Whole30 :: Tip #3

Day 12.  They say that this is the point in which you’re most likely to give up.  I can see that.  The newness & excitement of the challenge have worn thin and the end is really not yet in sight.  But I think with the way I’m feeling right now, giving up is not an option.  I haven’t slept this great in a very long time & I haven’t had this much energy in forever.  I just have an overall feeling of clarity, if that makes any sense.  Life is clear & fresh.  I like it.  I think I’ll keep at this Whole3o thing a bit longer.

how not to be a whole30failure 3

It’s definitely not all roses though.  I miss grains.  Who knew how much I’d long for a nice plate of pasta.  Or a baguette.  Or a scoop of rice.  Grains.  I very much thought dairy would be the hardest, but no.  Grains.

One thing I’ve tried very hard to follow is the programs ‘rule’ about not making substitutes for your favorite foods.  They discourage you from making say, paleo muffins out of all approved ingredients, but that trick your mind into thinking you’re eating a muffin.  At first I couldn’t understand what the big deal would be in doing such a thing.  I can see it now though.  I have discovered that I rely heavily on salty snacks to fill my boredom.  Nothing going on, sitting idly?  I should grab some salt chips and enjoy!  And since I haven’t had access to chips or anything resembling those salty wonderful spheres for 12 days now, I have found better alternatives to mindless eating in front of the tube.  If I’m actually hungry I get myself a plate of something nutrient-rich {hello avocados!} or I realize I’m just bored and move away from the pantry. So my tip for today would be

Tip #3 – Follow The Guidelines

That being said, we had spaghetti the other night.  I used a spaghetti squash as my noodle. Delicious!!!  That, I do believe, is different than making muffins without grain, dairy, sugar, etc.  {what would that even taste like??}

I still highly, highly, highly recommend this program.  If for no other reason than to heighten awareness to what is in the food we are putting in our bodies.  It’s shocking!  And the benefits of  feeling great, clearer skin, less illness and way more energy are awesome bi-products.



Whole30 :: Tip #2

Day 8 ::  Feeling great!

I dreamt the other night about shredded cheddar cheese.  What’s that about?  Other than that, I think Whole30 is treating me pretty well.  Enjoying good proteins, excellent fats & more veggies than I have ever eaten before.  I’ve survived going out to dinner & the SuperBowl.  I think I deserve a trophy for not cheating.

I won’t lie, it’s not super easy.  When the battered chicken wings and cheese-cheesey dip & crackers and cupcakes are all laid out for the world to eat, it’s not the easiest to just head for the Whole30 approved snack section.  But, friends, it is doable.  You can do it!

One thing that definitely increases your odds of not being a Whole30 failure, brings me to today’s tip.

Tip 2 :: BE PREPAREDhow not to be a whole30 failure 2

GET IT READY :: If you’re anything like me, grab foods are a life line.  Chips, crackers, pretzels, kettle corn…mmmmmm…I’m making me hungry now.  When I get a hankering for a little something-something I go for whatever is easy.  Something already prepared, something already to pop into my mouth, something fast with little work to get it ready.

Enter Whole30.  Yeah, grabbing a little something on the fly? That can be a bit tougher.  Unless you’ve prepped.  Don’t just purchased the veggies & the friuts and throw them into the produce drawers of your fridge.  Actually wash them, chop them, dice ’em & slice ’em!  Throw them into tupperware and zippy bags.

The other day I stood in the pantry staring down a bag of BBQ Lay’s.  We had a little debate in that pantry.  Me & the Lay’s bag.  We fought!  It was rough & tumble.  I picked up the bag.  I put it down.  I picked it up.  I put it down.  really.  But then I remembered I wanted to not be a Whole30 failure.  I remembered all the delicious fruits and veggies in the refrigerator.  I also remembered the huge pyrex of soup from Tuesday & found my way back on the Whole30 path.  But only because it as all ready to go.  The Lay’s went down & something wonderful took it’s filthy place.

