Whole 30 Week 3

Ok. I’m ready for a glass of wine. The first three weeks weren’t too bad. At this point I’m forgetting why I did this in the first place! But now it’s about willpower! I didn’t come this far to quit now! Stew and I are going on a date tonight for the first time since this thing started because, what the heck do we eat at a restaurant that’s not cooked in butter or loaded with cheese?! So, we’ll get a burger bowl or a salad and bring our own vinaigrette because, side note, did you realize EVERY dressing has sugar in it!? Every. Single. One.

I have made some changes that I actually enjoy and will keep: I’ve had more veggies the past three weeks than I’ve ever had in my life, and I like it. I feel like I might even roast up some sweet potatoes dusted in cinnamon during the day rather than pour a big bowl of starchy cereal. I don’t miss ice cream like I thought I would. I might even be able to do this no dairy thing … the jury’s still out on that one.

I’ve learned a few things along the way: cashew butter is great, but could never replace my beloved peanut butter. Sugar is literally in everything. I will read food labels even closer than I already did, which I didn’t think was possible. Maple syrup and honey are necessary when making baked goods. I made my favorite pumpkin muffins but replaced the honey with applesauce (my desire for fall is full on, but that’s for another day) and they literally tasted like cardboard. But I ate them anyway, because 1) I made the effort and 2) these ingredients ain’t cheap.

Now, for the good stuff! Our meals were GREAT this week! Here’s the menu:

Saturday: Burger on a bun (I’d actually skip the bun next time) with sweet potato “fries” (tossed with some olive oil and cinnamon and baked at 415*F)
Sunday: Chicken Stir Fry

Monday: Loaded sweet potatoes

Tuesday: Zoodles with Meatballs

Wednesday: Lemon Chicken (similar HERE just add the juice of a lemon to the marinade) with roasted sweet potatoes and brussels sprouts

Thursday: Bolognese over sweet potato noodles

Friday: Date night! We’re about to get us a nice big salad with homemade vinaigrette! Couples who Whole 30 together stay together??

Feel free to comment with must-try recipes for our final week! Have a great weekend!

 

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Whole 30 Week 2!

As I sit here and write this post, my kids are tossing colored pencils across the living room floor and racing to get them screaming, “FIREWORK!” But are they fighting? No. Are they crying? No. Are they playing together nicely and laughing? YES! I have no idea what’s actually happening in there, but I’m ok with that.

So we have finished week two of Whole 30! We’re at the point where we’re like, ehhh do we want to do this anymore? And I’m like… yea because I’m blogging about it! So on the up side, I feel amazing! I’m not starving (as long as I’m prepared), and my joints don’t hurt! I’m talking, I’ve had chronic ankle pain for 7 years, and it hasn’t felt this good since then! So it’s worth finishing this thing out! On the downside, it’s really hard to be social. We love getting together with friends and having BBQs. We have to bring our food and plan ahead, which is a challenge. AND, we can’t have a drink while chatting with our friends! I didn’t think that would be a struggle for me, but it is! But I keep telling myself I can do anything for 30 days!

One meal was an epic fail… the BBQ chicken casserole. I couldn’t find a compliant BBQ sauce so attempted to make my own. It literally tasted like spaghetti squash mixed with tomato paste. We ate it, but that was one I probably wouldn’t recommend unless you actually had BBQ sauce! I’m sure it would be delicious if that was the case! The rest were great! Lunches again were a mix of bars, smoothies, salads, & muffins. I made a few snacks that were BOMB and that are perfect for munching on for breakfast or throughout the day!

Snacks:

Plantain Chips/Chocolate Muffins/Banana Muffins/Nut Balls (I named them that because it’s hilarious when my kids ask for them)

And who can forget my afternoon iced coffee with creamy dreamy cashew creamer (recipe HERE)! Words can’t describe how velvety and luxurious this creamer is. For real. Ditch your almond milk and go whip up a batch of this. Add just a splash of full fat coconut milk (from the can–shake well before opening) and you’ve got yourself an afternoon delight!

