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Greensboro, North, Carolina, United States

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Calming Smoothie...

I have a VERY energetic 4 year old son. When I tell people that, they respond with "oh, he is a boy!"

When I say energetic, I mean superhero level of super sonic energy all wrapped up in a 4 year old smarty pants little boy. :-P There are some days where I literally feel like I could fall asleep standing up from chasing him around. 

I wasn't feeling very well today and he was in his energizer bunny mode plus being cranky (which is due to him wanting to not go to bed until 10:30 at night and waking at 6:30... yawn!) I tried to think of what I could give him that was 100% natural that would help relax and calm him. He is really so smart and does not have any learning disabilities or other issues so I didn't want to put him on any meds. 

It then came to me to give him chamomile. He does NOT like it straight, even with honey. So I started mixing stuff up and came up with this awesome concoction that he downed in 30 seconds flat. Within an hour of consuming it, he was calm and eventually took a nap (which he desperately needed even while fighting it). 

Chamomile is the common name for several daisy-like plants of the family Asteraceae. These plants are best known for their ability to be made into a tea that helps with sleep. I love Chamomile whenever I have a cold because it really does calm my cough, especially with honey. :-)

Calming Smoothie...
1/4-1/2 greek yogurt
6 ounces of hot water with 2 bags of chamomile tea (steep until dark and let cool until it is no longer super hot)
1 cup of frozen fruit (I used mango, but berries would be yummy too)
1/2-1 teaspoon vanilla
Stevia to taste

Pour all ingredients together in blender or magic bullet and blend until creamy. Drink and enjoy!

* Sorry that no pictures were taken. It was consumed so lickety split, that I just ran out of time. ;-)

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Creamy Bacon and Kale Salad

Large bag of chopped kale (I can't remember exact measurements but it was one half of the giant bag from Costco) ;-)
6 slices nitrate free bacon (if on whole30, use only nitrate AND sugar free bacon)
1 avocado
1 tblsp fresh lemon juice
1-2 tblsp homemade mayo (I use this recipe...plus I add a dash of cayenne to mine)
1 garlic clove, peeled and smashed
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1/4 tsp parsley (fresh or dried)
Coconut vinegar (about 1/2 tsp)
1 teaspoon light olive oil (optional)

1.) Cook and crumble the bacon. Set aside for later! Wash and chop kale (if needed). Put in large serving bowl.

2.) Put all the other ingredients in food processor or bullet. Process until smooth and pour over kale. With (very) clean hands, massage dressing into the kale. Add bacon and mix well. Cover and put in fridge for 1 hour before serving. Enjoy!

Note from the Wannabe Chef: You know a dish is a hit when a guest who has never tried kale before and does not like avocado raves about it (AND goes back for seconds. Thanks Alan!) :-D

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Curried Chicken Soup for 2...

I absolutely adore curry. Vegetable curry, chicken curry, seafood curry, and my personal favorite, lamb curry. I could literally eat it every.single.day and never get sick of it. I'm sure Michael gets tired of me constantly asking to go get Indian food when we actually get to go on a date (but thankfully he loves it too). ;-)

I was in one of those food funks today and couldn't figure out what to eat for lunch. I realized I had all the ingredients to throw something together. :-) Here is my delicious "concoction". Enjoy!

1-2 cans full fat Coconut Milk (start with 1 can and add more as needed)
1-2 large boneless chicken breast(s), cut into bite sized pieces
1-2 Tablespoons coconut oil
1/4 cup natural chicken stock
1-2 teaspoons curry powder (depending on how strong you like your curry, start with 1 teaspoon and add more as you like)
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/8 teaspoon cardamom
1/4-1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
Sea salt to taste
2 cups loosely packed baby kale

Saute the chicken in the oil at medium/high heat. Slowly deglaze the pan by adding stock and let it boil. Add coconut milk and spices. Cook until thickened somewhat and add kale. Stir well and serve! Add salt to taste. Enjoy the variety of flavors!

* Yes, you can see bacon in the picture. That was a last minute add because hey, everything is better with bacon right? But just in case you are doing whole30 or avoiding sugar, skip the bacon (unless you are using sugar/nitrate free of course) ;-)

Friday, April 26, 2013

Not-Your-Grandma's Sausage Gravy...

As a girl who grew up in Florida (it IS the South whether you like it or not. There are parts of Florida as rooted in Southern culture as Tennessee or Mississippi), I love my grits, biscuits and gravy.