Since I mentioned it, let’s talk about THE IMPORTANCE OF SOUP!  It is times like this that I am thankful that it is still a bit cool outdoors.  {Heck it’s February in the upper-midwest!  We are under a blizzard warning today.  It’s just plain cold!}   Anyway.  Cold weather=soup.  Soups are a Whole30 must for me.  I can make up a big huge pot & have it ready to go in the refrigerator for whenever I need it.  I have found several delicious, filling, wonderful soups.  These recipes will likely take me right out of Whole30 & into life.  They are that good.  Here’s a list of my favorites thus far:

“But what about those times when you’re hungry but don’t want soup?  What about when you need something crunchy, like a chip or sweet like a big ol’ piece of cake?”  I’m glad you asked.  Crunchy has been a rough thing for me this past week.  I enjoy chips & crackers.  A lot!  Nothing about a piece of celery comes close to making me think I’m eating a chip.  Nothing.  I’ve not found the PERFECT SUBSTITUTION, but I can admit that these little gems are doing a good job of settling down that craving:

FullSizeRender 68Both from Costco, their ingredients are the important part {because not all dried fruits are equal}  The ingredients are simply the fruit.  No sulfites, no preservative & NO ADDED SUGAR!  Those companies are so, so sneaky.  But these are clean.  And the apples are crunchy enough to trick me, sort of.  Now I have thought how delicious they’d be drenched in caramel sauce, not gonna lie, but that will have to wait.



How Not to be a Whole30 Failure

Failure is a big word.  So perhaps I should have titled this “How To Be a Whole30 Success”.  But really…same coin, different sides.  And there are no participation trophies here.  So how not to be a Whole30 failure it is.

how not to be a whole30 failure 1

I can see already, as I sip my delicious morning coffee with coconut milk & cinnamon, that Whole30 is not easy.  Change is always hard.  Breaking old habits is tough.  And Whole30, like Nothing New Month before it, is about making conscience changes & breaking bad habits.  Sometimes enthusiasm runs low & giving up seems better.  Easier.  And it would be easier.  Easier to just grab a cracker, a slice of cheese and a glass of wine & call it a day.   But I’m committed to this thing.  So how exactly can the transition be made less awful?  Announcing Tips to Not Be a Whole30 Failure:

Tip #1 – Drop The Gourmet Chef Act

Once I read the book, It Starts With Food {you must read this!} and decided to go for it, I immediately turned to Pinterest.  Because, hello, Pinterest.  She literally knows everything about anything. {Pinterest is a girl.  99% certain of that fact}  She did not disappoint!  Recipes galore!  Glorious, glorious recipes.  With pictures that were delicious.  No, really, I could’ve eaten the pictures!  Delish!  I pinned, & pinned & pinned. I added to my Plan-to-Eat recipe collection.  Such divine, delightful dishes.

Such complicated, strange, time-consuming, expensive ingredient recipes.  Ugh!  I have never in all my life seen recipes with such long lists of unusual ingredients and so many complicated steps. For all you out there with a personal chef, have at it!  However, I do have other things to do besides prepare meals all day.  I figured out quick that this could get way out of hand, time-sucking & discouraging in quick order.  And failure is just one “I don’t feel like doing this anymore” away.

I decided to Drop The Gourmet Chef Act.  I love to cook.  I love to try new recipes & ingredients.  But I could see burnout around the corner if I started out this way.  Time to rethink the Whole30 meals.  You know what I discovered?  Many of my regular rotation recipes will work just fine.  For example, last night we had salmon with an avocado salsa.  This is something that we eat regularly because everyone likes it.  And you know what?  It’s Whole30 compliant.  I made rice for the kids & the hubs.  I also made a vegetable medley with all kinds of goodness.  I had a little roasted sweet potatoes for me {since no rice was on my plate}  We all enjoyed it, left feeling very full & satisfied.  It was easy.  And easy is good when change is so hard.

Don’t reinvent the wheel.  Yes, many things you normally eat will not work even with tweeks {like lasagna} but there are many things that will work.  It just takes a little looking.  And if you’re a prepackaged, drive-thru, open-a-can kind of dinner chef, look for easy Whole30 recipes on Pinterest.  She won’t let you down.  Promise, she’s that good. Happy eating!

