What I Ate Wednesday #4

Well folks, it’s Day 6 of my second round of Whole30! (Technically it is about my fourth attempt at Whole30, I’ve successfully completed one, but once again, I’m going for a successful round two— it’s wedding season, you guys…)

More importantly than that, today was the last day of school! 😀
:::insert cheers and tears:::funny-school-signs Thankfully, this sign is not from our school, but the giggles are wonderful.

The last day, I knew, would consist of extra goodies and treats. I took extra precaution to fill my lunch box with delicious, healthy things to ward off the temptations sure to be lurking.

Breakfast: Running late to work, I quickly threw three eggs in boiling water to prep my Hard-boiled Eggs while I ran around my house trying to get ready. My Green Smoothie was also prepared, but devoured before it was photo time. Oops!eggsThe students got out of school early today, so the teachers were celebrating with an Italian Feast after school. During my break I opted to snack a little bit and wait to bring my Whole30 Italian Lunch to the feast.

Snack: Simple and delicious. An Apple Pie Larabar and 1/2 cup of Strawberries did the trick! Along with copious amounts of water.Larabar & StrawberriesAs I planned, the Italian Feast was overwhelmingly delicious looking AND smelling. And so NOT Whole30! I’m talking bread, cheese, and more bread… and cheese. With this in mind, I intentionally planned my lunch to be “Italian-themed”.

Lunch: Incredible. Say hello to Fresh Zoodles with homemade Roasted Red Pepper Sauce and Ground Buffalo Italian Meatballs. Can’t forget the Fresh Basil! Presentation, people.Zoodles with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce & Ground Buffalo MeatballsDinner, on the other hand, was an absolute mess. For starters, there was a piece of fish I was itching to cook, but apparently I waited too long since buying it. I also wanted to make some plantain chips. And you can see how that turned out…Burnt Plantain ChipsDinner: Chipotle saves the day!! Carnitas Salad with TomatoesHot Salsa, and Guacamole! Thank you, thank you, Chipotle!Chipotle Salad Chipotle Salad2And so, we end another scrumptious Whole30 day! Please say a little prayer for me as my roommate sings, “I love feta cheese! It’s delicious! And it’s yummy!” for the rest of the evening. Okay Sarah, I get it, cheese is delicious and not Whole30 approved! 😉

Happy Wednesday, everyone! 🙂

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Happy [Paleo] Friendsgiving!

Happy FRIENDSgiving!

 My heart is so overjoyed to have spent Saturday evening accompanied by friends, laughs, and gratitude! We had the pleasure of hosting a Friendsgiving event at our home. This meant LOTS of scrumptious foods and desserts to share, so I made sure to add some to the menu that were delicious and nutritious.

Our lovely friends arrived and everyone channeled their “inner Picasso” and drew on little index cards all the things they’re thankful for! Kudos to Austin to thinking of this awesome ideas! 😉Thankful Wall Thankful Wall Thankful Wall

Do I have a creative group of friends or WHAT? 

After a round of games, the turkey was finally done! This, by the way, was the first turkey I have ever cooked so I was truly elated when… “Guys!! The red thing finally popped up! It’s done! And I think it actually looks good too!”Turkey Time

Thank you men for handling it from here...
Thank you men for handling it from here…

There were a variety of foods that friends brought, but again, I made sure to sneak in some healthy Paleo options to share. Let’s start off with a delicious Sweet Potato + Pumpkin Casserole. It’s so good that your friends won’t even miss those marshmallows– well, maybe. It’s worth a shot. 😉Paleo Sweet Potato Casserole

Paleo Sweet Potato & Pumpkin Casserole (serves 9)
Ingredients:
4 large sweet potatoes
1 16-oz can 100% pure pumpkin
3/4 cup almonds, chopped
1/2 cup full-fat coconut milk
2 tbsp cinnamon, divided
2 tbsp olive oil, divided
1 tbsp pumpkin spice
1 tbsp vanilla
1 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
Honey, for drizzling