Meals:

Saturday: Thai Chicken w/ Peanut Sauce <<–SO GOOD (Thanks, Kait)!
Sunday: BBQ Chicken Casserole
Monday: Spaghetti Squash with Ground Turkey, Tomatoes & Herbs (photograph below)
Tuesday: Cauliflower Tacos (regular ol’ tacos but on a cauliflower tortilla with ground turkey, tomatoes, lettuce and a bit of salsa)
Wednesday: Sweet Potato Waffles (photograph below)
Thursday: Mexican Stuffed Sweet Potatoes (Instead of the Rotel and taco seasoning, I just mixed the chicken with Franks Hot Sauce and topped with a few goodies: guac, scallions, tomatoes)

Just like that, two weeks down and two to go! I’m running out of clever dinner ideas, so feel free to share! Happy weekend, Friends! XOXO

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Whole 30 Week 1 Meal Plan

We got through our first week of Whole 30! We even muscled through a slew of BBQ’s to celebrate the 4th by packing and preparing our own food so we wouldn’t be tempted!

I feel like there’s a ton of info about Whole30 online. HERE is a link to the official site. One thing they say is that you shouldn’t try to recreate your favorite foods even if the ingredients are Whole30 compliant. I’ll tell you right now, I ignored that rule. I kept the ingredients legit, but I made things like “ice cream”, pancakes, and tortillas. So there’s my warning…don’t yell at me!

On that note, follow me on Instagram because I’ll be posting random smoothies and snacks as we go. There’s SO MUCH to share that it’s hard to organize it into blog posts. So that will give you snippets of food options too!

1.) For starters, I loaded up on a few staples so I had things to eat in a pinch and then made a specific meal and grocery list:
-Cashews (for ice creams and creamer)
Larabars (cherry pie this week)
RX Bar (Chocolate)
-Cashew butter (Read ingredients! NO SUGAR)
-Avocados
-Bananas
-Lemons
-Limes
-Dates
-Tapioca flour
Arrowroot Starch
Coconut Flour
Super Fine Almond Flour
-Lacroix

2.) Next step was to create a menu. I read through each recipe and wrote out a grocery list. Tip–Do your grocery shopping in one day. That’s a money saver! Each time you go to the grocery store (if you’re anything like me), you will most likely impulse buy an item or five!

3.) Meal prep! Things that can be made in advance (like tortillas, pancakes, egg cups, smoothie packs) do so! I picked two breakfast ideas for the week and prepped in advance. I spent an hour (during nap time) on Saturday making breakfast burritos and potato fritters to put in the freezer so they were ready once our week started. We also had the option of regular ol’ scrambled eggs and bacon or a smoothie, but if we wanted a bigger breakfast that we didn’t have to prepare the morning of, these were super helpful!

Breakfast and Lunch were more of grab and go type meals. For breakfast we had Breakfast Burritos (<<– printable and downloadable pdf recipe) and Hash Stacks <<–linked to recipe. One tip for the hash stacks is I made all of the potato fritters and froze them in a flat layer on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and then moved to a gallon size ziplock bag to have quick access in the morning. I reheated in the oven at 350 degrees F for 5 minutes and topped with my egg, avocado, and salsa.

When we weren’t hungry for a big breakfast, we just did some eggs and/or a smoothie with an RX bar or Larabar for a late morning snack.

Lunch was nothing to write home about. It was either leftovers, smoothies, avocado-tomato-cucumber salad, or one of those in combination with another!

Week 1 Dinner Menu:
Saturday: Grilled chicken with simple side salad (vinaigrette recipe here)
Sunday: Birthday dinner at my mom’s house– we ate what we could (Grilled sausage with some salad. Berries & watermelon for dessert)
Monday: 4th of July BBQ (we made some lemon chicken just for us while the rest ate our regular menu. Same recipe HERE just add juice of 1 lemon to marinade.
Tuesday: Spaghetti Squash with meat sauce (use tomatoes and sausage without sugar added! Read labels).
Wednesday: Tapioca flat breads (crust recipe HERE) —once crust is prepared and baked, top with sauce, prosciutto, cherries, and figs. Bake at 400 F for 10 minutes.  INCREDIBLE if do I say so myself!
Thursday: Roasted Veggie Hash (<<– printable and downloadable pdf recipe. Choose sausage with no added sugar)
Friday: Sloppy Joe Bowls (recipe HERE)

