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A whole lotta Whole30 fun

February 3, 2017

That’s a wrap on Whole30 round No. 4!

It always feels bittersweet at the end of these little resets. Like, I’m so relieved I don’t have to carry emergency food in my purse and cook ALL OF THE THINGS, but also so concerned about what happens when I drop the reins and give myself some food freedom again. You have the best of intentions to ease in, go 90/10, but then one evening you wake up delirious face down in a plate of Texas Roadhouse cheese fries with ranch up to your elbows. It gets away from ya that fast.

Every time I do a Whole30, I get the same two comments/questions: 1) I don’t think I could do that, and 2) So, then what?

Let’s address these.

I don’t think I could do that.
Yes you could. You really could. People get their panties in a pinch over hearing the word “no” so many times consecutively, but simply put, the Whole30 guidelines specify you must eat real food for 30 days. This means no sugar, no alcohol, no grains, no legumes, no dairy, no carrageenan, sulfites or MSG, no corn and no processed crap. It means you’re going to be gettin down on a lot of eggs, meat, nuts, seeds, healthy fats, fruits and veggies. This is not a tragedy, folks. It’s really just doing what you should always do, which should be easy but isn’t at all because, it turns out, “food” in our country is in kind of a sad state.

The secret, I’ve found, is in the cooking. And let’s just say it, it is so much freaking cooking. If you can’t use a food processor or chop produce like a boss, you will not survive. If you don’t like meal planning, you will not survive. If you don’t like doing dishes, you will survive (it just blows). It’s kind of like having a newborn; You live on a 2-hour cycle. You prep the breakfast, eat the breakfast, clean up the breakfast, prep the lunch, eat the lunch, clean up the lunch, prep the dinner, eat the dinner, clean up the dinner. Go to bed, start over. The first time we did a Whole30, I took some epic missteps in regard to meal choices. Ones that haunt me to this day. I remember one night I just threw a pan with a pile of shit on it in the middle of the table, cried and told Hank not to eat it because I was pretty sure it was poison. It was a little Pinterest lie called “pizza with cauliflower crust” if memory serves.

But now, four rounds in, I’ve developed quite a repertoire. I can do things with a bag of almond meal, carton of eggs and pound of bananas that would make you– I don’t know where I was going with that … Anyway, this time, I checked the official Whole30 Cookbook out of the library. It was legit. Its pages were packed with game changers like Crispy Spicy Turkey over Cauli Rice and the like. We kicked things off on January 3 with the Curry Turkey Meatballs with Roasted Potatoes, Cauliflower and Kale, and we ended on February 1 with the same dinner. When you find something that works, hold onto it and serve it up as many times as you can for sanity’s sake.

The funny thing is, the food is really good. After your taste buds are revived from the 11-month waterboarding they’ve been served by sodium- and sugar-drenched deliciousness, a meager strawberry suddenly dances on your reinvigorated tongue. Roasted vegetables are inviting. Cashews are silky. It’s amazing what real food can do when you take all the crap away and just let it do it’s natural thang.

For whatever reason, I didn’t detox quite as hard this time around. In the past, it felt like I had the flu. I’d be exhausted, pale, sweaty and down with a throbbing headache for much of the first week. Am I pregnant? I thought. Maybe mono? Oh, no, that’s just me coming off sugar. Although, in my body’s defense, I’m pretty sure my consumption rivals that of the rats they use to test whether candy or heroine is more addictive. It’s up there. So my withdrawals might be magnified a bit. This time, however, I think my body was begging for the cleanse so hard it decided not to put up much a fight.

The benefits are the same, but a little different, every time we do this. This time, it was the sleep. I was like a bear in the Smokies. It was so good, I almost always got 8 hours. I’d get horizontal and my body just automatically signed off for the night. It was a beautiful thing. I felt clear-headed and alert and loved the sustained energy.

Another bonus, Hank and I discovered the best fruit flavor combination on earth. Stuff a red grape into the cavity of a red raspberry and just put my thank you card in the mail. I’ve often wondered if it’s really that good, or just that good because fruit is the equivalent of Ben & Jerry’s when you aren’t having sugar, but I think it’s really truly that good.