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350-degrees and fill a large pot with water. Chop all the sweet potatoes into large chunks and place in pot. Place the pot on high and bring to a boil. Cook for 15-20 minutes, or until sweet potatoes are tender. Once finished, remove from heat and strain all the excess water.
2. Return sweet potatoes to pot and add 1 tbsp of olive oil (for dairy-tolerant folks, you may use butter instead). Mash sweet potatoes until smooth. Then, add in your can of pumpkin and mix together thoroughly.
3. Add in pumpkin spice, coconut milk, vanilla, and 1 tbsp of cinnamon to mixture. Mix thoroughly once more. Next, transfer mixture to casserole dish (I used a 9×9 pan).
4. In separate mixing bowl, toss almonds with cocoa powder, 1 tbsp of olive oil, and 1 tbsp of cinnamon. Toss until evenly coated. Garnish the top of casserole with chopped almonds.
5. Finish off your casserole with a drizzle of honey over top of the almonds.
6. Bake in oven for 20 minutes. ENJOY 🙂

Paleo Sweet Potato CasseroleHow is that for a mouth-watering Paleo spin on a classic? Well, we’re not done yet. A fresh salad came to mind while I perused the grocery store on that Fall morning and then it hit me: Dino Kale + Cranberry Chopped Salad. I love when the grocery store inspires you! Also, this gem is Whole30 Compliant!Dino Kale + Cranberry Chopped SaladDino Kale + Cranberry Chopped Salad (serves 8)
Ingredients:
1 bunch Dino kale
3 cups spinach
1 small gala apple
1 green bell pepper
1 cup fresh cranberries
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
1 tbsp coconut oil

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 400-degrees. Coat a oven-safe dish in coconut oil. Place washed cranberries in dish and stick in the oven for 10-15 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, chop up kale, spinach, apple, bell pepper, and walnuts into bite-size pieces. Try to make everything about the same size. Place all ingredients in large bowl.
3. Once cranberries are finished, add them to the bowl. Toss all ingredients together.
4. If desired, add your favorite dressing (I suggest a balsamic) or top with some of that Thanksgiving turkey! EAT UP 🙂

Okay, so my salad is more "layered" than "tossed", but it was all for the photos, people!
Okay, so my salad is more “layered” than “tossed”, but it was all for the photos, people!

Other food items included green bean casserole, rolls, cranberry sauce, and a plethora of desserts. I will admit, I sampled a bit of everything. I will also admit that due to this I had a major sugar-induced headache for the next two days (Is a “food hangover” a thing? Because I think it is). Sometimes you pick your battles and choose to indulge every once in a while. Just choose wisely, then get back on track!

This is the "Remember to Make Wise Choices" Face.
This is the “Remember to Make Wise Choices” Face.

Happy Friendsgiving

I am so thankful to these wonderful people in my life (and those who couldn’t make it too) and I am happy to have celebrated Friendsgiving while sneaking in Paleo recipes at the same time. Thank you all for being my guinea pigs!


Happy Friendsgiving!
Maybe you can try some of these, or be inspired to find more Paleo Thanksgiving dishes for this year’s feast!Give Thanks

 

What I Ate Wednesday #3

Florida was a chilly 48-degrees when I walked out the door this morning. And in the words of one of my Kindergarten students, “Miss Baxter, this is SOOO unusual outside!!” Today was especially delicious due to my meal prep for the night before. Meal prep saves the day! Although, I may or may not have had to eat breakfast in the car due to my lack of desire to pry myself from my warm, toasty bed this morning.

Breakfast: Three scrambled eggs with a side of roasted broccoli and two slices of mouth-watering sugar-free bacon. Not to mention the fresh, tart taste of red raspberries. Mmmm. And it tastes even better in the car… NOT.Egg Breakfast

Tea Time: The chilly weather made me crave some warm Chamomile tea, which tasted lovely. I also paired my hot cup with a festive, Fall-flavored Pumpkin Pie Larabar. This thing is like a Fall party in your mouth people. Get on it!Tea Time Pumpkin Pie Larabar

Lunch: I decided to go Raw today for lunch. I made my own version of Raw Pad Thai filled with Dino kale, broccoli, carrot, green onion, cucumber, red cabbage, and green bell pepper. Plus a Spicy Jalapeño Coconut dressing made from coconut milk, jalapeño, ginger, lime, and green onion, which was all blended to creamy perfection.Raw Pad Thai Raw Pad Thai

A delicious gala apple and GT’s Enlightened Hibiscus Kombucha made this lunch extra special.

