnawed my own arm off if not for the fact that I’ll need it to shovel all the gluten in my mouth in a few days.

Okay so what is this recipe? Paleo Chinese Sesame Chicken. I am fairly certain that I could have written this recipe in about 12 less steps, but once you figure them all out, it’s freaking delicious. Here are my recipe notes:

  1. Prep time: The recipe says 15 minutes. This is a joke. It *might* only take 15 minutes if you are Michelle Tam (an expert paleo chef), but if you are an average person who has kids or pets, you need to add about 6 hours to the prep time. I mean seriously, I just made this for the 3rd time and it still took me an hour.
  2. Preparing the sauce: “Add 8 pitted dates to a sauce pan with half a cup of water and cook over medium heat until they are soft. Peel and discard skin.” STOP. Stop right there. It’s important to note here that dates are basically just so gross. They look like something an animal digested and left as a gift in the forest. However, they are pretty much the only thing you can use to sweeten dishes or condiments, so you tolerate them. Now, “peel and discard the skin”. This, THIS, is the step that will have you re-evaluating all of your life choices. I guess I’d classify it as a necessary step, but to just throw it casually in the “prepare the sauce” step? This is 100% a task all of its own and you will hate it. It just might be the most bizarre thing I’ve ever done.
  3. So many steps…just put all the sauce ingredients in a ninja blender thing and let her fly. When you’re ready to get the sauce to simmering, add the rest of the water and you’re done.
  4. Cooking the chicken: When a recipe says “don’t overcrowd the frying pan, cook chicken in small batches”; you say “challenge accepted.” My recommendation? You cook those suckers in one batch or you get a bigger frying pan. Your prep time ate up all your cook time so its this or eat it raw.
  5. Eat it all. You can try to save some for leftovers but you won’t be able to. I wouldn’t share a recipe that isn’t good enough to eat when you’re NOT doing a whole 30, and it’s so good with real actual rice. (whole 30 hasn’t made me like or want to try cauliflower yet, for the record.)

6 more days to sweet sweet freedom.

Whole 30 Halftime Report!

Guys. I can’t even with my life right now. Whole 30 is the least annoying thing about it. My glasses broke and are currently taped together on my face. I’m wearing them right now because I’m on my last pair of contacts and I’m sure it’s only a matter of seconds before one of them rips. My daughter did a number on my laptop and it went from the letter “e” not working to NONE of the keys working. This happened about 4 days ago, but I knew y’all needed an update so I put on my big girl panties and hopped on my husband’s laptop. It has windows 8. Enough said right? Kill me. I love you forever, Macbook. My kids have also been up til 9 o’clock like 4 out of 7 days this past week, and today they napped for about 30 minutes total. They are pyschos and I’m preparing for the worst night of sleep ever. Anyway, enough verbal diarrhea about my life and onto the whole 30, bullet point style.

  1. Speaking of diarrhea…..  I can’t bring myself to type anything else about it, but there’s a story to be told about it, just take my word for it.
  2. Whole 30 is all about the “non-scale victories”. For example, “are you feeling more energized? less irritable?” Well, no. Me cutting sugar from my diet didn’t actually make my toddler stop whining 24/7 so yeah, I’m still pretty irritable. I prefer scale victories and yes, I’m losing weight.
  3. I sat through an entire bowling party (which could be a blog post in itself) complete with pizza, beer battered french fries, and my sweet husband asking if anything on the menu was compliant. I’m pretty sure the menu ITSELF was deep-fried before our server brought it to us. Bless it. Anyway- I stayed strong that whole night and didn’t eat a thing, yet I STILL have to stop myself from mindlessly eating a goldfish cracker after giving my kids a snack. I am ultra paranoid that I’ve accidentally ate a wheat thin somewhere along the way and have to start over.
  4. Paranoia, you say? Let me tell you about my dreams. According to the whole 30 timeline, days 12-15 involve lots of dreams about food. This is supposed to be “your brain driving you back to the comfort foods you used to know.” I’m sure it has nothing at all to do with the fact that you’re thinking ONLY about food all day long every single day. I bet it’s purely coincidence.  The first week my dreams involved prepping compliant food non-stop. It was annoying because hello, if I can’t have doritos in real life, at least let me dream about them for cryin’ out loud. But no, I’ve had two dreams since then about eating non-compliant food and both involved me thinking “how on earth did this ritz cracker even get in my mouth?? I don’t want to start over again!” and I’ve woken up paranoid that it was real life.
  5. Somebody somewhere says “you can have all the junk food you want when your whole 30 is over, but we bet you’ll be feeling soooo good you won’t want to!” No. The reason people keep going for a few more days is because they spent their life savings on a diamond encrusted bottle of coconut aminos and they’re not about to let it go to waste. Here is how coconut aminos works: you cash in your 401k to buy a bottle, you use half of it in a recipe that calls for some sort of sauce reduction, you simmer said sauce for 20 minutes and watch your money vaporize. For the price of a bottle of coconut aminos I could feed my family spaghetti for like two weeks straight. It’s absurd.