But that’s not to say it was all roses and smooth BMs. Here are three of my favorite journal entries from the journey …

Day 13 (Clearly in the anger phase)
I want to scream. I am doing all of this planning and cooking and shit and I asked my husband to do one thing – set out chicken breasts to thaw – and I get home, get all the shit chopped up and guess what? Frozen freaking chicken boobs. One thing! One thing!

(Sorry Hank.)

Day 18
I vomited in the sink. My body put up a stop sign to sweet potato, egg and avocado. There can be no more.

Day 19
We went to Matt’s to watch the playoff games. I thought I was prepared. I made Nom Nom Paleo wings and banana-coconut “cookies” and whipped coconut cream with strawberries. But it was no match for the smell of queso and enchiladas. Damn him! Damn him. We held strong though. This is a bitch.

So, then what?
Well, I’ll be the last person to tell you I have harnessed the true power of Whole30. I followed the blog Kale and Cigarettes throughout our journey, as the writer and his wife were going through their first round. He wrote a lot about the anger that comes with not necessarily knowing the end game. As in, what if I bought all these weird ingredients and cooked my ass off every day and turned down beautiful, glistening donuts for nothing? What if nothing changes? What if I don’t change? What if I just go back to my old ways and learn nothing? I brought this up to Hank the other night as we were driving back from a wedding.

“I feel so good,” I said.
“But, I feel like we need to figure out the long game here.”
“Like, I love the short-term benefits, but what changes am I really making based off the reset?”
“I need to find a way to carry some of the momentum over.”

I mean, the truth is I eat on autopilot. Like gross autopilot.

Mindful eating is a thing. A very real, very useful thing. And I can’t do it. I can’t. I recently sat in on a video shoot on the topic, and I tell ya, it made so much sense in theory. In between takes, I told the instructor, “I mean, I eat on autopilot. Or at least, I’m distracted. I’d assume that’s the same thing. I’m so concentrated on making dinner, and then the walls my girls are coloring on as I’m chopping, frying and roasting, and then on getting their plates made, and then on what they’re not eating and then on disciplining at the table and then on clearing it all and then starting the dishes, and then bath time. In the noise of that process, sometimes I can’t even remember if I ate, let alone gave much thought to how I was doing it.” He just nodded. Because I am not unique in this struggle and all I had to do was shut up, listen to everything he said, and observe a brief moment of gratitude before my meals.

It doesn’t help that things like chocolate-covered almonds with sea salt and long Johns just seem to jump from counters, cabinets and kids plates into my welcoming mouth hole. It’s that 30 seconds. The initial smell and sight. If I can get through that 30 seconds, I’m good. Think about how brief a taste of something is. Some things, not many, are worth it. There’s this new place in town everyone’s talking about that makes ice cream sandwiches with fresh-baked donuts for buns. I’m thinkin’ that’s worth it.

No matter how many times we do this and no matter how many times it’s happened before, it always amazes me how some people just have to salt your game. If you aren’t drinking, aren’t having dessert, aren’t giving yourself a pass, people just can’t stand not commenting on it. The pressure is so ridiculous. And then you feel like you have to justify what you’re buying, eating and using to make your own body go. If I’m shoving something down your pie hole against your will, please feel free to engage me. Otherwise …

So, here we are.

I haven’t really answered the second question because I guess the answer is I can’t really answer it. I guess what comes next is my best effort. Every time I adjust my diet and become more food aware, I learn something. I learn what my body feels like when I feed it shit, and what it feels like when I’m a clean machine.

We’re done for now and I lost a little bit of weight, got a lot of great sleep and found some great new recipes. But, of course, I’ll spend the next week analyzing how I could have done better. I could have exercised more, I could have relaxed on the dried fruit. But perfection is so boring.

If you ever try a Whole30, here are a few you don’t want to miss …

Slow Cooker Korean Grass Fed Short Ribs from Nom Nom Paleo

I had a friend who spoke of these ribs and I didn’t listen. Then, one day I did. And I hated myself for all the opportunities I’d missed with these succulent little suckers throughout the years. About 15 minutes of prep and 7-9 hours in a slowcooker stand between you and a full mouthgasm.

Gluten, Grain, and Garbage Free Chick-fil-A Nuggets from The Domestic Man

Saved me with the chicks.

Plantain Tortillas from Eat Your Beets

OK, SWYPO is a very real threat with Whole30. These were my regular appointment with my trousers. I love these tortillas as buns for a bison burger, as shells for carnitas and, when things get really hairy, with almond butter and sliced strawberries.