Now that I'm 100% paleo all of the time (and sometimes I am doing Whole30), it's hard to see other people eating good ol' southern cooking and know I can't join in! There just isn't anything like the smell of southern cuisine!   

I still can't have my comfort grits, but I *am* happy that I can smell my gravy and eat it too, even when I am doing a Whole30 (and occasionally served over an almond or coconut flour biscuit when I'm just basic Paleo). 

I really hope you like my Sausage gravy alternative!  

*Dairy/Grain free Southern Sausage Gravy* 
1 lb homemade turkey or pork sausage (I use THIS recipe) 
1 can full fat coconut milk (stirred well) 
1/4-1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper (I would start with this amount and then add more as desired) 
Salt to taste 
1/4-1/2 teaspoon Arrowroot powder  

1. Saute sausage, crumble well, and drain (do NOT rinse). Set aside.   

2. Bring coconut milk and pepper to a medium boil (not a full boil). Add sausage and stir well.

3. Whisk in arrowroot powder (start with a 1/4 tsp and use more if it doesn't thicken). Stir well until thickened to your liking, add salt to taste (be careful because the sausage is already salty) and serve over eggs, vegetables, meat, fish, poultry, or Paleo biscuits! Enjoy your downhome experience and don't forget to let me know how you liked it! 

Monday, April 22, 2013

Confession Time...

Today should be day 8 of my whole30.

It's actually not day anything anymore. I went off my Whole30 Saturday night. I think anyone who had their in-law's watching their munchkins, and being presented with a romantic date with their spouse, would then probably set some stuff aside. I really did try to be good though. We went to a Creole & Caribbean restaurant in Grand Rapids and I thought the menu looked workable for Whole30. He asked me what heat level I wanted (0-10) and I optimistically said a 2. Let me just say, smoke had to have been visibly pouring out of my ears! I couldn't believe how hot it was! I had to wash it down with the rice. And then to add fuel to the fire, I had a few bites of a homemade creole Cheesecake. *sigh* I was good and didn't cheat at all on Sunday. But then I went to a breakfast this morning and even after trying so hard to pick and choose what would be the most Whole30, I still managed to get scrambled eggs with cheese and a fruit salad with added sweetener.

I've learned so many lessons from my previous Whole30's and I would like to share them with my encouraging readers:
1.) Learning self-control- I used to lack a stop button. That is not to say I would eat a whole box of donuts or a big bag of chips in one sitting, but I definitely went overboard in how I ate food and how much I consumed. I can't even fathom the thought of it anymore!
2.) Accepting my body with all of its curves, imperfections, and not being critical of myself. I know that both God and my husband think I am beautiful and that is all that matters! 
3.) Viewing a whole foods diet as a means of healing my body, not just stuff we eat to keep alive.
4.) Learning to respectfully share my life change without pushing my views on other people. Different things work for different people and I can respect that. :-)
5.) Finding what foods trigger hyperactivity and health issues in my children. Since we have changed our 4 year old son's diet, his behavior has been night and day. It's 100% worth it for that reason alone! 

It has been SOOOO worth every extra penny spent, every hour spent in the kitchen, and every minute researching recipes and methods of saving time.

Food is healing and much cheaper and long lasting than medication.

My conclusion is this: I'm just too busy right now for a strict Whole30. I've got two healthy and energetic children, numerous church activities, playdates, etc. and it's just not compatible to eating so strictly. I'm not going to beat myself up because I've started and not completed two different Whole30's. I'm going to look on the bright side and be encouraged by the two Whole30's I DID complete in October and January. Just because I failed doesn't mean I should quit. And did I really fail? I've learned valuable lessons, I feel about 85% better, I've lost almost 70 pounds and close to 50 inches, and I have a new outlook at life. I also still eat 100% paleo, so in reality, that's still very healthy. :-D I hope to do another Whole30 in May. :-)

Failure smailure. I feel pretty good right about now. :-)


(for anyone seeking more information about the Whole30 and Paleo ways of eating, check out this site. It has been truly life changing!: http://www.whole9life.com )

Monday, April 15, 2013

Restoring my health...

I was a sickly child, and as I grew into a sickly teen and adult, I knew something had to be done. I had always been thin, at times underweight, so when I had a drastic weight gain (65 pounds) during my 1st pregnancy in 2009, I was shocked and didn't really know how to handle it. Due to some stressful life circumstances  I gained even more. In January of 2011, I decided I had had enough and did the Atkins diet until I became pregnant again in May of that year. By that time I had managed to lose 30 pounds but I still felt sluggish and unwell.