Print Recipe

grilled salmon with avocado salsa

Source: www.thecookierookie.com


  • 2 lbs salmon cut into 4 pieces
  • 1 tbs olive oil (I used light extra virgin olive oil)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp paprika powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 12 tsp ancho chili powder
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • for the Avocado salsa:
  • 1 avocado sliced
  • 12 small red onion sliced
  • 2 limes Juice from
  • 2 tbs finely chopped cilantro (depending on how big of a cilantro lover you are)
  • Salt to taste


  1. Mix the salt, chili powder, cumin, paprika, onion and black pepper together, rub the salmon fillets with olive oil and this seasoning mix
  2. refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
  3. Pre-heat the grill.
  4. Combine the avocado, onion, cilantro, lime juice, and salt in a bowl and mix well, chill until ready to use.
  5. Grill the salmon to desired doneness. (I grilled for about 5 minutes)
  6. Top with avocado salsa and enjoy!

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New Month :: New Challenge

January was Nothing New Month.

February is Whole30 Month.doing-the-w30-IG

I know.  I know.  I have said I will NEVER do Whole30.  I have said that.  Many, many times.  I may have even been a little bit hostile about the whole thing.  But here’s the deal.   Anyone who’s ever dealt with or dabbled in any eating disorder & come out on the other side {the healthy side} will generally be adamant about their desire to never play games with food rules.  Food rules can be dangerous.

So, why the change in heart?  Well, it all started last year when I ran my first full marathon.  I had always been hesitant against doing a full marathon for a similar reason.  As dangerous as food rules can be, exercise requirements can be just as slippery of a slope.    But I really wanted to complete a full & with a lot of intentionality, I was able to do the training & didn’t slip into any unhealthy habits.  And then I got to thinking…if I can do this, maybe I can try Whole30.  So here goes nothing.

What is Whole30?  I’d first recommend this book & this one too.  All questions answered.  And if anything remains unanswered, the website is very informative.  But in a nutshell :: No Sugar, No Grains, No Legumes, No Dairy, No Alcohol, No Carrageenan, MSG or Sulfites.  But everything else is totally ok *sarcastic smile* Fruit, Veggies, Meat, Coffee, Tea, Sparkling Water.  It’s all good!

For me, I’m doing Whole30 as a reset. The holidays were whimsical. They were frivolous.  They were very…filling.  I have never in all my life indulged in so much food & drink.  Some were good choices, some were not so much.  And all that has left me feeling bloated, uncomfortable, tired with itchy skin & blemishes.  Really.  And I’m certain much is related to the food & drink that has been thrown in my mouth.  Time to reset the system!

What is most difficult about Whole30?  Well, I’m at day 1, so I don’t have a lot of experience, but I can say that I was terrified about coffee creamer.  Yes.  Coffee Creamer.  It’s a no.no.  And cream is also off limits.  And sugar too.  How is one to enjoy a cup of Joe without anything that can make it taste less like coffee & more like yum?  I almost decided against the whole program on account of this conundrum.   Truth be told though, my alternative plan was the Daniel Fast and that has zero coffee…so never mind that.  I spent yesterday reading up on coffee on Whole30.  This morning…black coffee and a smidgen of full on fat coconut milk.  Different than my chemical laden coffee creamers of old, but still good.  Delicious.  Really.  I speak truth here.  After my first cup this morning…I can totally do this.  Whole30 – you’re mine!

So, here it goes.  Day #1 down.  I will not take pictures of everything we’re eating.  Promise.  But I’ll share how it’s going, how I’m feeling, what’s hard, what’s not so awful.  And if a recipe makes me smile, I’ll share it.  If you’re interested, check out my Pinterest Board “Get In My Belly! – Whole30”.  There’s a lot there.  Good luck!  happy eating.

Surviving the Always-Hungry-Teen-Boy Monster

I’m on the lookout for snacks for the kids.  I’m on the edge of housing two teenage boys.  Which for the purposes of moving heavy items and hauling wood is good.  But for the purposes of keeping the pantry and refrigerator stocked is not good.  These two consume large quantities of food.  And they will eat just about anything as long as it is easy and convenient.  Sometimes these are good choices.  Sometimes they are not.  And I can guarantee you that about 99% of these choices are a result of what hits that conveyor belt at the grocery store.  Their choices are a result of my choices.  Yikes!

