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Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Paleo Plate Envy - 8/28/13

Here is some Plate Envy to feast your eyes on. There are recipe links in the caption, and there are more recipes to come. I really hope this is inspiring and makes you realize how easy home cooked, delicious, healthy meals are! 

Top Left-Shredded BBQ chicken (homemade paleo BBQ sauce recipe) with avocado, red bell peppers, sugar snap peas. Top Right-Chicken parm eggplant sliders with roasted asparagus.  Bottom Left-Cool veggie-packed gazpacho (recipe) with stake and fried plantains. Bottom Right-Hamburger with arugula and tomato, avocado, cucumber, cilantro salad.

Leave a comment and let me know what you think!


Wednesday, August 21, 2013

My Whole 30 Journey - 28 Tips and Tricks for a Successful Whole30 Journey

I have been taking notes on the tips and tricks that I have picked up over my Whole30 Journey and I would like to share them with you. This can be a daunting adventure and I think there are some great little tidbits on this list to keep you on a path to a successful Whole30. If you have any other tips or tricks to add please leave a comment!
  1. Read It Starts With Food. I didn't start reading the book until I was about half way through my Whole30 and I regret that. I wish I had at least started reading it at the beginning of my journey. There is so much good info in this book that is helpful to being successful.
  2. The Whole9. Check out the website and read some of the testimonials, they are very inspiring. There is also an email club that you can sign up for. They send daily emails for your 30 days. I didn't sign up for this because I didn't want to pay for it ($14 bucks or so), but I bet it would be very useful.
  3. What do you want? At the beginning of the 30 days write down what you are hoping to get out of your Whole30 Journey. Do you have acne you want to get rid of? Unexplained stomach aches? Joint pain? Weight loss? Need more energy? Want to sleep better? Whatever it is that you are hoping to achieve, write it down. You will want to refer back to this when you are doing your reintroduction. Plus, its good to keep goals in mind.
  4. Blog it. Writing about your experience can make a huge difference. Write about the ups and downs and how you are feeling, physically and emotionally. I loved journaling about my Whole30 journey on my blog. Its a great way to stay on track and to keep things in perspective. You don't have to publish your journal, but it's a great way to get encouragement and have a form of accountability. 
  5. Book Club. There is a local group of people who have started a paleo book club in my area. They meet at Starbucks and talk about the different paleo books out there. I think this is brilliant! If I didn't have two small children I would totally join! Start your own book club. Hang out with like minded people and stay inspired. Read It Starts With Food by Dallas and Melissa Hartwig, Wheat Belly by William Davis, The Paleo Solution by Robb Wolf, The Immune System Recovery Plan by Susan Blum, Lights Out by T. S. Wiley, The Primal Blueprint by Mark Sisson, The Paleo Diet Revised by Loren Cordain and Suicide by Sugar by Nancy Appleton. (These are just a few book ideas, I have only read [most of]  It Starts With Food, so I can't say how good or bad the other ones are, but I know my mom likes them :)  
  6. Watch the movie. The Perfect Human Diet is the paleo diet documentary. I haven't be able to find a way to watch it yet, but I am hoping Netflix picks it up soon. Otherwise, its on Amazon Prime for those of you who have a subscription.
  7. Cook club. Start a cooking club. Get together with some friends for a few hours (once a month, twice a month, once a week, whatever works for you!) and make up some meals together. Make stocks and frozen meals. Drink tea, chat and cook. Its a blast and having these things in the freezer will save you time and energy on busy weeknights.
  8. Buddy system. Having an accountability partner is a great idea. You can share how things are going, talk about frustrations and joys, swap recipes and maybe even go to the gym together. Buddies are awesome!
  9. Keep it in focus. Write down the Whole30 rules and post them somewhere in your kitchen where you will be reminded of them often. I wrote them on a dry-erase board next to my sink. I also put little sticky notes with the numbers 1-30 around the edges of the board. Every day that I made it through I got to remove a sticky note. I loved this! It was a great count down system.  
  10. Bring it with you. Going out for coffee? Bring a small jar of coconut milk. Having dinner with friends? Bring some oil and vinegar from home for your salad. Going to a dinner party? Ask if you can bring fruit to share for desert. Be proactive and make the situation work for you.
  11. Take recipe notes. I have been doing this since my freshman year of college. I keep a recipe journal, I jot down recipe ideas and notes on recipes that I have tried. I mark recipes that I have tried and include the date and if it was for a special occasion or just regular dinner. I write down what I served it with and what changes I made to the recipe. I also include what I would like to try next time I make the recipe. If someone really liked the particular dish then I make sure to notate that as well. I cannot tell you how useful this is, I always know what recipes I liked and who else liked them and what tweaks were made. Over the years my recipe journals have changed and evolved. I have printed recipes in binders, magazine clippings glued into notebooks, and a Pinned It, Made It! (kitchen) board on Pinterest.