*Honorable mention to everything in the Whole30 Cookbook


These three resolutions made the cut

January 5, 2017

Happy New Year, you beautiful souls!

I don’t know what your Christmas looked like, but mine was fantastic, to the tune of a tummy-flattening stomach flu (second time in three weeks), a 103 fever for Spike and 2500 rainbow loom bands scattered across the floor like birthday confetti thanks to Sloppy Joan. Ahhhh, the holidays. A time of sugarplums and pure insanity.

Anyway, you blink and Bam! A brand new year has arrived. Everybody’s so excited to see 2016 go and I’m over here all just like fine with the ways things are. [gulp.] But I’m going to put my big girl pants on, stuff some optimism in my pockets and step boldly into 2017 with my chin up and hope in my heart.

The best part about turning the page? Resolutions. I love ‘em. I do. I typically come in at around eight goals because, you know, I’m desperate for improvement, and I typically hit one or two. Last year I checked off backpacking, trying one new thing a month, and I’d like to think talking less and listening more, but that’s subjective.

This year I got a little … we won’t say less ambitious, we’ll say wiser about resolutions. I hear a lot at work about setting SMART goals. They should be Specific, Measureable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely/Trackable. Ohhhhhh! That makes so much more sense than saying, for instance, “I want to stop living by a schedule” or “I want to be a better human”.

Also, while I was enjoying some much-needed, stay-in-my-jammies all day time over the holidays, I came across Gabrielle Bernstein’s Facebook Live on goal setting. “Don’t make them negative,” she said. “Put a positive spin on them.” So, instead of saying, “I’m not going to let myself eat crap anymore.” You might say, “I’m going to truly fuel my body.” Find a way to take all the terrible things you need to quit and make them sound pretty. I’m up for it.

So, I see you 2017, and I’m comin’ for ya. Here’s what I’ve got my sights set on …

We’re tackling our fourth Whole30 in this house, and this time, the hope is I can reintroduce every food group but sugar. I have not kept my addiction to sugar a secret and it’s time to say goodbye once and for all (except for birthdays and warm donuts). Parting is such sweet sorrow.

I’d also like to push myself to get stronger. I always look down at a scale, but I’m starting to think scales are stupid. I want to look over at a bicep instead. I want to feel like a badass and have the package to drive the message home. I find the weight room at the gym to be such an intimidating place, filled with men who really, really use the mirrors. I need to get in there in the new year.

I need more of what scares me in my life. For example, Hank surprised me with a trip to see one of my besties in Florida in February and let me tell you a secret … come close … closer … closer … this is going to be really embarrassing for one of us … I have never flown by myself. Yes, I am 34 years old. Yes, I do grownup things like pay bills and buy food to cook it and keep a household of people alive. Yes, I am terrified to fly by myself. But I’m doin’ it! I love the feeling after I do something new and it turns out completely fine and, on top of that, it’s awesome. And most new things are just like that.

I want to use my vacation days for vacation and not just sick kids and furniture deliveries. Americans throw away like 600 million vacation days a year. Let’s all agree that’s just sad. When I think of my happy places, with my happy people and all I’ve yet to experience, I just want to turn in PTO and get going. Twenty years from now a house filled with things won’t mean shit compared to a heart papered in postcards from beaches and mountaintops, signed by my four favorite people (plus me, of course).

About two weeks ago I started on this one. I began unfollowing every major news outlet on Facebook, Twitter and email notifications. No more “Alerts” or “Updates”. I find that the majority of what’s published poisons my spirit, and the pieces I need to know always find me in other ways. Peace, to me, is better than drinking from the fire hose of negativity fed by our popular media outlets. It’s just noise at this point, and everyone wants to shout so their voice can make the ugliness even louder. Well, I don’t.

The second prong in this approach is the adoption of a flow rather than a routine. This one will actually be pretty brutal for me. If we’re buds, you know I live and die by my schedule. Up for the gym by 4:40 a.m., out the door for school and work by 7:16 a.m., lunch at noon, snack at 3 p.m., dinner on the table by 6:30 p.m., kids in bed by 8 p.m., melatonin at 9 p.m., nothing after 10 p.m. It is the fabric of my being. It’s ingrained in me the way Let It Go is ingrained in my children’s vocal cords. But living in a flow might look more like …

4:43 a.m. – I think I’ll sleep in a bit and do yoga at home instead of running at the gym.

