Monday, January 30, 2017

4 Recipes to Get You Through the Whole30

Four. More. Days.

For the last week, I've been dreaming of cheese every night. And although these last four weeks have been hard, I'm so thankful that I've done this Whole30. It's helped me realize some things about how I eat, and overall, I feel much more alert and well-rested.

Many of you have asked for some of my yummy Whole30 recipes, and let me assure you...these recipes are even great if you're not doing Whole30! They are a delicious and healthy way to add some great things to your recipe books.

Here we go!

These meatballs are savory and delicious, with so much flavor! When I first heard "thai curry" with "meatballs," I thanks! But these are so full of rich flavor. Definitely a recipe I will be using again even when I'm off of Whole30! If you're doing the Whole30, leave out the fish sauce, as it has some sugar in it. Click the recipe title above for the recipe.

This recipe may actually be my overall favorite of all of Whole30. It's also super easy, because it calls for chicken that is already cooked and shredded. I cooked 8 pounds of chicken breast at the beginning of the week, so shredding it and throwing it in a pan with a few other ingredients was no big deal. The creamy and flavorful sauce makes it feel like you're eating something decadent. It's SO GOOD. Click the recipe title above for the recipe!

In the cold winter months, is there anything better than the food that sticks to your bones? I subbed ground turkey for ground beef to make a leaner version of this, and used ghee in my potatoes instead of butter (also, omitting the Worcestershire sauce for Whole30 purposes). It was very filling and savory. Perfect for winter and healthy, too! Click the recipe title above for the recipe!

Buffalo Chicken Pineapple Bake
serves 4
This is a special recipe I made on my own this time around. It's very simple:

All you need is:
-One head of cauliflower
-Two cups of broccoli, sliced
-Two cups of pineapple, sliced
-Two cups of cooked shredded chicken
-Three tbsp. olive oil
-Buffalo sauce for drizzling (for Whole30, use Frank's or Tessemae)

1. Cut up the head of cauliflower into small, bite-sized pieces. In a food processor, grind the cauliflower until it resembles rice. (If you don't have a food processor, cut the head of cauliflower in half and use a cheese grater to grate the cauliflower into rice-sized pieces.

2. Place the riced cauliflower in a skillet with 1 tbsp. of olive oil; saute until slightly browned. Remove from heat.

3. Place shredded chicken, pineapple slices, and broccoli slices on a baking sheet. Drizzle with 2 tbsp. of olive oil and place in the oven for 20-25 minutes.

4. After the chicken mixture has baked for 20-25 minutes, place one-fourth of the cauliflower rice onto a plate and top it with one-fourth of the chicken mixture. Drizzle with buffalo sauce and enjoy!

Note: In the picture below, we also added a cutie for extra sweetness.

Thank you for checking in this Monday for my Whole30 recipes! Have a wonderful week! 

Monday, January 23, 2017

Five Tips for Making it Through the Whole30

I am writing you from day 20 of the "controversial" Whole30 diet...and let me tell you, it has been a ride.

I did my first Whole30 in January of 2016, although I later found out there were quite a few rules that I didn't know existed, so I'm counting this as my first "official" Whole30.

Without getting too complicated, this grains, no dairy, no sweeteners, no legumes. So basically, you eat lean meats, vegetables, and a small amount of fruit and nuts, and some fats like olive oil and avocados, etc. (You can see the in-depth rules at

My first Whole30 jump-started my 20 pound weight loss, because with my autoimmune issues, I needed to find out what I was allergic to. A lot of people use this meal plan (not diet) like I eliminate all allergens for 30 days and then slowly add them back in to see which ones give you problems. I found out I was reacting to gluten, cut that out, and added everything else back in. And it has changed the way I feel!

Now I'm on Round 2, and somehow I have gone 20 days without my fries and coke every day...and I have some tips for those of you that are wrapping up your January Whole30, or those who are thinking about maybe, possibly doing it in the future.

1) Have a partner.

My first time around, I did it by myself. It was terrible and so hard. There was no one to reprimand me if I just had onneee Reese's cup.
My lowest moment in my first Whole30 was when I was craving cheesecake (which breaks all three of the major rules). I drove all the way to Cook Out at 2am to get a piece of cheesecake in the DRIVE THRU. Then I ate it in the back of the parking lot and threw away the evidence.
This time around, I have a partner to cheer me on...and that I would have to tell if I cheated. It's made life so much easier, and I have more motivation to finish strong.

2) Meal Plan for One Week at a Time and Make a Grocery List

This has been a life saver. I've Pinterested recipes, gotten some off of the Whole30 Instagram and website, and found some recipes that fit the qualifications and LOOKED appetizing. Make a grocery list with your meal plan and stick to it.
If you hate salads (like me...I am not a rabbit), then don't plan to eat salads for lunch every day.