Dinner: I actually wasn’t very hungry this evening, so I went really simple. A Tessemae’s Cracked Pepper marinated chicken breast with good ‘ole fresh spinach.Tessamae's Cracked Pepper Chicken


In other news: My roommate and I just signed up for The Color Run – Orlando and we are SUPER excited. We’ll be reppin’ Team DyeHard so the training will be starting ASAP! The Color Run is the self-proclaimed “Happiest 5k On The Planet” and can you see why?!

How AWESOME does THAT look?! Plus, if you’re in the Orlando area and interested in joining our team, let me know! Or if you just want to run the race as an individual, I also would like to let you know that the PROMO CODE: “ORLANDO2” will give you $5-off your race fee! Baller on a budget! 😉

Color Run StrongOh I cannot WAIT for January 31st to arrive! Time to get running!

Life After Whole30, Now What?

I did it!
Wahhhoooo!
Yippee Yay-o Ky-eh!

BOOM

For REAL this time! 😉


This morning felt a bit like a dream. Usually every morning I have every meal planned out for the day and I know EXACTLY what foods are in it. I had nothing planned today. Well, that’s not entirely true. I did have some plans, in fact, I have been dreaming of this Day “31” and the foods I would consume. If you had asked me a little over a week ago, I would have told you that my meal plan for today would look something like this:

October 4, 2014 Meal Plan (Post-Whole30)

Breakfast: Pumpkin Spiced Latte from Starbucks, Pumpkin Donut from Dunkin Donuts, and a bowl of Captain Crunch; just to celebrate.
Lunch: Chocolate, Tacos with lots of chips and salsa, but not in that order; because I can.
Snack: Did I mention Pumpkin Spiced Lattes? I’ll take another now.
Dinner: More chocolate, a big plate of Pasta (but I’d add veggies) and maybe a glass of wine; I did the Whole30, remember?!
Dessert: ICE CREAM. Obvi

But something AMAZING happened when I woke up this morning… I didn’t want to “ruin it”. Even better than that, I enjoyed the way I have been eating the past 30 days. I felt energized and healthy. I have felt as though I was thriving off of all the veggies, fruits, grass-fed meats, nuts & seeds I have been eating– not to mention the amount of coconut I have consumed. It had been an amazing journey, but this is only the beginning! This is a lifestyle change, not just a 30-day challenge for me.

My day did not look like the way I had planned a few weeks ago…
This is how October 4th really went down:

I woke up after a full 8-hours of sleep and drank a giant refreshing glass of water with mint + lime. Starting off hydrated as I have been doing for the past 30 days.Mint Lime WaterI made Cinnamon Fig Pancakes without the help of Bisquik or Aunt Jemima, using all Paleo-approved ingredients.
Figs! I added figs to my pancakes! What has happened to me?!Cinnamon Fig Pancakes Cinnamon Fig PancakesAustin and I stopped in Wawa to get some coffee and I got mine black. No sugar. No milk. No creamer. Just black. My “usual” no longer includes a flavored-syrup & creamer. I enjoyed my lovely treat while watching a morning football game.Make It Black CoffeePost-football, I was inspired as we waltzed around the local market by all the brilliantly colored fruits and vegetables, so I knew a salad would be coming for lunch.Produce BrillianceThen lunch happened– yes, lunch! At this point I was “supposed to” eat copious amounts of tortilla chips & salsa with tacos, but no. No tacos here. Instead, a giant Pad Thai Salad with Sesame Ginger Dressing and a side of my Mojito-style Watermelon.

Raw Pad Thai SaladFruits, veggies and seeds– not a trace of taco to be found.Raw Pad Thai Salad Finally, my snack came around and it was time to attack that Milkyway I had been saving up. Well, I did have chocolate, but a single square of Paleo-approved dark chocolate with sea salt. That was all, just a small square. It was quite sweet and I only desired a taste. A workout happened today too! I spent time outside in the morning and got my sweat on in the evening. It was a beautiful night for a circuit workout + run.SunsetDinner included spaghetti squashroasted green beans, and chicken breast. Pasta was the farthest thing from my mind. No desire for that junk over here.Dinner Time

So what is going on with me? CHANGE. The kind that I want to be permanent. My experience with Whole30 has truly changed my life and I’m sticking with it. Not only are all these things from my last post still true, but after the complete Whole30 I have also noticed:

1) Weight-loss: I wasn’t doing this for any weight change, but for those of you who are skeptical and a bit “fat-phobic”, I lost 6 pounds while consuming coconut milk, fresh coconut, avocado and olive oil as part of my meals. I have always stared at fat grams on labels my entire life, so it took some trust, but I now know that these healthy, quality fats have made me feel full and satisfied after eating a meal and are essential to our health.