  12. Be a follower. Check out the wonderfully addicting world of Pinterest! Find a few pinners who often pin paleo/primal/caveman recipes and follow them. This way you will be constantly inspired to make awesome food! Check out: Just Eat Real FoodPaleoHacksHomegrown Paleo, and my boards at Domestic 360 (I've got a few paleo boards - Yummmm Paleo, and Paleo Pantry). 
  13. Don't be a follower. On the other hand, consider un-following your friends' food boards (unless they are pinning paleo), you don't need any extra temptation. Likewise try taking a Food Network break. I know this helped me stay on track because I wasn't being distracted by wonderful looking cinnamon rolls and ice cream recipes. If you aren't into baking/cooking/food shows this may not be an issue for you, but it sure was for me!
  14. Make your own stock. When you are peeling and chopping veggies, save the stuff you would normally discard (carrot peels and greens, celery leaves, you can also save chicken bones), stick it in a zipper bag and toss it in the freezer. Pick a day to dedicate to the process and hunker down for a stock-making adventure. EatWell101 has some great info on making stocks, here. Alton Brown also did a great Good Eats episode ("True Brew IV: Take Stock") on making stock and using a stock pot, Chicken Stock Recipe. Freeze stock in muffin tins or ice cube trays or in two cup portions in baggies. Once frozen, pop the stock pucks and cubes out and put them in a dated and labeled bag in the freezer. Use it in soups and other recipes for tons of wonderful homemade flavor and none of the nasty stuff that is in store bought stock.
  15. Veggie bath! Wash your fruits and veggies as soon as you get home from the grocery store. Fill your clean sink with cold water and add about a 1 cup of white or apple cider vinegar. Remove the stickers from your produce and put it in the water/vinegar. Let it sit for 10 minutes (2-3 for berries), then remove and dry. Put your now clean produce in the fridge and use it throughout the week without having to worry about washing! This really does save time and energy. 
  16. Clean as you go. I don't know about you, but I am much more likely to give into the fast food monster if I have a dirty kitchen. No one likes to wash pots and pans just to mess them up again.
  17. Toss it! Have a clean out the pantry day. The day before you start your Whole30 clean out your pantry of all the things that aren't compliant. Toss them or give them away. Get them out of the house and out of your sight. I didn't do this because I didn't want to waist the money that I had already spent on these items and I regret that I didn't. Having those items in the house made it so much easier to go back to eating them as soon as the 30 days were up.
  18. Don't give your kids special treatment. Or your husband for that matter. Don't make one meal for them and one meal for you. If its good food for you then its good food for them too. My hubby didn't do the Whole30 with me and he ate whatever he wanted when he wasn't at home. But when he was at home he ate what I made. (To be clear, we talked about this before I started this Whole30 Journey and he said that he was fine with eating whatever I cooked. Don't blindside your family, be open and communicate.) 
  19. Use fresh herbs. If you have a small patch of land, a few feet of balcony, or a window sill, you can plant an herb garden. I have a small porch with some pots of mint, rosemary, basil, parsley, and cilantro. I love the taste of fresh herbs, sometimes its the difference between a blah meal and a fabulous one.
  20. Save bacon grease. Pour cooled grease into a mason jar and store in the fridge to use when sauteing veggies or greasing the pan for eggs, chicken or other meats. It adds great flavor and its free! 
  21. Buy a cow or pig. Every year my family buys one cow and one pig from the local 4-H auction. This is a great way to insure that you have quality meat on hand. 
  22. Freeze lemons and limes. I love lime in my seltzer water and lemons in regular water or iced tea. The problem is that I never use a whole lemon or lime before it goes bad. The solution? Cut your citrus into wedges and freeze. They act like little ice cubes and flavor water perfectly.
  23. Farm that market. Find a farmers' market that sells local, and preferably organic produce. Strike up a conversation with the farmers and see what they recommend for this week. Ask what is particularity flavorful and how to cook it. Don't be afraid to try something new. If you don't know what something is or how to prepare it, just ask. The farmers are usually very willing to talk about their food. Some markets also have local meats, so just keep an eye out. 
  24. Start the week off right. At the beginning of the week, cut up a bunch of veggies into sticks and strips and toss them in a zipper bag in the fridge. This way you have ready made snacks. If you work away from home put the veggies in individual snack-sized baggies that you can take with you. You can also pack up portions of dried fruit and nuts to take to work. Having readily available healthy snacks will help you keep on track. Grilling stake or chicken and cutting it into strips for quick salads is a great lunch time saver, so is making a big batch of shreaded chicken.