3) Get Rid of Any Non-Whole30 Foods in Your Home

This is key for success. No, I don't care if that bag of chips is unopened. Give it to a homeless man. Throw it out. Don't have it in your house. Because inevitably, you'll come home from work hangry and won't want to wait the 30 minutes it takes to bake a chicken breast or even the few minutes it takes to microwave a sweet potato, and you'll grab those tortilla chips and salsa and say "well at least it's gluten free." NO. Throw it away and don't tempt yourself.

4) Choose a Day of the Week to Grocery Shop and Meal Prep

One day of the week should be reserved to meal prep your breakfasts and lunches, and maybe even dinners. If you're like me, you don't have time to cook each night, and cooking once a week sounds much more time-conscious then again, coming home hangry and not wanting to cook. Note: this means buying plenty of storage containers and having lots of fridge space.

5) Keep Reminding Yourself that You WILL Feel Better

The first days are BRUTAL. No sugar, no coke. TERRIBLE.
I'm not on the other side yet, but I'm on day 20 and I'm feeling fantastic. I can't even imagine what day 30 will feel like.
Is it inconvenient sometimes? Yes. Especially when eating out. Cooking most of your meals is time consuming, especially if you're used to eating out or on the go all the time.
But from day 20, I am telling you...eating healthy feels amazing.
Am I going to add in some things at the end that I'm not eating now? Yes, probably. But there's a lot I won't add back in too.
I was an insomniac, taking at least an hour to fall asleep every night. Now I fall asleep within minutes of putting my head on the pillow.
I had a very unhealthy relationship with food (something I'm still working on now). My cravings had total control of me, and I was overly obsessed with how much I weighed and how many calories I was eating.

Now I feel good just listening to my body and how I feel. I don't have to count calories, and I don't feel like I have to eat every last bite on my plate so I don't waste food.

If you commit to the Whole30 and find people who will support you through just might be the step you need to a better you!

Most importantly...remember:

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

An Open Letter to Those Who Struggle

Dear Struggling Autoimmune Patient, I know how much you struggle. I know that you hide how much you hurt. I know that every small wince is an indicator of your physical pain. I know you. I am you. This is not a sob story or an over-dramatic cry for attention. This is a letter to those who hurt and struggle, so you know you’re not alone. As I’ve gotten older, the number of friends I have that share these same struggles has greatly increased. I was the only one I knew struggling with this when I was diagnosed in high school, and relied heavily on my family and closest friends, who still didn’t fully understand how difficult this really is (even though they loved me through it graciously as if they did understand, and I’m so thankful for that). I can see now that I’m not the only one who struggles with these things...I’m not the only one who doesn’t really know how to fight through it some days. And to be perfectly honest, I’m typing this on the fourth day of what some would call a “lupus flare,” although mine are much less severe than some of you. What that means for me is: -Joint pain that occasionally makes it more challenging to walk around much -A sore throat that feels like strep (but it’s not contagious) -A churning stomach -Easy loss of concentration -An overwhelming need to sleep as much as humanly possible That’s what it looks like on my “flare” days..on my bad days. On my good days...I think if you’d look at me, you’d never know how much I struggle with food and exercise. I think about food all the time. Doctors always stress the importance of diet and activity for patients like us, but it seems like such a huge beast to tackle that I honestly don’t have the energy to take it on. I think you’d never know how much I dread grocery store runs and going to the gym, all of the things that I SHOULD make a priority because of my autoimmune issues, and because, well, everyone should be healthy. Why did the good Lord have to make exercising SO DANG HARD for some of us? I still don’t have the answer to that question. Despite my utter exhaustion, and the fact that my body feels like I have a bad case of the flu, I’m expected to push forward and keep going and keep pushing...because our culture tells us it’s never okay to rest. Your life is hard. I know that. And sometimes it takes hearing the truth from someone who is also going through it to really let it sink in. This is the truth. It is important to rest, but it’s worth it to keep fighting. To keep trying. It’s worth it to confide in your friends and family about your struggles and to find people who can relate to you. It may even be time to find a counselor, even if it’s just someone to walk you through how your autoimmune disorder makes you feel, and how to deal with those feelings. Your lack of energy does not make you worthless. Your fight and your drive are valuable. Don’t be afraid to lean on people around you, and on Christ, to make you stronger. In my case, I realized that I love to cook. It can be exhausting, but when I cook my own food (even in the crockpot), I feel better. I eat more vegetables. I’m able to control what is in my food. I pushed a little harder one night and realized that I really enjoy pilates. And after a few weeks, I noticed that my pain was a little more manageable. It’s no weight lifting, or running on the treadmill, or training for races, but it’s something. I started going to a counselor to talk about a lot of things, including adjusting to life on my own where my family and friends aren’t right there at home with me when I’m not feeling well, and how to learn how to deal with it on my own. My pain is not gone, and I don’t think it ever will be. And just like this week, I’ll still have flares. Life is still not always easy, but fighting through it makes it more bearable. You are strong. You are fierce. You are a fighter. Love, A Friend Who Understands

Monday, January 9, 2017


The Bout of Books reading week is over! It has been one week straight of reading, both physical books and audiobooks. It just so happens that I was so fortunate as to have snow this weekend, which was great reading weather (although, admittedly, I ditched the books for a few hours to watch some Netflix and drink some tea). I even passed up a run to the grocery store to hit the library before the storm came in!