Flat Bread From Wednesday Night:



Veggie Sausage & Egg Hash from Thursday Night:

 So overall it hasn’t been too bad. The hardest thing is being sure I don’t mindlessly grab food while I’m making the kids’ lunch and dinner. I separated our Whole 30 friendly snacks in our cabinet so I know where I can grab from. The most helpful thing was having those bars I mentioned earlier and other homemade snacks ready so I’m not stuck starving and having to whip something major up in the middle of the day! Another thing I learned is that I like eating ice cream before bed…even if I don’t want it! It’s a bad habit. So we’ve been making “nice-cream” every night which has been hitting the spot! I’ll share a recipe once I perfect the measurements!

Happy Friday! I hope you all have an amazing weekend!

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4th of July and Self Control

I don’t know whose idea it was to do Whole 30 over 4th of July! We literally had three days of BBQ’s. We contemplated starting over on the fifth, but we were already 3 days in, and I kinda wanted to prove to myself that I could do it, even with 7 layer dip, crescent roll wrapped hot dogs, and deviled eggs staring me in the face.

Guess what! We did it! We made food for our friends and had a little separate dish of grilled lemon chicken for us. We also ate and drank our body weight in watermelon and LaCroix. If I was more prepared I could have made a Whole 30 feast for everyone! But my impulsive decision to start on July 1st left me lacking a plan, so alas, I stuck to our original menu!

We had a blast! And having three separate occasions to dress Turner and Gracie in the festive outfits my mother in law sent was the icing on the cake!

Our neighbors across the street set off the loudest, most obnoxious fireworks! Up until this year, Turner would wake up hysterically crying because the noise scared him beyond words. I’m thinking he might be able to handle some firework action this year. So our plan is to keep Turner up and watch them! Hey, if you can’t beat ’em join ’em! Can’t wait to mix up a mocktail and party it up! Happy 4th!!

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Whole 30 – The Beginning

Stew and I have been toying with the idea of doing Whole 30 for years now. I just haven’t been able to pull the trigger! We already eat really healthy and I’m not a big meat person, so I kept pushing it off. But we decided the other day that it’s time! And with the two of us holding each other accountable, how bad could it be?!

I think there are lots of reasons people jump into this. Wanting to lose weight, wanting to get back in touch with healthy eating habits, building muscle (maybe?), and because certain illnesses might be cured with it. My reasoning is honestly to get back in touch with food. Right down to the root. Natural, whole, healthy foods. And honestly, so many recipes I see look gross and not creative. Photos are in dingy lighting, and they just don’t look appetizing! So my goal here is to make yummy foods that don’t deprive us of taste and capture (hopefully) some pretty pictures of them so I can share with you all! I’ll post our meals and as many recipes as I can so you can try them too!

I find that since becoming a  mom, my meals consist of the crust of my kids’ peanut butter sandwiches, cliff bars, smoothies, and lots of coffee! All of those “meals” are consumed while working, driving, cleaning, & parenting. Except for dinner where we sit down as a family, I don’t stop to take a breath, let alone EAT! There just isn’t enough time in the day to be a mom, work, cook, clean, do laundry, pick my kids up from camp, grocery shop etc. Feel me?? So my commitment during these 30 days is to make meals and mindfully eat them. That means, I sit and eat. I don’t stuff the crust of my kids’ sandwiches in my mouth and go fold laundry!

To kick off our 30 days, I made a creamer that is to die for! My biggest struggle was the thought of coffee without my beloved half and half. I don’t like almond milk in there, and all of those substitute “creamers” just don’t do it for me! Enter cashew creamer. I used a Vitamix which I think is a pretty important piece of the puzzle here. BUT, if you don’t have one, I would use your blender and blend the creamer up as long as humanly possible. Then strain through a nut milk bag like THESE (had a funny encounter at Whole Foods years ago when I asked the guy who worked there if he had nut milk bags). It’s thick and creamy, it blends into coffee perfectly, and it’s nice and frothy so it’s like I’m drinking a latte! I’m looking forward to sharing our journey with you!