After a very rough pregnancy in 2011, I delivered a healthy baby girl in February of 2012 and decided that I needed to do something. I gradually lost the 30 pounds I had gained back, and then my weight loss stalled. Not only was I technically obese, but my health was horrible. I wheezed all the time from asthma, was exhausted from morning until night, had severe intestinal issues, brain fog, and pain in my back, knees, and feet. I was also puffy and my skin hurt when touched. I knew that something drastic had to be done. However, because of an extremely busy summer, it was pushed to the back burner. I *tried* to eat well, but still made a lot of poor food choices, especially with all the traveling we did.

Here are some before pictures from 2012:

It wasn't until September of 2012, that I read about some friends who had done a 30 day diet of only whole foods. I was intrigued. It sounded difficult for sure, but it sounded like the benefits far outweighed the cons. I ravenously studied the website for information and then eventually bought the book "It Starts with Food" by Dallas and Melissa Hartwig.

I started my whole30 on October 8, 2012 weighing in at 199 pounds. Phew, it is hard to admit that number but there you have it! The first week was HARD. The cravings were terrible, and I had full blown flu symptoms (also known as the "carb flu"), and I felt really irritable. When the second week finally came, symptoms were clearing up and I noticed my clothes were becoming loose, my stomach was flatter, and pain was lessening everywhere. By the end of my whole30, I had lost 14 pounds and 28 inches!

It was a wonderful experience, and I knew I wasn't finished after those 30 days. I went on to do another Whole30 in January and lost another 11 pounds. I'm currently at 170 and still have more to lose and more health issues to conquer, but tomorrow is another day. ;-)

Here are some current photos:

Whole30 has changed my life because it works. It has made me think clearly about what I choose to put in my mouth (and also about what I feed my children). I'm not just losing weight, I'm regaining my health!


Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Asian Pear and Pumpkin Custard with Ginger Coconut Sauce...

I'm on day 29 of my second round of Whole30. This has been the most amazing lifestyle change I've ever made. I've lost an astronomical amount of weight, gained amazing levels of energy, and learned so much about myself and how my body works. Never have I enjoyed cooking more than I do right now! On Whole30 you are not supposed to have any desserts or sweeteners, even Paleo approved ones. If you really want to "slay your sugar dragon," you have to avoid anything that can cause the dragon to return. 

I came up with this recipe today because I had one Asian pear in my fridge and I just ran with it. :-D I like this as a breakfast dish because it is subtly sweet, not overly rich, and delicious. :-) It was satisfying without feeling like I was eating a heavy dessert. Even Michael liked it and he isn't doing Whole30. ;-)

Enjoy and please share any feedback with me!

 Asian Pear & Pumpkin Custard  
 with Ginger Coconut Sauce 
~ Ingredients ~
* 15 ounce can pumpkin (I use Trader Joe's organic pumpkin)
* 1 cup coconut cream
* 1 ripe banana
* 1 cup unsweetened applesauce
* 6 eggs
* 1 large Asian pear, cut and diced
* 1 teaspoon alcohol and sugar free pure vanilla
* 1 teaspoon cinnamon
* 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
* 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
* 1/4 teaspoon cardamom
* a couple dashes each of ground cloves and coriander
* 1/4 cup pure grade B maple syrup (optional. If you aren't doing Whole30, I would recommend adding sweetener)
* 1/4 cup slivered roasted almonds (optional)

Pre-heat oven to 450

~ Directions ~

Put banana in small bowl and mash well (I used my handy dandy "mix & chop" from pampered chef. It's one of my favorite kitchen utensils, second only to my OXO stainless steel salad spinner). Add to stand mixer and add pumpkin, applesauce, and coconut cream and mix until blended well. Add in eggs and vanilla and keep blending. Then mix in remaining ingredients and put into deep dish glass pie dish. Place custard into a big pan of water and place in oven.

Bake for 15 minutes. Turn oven down to 350 and bake for another 20 minutes. Cut and serve warm or cold with coconut cream sauce (recipe below). 

~ Ginger Coconut Cream Sauce ~
1 cup coconut cream
1/2 cup applesauce
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
Dashes of cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, and Nutmeg
Maple Syrup (optional)

Put all ingredients in a magic bullet or blender and blend until well mixed (put in refrigerator if you are going to serve it cold. You want it nice and thick!). Drizzle over warm or cold custard! 


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