This year’s Whole30 was the easiest by far. We knew the rules backward and forward, and I wasn’t pregnant or nursing Evie every 3 hours, so I wasn’t hungry all the time.

Whole 30 Burger Salad
This was a typical lunch – burger, greens, some garlic dip, avocado, and of course, my fave plantain chips!

PROS: The Whole30 is always a sure way for me to lose weight – one of the only ways that actually gets me to lose a sustainable amount without limiting calories. In Whole30 you can eat whatever you want within the rules, and I take this to heart. I believe that they say to not snack and rather only have 3 meals, but I find that if I just stick to the rules, I don’t get too hungry and just to my body.

I lost 6.5 pounds this time around, which is a great loss for only 30 days. In 2017, I lost 9 pounds, and last year I lost 13 pounds, so it was the smallest lost I’ve had, but I am also feeling very good, knowing I’m trying to leave some of my lasting baby weight from my pregnancy. Shedding a few pounds and generally feeling better is a win.

Whole30 also is a great way for me to actually eat better, and different. We always get into a rut and suddenly we’re eating Chicken Quesadillas three nights a week and I’m convincing myself I deserve some ice cream.

For me, the hardest parts are: 1) Social and 2) Reward Expectations. First of all, most social things revolve around food, and having to not just have what I want is a difficult mental block to cross – book club, birthdays, dinner parties, etc., all events that make me want to eat sugar and carbs and drink.

The second is built into the way I reward myself – I had a hard day, a good day, a stressful day, I’m sick – and somehow I deserve, therefore, ice cream or bread or crackers or wine. Trying to find another way to reward myself – earlier bedtime, sitting down to read, a steaming cup of tea, all helped me try my hand at self care without also being self destructive.

This is the Egg Roll Soup we made twice from Unbound Wellness. It’s linked down below.

CONS: Guys, I really feel like Whole30 isn’t great for the environment. Because you can’t have certain proteins, you end up (or at least I did) eating a lot of meat. I understand conceptually why it’s built the way it is, and I know it’s not a forever-diet, but I think in general I’ve done it enough times that I don’t need to do it again that restrictive. I know the triggers for me are sugar, dairy, and grains, and I will hopefully change my diet accordingly. I also feel like I end up eating a lot of cold foods (salads for lunch) but this year I focused on soups and that helped me to stay warm through the coldest LA month!

That said, I have some tips and tricks for how to do Whole30.

These meatballs and that “cheese” sauce were so delicious! I love spaghetti squash, so using that and a sauce with some meatballs and veggies always was successful.

Breakfast – I ate a lot of eggs, almost every day. I would make a big batch of sweet potatoes or cauliflower rice on Sundays to eat with my eggs, and then the morning of make them overeasy with a green – usually spinach or kale.

Lunch – I typically had leftovers from dinners, but also would make a soup specifically for lunch. I loved tons of veggies with chicken sausage in a broth. I also would make salads, usually with a nut and/or seed, olives, a meat, and some greens.

Snacks – I ate a lot of olives and nuts, and some RX bars or Lara bars that were compliant. I would also eat tons of fruit, and some veggies – sugar snap peas, cucumbers, zucchini, etc.

Dinners –Here are some go-to recipes we ate a lot this time around for dinner. I also have a Pinterest board here.

Indian Meatballs (40 Aprons)

Egg Roll Soup (Unbound Wellness)

Crockpot Carnitas (40 Aprons)

Vegan Butternut Sauce with Spaghetti Squash (Bites By Mi)

Zuppa Toscana (40 Aprons)

These were all huge crowd pleasers and we ended up making them all a few times each and having lots of leftovers.

I hope you find this helpful! Are you planning on doing a Whole30 ever? Have you done one before? Have you tried another type of diet change that’s worked for you?


HEYYYY YOUUUUU GUYSSSS!!!! Our good friend and ex-ex-pat Becca has moved back to LA! We were talking about starting up her kitchen here again and this led to a discussion about what should be in your kitchen – the basic, basic. So, enjoy below how to start your kitchen!

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A couple of friends have asked me how they go about furnishing a kitchen. We’re at an age where maybe you’re getting serious about fleshing out your goods to cook with, or maybe you’re getting married and you are registering and realize you don’t know what you need – or you don’t know what to upgrade, and what to leave behind.

Until Jeff and I got married last year, we used IKEA plates. We still sometimes use them. They are fine, because I am the queen of dropping a stack of plates in our ceramic sink and breaking them in one fell swoop. (I have only broken one of the new plates, don’t worry.) We use wine glasses from various wineries we’ve been to in LA, and have a few fancy ones that George picked out.

But the items that do most of the heavy lifting in the kitchen? Those things I’ve had for years and will have for years to come. So here is a list of things that I use in my kitchen on the regular, and why I think you should have them. Total, this list is under $450, and well worth the cost. I’ve put them in the order that I think you should buy them in, too.