Let’s pause a minute right here before we move forward, shall we?  Healthy food.  Junk food.  Artificial colors.  Sugar.  Dairy.  Gluten.  All these words can stir up a whirlwind of thoughts, emotions, and…well…judgments.  Believe me, I know.  Us mommies sometime like to jockey for position.  We want to be the best mommies we can be.  Sometimes that means we want to be the “better-than mommies” of all the mommies we know.  We strive to be the best through various things.   With schedules or belongings or the way we educate or where we shop or what we wear or what our kids do or what they’re wearing…  And sometimes we play the one-up game with what we eat & feed our family.  I agree that nutritious is important.  I agree that what we put in our bodies plays a huge role in our health.  I agree.  I am a FoodMatters follower too.  But…let me give an example.  I’ve been on the receiving end of some judgmental eyes in the grocery store as I blissfully pushed my cart full of Hot Pockets, Chef Boyardee, Cheez-Its, and the like.  On one occasion, a friend surprised me from behind in the frozen food aisle.  I was adding Tator Tots to my cart. The extra large bag.  Maybe two…  Anyway,  she scanned my cart with precision, stopping for a little longer on the PopTarts.  Her eyes screamed “there is death in this here cart!!” I held back, though I wanted to defend that we eat home cooked meals with real food regularly & this is just because this season is so busy and chaotic.  I stood silent instead wanting to jump into the frozen food cooler with the tots.   But as sure as I write this, I am 100% certain that I too have added my judgmental eye’s towards other’s food choices before.  For that, I am sorry.  After all, we are all in this thing called motherhood together.  We are chugging along & it is more helpful to cheer for each other & celebrate the goodness than nit-pick and scour and destroy.  Can I get an amen!

Ok.  Back to the snacks.  I’ve been looking for something to supplement {or add to} the snacks that the kids are already plowing through.  We have lots of fruit {see I had to slip that in for those who are still hyperventilating about the Hot Pockets and canned pasta}, cheese, crackers, pretzels, popcorn.  I quit buying yogurt because it has as much sugar as a Milky Way.  A mom has to have some sort of standards, right?  I don’t buy too many cookies, mostly because I have no will-power and if I eat one Chips Ahoy, I will eat the whole package.  I’ve been looking for something sweet that the kids would eat.  They’re onto me when it comes to “healthy” junk food & it sits uneaten.  Waste!  So what can I do?

I ran across this recipe.  No-Bake Energy Bites.  You’ll need oats, honey, crunchy peanut butter, mini chocolate chips, vanilla extract and ground flax seeds.  Flax seeds?  I have no idea what they are either.  But they’re good for you, so there’s that.  I actually like them quite a lot.  I add a tablespoon or two to smoothies when I whip those up.  Delicious.

FullSizeRender 61
click the picture for a printable recipe

It was a mess to mix up.  I suppose.  Honey and peanut butter.  Could’ve guessed.  But  I used my non-latex, food-safe gloves when I rolled them out, and it was way less messy than it could have been.  I was able to make 36 from this recipe.  They are pop-in-your-mouth size.  After a quick freeze to set them, we sampled.  I got the thumbs up all around.  Looks like I’ll be making more.

Give them a try & let me know what you think.  I’d love to hear from you.  And, hey, let’s all spend some great time cheering each other on and celebrating how awesome we’re nailing {or making it up as we go along} this mom thing.  *wink*


Thanksgiving-the Menu!

thanksgiving graphic 2

Recipes.  Recipes.  Recipes!  I love recipes.  I can linger over recipe books like some do over a great novel.  And this little invention called the internet has been a game changer in the recipe lovers world.

Thanksgiving is when recipe scouring kicks into overdrive.  I would never think to change up the Thanksgiving must-haves, or replace a tried and true family classic on the big day.  But I’m always looking for a couple new recipes that might improve the menu.