Noon – I’m not too hungry yet, maybe I’ll finish up this story and then grab a late bite instead.

7:30 p.m. – It’s bath night but we really should go for a bike ride instead, it’s so beautiful out.

8 p.m. – I feel flustered. I think I’ll meditate for 15 minutes.

No one – and I mean no one – would describe me as a gal who can just roll with what comes, so this one’s my wild card, but I’m optimistic. Maybe sugarfree me will be more malleable, too.

Whatever goals you set for yourself, I hope the next 360 days bring you hope, love and lots of wholehearted contentment.


Whole30 No. 3

February 17, 2016

This post is just … oh, you know … a few weeks past when I wanted to put it out there. I guess that’s the nice thing about “working” for yourself. I totally flaked on that deadline and, oop! Look at that … still employed.

On February 3, Hank and I called it good on our third Whole30. With bellies full of buttery nuts, toot-triggering vegetables and sticky, dried fruits, we recorded our wins and began our steep descent back to all the decadence we’d gone without for a month. Hank sailed through, about 6 pounds down. I said farewell to 4. We felt good. We felt in control. We felt lighter.


Then came February 4. We’ve discussed this before. Intentions. Specifically, how intentions melt in the presence of a warm homemade chocolate chip cookie. And who can blame those intentions, huh? It’s not just a cookie, it’s kryptonite; with butter and sugar and molten cocoa kisses. The negotiations started early after this round. First, I was going to be compliant during the weekdays and then let myself have treats on the weekends. Then I was going to try to be compliant but also track calories again. Then I was going to eat all of the Girl Scout cookies. And that’s where I’m at today.

Despite the epic fail following our purge, it’s never for nothing. Each time we do it, I think I learn something new about my relationship with food and how my body reacts to it. This January I confirmed my suspicions about sugar and how it pops my pimples, wrecks my dreams and hurts my guts. Knowing is half the battle and ditching dessert is the other.

During our run, I started a list. You know you’re Whole30 when …

  • A dried apricot tastes like a freaking elephant ear from the county fair
  • You know all the compliant Larabar flavors by heart
  • Said Larabar becomes a 3 o’clock ritual not to be tampered with
  • You combine almond butter, bananas and eggs 50+ ways, always expecting it to taste like a cookie. Never does
  • You have to go to the ladies room … no, like right now
  • Macadamia nuts become “worth the financial splurge”
  • You go through 2 cartons of Costco eggs in 6 days
  • You manipulate plantains into chips, cakes, tortillas and airplanes
  • You feel compelled to smash that cupcake in your friend’s face
  • You use “wine is just made of grapes” as a bargaining chip
  • The words “reset” “detox” and “clean” find their way into most conversations
  • Your abdomen feels like you put a gas hose in your mouth
  • You spend enormous amount of energy analyzing whether you have tiger blood
  • You’re really into Sex With Your Pants On
    You know what Sex With Your Pants On means
And I discovered some new recipes that made this the easiest – dare I say most enjoyable – Whole30 yet.

Whole30 Happy Muffins from Sole Searching Mama


Bacon Wrapped Pork Tenderloin from Taste and Tell


Plantain Tortillas from eat your beets (Served iwth carnita meat)


Chicken Parma-Paleo from Predominantly Paleo

I could have had more success, sure. I hit the dried fruit pretty hard. I drank a lot of fruit juice and made a lot of smoothies. I discovered the beauty of banana waffles with coconut butter on top. But you know, it’s all a lesson learned and another step on a journey to dietary peace.

*Shout out to our Whole30 facebook group and the awesome support and recipes. You gals are so strong and inspirational.

Tune in Today

Tonight, I’m cleaning out my pantry

January 4, 2016

Tune in today to see if she can … prep for a dietary turnaround. 

It’s the night before my third round (fourth attempt) of Whole30 and I gotta say, I love this time in a cleanse. When the food is prepped and the week of recipes is planned and I don’t quite want to rip the heads off of everyone around me yet. It’s a beautiful time of optimism and lofty aspirations and dreams of white t-shirts and stretchy skinny jeans. But, with the impending denial that any incredibly restrictive scenario brings, comes a bit of lashing out. For me, that lashing out comes with an impressive caloric tally and a healthy dose of remorse and humiliation.