  25. Drinking plain old water getting boring? Try seltzer water. Or iced tea. Tazo Passion tea is amazing iced! Also try adding cucumbers, fruit or mint to your water. There are a lot of fruit infused water recipes floating around the internet.
  26. Buy in bulk. If you can find good organic ingredients in bulk and you have a little extra in the budget purchase a lot at a time. Amazon Subscribe and Save is a great option for pantry staples that may be hard to find if the regular grocery store (coconut flour, nuts, dried fruit without sugar, etc...)
  27. Make extra. When you are making a meal try doubling the recipe and freezing half. I do this all the time. Since it just me and my husband and 2 year old eating dinner we hardly ever eat a whole recipe's worth of food. So I keep those tin loaf pans handy along with freezer zipper bags and I just toss the extra in the freezer for a lazy evening. This really only works for soup and casserole type dishes, but its amazing for those!
  28. Use the right equipment. Here are some of my favorites:
    1. Sharp knives
    2. Tongs
    3. Wooden spoons
    4. Avocado Saver
    5. Cast iron skillet
    6. Spiral cutter
    7. Dutch oven
    8. Crock pot

I would love to hear your tips and tricks! Leave a comment!

Happy Whole30!


Tuesday, August 20, 2013

My Whole30 Journey - Conclusion

This has been a crazy Whole30 Journey. I have learned a lot about the food I eat, the way my body reacts to that food, and they way I want my body to react. I have also given into the fact that what I eat makes a HUGE difference in my day to day life.

I started this journey thinking that I was a pretty healthy eater. I was on the "everything in moderation" diet and was pretty happy with the way things were going. I ate a lot of fruits and veggies, a good mix of whole grains and tried to replace meat at least twice a week with beans or the like. I had the occasional stomach or head ache. I slept poorly (could be attributed to my children), and got that midday nap craving. But I was fairly certain that none of these things were diet related.


Once I got into the Whole30, around the start of Week 3, I stared feeling amazing. No intense cravings, no aches and pains, so sleeplessness or midday crash. I loved the food I was cooking and eating. You can read more about this in my weekly updates: Week 1Week 2Week 3, and Week 4.