2) My nails, though: I know I posted about this already, but I simply cannot get over how quickly my hair and nails were growing!

3) Clearer skin: I’ve been on every acne medication under the sun. Even at the age of 24, I am still battling adult-hormonal acne issues. Also, keratosis psoriasis has been taking over the back of my arms since I was a teen. Both of these things have significantly decreased on my skin. I have stopped taking acne medication all together (the first time in quite some time) and during these thirty days I hardly have had a problem.

4) Love for cooking & new foods: I am constantly creating new recipes and sampling new fruits and vegetables. I can taste the slight sweetness in “unsweetened coconut milk”. Fresh mint, cilantro and basil are potent flavors to meals. I enjoy my time in the kitchen and look forward to meal planning. My attitude has completely changed about what “food” is and how it changes my health.


Overall, I know this post is crazy long, but I cannot tell you enough how this has completely turned my perspective around about food and health. I encourage you to at least try it for the thirty days to discover this for yourself.Tiger Blood

Real food and an active body is life-changing. 

What I Ate Wednesday #1

I’ve read a few “What I Ate Wednesday” posts (or WIAW for you trendy folk) on other health food sites and I couldn’t decide if they were silly or helpful. Once I realized how many meals plans I acquired, recipe ideas I’ve conjured up, and motivation I’ve received, I decided these simple little posts are actually quite positive!

Breakfast was two scrambled eggs with two strips of Maverick Ranch bacon and a portion of my newest recipe: Roasted “Sweet” Apples. Of course, it wouldn’t be breakfast without a Coconut Milk Latte to wash it all down.

Sept 17 BreakfastThe morning could not get started without some play time with the kitten. Storm loves playing hide and seek. Or maybe she is just scared of me… which is totally possible.

Little StormToday I caught up on a bunch of random chores: dishes, laundry, sweeping, you know… the good stuff. I got to spend some time in the Word and have been praying over this lovely piece of Scripture:

1 If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge,and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
— 1 Corinthians 13:1-3

I hope that gives you a bit of encouragement about the incredible importance of love. I’m so thankful for God’s great love. I pray that I may demonstrate and share it with others as best I can. 🙂

Meanwhile, over in the kitchen, my sister was juicing…
Can you juice this?Or attempting to juice, rather. She told me today that she is going to start her Whole30 journey. Now that I’ve shared this with the public, she has to do it. HA. Committed. Really, I am cheering for you Jacqueline and I hope you stick with it! Proud of this decision!

For lunch, I sat down to take my online course and paired it with this lovely meal. Just a bunch of things I could throw together. Simple! A big helping of Mediterranean Salad (and I went back for more) with some Whole30-approved Turkey Breast slices. I was looking for something sweet and crunchy (I love a good “crunch factor”) and got out some roasted almonds mixed together with bareSnacks’ Organic Crunchy Cinnamon Apple Chips. Dang, those are addictive.

Sept 17 LunchAfter more online coursework, I then headed over to Austin’s place for a tabata-style upper body workout. Which, not to worry, I will be posting later. T’was a pretty good one. I imagine I’ll be sore tomorrow, so I’ll wait and see. This now brings us to dinner…

Sept 17 DinnerRosemary-roasted white mushrooms and sautéed green bell pepper + onions were scarfed down along with two Applegate Farms Uncured Turkey Dogs. I know, I know, turkey dogs are not super fancy. I’m out of sausages, okay?! Nonetheless, I am grateful for another delicious Paleo/Whole30 Meal.

Also, today is Day 14. YES.

Whole30 Day 14
He UNDERSTANDS me.

Now I am off to band rehearsal for our church’s worship team. And to stay committed to this whole WIAW post, I will have you know I will have a snack later. I’m not sure what, but it will happen– Looks like this is ending as a mystery. Have a great evening! I will be singing the night away… Happy Wednesday! 🙂