Our Thanksgiving 2015 Menu looks like this:

I’m attaching my grocery list here in printable form. {thanksgiving shopping list} If you like the menu, this includes everything necessary to make the whole caboodle.  It’s also broken out by recipe using the recipe key.  So if you are interested only in the desserts, find the ingredients on the shopping list marked with a [G] and [H], highlight & purchase those items.  You’ll have what you need to Autumn Pumpkin Pie & the Cranberry Ginger Upside Down Cake.  Yumm-O.


Thanksgiving Week – Let’s Plan

thanksgiving graphicI look forward to this week all year long.  I cannot tell you how excited I get just thinking of the Thanksgiving feast ahead of me.  Although not always the case, in the past several years, cooking for Thanksgiving is a highlight.  The recipe searching, the shopping list making, the shopping, the prepping, the planning, the actual day of cooking it all…glorious!

I’ve been scouring for perfect recipes for weeks now, finalizing this year’s menu & I think I have it all figured out.  I stick with my trusty and true important recipes {the stuffing, the potatoes, the green beans} and then I give myself some play room in the other areas of turkey and non-required sides.  Call me a geek.

In an effort this year {and all years} to make sure I have all my ducks in a row {or should that read turkeys?} I make lists.  I love a good list.  And I decided that it would be fun to share it with you.  I remember back to my first on-our-own Thanksgiving being completely overwhelmed by the entire Thanksgiving process.  I’m hoping that maybe if you’re new to turkey day, this will be helpful. You can print it here – thanksgiving to do

thanksgiving to do

thanksgiving to do2

Tomorrow, I’ll be sharing my recipes for Thanksgiving 2015 along with a printable shopping list!  Thanksgiving is nearly here!!!  Let’s get cooking!


Kickin’ Tomato Jam Recipe

My garden is overflowing!  In particular my 3 cherry tomato plants are heavy with all the goodness of summer. We’ve eaten cherry tomatoes like candy, in salads, in bruschetta, in salsa, in marinara sauce…I was beginning to get really tired of these little wonders. I googled cherry tomato recipes & tomato jam popped up.  What?  Could that even be good?

Kickin' Tomato Jam Jar

Holy Hannah!  Let me tell you all about it.  It’s sweet, kind of like any ole’ jam.  But it’s spicy too.  With a kick!  It’ll add a little zip to just about anything you slather it on.  It’ll kiss you at first & then bite you.

So let’s get cooking:

Start with a whole bunch of cherry tomatoes.  Wash them up & take off their stems.  Throw them in a pot.  Do not peel them!  Do not seed them!  Just toss them in the pot.

Add everything else to the pot.  Fresh ingredients, my friend.  With so few things making up this pot of deliciousness, make every ingredient count!  Get the heat on about medium-high & get it boiling.  Stir it to make sure it’s not sticking to the bottom.  That sugar will burn if you let it & that is definitely not what you want.

After it gets boiling, cut that heat WAY back.  I sat my gas burner on “simmer-high” but if you don’t have a simmer setting, turn it to low & keep an eye on it.  Again no burning that sugar!

Get your canning supplies ready while your watching the pot-of-yum simmer away.  Wash up your jars & lids.  You’ll want your jars warm, so when it’s close to filling time, put your jars in a pot of simmering water on the stove.

When the tomato jam is all thick & ooey {you’ll know} it’s ready to can.  Fill your warm jars, leaving a 1/4 inch of head space.  Wipe the rims of the jar with a clean towel, place the lid on & screw on the ring.  Place the jars in the canner & process in the boiling water bath for 20 minutes.

kickin' tomato jam jars

Pull them out.  Set them on a towel & let them cool.  Let them sit there a good 24 hours.  The happy sound of lids plinking should fill the air soon.  If a jar doesn’t seal, no big deal.  Open it up & slather it on some cheese with a cracker.  Taste buds scream yum!

FullSizeRender 52 Put the sealed jars in your pantry for up to a year {as if they’ll last that long} & throw any unsealed jars in your refrigerator & eat in the next week or two.  Or finish it off today – I’m not judging.  It’s that good!  It is.  I’m imagining this delight on sandwiches, on hamburgers, used to dip fries in – oh my!  It will jazz up anything you might have thought to put boring ketchup on before.  Give it a whirl.  It’s amazing!  Print the kickin’ tomato jam recipe here.

kickin' tomato jam recipe