But I’m over HALFWAY DONE!!! I have 14 days left. And I’m already planning my reintroduction menu. Holla.

Whole 30 -24 days I think.

SUNSHINE!!! Finallyyyy. Holy smokes. I have a LOT to recap over the past couple days. I say a LOT because I know you have all been waiting on edge for me to disclose everything I’ve eaten and not eaten the past two days.

First I need to make an apology for something I said. I openly mocked the preparation stage before starting the W30 and I made a comment about going to the Himalayas for my salt. I bought some pink Himalayan salt on one of my 4,000 trips to the grocery store last weekend to use while making this slow cooker kalua pork by Michelle Tam of Nom Nom Paleo. WELL, as I prepped my pork roast and salted the pig, I realized the recipe called for HAWAIIAN Sea Salt. Are you kidding me!? If I had known that, OF COURSE I would have traveled to Hawaii to get it! So here’s me eating my words. If only that word was pizza. Secondary info: I made the pork and thought it was “meh”, read the comments and realized that apparently you can mess up a 3 ingredient recipe. But you can’t rewind that 9 hours in a crock pot and add more bacon or add just half a cup of water or just use the pork tenderloin you normally do instead of some pork chunk that dries out faster.

Fast forward to Thursday and I came the closest yet to throwing in the towel and starting over today. We had a family gathering involving Pizza Hut (guilty pleasure forever), Mountain Dew (because obviously) and chips (I freakin love chips). Thankfully, I knew in advance it was either pizza or chinese so the last thing I was going to do was bring a salad with me and make myself hate my life even more. I made this glorious recipe involving copycat Chick Fil A nuggets and I baked some french fries. To make this again I’d skip the pickle juice step because it’s annoying, and I don’t eat the pickles at chick fil a anyway. But if you like it, go for it. After dinner I 100% went to the bathroom and did a silent cheer in the mirror for having self-control x infinity.

Friday- Day 7!! To be honest I’ve started to lose track a little bit of what day I’m on because I decided that counting backwards is better for my mental health. So after today I have 23 days left, and lemme tell ya, nothing is more satisfying than getting up in the morning and crossing the day before off my calendar. I had leftover nuggets for lunch and then, because it was 70 degrees out for the first time since last July it seems, we went to the park. At dinner time. I only survived because my awesome friend and neighbor made compliant beef jerky for me and I brought a banana. When we got home and the kids were in bed I made this orange chicken. I’m sure if I made it BEFORE the chick fil a copycats, I would have been wowed by it, but tonight it was just okay lol.

One final note- I survived the DMV today with both kids and an apple pie Larabar.

Week One- peace. out.

Whole 30- Days 4 and 5

How am I not on day 7? This is the longest 5 days of my life, and I don’t even think it’s because I’m thinking about food 24/7- this weather is just draaaaagging me down. For the past three days I’ve been having to remind myself that I’m not even done a full week yet.

But anyway! I took notes on my phone so I wouldn’t forget all the super important and semi-funny things I want to tell you today.