Here, in no particular order, are my confessions on my Whole30 Eve:

  • I ate a ginormous bowl of Lucky Charms in a shameless attempt to polish off my non-compliant cashew milk. “Don’t look at me,” I told my husband, as I sorted through sugary horseshoes in an embarrassing sea of purple milk.


  • While cleaning out the pantry, I found a box of chocolate graham crackers that expired in July 2012. Where do these things live for all those years? Like, I look in there … typically daily. And I haven’t noticed them hanging out, just, expiring. Where were those chocolate graham crackers hiding?
  • In the psychological battle between eating the holiday candy and throwing it in the garbage where it belongs, I opted for eating, on average, 5 haystacks and 7 peanut clusters every day for the last 5 days. Kind of gross, right? Also hid the rest for a post-Whole30 treat. (This is what they call “setting yourself up for future failure.”)


  • I came down with an insane cold-type thing on New Year’s Eve. I lost my voice, which stopped coming from the general area of my glands which were so sore and swollen I thought you could visibly see their abnormal heft. I had the spins and just a severe case of the “blechs”. None of these afflictions could stop me from cramming in a buffet of bad choices (mostly dairy) as the ball dropped, Arby’s and a sausage roll on Saturday and ruebens today. These were accompanied, of course, by the aforementioned haystacks and clusters, a fact that could be attributed to my slow recovery.
  • I watched in awe as my lovely husband, who is going to accompany me about 90% percent of the time on this particular Whole30 journey, cleared an entire bag of jalepeno kettle chips in 48 hours LIKE A BOSS.

OK, I think we’re all good here. You good? I’m good. Let’s do this Whole30 thing!

Until next time … 





30 after Whole30

March 7, 2015

So, today marks 30 days since I completed my second Whole30, and in the spirit of my honest pursuit of improved humanhood, it seemed appropriate to touch base here. It’s a day of reflection, realization and, OK, a tablespoon of shame. It goes fast; both the time and the downward diet spiral.

Last month I listened to Sarah Silverman’s audiobook The Bedwetter: Stories of Courage, Redemption and Pee. In it, she

“Look, there’s not much useful to take away from this book – it’s largely stories of a woman who has spent her life peeing on herself. But there is one way I really believe I can help the world, and that is to encourage everyone, in all things, to ‘Make It a Treat’.‘Make It a Treat’ is similar in spirit to ‘everything in moderation,’ but still very distinct. ‘Moderation’ suggests a regular, low-level intake of something. MIAT asks for more austerity; it encourages you to keep the special things in life special.”

With the simple substitution of my “Thin Mints” or “Butterburgers” in place of Sarah’s “weed” (which she goes on to point out is among her favorite treats), it’s completely applicable advice. I am realizing that I am a woman incapable of making things a treat.

Prompted by a whiff of fryer oil or hint of chocolate glaze, I can generate a list on the spot of reasons I deserve it. It’s Monday, and Mondays suck. It’s Friday and Fridays are for fatty foods and cocktails. It’s 10:30 and I was born at 10:30. See?

Needless to say – reigning this conversation back to its Whole30 roots ­–­ I fell right off the wagon and got run over by all the tires, including the spare. It’s not a total loss. I am aware of what I need to eat to feel lighter and more energetic, and isn’t that half the battle? I once worked out a deal with a coworker where he promised to live at my house and slap food out of my hand in exchange for him getting to eat said food. (It’s not the worst idea I’ve ever had.)

But fly or fail, the great thing about the Whole30 community, particularly their killer Instagram feed, is you always have a voice deep down whispering, “There are too many ingredients in that.” “Sugar sucks the life out of you.” and, “Keep it simple, stupid.” And for that, I’m forever grateful.

On a weekday, I can hang in. Typically a version of this Tuna Salad for lunch, partnered with an apple and almond butter (Costco has sustainable tuna and a no-sugar almond butter option). But after a semi-sensible dinner, I go sniffing out chocolate like a shark tracking blood in the water. I once ate a chocolate Santa in April out of desperation. What … the …

It also seems like regularly working out makes me a garbage disposal. But boredom does the same thing, so that theory’s kind of shot to shit right out of the gate.