Cashew Creamer
Whole 30 friendly coffee creamer
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Print
Ingredients
  1. 1.5 cups raw cashews
  2. 6 cups filtered water (3 for soaking and 3 for blending)
  3. splash of vanilla (optional)
Instructions
  1. Soak 1.5 cups raw cashews in 3 cups filtered water for 4-6 hours. If soaking overnight, keep in the fridge.
  2. Drain cashews and rinse with cold water.
  3. Place cashews and 3 cups of clean filtered water into the vitamix.
  4. Add splash of vanilla if you choose.
  5. Start on low and increase the speed. Blend on high speed for 3 minutes.
  6. No need to strain, but you can do so through a mesh sieve if you'd like to ensure no nut pieces are in there! Store in an airtight pitcher in the fridge up to 7 days.
Little Baby Watson http://littlebabywatson.com/

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The Day I Became A Boy Mom

I’ve been the mother of a boy for approximately 4 1/2 years. But I just became a “boy mom” yesterday. When I went to pick Turner up from camp, it had been drizzling all day. We saw hundreds of tiny little frogs jumping around on the sidewalk. When I say tiny, these were about the size of my pinky fingernail. Turner was so excited about them that he just had to have one. Of course one turned into three. But that’s beside the point. I obliged as they were pretty stinkin’ cute. So we scooped them up into a plastic bag with an air hole and we drove straight to Petsmart to get what we needed to make them a home.
I searched for someone who could help me, as I am not a frog expert. I mean I grew up with frogs, lizards, and snakes as pets because my brother was quite the nature boy. But I didn’t actually do any of the work. So I found a little critter keeper for five dollars just so I could get the frogs into something other than a plastic bag.

The exact transformation to “boy mom “status happened next. As I stood there holding a critter keeper full of three tiny frogs, I listened to the sweet Petsmart worker tell me that I would need moss to line the cage, and that I would need to spray it to make sure it stayed moist. And they are too small for crickets at this size, so what they need for food is wingless fruit flies. At that point she picked up a tiny tube of fruit flies crawling all over each other. I nearly dropped dead in my tracks. But at this point what was I going to do? Sneak outside and let the frogs go free? I won’t lie to you, I entertained the thought. But we’d already gotten this far, so I figured let’s just give it a try. So we got home and created a home for our frogs. We lined the cage with moss, dirt, and a tiny cup of water.

So, as I feed our new frogs wingless fruit flies and spray their moss as to ensure optimum moistness, I breathe in and I breathe out and I mark the day that I became a “boy mom”.

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Dream Stay-cation

Stew and I just got home from the most amazing stay-cation of all time. Hands down. BEST. EVER! We celebrate our 8th anniversary on the 20th, so we wanted a quick getaway but couldn’t go too far because of our work schedule. So we snuck away to The Restoration in downtown Charleston for two nights. My words can’t even describe how incredible it was. So I will use photos, a lot of them, to help me describe it.

This hotel is a boutique style hotel right in the heart of the city. There is not only a hotel, but a rooftop restaurant, bar, and pool. There is a coffee shop on the ground level that serves incredible coffee. This is coming from a self-proclaimed coffeeholic.

Our room had the perfect mix of rustic, meets modern, meets southern charm. There was a full kitchen with gorgeous stainless appliances (although who would use them because the restaurants in Charleston are incredible). The kitchen, living room, and bedroom each had a set of double doors that opened up to our terrace.

There is a room called “The Library” that is set up as a meet and mingle type of space. Every afternoon they serve complimentary wine and cheese for their guests. Then at night, they have homemade cookies out as a little after dinner treat!

In the mornings they deliver breakfast served in a picnic basket right to your door! You choose what you want from their menu the night before, and it’s sitting at the door with the daily newspaper when you wake up! I couldn’t even believe the attention to detail! I jumped up and down, literally.

Our nights out on the town were equally as incredible. But the blog-worthy moment was our supper at R. Kitchen. This place is quite literally a hole in the wall! It’s a tiny building on Rutlege Avenue with no signs! They only advertise by word of mouth. My sister in law told me about them, and Stew magically got us in! It takes months to get a reservation! But, you want to know why? They can only seat 16 people at a time. And you’re actually in the open kitchen with the chefs while they prepare the meal. It’s not the type of place where you walk in and get seated and choose from a menu. They have set dinner times, and they let guests in only at their reserved time. They get a delivery of local, fresh groceries each morning and create the menu that day! It changes daily and you don’t know what you’re going to eat until you show up. The chef sets a four course menu and it’s a flat $30/person. It was one of the best meals I’ve ever had.