First up, I think day 4 involved leftovers for lunch and nothing that exciting. The real story is our weekly small group that meets at our house every Tuesday night. It was a friend’s birthday so we had steak (both compliant and delicious on it’s own), poutine (why is compliant cheese not a thing? I had some grilled potatoes.), and salad with Tessamae’s ranch dressing. And of course, an insanely good looking lemonade cake was served {found here – warning: if you’re on any sort of diet or “lifestyle change”, don’t even click, you will hate yourself for doing so). I must pause here and say I think it’s odd that there is a lot of concern about “eating out” on the whole30 or entertaining or eating with any sort of group. I think I need to eat EVERY meal with a group because I can tell you for certain that if I were alone, I would have shoved every last crumb of that cake in my face. I’m still thinking about it. And by “it” I of course mean the refreshing glass of water I had for dessert and not at all that cake.

Speaking of water, OH MY GOSH I can’t wait to stop peeing every two seconds! It’s not so much the going every two seconds as much as the worrying I’m about to pee my pants every two seconds. And if you don’t know that feeling, you are probably just too young to be needing a whole30 anyway. Stop mocking us and go have a piece of pizza.

On to Day 5! According to the timeline, yesterday and today were “Kill All The Things” days. But I gotta say, I really don’t feel I’ve been that irritable. I mean, not any more irritable than usual…… and definitely not as cranky as day 2. Lunch involved those leftover potatoes and this balsamic grilled chicken. Now again, I gotta stop here. The author of this recipe “likes to grind the… [seasonings]… together with a mortar and pestle.” I did not know that was a thing. This is 2017 and I thought a mortar and pestle was just a movie prop for apothecaries. For the record, the hubs thought the chicken was good without getting that fancy (because we are normal), and I also had said chicken for dinner with some asparagus (while the rest of the fam had McDonald’s- since when do I have self control?). I’m trying not to get annoyed with eating a lot of the same stuff because a. Everything new is a million hours of prep work so I’ll eat anything already cooked and b. I figure I’d have no problem eating pizza for 12 days straight, so it’s not like eating the same meal twice in a row is the real issue here.

Sidebar: I just had to get up from my comfy spot on the couch where I’m writing this to go pee. It’s ridiculous.

Tomorrow I’ll share what I’ve had going in the crockpot all day today, but before I go, I wanted to share with you a little tip for getting through an afternoon food craving.

Just throw on some teeth whitening trays and you’ve got a solid 30 minutes where you can’t eat! Bonus: you’ll too busy drooling buckets to really want to eat anyway.

Day 5, we out.

Whole 30: Day 4,765

Spoiler alert: it’s really only day 3.

Yesterday was good. Pretty much every Sunday after church, we head to my parent’s house for lunch, and this lunch usually involves spaghetti, garlic bread, and everything that’s dead to me for 27 more days. So I brought along some leftovers but was pumped when we grilled burgers. I had a super exciting burger without a bun, watermelon, and some potatoes.

Today, I’m winning. I had to go to the grocery store AGAIN today, and I felt like a failure when I had to buy an “emergency” larabar (or 5) to get me through lunch time- and it’s only day three. However, I now have this chicken going in the crockpot, and I plan to save all the bones and junk to make a broth- even though I just spent about $24 on sugar free broth the other day but whatevs.

I have also clarified butter. Listen, don’t search the earth for ghee. Just throw some butter in a pot, melt it really slowly, and the white stuff will sink to the bottom. Carefully pour the yellow stuff into a container and you’re done.

Currently, I have ketchup simmering on the stove. This was the only recipe I could find that didn’t involve planting your own tomatoes last spring and prepping dates for 72 hours. If it’s as good as the reviews say it is, it’ll be a game changer and open up a world of recipes.

Oh, and a teeny detail. I’ve technically already failed this whole30 because I weighed myself. But ya know what? I’m not eating anything delicious that I love for 30 days so I’ll weigh myself if I want to. I mean, my primary motivation is to lose weight, and that’s basically the one reason they say you SHOULDN’T do it to begin with. Sooo…. #rulebender

If you ever want to do your own Whole 30, it’s good to familiarize yourself with this timeline. According to today, I should still be feeling hungover, but I’m pretty sure I’m feeling either a. all of the days at once or b. I’ve sped through them and can now eat like this for infinity (no I can’t).

