Snow Day Fun (plus Meal Plan #3)

When the weather forecast says we are getting a lot of snow and we don’t get a single flurry, I feel genuine frustration and sadness. So, when I woke up Friday morning to an inch or two of beautiful snow on the ground with no end in sight, I seriously squealed and giggled like a little girl. That morning (plus the two snow days Daniel had before) turned into five full days home with my loves. We had absolutely nothing to do except enjoy one another, our cozy home, and our moments of designated alone time because we eventually started to go a little insane…

On day 1, Sam could not stop watching the snow all morning. “Snow! Momma, snow! Daddy, snow!” He loved putting on his new boots and mittens and chasing our dog around the yard. “Yay!” we thought, “He’s going to love this!” Well, that turned out to be a hilarious misconception.

On day 3, the snow was really coming down, so we decided to hurry outside just in case it suddenly stopped. This idea of getting dressed for snow in two minutes was a complete FAIL, as anyone with kids can imagine. Sam was excited at first, then bored (before even stepping out of the door), then absolutely, totally miserable. These pictures perfectly sum up our experience in the snow.

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So, what does my sweet, thoughtful, manly husband do to turn this day into everything we could have dreamed of as parents of a little adventurer? He decides to build this amazing beauty so Sam wouldn’t have to walk in the snow, which, it turns out, he is genuinely terrified of.

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I was pretty impressed. Sam, not so much. While we were moving, he was sort of calm. Each time we stopped for a mere second, he would wail hysterically. Needless to say, we didn’t go play in the snow the remainder of the weekend. Hopefully we can try again next year! Thank you, Lord, for this amazing week of family, relaxation, and sweet, sweet memories!

Screen Shot 2016-01-24 at 10.21.47 PMIt’s pretty clear from this post that I had ample time to put together a delicious meal plan for the last ten days of this Whole 30. So, here you go! Almost all recipes are new to me, which is a pretty exciting way to close out this challenge. I hope you enjoy!

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Easy Egg Salad

Paleo Homestyle Meatloaf

Chicken Curry with Coconut Milk

Cauliflower Rice

Bacon and Butternut Squash Quiche

Asparagus Potato Hash

One-Skillet Paleo Mediterranean Chicken

Shrimp Pad Thai

Asparagus and Ham Crustless Quiche

Smoky Bacon Chicken Thighs

Baked Cinnamon Apples

The following are from Whole 30 by Dallas and Melissa Hartwig:

Southwest Scrambled Eggs

Stuffed Peppers

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Confessions of a Whole 30-er

If you have ever done a Whole 30, you know that it is not simple and definitely not always fun. For example, here are a few things I have been asking myself this week:

Why do I have to eat eggs again for about the twentieth time this week?

Why can’t I steal that waffle from my son right now?

Why am I drinking so much water that I have to go to the bathroom literally every ten minutes?

The answer to all of these questions (plus the dozen more I have on a daily basis) is because this is worth it! Being on the Whole 30 has not been easy. There have been ups, but their have definitely been downs. For starters, random cravings that pop up make me very frustrated–it’s only one piece of chocolate, right? Planning and preparing meal after meal every day can become overwhelming very quickly when you have an energetic and curious toddler with you at all times. These “difficulties,” however, are far outweighed by the rewards we have already seen these first two weeks. Keep in mind, this 30 days is just the beginning for us. We have not followed the rules to the tee every single day because of different things that have come up. I could beat myself up about this, but we see this as a complete lifestyle change for us. Every day is not going to be perfect. Car trouble will throw a wrench in our plans, dinner invitations will pop up. But, we keep going! Poor planning or the need for a quick fix has caused us to make a few less desirable choices, but these have not thrown us off course! Now, if you are wanting to reset your system and challenge yourself for just the 30 days, I very strongly recommend following every single rule exactly so that you will get the most out of the experience. (Once we have a full 30 days free of any special events we will be doing that as well). Moving on, here are just a few benefits we have seen in only 16 days of the program:

  • I go to bed at least 2-3 hours earlier than I used to and I am actually TIRED when I get in my bed! This never happens to me. I usually toss and turn for at least an hour, fretting or worrying over something, which keeps me awake even longer…Image-1
  • Rather than mindlessly eating some super unhealthy fast food meal in front of the TV, we get to spend time cooking together and eating a meal at the dinner table. We enjoy the sweet conversation with our toddler and get him to finally try some new foods!
  • My son who used to spit out every fresh fruit or fresh vegetable now chooses sliced apples over grilled cheese and will actually take a few bites of raw carrots. Amazing.
  • I don’t finish my plate at every meal. Even with having smaller portions at some meals, I have no desire to continue eating once I feel full. Seconds and desserts aren’t a thing anymore!
  • I can see my face clearing up and looking brighter than before. Dark spots under my eyes aren’t as dark and there are no pimples in sight!

While we are definitely still a work in process, this whole experience is making me so excited about the future. I hope this list encourages you to try something like a Whole 30. Trust me, it will be so worth it in the end when you no longer have cravings and you no longer feel like you need an afternoon nap every day! For some inspiration, take a look below at my second meal plan and the recipes used. Enjoy!

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Shrimp Cobb Salad with Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette

Spinach Sausage Scramble

Paleo Cole Slaw

Sausage Stuffed Mushrooms

Baked Potato Wedges

The following are from Whole 30 by the Hartwigs:

Barbecue Sauce (for drumsticks)

Walnut-Crusted Pork Tenderloin

Cauliflower Rice

Classic Chili

No-Fuss Salmon Cakes

Walking in the Light

IMG_5373This Whole 30 process has definitely been a physical challenge as well as a mental one. I’ve realized, though, that it is mostly a spiritual process for me. When I am not walking closely with God, when I am not in the light, when I am not in His Word, it is so easy to get off track with everything in my life. If I am not seeking Him with all of me, all of me will not be following Him. Simple enough, right? My perspective on each day, my mood, my heart are all drastically affected by my time with my closest Friend, my mighty Savior, my loving Father. That’s how it should be, and I pray that His presence would cover me each and every day. These words remind me just how important it is and how beautiful it can be when I commune with my God:

When my heart was embittered
And I was pierced
within,

Then I was senseless and ignorant;
I was like 
a beast before You.

Nevertheless I am continually with You;
You have taken hold of my right hand.

With Your counsel You will guide me,
And afterward receive me
to glory.

Whom have I in heaven but You?
And 
besides You, I desire nothing on earth.

My flesh and my heart may fail,
But God is the
strength of my heart and my portion forever.

Psalm 73:21-26

My flesh will fail. My heart will fail. But God is my strength and my portion forever. He is enough for me. He sustains me and fills me like nothing else can. So, when I’m frustrated that things aren’t going how I think they should, when I feel lost or confused about God’s direction for me, when I am doubting if things like this Whole 30 are even worth it, I can say with full assurance that He is with me. And that’s all that matters. That’s what will carry me through.

I have been reading through Tim Keller’s book The Songs of Jesus. (You can purchase it here.) It walks you through one Psalm each day and gives you a simple prayer to ask of the Lord. Psalm 1 gives a perfect thought to cling to in this season of new beginnings:

His delight is in the law of the Lord,

And in His law he meditates day and night.

He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water,

Which yields its fruit in its season

And its leaf does not wither;

This is what I desire for myself–that I would not only read God’s Word more, but that I would delight in it. Then, I will be firmly planted, grounded by this living water that He promises. I will yield fruit rather than becoming stagnant. I will not crumble at the wind and rain that comes my way, but I will remain firm in the presence of the Lord. This is beautiful. This is true. And this is what gives me hope for each day.

 

Fear, Freak-outs, and Moving Forward on the Whole 30

I have learned that, when starting a new routine, it can be somewhat overwhelming (hello, obvious). This is definitely true of following a Whole 30 eating plan. This past week as I have prepared for the next 30 days, I have felt so many things–excitement, fear, dread, anticipation to name a few. As @whole30 puts it, “You’re ready to take on this challenge, but you’re kind of freaking out. You can’t wait to try new ingredients and recipes, but you’re worried about what’s going to happen once that Sugar Dragon rears its head.” The fear of failing or struggling is a real deterrent for me, but I try to push through it to see what I can accomplish. Because we did a Whole 30 last year, I know all the ‘nitty gritty’ of a process like this. You will have hard days and you will want to pull your hair out, but it will be worth it in the end!