This vacation was one for the books. Really amazing. I can’t believe it’s over already! But we cherished our time together and our freedoooooooom!!! Happy almost anniversary to the love of my life and the best baby daddy out there!

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Time To Make The Donuts!

Last night, as Stew and I sat on the couch watching TV, I did my usual Pinterest perusing and came across a luscious doughnut recipe. Something came over me, and I just had to have them! I got up right then and there and made the dough. I let it rise overnight and finished the process this morning. Needless to say, they were scrumptious. Soft, fluffy, and warm with a little crunch on the outside. I filled a few with the cream and topped the others with chocolate glaze and sprinkles. The chocolate ones were a huge hit!

I’ll admit I’ve never made doughnuts before, because the idea of frying things seems daunting and makes me nervous! The kids helped, and it was actually quite fun! It looked like a bomb went off in our kitchen, but it was well worth it. Have a great weekend!

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The Children’s Museum

I’m happy to report that our days have gotten much better since my last post! It seems that kids push you to the brink and then totally redeem themselves with snuggles and sweetness! I enjoy the back end of that scenario much more than the front ;o)

It’s been raining for a few days, and we’ve been passing our time with puddle jumping, cookie baking, fort building, and movie watching. But this morning, I decided to take the kids downtown for a morning at The Children’s Museum. We have one of the best I’ve seen! Each room is set up for a different activity. There’s a grocery store, a pirate ship, a stage with puppets and costumes, a water room, a building section with real tools, and an art room. Of course, we did them all!

The last time we went, Stew was with me. So he was on Gracie and I was on Turner (or vice versa). I had a talk with Turner before we got there that since they were just with me, he couldn’t run off into another room without me. He did a GREAT job of staying with me and waiting patiently as Gracie dilly dallied from room to room. They loved it and had so much fun! Turner wanted to stay longer and paint, and my way of getting him out of there without a fight was to promise we’d eat chocolate chip cookies and paint when we got home. So that’s exactly what we did!

Not a bad way to spend the morning!

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Permission Granted

This photo sums up my life lately…

As I look at that face, I laugh. But the truth is, I’m spent! It’s a combination of being completely exhausted and dealing with my children who are in an impossible stage of life. Gracie is entering the oh-so-frustrating phase of toddlerhood. You know… the refusing to listen, throwing food on the floor, hitting Turner, etc. She’s probably had more time-outs by 20 months than Turner’s had in a lifetime. And to add fuel to the fire, whatever Turner does makes Gracie cry or scream and I end up reprimanding him because he’s the older one and “should know better”. But on the other hand, he’s so tender-hearted and innocent and it makes me feel so guilty. They are so stinkin’ cute but so irritating all at the same time! What a phenomenon.

I’ve had little to no time to myself, and when that happens my priorities are majorly out of wack. No wonder I’ve had an overwhelming sensation to re-organize and deep clean my entire house the past week! You know what makes a girl feel better when her world is spiraling around her? Steam cleaning the carpets! So that’s what I did. On top of that, Stew and I emptied every single basket of toys in the whole house and threw out broken pieces and things the kids haven’t played with in years and de-cluttered my life. What an amazing feeling. 

After internalizing my feelings for the past week, Stew and I laid in bed after putting the kids down the other night and I talked about everything going through my mind. He said all the right things, and I immediately felt better. I felt comforted by the fact that I have a supporting husband who will be strong when I am weak, patient when I’m not, and pick up the pieces when I can’t.

I’ve given myself permission to not be perfect. I can’t do it all! I will make time for myself to sit in the quiet and process, because when that piece is missing, nothing else seems to make sense. Today will be a day to soak up time with my wacky bunch and not sweat the small stuff! Wherever we are in life, we need to give ourselves permission to accept what is here and now and to not add unnecessary guilt to our already hard job of raising little humans! Happy Memorial Day, Friends!

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