Day 1- was terrible and I could barely keep my eyes open by 7:30PM.

Day 2- I was kind of foggy during the day and I snapped at my husband for about 14 hours straight. I thought a lot about all the foods I couldn’t have and gave equal thought to throwing in the towel. I tried to think about all the way harder things people have done and the way worse things people have to eat and that maybe I should turn my food cravings into a spiritual craving and all kinds of righteous thoughts, but then I ate dinner and it turns out I was just hangry.

Day 3- I feel neither snappy nor super hungry. I actually woke up and didn’t have breakfast until I’d been awake for a couple hours. I expect to have tiger blood from here on out.

Until next time….

Whole 30 Day 1.

Y’all. I already wish it were day 30. It could be the caffeine withdrawal headache talking (I don’t do coffee- it’s the mountain dew), but let’s start at the beginning…which was like, yesterday.

So first off I’m just writing about this because I’m a normal person who cooks normal meals for her family. I’d say I have a pretty average set of cooking skills and I’m not a crazy foodie or anything. And I also want to see how easy or difficult this is to do with minimal prep work and using the simplest of recipes. Because honestly, everyone says “Oh you need inspiration? Go check the whole30 Instagram!” and all I find are things like braised duck or bison tenders and I’m like what even?? Where are the normal foods for people who don’t have 47 natural food stores to shop from?

Also, if you google “preparing for whole30” you’ll be led to believe that you need to replace every pot and pan in your kitchen right after you travel to the Himalayas to mine your own salt. No, people. No. I’m doing this without buying a cast iron skillet, and I’m not getting my knives sharpened, and I’m not hunting any bison.

Third thing. I’m not that picky anymore, but I’m also not an adventurous eater. One time I worked up the courage to take a bite of salmon and kind of gagged when I brought it to my lips. Couldn’t do it. I’m also not even sure I know what a summer squash looks like (little fyi- I almost just called it a spaghetti squash because I couldn’t even remember what the actual name of the vegetable was). So, this might be the most boring whole 30 of all time, or I might try scrambled eggs on day 17, I don’t even know.

Okay so here’s how my Day 1 went. I cooked a ton of bacon a couple days ago. –> hold on. I need to stop here and say that probably the only prep work you NEED to do is find compliant bacon pronto. Otherwise, we’re winging this thing. <– So that was breakfast, along with unsweetened applesauce. In a perfect world I would have had some other fruit out of the fridge or eaten an actual apple but I knew it was compliant and we were in a rush to run some errands and get to the circus (yes, roll your eyes with me, people). Fast forward to 12:30, we’re home and the kids went down for a nap. I needed a quick snack before I gnawed my arm off, so I had more bacon. And a little more applesauce. And then it dawned on me that as of 2pm on day 1 I’d basically only eaten 6 or 7 slices of bacon…#NAILINGIT.

I’ve attempted a whole30 before (lasted a whole12- I don’t recommend starting one at 4 weeks pregnant), so I had a couple recipes saved on Pinterest, and also scoured a thread on Jen Hatmaker’s page to find out what the real people eat. With a short list, I went to the grocery store for a few items – sugar free broth (because we are normal people and we are not making our own bone broth), some spices I didn’t have, Pink Himalayan Salt (for the love), some herbs and lemon for a whole chicken in a crockpot (and then I forgot to buy the whole chicken), and a pork roast. And a couple veggies. And some Annie’s mac and cheese for the kids. And a rotisserie chicken that I thought was compliant but isn’t.

Since my dream of returning home from the store and scarfing down rotisserie chicken was dashed, around 3:30 I finally made these chicken tenders and they are delicious. Sidebar: coconut and almond flour were already in my pantry from a few weeks ago when I was going to try a whole30 again and then didn’t. So in this instance I was ultra prepared.

Anyway, that’s basically it. I don’t know how long I’ll survive but I basically have to tell everybody I know that I’m doing this or I won’t. I have to go find more food now.

V-Day Your Way

Simple ways to show your love that you won’t hear in a sermon.