Baked Lemon Pasta | Garlic, My Soul

Cast Iron Skillet – I have an Emeril Cast Iron Skillet that my BFF got me some years ago after she stayed with us (completely unreasonable, but so very much appreciated.) I use this probably every day, but at least six days a week. I use it to make eggs in the morning, to make cobbler in for desserts, to make quesadilla and taco filling, pretty much for everything you can think of. Mine is 12 inches, and it’s given me quite the arm strength. This will be the only skillet you need in your kitchen if you get it. Cast iron is naturally non-stick (although you do need to add some oil/butter), cleans easily, and even adds a skotch of iron to your food. Cost: $25.17

Knife Set | Garlic, My Soul

Knives – Let me tell you a story. We were in Big Bear with our friends on vacation, and I forgot to bring my own knife (I pretty much bring my own knife everywhere I go if I’m cooking, even friends’ houses, so this was a big deal.) I was trying to cut shallots – NOT EVEN ONIONS, SHALLOTS – and we had about 10 people in the kitchen and slowly but surely they dropped like flies because the air was thick with shallot juices and everyone was crying. I just kept saying, “This is why you have sharp knives! Do you hear me?!” like an insane person. But it’s true, you guys. I am going to say something maybe scandalous – it doesn’t matter how amazing your knives are – just make sure they’re SHARP. Sharper they are, the less likely you are to cut yourself. Here’s the Knife Set that I have that I love. And here is a sharpener! Cost: $166.49

Cutting Board: This one seemed obvious to me, but you need cutting boards in your kitchen – and not cheap plastic one. If you want to only spend a little, get two – one with a juice edge like this one, and then one regular one. Cost: $24.95

Colander – I have several strainers – small ones for berries, a mesh one for rinsing grains, and a big one like this to drain pasta, veggies, etc. If you’re only going to invest in one, I suggest a good sized mesh one that can do it all – but it won’t be as pretty as the colored ones. You can also use your colander as a fruit bowl when it’s not being used, so remember that as an option to save cabinet space. Cost: $16.95

Baker Bowls | Garlic, My Soul

Image from Inspired by This

Mixing Bowls – These are helpful for a variety of things. Putting snacks out for a party, making baked goods, pureeing soups/stews/etc. I highly suggest these Baker Bowls from Crate and Barrel. They’re pretty, they wash easily, and they stack. They had these years ago (when they were called Parker Bowls) and they stopped making them for a couple years and Jeff called every Crate & Barrel within 100 miles to see if he could find one last set for me, that’s how much I loved them. They didn’t, but now they’re back, so get at them! Cost: $39.95

Basic Utensils – You can get by in the kitchen with some basic utensils. Might I suggest a whisk (or two, one tiny one large), some wooden spoons, a ladle, a slotted spoon, a good spatch, and some tongs. This will get you through most things the kitchen is going to throw at you. Corelyn and I took too long to invest in tongs, and we’ve cursed the years we wasted without them. I have two containers of utensils in my kitchen, and I use the same four or five pieces over and over again. Cost: $30-40

Cheese Grater You can use your grater for a lot of things that aren’t cheese. I like to buy blocks of cheese because it’s cheaper than buying grated cheese and because they are less processed (ever think of how they get that cheese to stay separate?) but think bigger. You can use your cheese grater to grate nutmeg, ginger, or garlic into dishes. You can grate potatoes for hash brownies. You can grate veggies for breads or casseroles. You can zest citrus with your cheese grater! I have a Microplane zester, too, but you don’t even need that, truth be told – that trusty cheese grater can do the trick! Cost: $7.51

dutchoven

Dutch Oven – I have a Lodge Enamel Dutch Oven. I don’t even know how this one came into my hands – a present at some holiday years ago. I use this bad boy for soups, stews, searing meat and then popping it into the oven, deep frying things (I know, we’re bad!) and pretty much anything else that requires stove top time and in-oven time. Again, this transfers from one to the other, so you can’t go wrong – you can sear a piece of brisket then pop it in the oven to finish cooking, for example. Cost: $67.82

Immersion Blender – Immersion Blender to save you space, and time. This blender can do almost anything a regular one can, and it saves time and clean up. Cost: $33.20

There you have it – what I think you need in your kitchen. Foodies out there, what did I miss that’s an essential everyday item? Let me know!


Hi folks! I am back, ish. Evie’s almost 11 months old (how the heck did that happen) and I am slowly but surely navigating motherhood, working freelance, breastfeeding, being home most of the time, and trying to keep everyone’s hands clean.