So, what can you do? Monday is 32 days past and as good a day as any to hit reset. The flu is finally being exorcised out of this house (I’ve been diffusing lemon oil like mad) and spring is like 13 days away so I should probably think about what people are going to see when these layers come off. Monday it is!



What the scale said in February

March 2, 2015

Since the first time I stepped on to see my 3-digit starting point after Sloppy Joan (also known as the slap-out-of-denial dose of shame they prescribe at the postpartum checkup), I’ve had a daunting number hanging over my head. Now, something to keep in mind here, I’m not shooting for the supermodel-slim stars. I have my eyes on a prize that puts me simply within my “healthy” weight range and by and large, a bullseye for my BMI. And I know that being well is more than a number; it’s the way your denim doesn’t dig into your flat tire and the extra 30 minutes you can tack onto the family bike ride. Now that we have those pleasantries out of the way …

The scale says:
Down –  24 pounds
To Go – 23 pounds

This is a dance I’ve done before. I’ve done it three times, to be exact, and the partner is always the same. It’s a two-faced counterpart that consists of both an uber health-conscious chia-eater and a fried food/sugar addict who goes to bed with the first cookie she sees.I admire women who keep their weight down through each trimester and quickly bounce back to their beautiful selves. I equally admire those who fight like hell to lose every pint of Chubby Hubby, basket of fried pickles and bag of Cheetos, because they know what they did and they know their sentence is a year – or however long it takes – of awkward sweat, suffocating guilt and tough choices to get it off. So, obviously, I am a card-carrying member of the latter, and I’m only halfway out of the woods.
I feel less pressure to drop my extra l-bs as quickly this go-around. First of all, red carpet season is over (thank goodness), and second, we aren’t planning on more babies. I always felt like it was a race against my maternal clock to shed the weight before the next tenant checked into my uterus. This time, I know it’s a lifelong investment.
The plan. The progress.*
Whole30 – Completed February 5 (100%)
Kayla Itsines 12-week Bikini Body – On Week 6 (50%)
Join a gym – Officially members and finding a stride(3%)
Clean eating – Oy. (2.1%)
Half Marathon – Need to train to start training in July (1%)
Hike – Planning phase (2%)
Yoga – Every Sunday (10%)
Slim & Sassy essential oil – Skeptical, but it’s in the mail (5%)

*These percentages are based on complete bullshit because I don’t know how to do math or quantify something like “joining a gym”.


Four ways to Whole30, family style

February 20, 2015

Tune in today to see if she can … feed her family healthfully for a whole month without igniting an uprising.

Considering most eaters under the age of 10 (and often well beyond that) would rather sit through a marathon of The Lawrence Welk Show than eat a sweet potato, one is safe to assume that  month of massively healthy meals is going to go over like a pregnant pole vaulter. Not that I blame the kids, really. There are certain foods that are only acceptable to eat in that window between your first day of kindergarten and the first time you have to go to the grocery store and shop for your own sustenance. Things like Fruit Roll-Ups and tiny pieces of French toast made into cereal and candy sticks that you lick and then dip into granules of more sugar. They’re complete poison, but so much fun to eat!
In an ideal world – one where homes are installed with motion-sensored vacuums and muffin tops are just a sweet, starchy side – your kids would willingly devour the whole, natural foods you set before them. But in my house, anything other than a hot dog is met with a degree of distaste typically reserved for shots or “grown up shows”.With two rounds of the strict paleo Whole30 prescription behind me, I’ve acquired just shy of a handful of helpful ideas that might just buy you some slack (and hopefully success). That’s not to say these are gospel, but 60 percent of the time, they worked all the time.
1. when they deny, modify.
I liked to think of meals during those 30 days as a main course Mr. Potato Head. The base is the same for everyone at the table – say, it’s an actual potato in this case ­– but the accompaniments can be, to some degree, open to personal discretion. Let them dress their spud in shredded pork tenderloin, bacon, sour cream and cheese, while you pile on ghee, pork tenderloin, bacon and chives.more modifiable menu items: tacos or carnitas – Give them all the fixins, but make yours a salad with pico, guacamole and plantain chips for the crunch.burgers – Bypass the bun and play with some alternatives to sandwich your grassfed patty. I’ve tried giant mushrooms (good but messy), roasted sweet potato rounds (probably my favorite) and straight up with a fried egg.

chili – Compliant soup ingredients are often easy to find and comforting during colder months. Add plantain chips (tell yourself they’re Fritos) to your bowl while the kids nosh on a grilled cheese and oyster crackers with theirs.

eggs – Go for breakfast-dinner as a treat. Roll up their scramble in a flour
tortilla, but plate yours with a flavorful salsa, guacamole and approved bacon.

