Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Our Whole30 Experience



Well, it has been a month since we have been off the Whole30 diet. I intended to write this post as soon as we got off the diet, but May is always one of the busiest months of the year for us as we juggle the end of our homeschool year, soccer season, music recitals, birthdays, our anniversary and other parts of life.

What is Whole30? A quick summary…

The basic gist for the Whole 30 is this.
No dairy.
No sugar.
No grains.
No legumes.
For 30 days.
For more specific details, check out the Whole30 web site.

Overall Feelings

Overall, I will say that our Whole30 experience was positive. It was very difficult at times, even though I did get used to it after the first several days. It still was hard to get over the feeling of deprivation and not look forward to some of the things I enjoyed eating.
However, because of the benefits we received, I would say the Whole30 program is a good option for people.

How the Journey Went


Week One was a difficult week, especially the first handful of days as we adjusted to our new way of eating. The difficulty of Week One led my husband to decide he would add his Dunkin’ Donuts coffee back in after the first week, and that is how he continued his journey.

Week Two was definitely the best week. We were getting used to the foods we could eat and had a lot more energy. We felt better, in general, and life felt easier.

Week Three. Hmmm… I thought this week would be fairly easy, but I was wrong. I didn’t feel great. I actually felt quite fatigued and around Day 20 my stomach hurt an entire evening and followed into the next morning. I thought my body was missing something and decided to have a piece of toast. I had one piece of toast and that seemed to do the trick. I know…. I know… According to Whole30 rules, I blew it… and so did my husband after the first week… and that means you START ALL OVER. However, I told myself that I would stick to it as best as I could, and I didn’t start over. I just kept going.
HOWEVER, I will say that even though this week proved harder than I thought, I also saw a good amount of victory. I hosted a tea party at the end of the week, and it didn’t even phase me to stick to my Whole30 eating.

Week Four. The last week was hard because we knew we were so close to the end, and we just wanted it to be done. We weren’t very patient, and the days seemed LONG. We looked forward to eating tacos and pizza and chocolate goodies.

Pros and Cons

Even though the journey was not a piece of cake (no pun intended), there were definitely many Pros of being on the diet.

Weight Loss – My husband lost 15 pounds, and I lost 10 pounds.
Renewed Energy and Stability – Overall I had more energy. I woke up feeling refreshed and felt less anxious and more stable throughout the day.
A Desire to Eat Healthier – Even now, after the diet, I have a desire to eat healthier. I have seen and felt how eating healthy makes me a better person, and I want to promote that!
”Glowing” Skin – I received remarks from people that my skin was “glowing”, and I could definitely tell a difference in the way my skin looked and felt.
Better Health – Most mornings when I wake up I have a lot of sinus congestion. I had much less of this during the Whole30. My body felt stronger and experienced less symptoms as a whole.

Some of the cons were:

Feeling Deprived – Truth be told it is just hard not to think about the foods you COULD be eating, especially when you are having a bad day.
Expense – Maybe I would get better at spending less money on groceries if I ate this way all of the time, but I was at the grocery store multiple times a week, partly because I wasn’t fully used to how we were eating to be able to plan well enough and partly because I needed to stock up on fresh ingredients again. Also, some of the ingredients we used: almond milk, almond butter, etc… are more expensive than their counterparts.
Time – Not only did I spent a good amount of time planning our meals for the week and shopping at the grocery store, I also spent a large amount of time in the kitchen. Fresh, homemade food comes with a price. Making salads and their dressings, having boiled eggs and cut veggies for snacks…. Basically cooking every meal from scratch and not being able to grab a bowl of cereal or eat out when life is crazy. It definitely takes time!
Very Extreme – The diet is very extreme, and to be truthful, we didn’t follow it as strictly as taught. For instance, the bacon I used was nitrate/nitrate free, and pretty good turkey bacon in my mind. It is what I always buy for my family. However, Whole30 says no to it because Sugar is listed on the label. It is very hard to find bacon without added sugar, and this is one of the things I chose not to make a big deal about. Also, the diet doesn’t want you to make smoothies or eat Larabars in general, but these are options we decided to keep for ourselves lest we became crazy at times.