This week, I had my own little freak out as I checked out at Kroger. I had spent $60.33 the night before at Aldi for all of this:FullSizeRender

(I know, right?!) But, I still had to get a lot of meat and other essentials at Kroger. I knew my total cost would be pretty hefty, but I was not prepared for $129.80. Yikes! However, when I got home, I decided to do a ‘fun’ little experiment and see how much we had spent eating out. I went back ten days since the food I purchased is supposed to last ten days. Y’all, we had spent $251.86 just on food in the last ten days! That is insane. I know it was over the holidays, so it was much easier to just go get what we were in the mood for. But, still. Ridiculous. Thankfully, instead of beating myself up about making such poor food choices, I saw this as a huge motivator to be excited about the Whole 30. Deeper sleep, better digestion, more energy, and better choices are all definitely worth the $190.13 that I spent. Don’t you think?

Bottom line: I decide what my health is worth. I decide what’s important to me, and make daily choices that reflect that. I can’t say “Oh, that’s too hard” or “That will take too much of my time” or “I don’t feel like it.” I have resolved to change my life and no momentary craving will trump that.

Now, moving on to the fun part! I have found that the time I spend planning and preparing drastically increases my motivation and my overall results. So, are you ready to plan for a Whole 30? Here is what I do!

1. I spend a lot of time searching for recipes on Pinterest, reading books like this and this, and following @whole30recipes and@whole30 on Instagram.

2. Once I have gotten some inspiration, I look through my fridge and freezer to see what foods I already have. This week, I had a whole organic chicken and a pound of grass-fed ground beef to begin with. Literally, that was it. So, my slate was wiped pretty clean when it came to meal-planning. This left lots of room to pick whatever recipes I wanted. Yay!

3. Finally, I get to planning! Screen Shot 2016-01-02 at 12.06.27 PM

  • For these first ten days, I picked out four breakfast options, two meals that are easily made in the mornings and two casseroles that can be eaten over several days. This means more time in my warm and cozy bed!
  • For lunch and dinner, I decided on eight options. These meals usually make four servings at least, two for us to eat for dinner and two for us to have for lunch the next day. We have found that this method works very well for us, since cooking for two with no leftovers is very difficult to do. In addition, it cuts out some cooking time so I don’t have to make a new meal every single lunch and every single dinner.
  • Things like chicken salad, and turkey roll-ups, need very little preparation. I usually keep ingredients for those items on hand anyway. The rest of the recipes incorporate some similar ingredients, so I am not wasting anything. For example, I will use the salsa from southwest scrambled eggs as a snack with raw veggies, then again with the taco salad. I will use the leftovers from the whole chicken to make chicken salad.
  • While it may seem annoying to have so many leftover meals, we actually don’t mind at all. The Whole 30 requires a LOT of effort, so anything I can do to cut down on minutes I spend cleaning and chopping vegetables, watching over a skillet, or washing and drying dishes makes it all worth it!

4. Time to shop! This is where I have had to think through what works best for me. While I would love to shop at Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, and Costco we live at least 35 minutes from all of those. Instead, I have decided to shop at Aldi first (love, love, love Aldi) then stop by Kroger on my way home for things that Aldi does not carry. This has worked really well for me. For some people, going to multiple stores isn’t worth the time. But for me, I save some serious money by shopping at Aldi first, which makes all the difference for me. 

I hope this helps get you started on your Whole 30 journey! Check out the meal plan and recipes below for some ideas. I’ll be sure to let you know how they turn out!

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Best Chicken Drumsticks Ever

Asparagus Potato Hash–Three ingredients. Awesome. 

Southwest Scrambled Eggs from Whole 30 

Baked Salmon with Garlic and Dijon–So good!!

Best Roasted Veggies

Bacon Butternut Squash Quiche

Paleo Chicken Tortilla Soup

Fresh Salsa from Whole 30

Stuffed Peppers from Whole 30

Roasted Tomato Sauce over Spaghetti Squash–One of Daniel’s favorites!

Easy Whole 30 Meatballs

Taco Salad w/ Avocado Dressing from It Starts with Food

The Best Whole Chicken in a Crockpot

Anytime Casserole