2. know your dealers.
It’s sad but shockingly true that eating healthfully, especially for a family of five, means paying more. Crap is cheap, apparently. In an effort to avoid blowing the budget, I had to source some of the good stuff outside of our neighborhood grocery.

Costco – Great for eggs, marinara, bacon, coconut oil and nuts (This post is great.)

Amish grocery store – Great for unsweetened coconut, dried fruit and dates, tapioca starch and almond meal

Vitacost and Amazon – Price check between these two for all oils, bars and
coconut flour

3. how they and your garden grow.
Start in the spring and plant the seeds, both literally and figuratively, with your kids. Put them in some old jeans, supply a small shovel and take them to a box of dirt. Do a quick search online and come to the great outdoors packing some killer, very careful not to be mundane here, factoids that turn their veggie-eating frowns upside down. It’s as simple as, “This is a bell pepper plant. Bell peppers have vitamin C, and vitamin C keeps colds away.” You smell what I’m steppin’ in.


If your thumbs are more Shellac than green, take the lesson to the produce section. Same concept. “This is an avocado. It has omega 3 fatty acids and those are good for your heart.” [Hand to side of mouth] “Plus, who doesn’t like a side of guac with their weekly marg, right? Am I right?”

Over the past five years, I’ve learned a few undeniable truths about these little folks. They always have to pee when the food comes. They have impenetrable selective hearing when within a 2-mile radius of anything animated. And they really, really want to grow. Tell them something will help them get big and strong like ___(insert favorite princess/superhero)____, and suddenly broccoli is their jam.
4. just try it on.
It’s tough love at its finest. They can not get up, watch a show, play with toys, have dessert, whatever gives them their jollies, until they at least try everything on their plate. Don’t put a big ole’ pile of sprouts on there. You’ll blow it. Just a few, entirely manageable pieces … nothing to freak out about. We go by age; five bites for JoJo, three bites for Spikey, etc. As soon as they comply, even if gagging ensues, we go ape shit with praise. Of course, it must be said, we do have about a 60 percent success rate here, with 35 percent abandonment and 5 percent actual vomit. Maybe put some newspaper down first or something.

Until next time …

Whole30, we meet again.

February 13, 2015

Tune in today to see if she can … Finish a second Whole30

In 2013, I was locked in a bitter battle between my goal weight and the final pounds remaining in a snail-paced descent from the second most epic weight gain in my history as human. To be fair, I did get a butterball of a baby (our second) in exchange for those 60+ notches on the scale. But now I needed a little nudge – nay, a complete overhaul – to bring it home and hit my prebaby digits. Buying into the buzz on the blogosphere, and at the urging of one of my dearest friends, I checked It Starts With Food out of the library and brought it along on a business trip to Austin.

The book and the Whole30 program were a lot to digest – pun intended – so I took the meat of the pages and created a short stack of cheat sheets. Copies of my primal packet in hand, I coerced a few girlfriends and my husband into joining me and my co-worker/great gal pal for a 30-day clean-eating adventure.

No dairy, legumes, wheat, sugar, alcohol, MSG (the hard stuff) or tobacco? It wasn’t an easy sell. But somehow, we made it. After a rocky start for the lady of the house (“Is this the flu? Or … what the hell is happening to me?” It’s called a sugar detox, and it ain’t pretty.) and one unfortunate peanut binge from the mister (“Well what the hell is a legume anyway?”), we logged 720 hours with nothing but clean, fiber-filled fuel and we felt great.

Putting all my cards on the table, I was skeptical. And then, about 9 days in, I tipped the cup back and drank the compliant Kool-Aid, so to speak. I was a convert. I mean, think about it. Almost everyone stuffing their face with the common American diet is struggling with some issue related to their skin, mood, energy, digestion, a food addiction, excess weight or sleep. Or, in my case, nearly all of those. The investment is really a little extra effort, with a return of health like you never knew your body was missing. You don’t know bad until you feel really, really freaking good.