What We Ate and Enjoyed

When we were on the Whole30, I did some posts about my meal planning. You can see some of what we ate there:
Day 3 and a Meal Plan
This Week’s Whole30 Meal Plan
Our Final Week

Some of our favorites:
  • Roasted Chicken with Mashed Potatoes
  • Sweet Potato/Potato and Bacon Hash
  • Lettuce Wrap Tacos
  • Asian Lettuce Wraps
  • Burrito Bowls
  • Beef Stew
  • Roast

How the Diet Affects Us Now

The Whole30 reminded me of the great value of eating healthy foods to promote a better life. We have always tried to eat fairly healthfully, choosing whole grains, fresh foods, quality meats, etc., but the Whole30 made me realize I have only scratched the surface.

The foods and recipes I have come across have broadened my horizon and stretched me. I continue to glean and grow and seek to make healthy, fresh foods for my family.

Now I am, all the more, trying to incorporate more veggies, protein, and better sweet substitutes into our weekly food choices. I am still trying to figure out exactly what works for us. It is a journey.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Hats Off to All Moms, Everywhere



Moms are amazing, and I don’t say that because I am one.

I say that because I see it in the lives of those around me -  my mother, my mother-in-law, my friends, the women at church, the women at my homeschool co-op, the women at the grocery store, the women at the soccer field … the women all around me.

Mothers have a tremendous concern for their children. When a woman becomes a mother, her heart is suddenly attached to another human being FOR LIFE.

Moms stay at home, work from home, and balance career and home life, trying to fulfill the needs of their family members.

Moms juggle schedules, energies, monies, and time.

Moms cook, clean, organize, run errands, shop, chauffeur, nourish, provide, work, play, and pray with and for their children.

Moms wear a badge of honor when their children succeed and a spirit of compassion and encouragement when they don’t, always hoping the best for their children.

Moms invest their resources and time to give their children opportunities throughout their lives.

Moms give and give and give.
And then they give some more.

Moms protect their children from harm and hurt, as much as they possibly can.

Moms discipline, teach, train, mentor, and love, planting seeds of truth and love in hearts that they hope some day will bloom to fullness.

Moms deny careers, interests, and needs for the sake of their children.

Moms carry grief, frustration, and emptiness when their children grow up and leave the values they taught them and explode with joy when their children make good, solid decisions and manifest high caliber character.

Moms lavish their children with generosity. They plan parties, celebrations, shopping sprees, and dates.

Moms sit in the audience and cheer, stand at the end of every performance with an “encore”, and run beside their children every step of the way.

Moms never stop caring. Period.

To every mom out there, I salute you.
Happy Mother’s Day!
You are special!

Monday, April 25, 2016

Whole30 Meal Planning: Our Final Week



Well, we are cruising into the final week of our Whole30, and I admit… We are glad. There have been a lot of pluses to this diet, but we do feel bored, restricted, and ready to get back to some of our old foods.

One more week! And here is what we have on the menu:

Dinners:

Roast with potatoes, and carrots 
White Chicken Chili - with potatoes instead of beans
Chicken Tikka Masala and cauliflower rice
Shepherd’s Pie – the mashed potatoes will be made with almond milk and olive oil
Cabbage Rolls
Paleo Sloppy Joe’s – without honey
Turkey-Bacon Meatballs with tomato sauce

Breakfast Ideas:
Monkey salad – banana, coconut, and almonds, and I add frozen fruit – usually strawberries, raspberries, and/or blueberries
Fried eggs with fruit
Bacon with fruit
Potato or
Sweet Potato Hash - Saute bacon, onion, and potatoes or sweet potatoes. Serve with fried egg, if desired.
Omelets
Hash browns with fried egg



Lunch Ideas:

Salad, salad, and more salad - fattoush, tuna nicoise, simply vegetables with homemade dressing. Seek to add some sort of protein or fat - boiled eggs, avocado, bacon, nuts, grilled chicken...
Leftovers or breakfast options

Monday, April 18, 2016

This week’s Whole30 Meal Plan



Well, today is Day 17. I have made it halfway through the diet. I plan to write more about it when I have finished.