When Evie was born, I had this vision of what I wanted my life to be and what it was, and quietly said goodbye to a bunch of stuff I thought I could no longer do. (goodbye, composting! Gardening! Coming up with a longer list of go-to recipes! Being the type of person with a full-time blogging job!) It was part of the overwhelmingness of being a new mom; you have all of these hormones coursing through your veins, and you are working on just getting through the cycle at first; feed the baby, change the baby, get the baby to sleep, maybe eat/clean yourself, maybe sleep?

But as Evie and I have grown together, I realize my desperation and feeling of loss was unnecessary; it might sound weird (new moms did you go through this, too?) but I am finally realizing I didn’t have to say goodbye to who I might have been, because I can still do all of those things and be a mom.

I realize I was being hyperbolic about the end of my life as I knew it; it’s how you feel in that moment – there’s honestly not a ton of room for reason. But coming on Evie’s first birthday, I am finally navigating with what’s possible, what isn’t, and what’s a priority to me.

For a while after Evie was born, I considered stopping the blog. I couldn’t figure out what place it held in my life. Separate from Evie’s birth, I’m still having issues linking my blog to Instagram (does anyone have advice on this, by the way? Still haven’t managed to hear from Instagram) which lead me to trying to decide whether or not I just go social – stop posting here, just post on Instagram, full recipes, call it a day.

You may remember, I started this blog in 2009; before Facebook had businesses, before Pinterest, or Instagram, or Vine, or Snapchat, before Influencers really had taken hold and we all spent a lot of our days double tapping. Figuring out where a 9-year old blog should live anymore is something I couldn’t find time in my day to think about. Until I just decided it doesn’t really matter.

I don’t know what this space is going to look like. I will be posting less often and using Instagram mainly to share my how-tos, my step-by-steps, and this might become a one part personal, one part recipe blog, focusing on motherhood a bit, how I’m feeding Evie, and what a family of three means for my cooking. I don’t need to have it all figured out. This space started as a place to share recipes with my family and friends, and that’s what it’ll continue to be. Sometimes I’ll do influencery stuff, sometimes I won’t. I don’t have to have it all figured out, I just miss sharing in this space.

Which is all to say, I made some muffins yesterday. And it was easy. And photographing them, while not as easy as it might have been a couple years ago when I was in the thick of food blogging, it was still a joy. I still found happiness in the process. So likely, I’ll do it again, soon.

I hope you’ll stick with me. I hope that interests you. Comment and tell me what you need from food bloggers these days? Meanwhile, I hope you’ll enjoy this muffin recipe. Evie’s eating one right now, and I think you’ll find them a great (not too sugary) way to start your day!

Type: Baking, Breads, Breakfast
Author: Jennie
Oven Temperature: 350°
Difficulty: Intermediate

Prep Time: 15 minutes`
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Servings: 6-12

Ingredients

  • 3-4 ripe bananas, smashed
  • 3 tablespoon melted butter
  • 2-3 tablespoon sugar or honey
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup cherries, pitted
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoon cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 1/3 cup flour

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, then pit your cherries.

  2. Smash bananas in a bowl. Add butter, sugar, egg, and vanilla, and mix well.

  3. In a medium bowl, mix dry ingredients: baking soda, salt, cinnamon, cocoa powder, and flour. Add dry ingredients to wet and mix well.

  4. Pour into a lined muffin tin (makes about 12) and bake for 25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean!

Well folks, I’m still getting a hang of this whole Mom thing! I’ve been home since Evie was born, which has been great (hello mostly pump-free living!) but also having an infant means you’re never really, you know, thinking to yourself “I have a bunch of free time.”

Luckily, Evie’s starting to nap more regularly, so I am working on getting back into the world of cooking and photographing. Daylight Saving Time will help with this (hello sunshine until 7 pm) so stay tuned – I’ll be back and talking about feeding an infant soon. Hope that doesn’t bore you too much! She’s almost six months old (WHAT) and so we’ll be working on introducing solid foods any day now. I cannot believe it.

ANYWAYS I am here to talk about a smoothie.

A few weeks ago, I had a MASSIVE cold and as it turns out when you’re sick you don’t get to take a sick day from your baby. So I quickly turned to my usual cold remedies (hello turmeric tea & garlic honey by the spoonful) but also wanted something to soothe my aching throat. Enter this delicious & easy smoothie. Really I love all smoothies because they are so easy to put together and make you feel like you’re drinking health.

I used what I had around – an apple I knew I wouldn’t eat another way (I just don’t like green apples but they came in my farm box), orange & lemon from my trees, and ginger and cayenne for health. Plus spinach for an earthy taste, and per usual I used coconut water because it just gives me life!

The recipe is below, but use what you’ve got lying around, and experiment with the ginger and cayenne levels – s’all about what you can handle (and I can’t handle a lot.)