Although my reading list was large (and my stack of library books even larger), I had a great time diving into books old and new, and getting ready for the release of Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events on Netflix! I am on the third book of the series right now, and I plan to keep it up until the premiere date on January 13. These are the books I read for #boutofbooks: Moby Dick by Herman Melville, 720 pages Honolulu by Alan Brennert, 435 pages The Whole30: The 30-Day Guide to Total Health and Food Freedom by Melissa Hartwig and Dallas Hartwig, 432 Pages The Bad Beginning (A Series of Unfortunate Events #1) by Lemony Snicket, 176 pages Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon, 310 pages Total: About 1,378 pages!!! I finished 5 books, although I was about ⅔ of the way through Moby Dick when I started and halfway through I subtracted out those pages. This is a great kick start to my yearly reading! My favorite pick from the six above has to be Honolulu by Alan Brennert. The story of a young Korean girl in the early 1900s who longs to be free of the life of a Korean woman and seek an education, this tale brought me to a higher awareness of Korean culture in that time period. As the story progresses, our main character, Jin, travels to Hawaii as a picture bride to gain access to more education and opportunities in America, only to discover what life was like as an immigrant in Hawaii in the early 1900s. The book spans over 60 years, from Jin’s childhood to her retirement, and has so much rich imagery and powerful story. I would recommend it to anyone who wants to learn more about the history of early Hawaii, Korea, or anything from the early 1900s. It was fascinating and captivating!

As you can see from my book list, I’m trucking through the Whole30 this month. In an upcoming post, I’ll share some Whole30 knowledge and recipes, as this is my second time through. Until then, happy winter!

Monday, January 2, 2017

2016 [unedited]

The new year has always held a sort of magic for me. Every year I make a few of the same resolutions that never get kept. Sound familiar? I bet it does, because those resolutions usually go down the drain around January 6th and never return until the last week of December.

One week ago, I sat in front of my computer as I typed out my resolutions for 2017, believing with all of my heart that if I typed it all up and printed it out, this time something would come of it. I thought about the weight I wanted to lose, the relationships I wanted to grow, the Bible I wanted to read all the way get the picture. After I finished typing I had four pages.


It's unrealistic, and setting myself up for the same failure I have felt every year since I was able to write my first list (so, when I was like, five). So for you perfectionists and Type-A people like me, listen up. I care entirely too much if other people like me and what other people think, so, for a change, I am going to be totally honest and open about my 2016.

At the beginning of 2016 I was blessed with a part time job that I loved at a church that I adore. I was engagement ring shopping with a guy I had been dating for over two years, so I didn't think I needed a full time job. I supplemented my extra hours with nannying and looked towards the future. In hindsight, we both knew things weren't right, and early in the year we parted ways. I started hunting for a full time job around the same time I broke my foot in May, and I had to travel around my tiny, second-floor apartment on a knee-scooter for three months. It took five months to find a temporary full time job, and another month after that I found a temp-to-hire job. The financial stress along with the pressures of learning about adult life on my own sent me into a very confusing emotional time, and I ended up seeking counseling through my church, which I am still attending now. 

This is the reality of my year, and I know several of you can identify with it. But here's the positive spin on it: 

At the beginning of 2016 I started what could have been one of the most depressing parts of my life, but I was already immersed in a community at Brookwood Church that kept me afloat. There I eventually (and very unexpectedly) found a friend in someone I would grow to love more than anyone I've ever loved before. I made friends that helped me live life on one foot for three months and depended on God more and more as I realized I needed a full time job. I left the job I loved, although I am thankful to still be involved serving with them every week. I learned the value of saving money and hard work as I worked some jobs I loved (like Brookwood) and others I didn't (like food service and insurance). I finally landed in a position at a law firm where I feel intellectually challenged, and I'm finally at a place where I can save money for the future rather than living paycheck to paycheck. I've found a joy in exploring the world I live in through weekend adventures exploring the wonderful city I live in, and it's freed my spirit up to worship and serve God in a more authentic way.

Sounds pretty different, huh? But both of those descriptions are very true. I often choose to display the second version in public, though I may tend to dwell on the first description in private. Just remember, my friends: there is a positive and negative side of each person's life, and you can't compare the worst of your days with the best (and edited) version of someone else's. 

I have a list of resolutions for 2017. It's long, and categorized by health and fitness, spiritual, get the point (it wouldn't be me if it wasn't a categorized list). 

But my biggest resolution is this: to cling to my identity as a beautiful and beloved daughter of God, not as a lesser in a comparison to what I see on social media. I think the rest will follow suit.