The Reintroduction process was extremely informative. As much as I wanted to dive into a block of cheese at the end of my 30 days, I didn't want to waist all of that hard work. I had spent 30 days cleaning out my system, I didn't want that all to go down the drain. I am really glad I did the reintroduction because I learned where my stomach aches and sleeplessness were coming from. You can read all about my reintroduction process and what I learned here.

I will be honest, I haven't kept to a paleo diet since completing my reintroduction. I have lapsed back into my old habits. I am blaming it on being on vacation and then at the county fair for a week and I know that when we go to the beach in September I am not even going to try. I am considering doing another Whole30 after we get home from the beach, just to restart. I have noticed a difference in my body and I want to get back to paleo si I can start feeling awesome again.

I am a all or nothing kind of girl. I need structure. I can't say, "Oh, I'll just have a small piece of cake." or "A little pasta won't hurt." Before I know it the whole pot is gone. In a way it was easier to be on the strict Whole30 because I had a plan and a goal. I am thinking that I need to be strict with myself and perhaps have a designated "cheat day." But even then, I think, grain-free will be a goal.

I would like my cousin, Tee, tons of credit for getting me to go on this journey. She is truly an inspiration. She has taken this on so fully that many of my other family members (8 to date) have started their own Whole30 journeys. She has seen many more wonderful and amazing results than most people, and I am hoping to get her to do a guest post about her experience. (Hint, hint!)

So many people have asked me if I thought this journey was worth it, and the answer is an overwhelming, YES! I would recommend the Whole30 to everyone and anyone. I have learned so much about my body and my eating habits. It was so worth a month without cheese. I would especially recommend the Whole30 to anyone with unexplained issues, i.e., breakouts, stomach aches, migraines, joint pain, sleeplessness, etc...

Seriously, its only 30 days. You can do this! Take a line from Nike, and "Just Do It!"

I would love to hear if you are taking on your own Whole30 Journey. Please leave a comment, let me know what you think.


Thursday, August 15, 2013

My Whole30 Journey - Cool Veggie-Packed Gazpacho

I am often asked where I am from, or where my family is from. Its a nice way of asking why I my coloring is as dark as it is. The truth is that I am fully American, like Mayflower American. Okay, maybe not that far back, but almost! I usually appease people with an answer that will give them the information they want: I have dark skin and hair because part of my dad's family is from Spain.

Spain is responsible for some pretty awesome contributions to this world. The language, the classical guitar, some awesome artists (Dali, Picasso, etc...), the siesta, and of course the food! Spanish tapas is one of the best culinary experiences available

Tapas is basically a smorgasbord of small portions of different appetizers or snacks. Usually you would order a few different items and share amongst the table. The idea is that you would have more opportunity for conversation because you aren't focused on eating an entire meal, and because you are sharing everything on the table. A little sangria doesn't hurt either!

One of the things I always order at a Spanish tapas resteraunt is gazpacho. Essencially cold soup. Gazpacho can really be anything from fruit soups (Tropical Fruit Gazpacho recipe) to salsa type soups. Everything in gazpacho is always fresh and flavorful. Its really so refreshing to sip down a cup of this chilled soup.

gazpacho served with stake and fried plantains (Whole30 approved!)
This particuallar recipe has been tweeked from Ina Garten's recipe. I added some extra veggies, and some fresh cilantro (love me some cilantro), and a little kick of jalapeno. I think my additions just kick up the recipe. 

I love a good bowl of this cool Spanish soup on a hot day. It has amazing flavors, spicy and fresh, it just makes your mouth sing! Its also packed with fresh veggies so its awesomely healthy.

heck yes! make your body happy!

Unless you are on a no-vegetables diet, this will be approved! Its paleo/primal/caveman, nut, grain, gluten, sugar, sweeteners, fat, soy, egg, and dairy free, its also vegan and raw. I mean come on! Talk about healthy! Its also pretty simple to make, just toss your veggies in a food processor or blender and then let it all chill so the flavors blend. Its a pretty impressive little soup for a dinner party or just keep it all to yourself and take it to work for lunch.