Below are some of the things we ate last week and will be eating this week. I hope to post some of these recipes soon!

I serve most of these with a side of vegetable, fruit or cauliflower rice.

Dinner Ideas:
Mexican Chicken Soup
Crustless Chicken Pot Pie
Chicken Skillet - sauteed chicken with onions, a can of fire-roasted tomatoes, and cilantro
Surf and Turf – Grilled London Broil Steak and Tilapia, sauteed mushrooms, steamed green beans, and Cantaloupe
Roasted Chicken with Mashed Potatoes – one of our savory favorites!
Chicken Fajita Bowls – Grilled chicken with onions and peppers. Serve with salsa and fresh guacamole.
Lettuce Wrap Chicken Tacos – Cooked chicken with taco seasoning, grilled onions and peppers, and fresh guacamole on lettuce leaves
Burgers - pile with sauteed vegs., lettuce, tomato, pickle, and mustard atop shredded lettuce or inside lettuce leaves OR top with bacon, mushroom, and avocado
Asian Wraps – ground chicken, vegetables, and spices inside lettuce leaves

Breakfast Ideas:
Fried eggs with fruit
Bacon with fruit
Potato or Sweet Potato Hash - Saute bacon, onion, and potatoes or sweet potatoes. Serve with fried egg, if desired.
Omelets

Lunch Ideas:
Salad, salad, and more salad - fattoush, tuna nicoise, simply vegetables. Seek to add some sort of protein or fat - boiled eggs, avocado, bacon, nuts, grilled chicken...
Leftovers or breakfast options


Monday, April 11, 2016

Sweet Potato, Bacon, and Apple Hash

*On Left: with cooked apples. On Right: with raw apples.

As we are trying to do the Whole30, we are also trying some new dishes. It’s amazing that this regimen claims to produce various good results, one of them being to break some of the psychological reasons for eating foods, YET I find myself thinking about food all the time.

On this program, I am continually planning, shopping, cooking, snacking, and creating ideas about food!

The other night I was thinking about sweet potatoes, bacon, and apples. It sounded good. I browsed a bit online, found a recipe, and made this yummy hash for breakfast the next morning. The original recipe that inspired me uses maple syrup, but being on the Whole30, we can not use that right now.

Sweet Potato, Bacon, and Apple Hash
Original Recipe
Printable Version

1.5 large sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
4 slices bacon, chopped
1 small onion, diced
1 Granny Smith apple, diced or shredded – see cooking instructions
Olive Oil
Sea salt

Heat a couple tablespoons of olive oil in a saucepan on medium-high heat. Add bacon to pan and start sautéing. Add onion and sweet potato and sauté. After a minute or two, add the diced apple (or you can put the apple on top afterwards raw, diced or shredded – and you can use whichever type of apple you like. I actually prefer it this way). Sprinkle about 1/2 teaspoon salt over the ingredients and sauté for about five minutes or so, until bacon and onion are cooked well.

Add 1/4 to 1/2 cup of water to the pan and cover immediately with a baking tray. Allow the mixture to steam for a few minutes. The hash is done when the vegetables are soft.

You can eat this alone, but a fried egg on top sure does complete the meal.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Whole30: Day 3. My Honest Thoughts and My Meal Plan for the Week



Day #3. It’s been an interesting start to the Whole30. The first day seemed very challenging. The past two days felt like a rollercoaster, sometimes feeling victory and vision for the diet while other times feeling as if I just can’t do this.

My journey into the Whole30 really started with my daughter. Her ballet teacher did the diet with her husband, and they had tremendous results and loved it! My daughter felt inspired, and also wants her parents to be a little more, ahem, trim and healthy, so she thought we should go for it.