Some people like to go all out on Valentine’s day. Heart shaped pancakes. Multiple bouquets (some involving bacon). Actual crafts with your kids. Candle-lit dinners. Mushy posts on social media. THE INSANE BOXES YOU SEND TO SCHOOL WITH YOUR KIDS. What even? I mean I’m not listing these things to judge people, this is titled “v-day your way” after all, but I’m gonna judge that one. Can we just go with grocery bags from here on out? Thanks. Or wait a minute- their backpacks. That they already own. And carry to school with them everyday TO BRING THINGS HOME IN. I digress….

Some people just get a text from their husbands after they leave for work saying “Happy Valentine’s Day, honey”, and you reply “oh yeah, thanks, you too”, and it’s cool. Whether or not you keep it low key or max out your romance budget for the year, I thought it would be fun to share some simple ways we can all love our significant others throughout the year.

  1. Clean your hair out of the shower.
  2. If you smell it first, change the poopy diaper. (Free pass on this if your kids are grown or you don’t have any 😉 )
  3. Put all the things in the things. (Clothes in the hamper. Dishes in the sink/dishwasher. Pee in the toilet.)
  4. Tell the other when there’s something in their teeth.
  5. Rinse your beard trimmings out of the sink.
  6. Tell them they are an awesome driver.
  7. Pretend the thing that irritates the crap out of you doesn’t.
  8. Get the air freshener after your own farts. (8b. Roll down your car window if you’re in a vehicle. Please.)
  9. Let them pick the movie.
  10. Let them sleep in any time they can.
  11. Make out even if it won’t go anywhere.
  12. Make out and let it go somewhere whaaaaaat?
  13. Help the child with the 3rd grade math homework.
  14. Let them be the DJ in the car.
  15. Keep them caffeinated.

What are the ways you love your SO??

I fired and then aimed again. Er- I will aim. At some point.

If you could live inside my brain for a day you would know that I have thousands of awesome ideas and about a 2% follow through rate, if that. I think the term for sugar-coating this is that I’m a “visionary” as opposed to a “doer.” The thing about ideas of mine is that a lot of them end up going away, but this one has been one persistent little bugger, and the Responsible One didn’t balk at it, which I’m taking to be a pretty good sign it’s meant to be. So today is the day I stop fretting about logistics and possibilities and just put this out there.

I believe in adoption. I believe in orphan prevention. I believe in foster care. I believe in family preservation. I believe in supporting adoptive families and supporting birth families and supporting foster families. But that last one? I wasn’t really sure how to do that until friends of mine accepted their first foster placement. And then I realized that we, as a community, could probably be doing so much more to support foster families and children. Often times we feel like the solution to big problems means doing big things, but I don’t think that’s always the case. There are small, incredibly meaningful things we can do every day to change the world around us.

So here’s what’s going down: I don’t even have a name for this endeavor yet (I’ll aim later, remember?) My vision is to create a place where foster families and their children can come “shop” for free, whether they need baby items for a new placement, new clothing for a child outgrowing their current size, a pair of soccer cleats or a baseball glove, toys, school supplies, etc.

Here’s what I need from you (local people, of course-which, let’s be real, is 87% of my readers):

  • Donations of new or gently used shoes and clothing (size infant through teen)
  • Pajamas
  • Socks and underwear (NEW)
  • Winter jackets, mittens, and hats
  • Diapers (all sizes) and wipes
  • Baby shampoo, lotion, diaper cream
  • Baby Gear (diaper bags, infant carriers, baby swings, cribs, etc)
  • Baby blankets, baby linens
  • Baby bottles, sippy cups, bibs, pacifiers (NEW)
  • Books for babies, children and teens
  • Toiletries such as toothpaste, shampoo, deodorant, soap
  • Haircare products
  • School Supplies

If you have children out growing these things and you plan to donate or sell them, or you realize you have some of these things around your home that you can spare, please consider getting in touch with me and I would love for them to be used to support foster families in our community.

I’m really excited for how this may all unfold, and though I don’t have the master plan in front of me, I can’t stop myself from taking this first step in obedience.

Psalm 68:5-6 “A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling. God sets the lonely in families, he leads out the prisoners with singing”