Cool Veggie-Packed Gazpacho
(adapted from Ina Garten's The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook,

  • 1 hothouse cucumber, halved and seeded, but not peeled
  • zucchini 
  • 2 red bell peppers, cored and seeded
  • 4 plum tomatoes
  • 1 red onion (optional)
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 bunch cilantro
  • 23 ounces V8 tomato juice (3 cups)
  • 1/4 cup good olive oil
  • 1/2 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • Optional garnishes: fresh cilantro, lime wedges, avocado
Roughly chop the cucumbers, bell peppers, tomatoes, and red onions into 1-inch cubes. Put each vegetable separately into a food processor fitted with a steel blade and pulse until it is coarsely chopped. Do not over-process!After each vegetable is processed, combine them in a large bowl and add the garlic, tomato juice, vinegar, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Mix well and chill before serving. The longer gazpacho sits, the more the flavors develop. Garnish as you like and serve with crusty bread, tortilla chips, or just on its own.

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Serves: 4-8 (depending on your portion sizes, I got about 8 servings)

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

My Whole30 Journey - Reintroduction

iced coffee with cream
Day 1 - Dairy

What I ate:

  • A splash of cream in my coffee - it was good, but honestly I like coconut milk in coffee. I don't think I will go back to cream unless that is the only option
  • Two spoonfuls of plain Greek yogurt over peaches - again, good but I like coconut milk.
  • Three slices of cheese with turkey roll-ups - this was more what I had been missing.
  • Small amount of mozzarella with dinner - yup! I missed cheese!
  • Small bowl of ice cream after dinner - holy sweetness Batman! I haven't had any kind of sweeteners in a month and that sugary ice cream was crazy! It didn't even taste that awesome. I wasn't relishing it, it was almost sickeningly sweet. 
How I felt:
Ugh! I started feeling kind of crampy in my hips and lower back, kind of like mild
contractions or PMS. My joints felt sore, I was bloated, and I got a stomach ache after the ice cream. I had a really hard time falling asleep and didn't sleep well at all. Seems like my body isn't loving the dairy or the sugar.

Day 4 - Gluten
amish friendship bread
(not actually what I ate, but I forgot to take a pic)

What I ate:

  • 1/2 of a giant (seriously, bigger than my head) pancake - couldn't eat more than half.
  • A few Ritz crackers through out the day - megh, take it or leave it.
  • A slice of homemade wheat bread with dinner - this was pretty good, I really do love a good slice of homemade bread.
How I felt:
Honestly, gluten is what I was expecting would give me to hardest time, and I didn't notice any reaction. I felt fine on the day I introduced it and I felt fine in the days following.

grits from mallery street cafe, st. simons island, georgia

Day 7 - Non-Gluten Grains

What I ate:
  • Grits with breakfast - we were in Georgia, so I had a good southern bowl of grits!
  • Gluten-free bread sandwich - Udi makes a really tasty bread.
  • Rice with dinner - just white rice, not to interesting. take it or leave it.
How I felt:
I was pretty much fine all day until after dinner. My fingers started to swell up about 45 minutes after dinner. It was slightly itchy and painful. I am thinking rice may not be my ticket to healthy living.

Day 10 - Legumes


I don't really have any desire to reintroduce legumes into my diet. I honestly don't miss them. Not even peanut butter. 

Thursday, August 1, 2013

My Whole30 Journey - Week 4

This is going to be a short post, I am still riding the high of Week 3, but I wanted to share a little of my Week 4 experiences. 

This week has been a little harder than last week. I have been more tired and have taken a few naps, but I am pretty sure that has more to do with A waking up a few times a night to feed and chasing after J all day long. 

I have noticed that my skin has been clearer. I have pretty sensitive skin and if I don't rinse my face off after eating a juicy piece of fruit then I will break out. I had a rash on my chin, it wasn't really visible but it was bumpy. It had been there for a few weeks and I couldn't figure out what it was from. That has pretty much disappeared. I also had some form of hives on my hand, again no idea where it came from, and that is gone too.