I also had recent exposure to the diet from my blogger friend, Lisa Marie, who just finished the diet and appreciated it as well. She is in the midst of writing some posts regarding her experience so make sure you hop over to her blog for some encouragement if you are thinking about the program.

The Basic Rules for the Program

No Grains.
No Legumes.
No Dairy.
No Sugar.

For 30 days!
*See more details on their web site.

I have to be honest… At this point, I don’t know how long we will do this. I am not quite sure we were prepared for such a radical change. My husband and I were teasing tonight that we may just do the Whole7 or something.

However, I am trying to stay positive and take each moment as it comes, choosing healthy options, trying new recipes, adding more vegetables to our repertoire, and gaining more perspective.


My Meal Plan for This Week:

  • Beef Burrito Bowls (Beef with seasonings, Sauteed onions and peppers, Lettuce, Tomato), Cauliflower Rice, Watermelon.
  • Burgers without a bun, piled with sautéed onions and mushrooms, sliced tomato, shredded lettuce, and a good dollop of mustard. Steamed green beans.
  • Roasted Chicken, oven-roasted cabbage, mashed potatoes.
  • Chicken Tacos, wrapped in lettuce instead of shells. Baked sweet potato or sautéed veggies.
  • Grilled Chicken Salad.
  • Indian Butter Chicken. Roasted Cauliflower.
  • Beef Stew.

Breakfast Ideas:

  • Sautéed Kale, Mushrooms, Onions, and Tomatoes with Baked Egg.
  • Bacon and Mushroom Omelet.
  • Fried Egg with Bacon and fruit.
  • Breakfast Scramble, without cheese.

Lunch Ideas:

  • Fattoush Salad, with or without grilled chicken.
  • Baked Potato, topped with a fried egg and bacon. Veggie or Fruit on the side.
  • Tuna Nicoise Salad.
  • Grilled Vegetable Lettuce Wraps. I am just planning to grill some vegetables and serve them inside lettuce with a vinaigrette dressing.
Have you tried the Whole30?
What was your experience like?

Are you currently making changes to your diet?

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Life is Worth Living, Just Because HE LIVES!



The past week or two the circumstances of life were weighing heavily on my heart, and not just my own life’s circumstances but others that I know and the world at large.

Especially with Easter approaching last week, this well-known song started running through my head:

Because He lives I can face tomorrow.
Because He lives all fear is gone.
Because I know He holds the future.
And life is worth the living, just because He lives.


I realized that I was placing so much of my focus on circumstances, the tangible messes and frustrations of life, rather than focusing on Jesus in the midst of these situations – what He could do and the goodness that still existed in my life and others’ lives because of Him, regardless of the disappointments and sorrows.

As I started to fix my gaze on the resurrection of Jesus, I reminded myself that it is because of Him that we can live in this world of imperfection and be victorious, having hope, joy, and peace.

Jesus Came. Served. Suffered. Died.
And then rose again – all for us!
His love for us is great, and He lives!
His love is current!


Because He lives, we CAN face tomorrow.

There’s no need for us to worry about what is to come. The present has enough worries of its own, and we can’t add anything to our lives by worrying. (Matthew 6:34)

Because He lives, all fear is gone.

Perfect love casts out fear, and God’s love is perfect. We know God and believe in His love for us and abide in Him. There is no need for us to fear. He loves us! (1 John 4:16-19)

Because we know HE holds the future.

No matter what happens here on earth, God holds the future. He has a good plan for us and for our eternities. He knows the end from the beginning and has the story all figured out!

And life is worth the living, just because He lives.

Life is worth living for no other reason than this -- God lives! He created us. He loves us and wants relationship with us. He desires good things for us. Simply to know and remember that God is watching over us and longs for us – that should be enough to make us want to live the best lives we can and give Him glory.

Have your eyes been fixed on your circumstances?

Remember, He lives,
and it’s all worth it just because of that.


For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known. 1 Corinthians 13:12