Type: Smoothies
Author: Jennie
Difficulty: Easy

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Servings: 2

Ingredients

  • 1 large orange, peeled
  • 1 lemon, juiced & zested
  • 1-2 tablespoon grated ginger
  • 1 pinch cayenne
  • 1 green apple, cored & chopped
  • 1 water (or coconut water)
  • 1 cup spinach

Directions

  1. Chop all veggies as noted above.

  2. Combine spinach and water in the blender. Add all other ingredients and blend until smooth. Add water to make desired consistency. Serve room temperature or chill 30 minutes before serving.

THE LAST 10 DAYS

We’ve made it to the end of another Whole30! I can’t believe it, and yet this one I REALLY STRUGGLED THROUGH. I think it was a combination of eating whatever I wanted for the past year (what what preggo!) and also being all the time because a) nursing and b) not sleeping. When I don’t sleep I get REAL snacky, and I haven’t slept through the night since Evie was born in September, so it’s been A THING.

The last week I’ve been in Chicago, where my sister and her family were also doing Whole30, so I had someone around to help me not quit. I wasn’t even craving specific things, so much, as I just wanted choices. Plus, I flew twice with Evie by myself (she was a dream baby because she’s just like that) and there was nothing to eat in the airport. A lot of the feeling around it is “I deserve XYZ” for some first-world reason – because I flew alone with an infant, because I have an infant, because I did yoga, yadda yadda yadda. But nourishing my body (I kind of hate the word nourishing, anyone else?) with REAL food is obviously going to make a better impression than just eating M&Ms on a plane to make myself happy for 30 seconds.

Some things we ate in the last 10 days worth noting:

Egg Roll in a Bowl – Holy cow, this was amazing. I could add this to my regular rotation REAL easily.

Chicken Cacciatore – This is a similar recipe, but my mom added potatoes and used tapioca flour instead of regular flour, etc. Simple, easy.

FEELINGS UPDATE

I re-read my wrap up from 2017, and have to say, this time around I also never felt this so-called “tiger blood.” Now, last year I was pregnant for most of Whole30, and didn’t know it, so I attributed it to that. This year, I am nursing and have a 4 month old babe, so you know, also could be that. I feel PRETTY GOOD, but my stomach just can’t handle this diet. That is, it’s just too much roughage. I need some blander foods to balance it out. I would probably be good if I can figure out which foods are easier on the stomach while still keeping up the fiber.

THE WEIGHT

Now, last year I lost 9 pounds, which was a good start to a year of weight gain while growing Evie! I gained 35 pounds when I was pregnant, and lost the first 10 quite quickly after she was born (as one does) but obviously losing weight wasn’t my focus. So seeing the scale slide down 13 pounds this time around was encouraging. And, now I only have to lose another 12 pounds to be my pre-pregnancy weight, which is encouraging. The doctors have a saying “9 months on, 9 months off” so to be 4 months postpartum and already at 23 pounds lost is great – I am feeling more and more like me every day.

I also did a 30 day yoga challenge this January, so my body is feeling strong, and toned, and getting me back to a place of feeling in charge of my mind, and body, and emotions – important because I’m still feeling hormonal and oh-so-tired because we have a tiny babe sharing our room!

NEXT STEPS

Jeff ALSO lost 13 pounds this Whole30, so he’s very into keeping this up – he keeps chanting Whole60. So we’re going to try to keep it health(ier) as we move forward. I went to Trader Joe’s today and ultimately didn’t get much because everything has so much sugar! Plus, one of my goals for the year is less food waste – we spent WAY too much money on groceries last month. So, I am hoping to get at what’s in my pantry (channeling my sister) and use up random dried fruit, nuts and seeds, etc., first, before filling it up with crackers and a bunch of other foods that look healthy but aren’t.

A friend sent me an article about the Mediterranean diet, and I think that’s what I’m going to aim for post-Whole30. Whole grains, legumes come back in, as well as keeping up my fair share of nuts and seeds and of course, fruits and veggies. Then, adding in more seafood (holla this is always my fave thing) and of course bringing dairy back in. This is something that’ll help me combat my annoyance at Whole30 for usually ending up eating SO MUCH MEAT. It’s just too much. It’s not good for the environment, but it’s hard to eat Whole30 and also get enough protein unless you eat all the nuts and all the eggs. It would be something I’d be better at if I was going to stay on this diet forever…but I’m not.

Today, I had legumes (falafel kale salad for lunch) and grains/dairy (tortilla and sour cream at dinner) but in small amounts. I kept lots of veggies, fruits, and nuts/seeds in. I didn’t binge on chocolate. I want to keep it easy. I know my body fairly well, and I know what sets me off, so I’m trying to curb cravings with my usuals – lots of water, tea, and keeping myself full so I don’t get too hungry and eat crazy amounts of sugar (I can be quite a sugar monster.)

What about you guys? Are you eating Whole30? Some other diet? How are you feeling?


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