I have eaten a ton of great food on this journey. Its been amazing how rewarding real, clean, healthy food can be after you get all the crap flushed out of your system. I cannot wait to share some more recipes!

I am looking forward to the reintroduction process. I can't wait to have cheese again! I am a little worried that I won't like it anymore, so many people say that the foods they loved before don't really appeal to them after the Whole30. I really want to still love cheese, especially since that is one of the foods that is paleo approved. 

CONFESSION: I didn't actually start reading It Starts with Food until mid Week 3. I don't recommend that course of action. I read a ton of stuff from the Whole30/Whole9 website and blog, but didn't start reading the book until later. I still haven't finished it and am kind of skipping around a little to get whats important in the moment. I think the Whole30 is doable and doable successfully without reading It Starts with Food, but I think you will get a lot more out of the program and be even more successful long term if you read the book. 

That's it for now folks! 
Let me know if you are thinking about starting your own Whole30 Journey! 


My Whole 30 Journey - Tropical Fruit Gazpacho

When we were packing up our apartment to move I ended up with 3 good sized boxes full of cook books. I have a problem. I come by this problem honestly, my mom also has quite the collection. My bet is if they were to move she would have more than just 3 messily boxes.

Recently she has been adding to her paleo and primal cookbook collection. She has some great ones. I love to raid her bookshelves in search of the perfect recipes. 

Make it Paleo, by Bill Staley and Hayley Mason

This week she has been cooking out of Make it Paleo, by Bill Staley and Hayley Mason. I love this cookbook! Its full of beautiful full page, full color photos. Its like reading a recipe blog. Oh, and the recipes are great too :)

So far, I have made two recipes from Make it Paleo. Chocolate Pie (for my dad's birthday, post to come) and this Tropical Fruit Gazpacho or Summer Soup. 
Tropical Fruit Gazpacho from Make it Paleo

This soup is wonderful. Its has a cool, refreshing quality and its not too sweet. Its like a trip to the Bahamas! We ate it as a first course, but it would be perfect for breakfast or as a dessert or in shot glasses at a party.

Its important to use fresh ingredients, the soup isn't cooked and relies on the fresh fruity flavors of the fruit used. Make sure everything you are using is ripe and naturally delicious. I did use about a 1/2 of a cup of coconut flakes instead of a fresh coconut (didn't feel like hacking into a coconut), but that is the only substitution I have experimented with.

Tropical Fruit Gazpacho
(Original recipe from, Make it Paleo: Over 200 Grain Free Recipes for Any Occasion, by Bill Staley and Hayley Mason.)

  • 1 pineapple, peeled and chopped
  • 1 mango, peeled and chopped
  • 1/2 cucumber, peeled, seeded, and chopped
  • 1/2 coconut, chopped (or 1/2 cup dried coconut flakes)
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • Optional garnish: lime wedges, chopped mango or pineapple, coconut flakes, cucumber slices
Peel and chop pineapple, mango and cumber. Reserve 1/2 cup of diced pineapple to add after blending.

Tap open coconut using blunt edge of a chef's knife, separate meat from shell. Using a vegetable peeler, remove the think inner skin. Shop coconut meat into chunks.

In a high-speed blender or food processor, blend coconut chunks on high until finely shredded. (I did this even with the dried coconut flakes.)

Add mango, pineapple, and cucumber, and puree.

Squeeze in lime juice, and continue to process until smooth.

Stir in diced pineapple. Garnish and serve.

Prep time: 15 minutes
Serves: 6
Will impress: Everyone!

My mom's recipe notes.

I highly recommend buying this cookbook. Make it Paleo: Over 200 Grain Free Recipes for Any Occasion, by Bill Staley and Hayley Mason. Available on and on shelves at any major book store. Or visit their website at The Food Lovers Kitchen.