A second date with W30.
Fast-forward to January of this year. Loaded down with baby weight (baby No. 3), a devil of a sugar addiction and just a general sloth state of being, I knew it was time to circle the wagons.

There were definite perks to shedding the amateur distinction. I felt more confident, prepared and excited for the “tiger blood” that sets in somewhere toward the middle-end. But every experience yields different lessons, and here are a few things I took away from this turn.

Whole30 lessons learned.

1) Pal up on Pinterest.  Create a board and start searching for #Whole30 recipes. If the pins are from cooks like me, they’ll have sweet little insights like, “add extra mustard”, “double the sauce”, “NOT. GOOD.”, etc. Take note of people’s notes, learn from their disastrous (and delicious) dinners and find pinners that speak to your palette to follow.

2) Basic is baller.  We’re in a safe place, so let’s just put it out there: Cauliflower crust is a paleo urban legend. You have a friend who makes the best cauliflower crust breadsticks with cashew cheese? Well, I’ve got $10 to Pizza Hut that says that’s bullshit. Let’s just stop the lies. I sabotaged so many meals on my first Whole30 by trying to make our usual food fit the requirements. Avoid the pitfalls and strive for whole, easy dishes that don’t involve “deconstruction” or anything “reimagined”.

The Chew’s Baked Artichoke Chicken, for example, took no more than 15 minutes to assemble and called for very few substitutions. It’s delicious on a manic Monday night. For a speedy Chinese takeout vibe, get this Ground Beef Stir Fry with Wilted Napa Cabbage poppin’ in your wok. This was my favorite dinner over the entire 30 days. Let’s make a pact right here, right now to skip the molecular gastronomy and agree we just aren’t fancy enough for that shit.

3) More is still not enough.  The best thing about eating so clean, is you can eat a ton of the foods on the list and still reap rewards. Let yourself get hungry and you’re screwed. Whether you stay at home all day or take your talents elsewhere, never find yourself without an approved option. Embrace fruit, LÄRABAR®, (Blueberry Muffin and Cashew Cookie got me through more than one instance where it was just me and a box of bear claws in a meeting room.), chopped veggies, crumbled bacon (Costco has approved options), guacamole packs, plantain chips and nuts as your new indulgences. That said, try to avoid grazing. [insert cow audio]

4) Bring your posse to the party.  I had a great group of gals from the office show up to the dance this time and it was a game changer. Exchanging recipes, gripes and victories can be the difference between dropping out on day 10 and considering a Whole90. (Yes, I actually did that.)

5) Prepare your pitch.  Sad but true, everyone from your mother to your waitress is going to question your “new crazy diet”. Practice a 2-minute elevator pitch explaining why you’re doing it, why it’s awesome and why it’s not for everyone. That way, when you hear this …

You: No, thank you.
Them: What, you don’t like mac ‘n cheese all the sudden?
You: Well, I’m doing this thing called Whole30. 
Them: What the hell is that?
You: It’s basically where you cut out processed crap and just eat whole foods for 30 days. 
Them: I eat whole foods … In fact, I’m gonna eat this whole plate of mac ‘n cheese right now.
[Pause while they snort-laugh at their massively original wit.]
You, if Carrie Bradshaw-esque voice-overs were a legit thing: Have fun slammin that Velveeta and being backed up for 3 days, son.

… for the billionth time, you’ll have a big can of verbal mace shaken and ready. You don’t need criticism but it’s natural for people to doubt what’s different. Indulge their curiosity and then shut. it. down.

Skip to the end.
After a weeklong carb/sugar exorcism and subsequent 23 days of relative successes, I lost 6 pounds (before and after pics to come … never), slept like a champ, felt completely clear-headed, had a bloat level of zero, and enjoyed sustainable energy from 5:15 am to my melatonin meltaway at 9 pm sharp. Yes, I would 100 percent recommend it. Yes, it is hard (I’m talking to you, Reese’s in the shape of a Christmas tree. You sweet temptress.). But above all of that, you can procure this cute shirt and Instagram it with a boastful, yet humble, caption at the end, and isn’t that really what it’s all about? Now go forth and purge your pantries! May the cream stay ever out of your coffee and the donuts dry and stale.

Until next time …