Sugar Monster.

Day 5. I’m not sick of eggs yet, I think we’ve finally gotten over the Sugar-Monster-crabbiness, and the weird dreams have kicked in. Breakfasts all week have been our standard breakfast casserole with hashbrowns of some sort, pork sausage and eggs. Topped with Cholula – always. I somehow rarely get sick of that stuff too – probably because we switch it up each week so it’s not EXACTLY the same each time we make it. Lunches are full of leftovers from whatever we’ve eaten previously in the week. Dinners have been different each night – and actually prepared that night, instead of just shoved in the microwave and heated up. I attempted to cook spaghetti squash in the crockpot – not the best option when your squash is HUGE and the lid doesn’t even close on it. Normally I cook it in the microwave using this method, and it comes out steamy and soft and the “noodles” just melt into the sauce. This was definitely a lot more crunchy. Maybe that’s why I like the micro method more – because spaghetti squash is delicious and a little weird in texture for me?

Earlier in the week as I was getting ready for work, I came to the realization that there’s a few things I do during the #whole30 that I don’t normally do on a regular basis – and probably should. Or maybe I do them and just am not aware of it as much? Who knows. Like – for example: flossing. I know I know, you should floss every day, brush your teeth twice a day, wash you face twice a day, shower daily (but NOT wash your hair daily), etc.etc.etc. But normally – I do not. Gross? Probably a little. Things you learn about yourself during #whole30 can certainly be an eye opening experience, whether you like it or not. I also work out more regularly. Is it because I need to keep myself busy so I don’t dig through the cupboards trying to find a snack? Or because I have more energy? Or because I normally coincide #whole30 with a yoga challenge? Probably a little of each. I’m not partaking in the 20/30 challenge this year, but I am trying to make it to yoga at least once a week going forward. Like I said before, I want to mix it up this month.

I’ve also noticed that my kitchen tends to stay cleaner during this time – even with the massive amount of cooking that’s happening. Wash all the dishes before bed, put them away in the morning or before I start cooking again at night. I DEFINITELY run the dishwasher more (thank goodness for little miracle inventions that wash dishes for you!) so I don’t have to wash 4000 tupperware containers EVERY.SINGLE.DAY. because I bring my breakfast and lunch to work as well as some snacks. But this year I have upgraded to Pyrex glassware rather than my plain ol’ plastic Rubbermade. LIFE.CHANGER. They stay clean and nice even after you use them a million times, they never melt or get stains, there are a ton of different sizes so you can use them for basically anything. Dear Black Friday Sales, I love you. Love, me.

Week one recap though: I was CRABBY. All week. Basically until this morning. That Sugar Monster was a real biyatch this round. And both of us felt it. Both of us were snapping at each other, being rude for no reason, and even a lot more quick to get angry with the fur babies. Not cool, Sugar Monster, not cool. Week one is full of temper tantrums and no energy. But it’s picking up. And tonight I’m pumped for bison burgers and Greek potatoes. Greek food ALWAYS gets me in a great mood. (OPA! Sigh – wouldn’t mind some flaming cheese right about meow though…)

I’m currently working on the meal plan for next week… I know for Valentine’s Day we’ll be heading to the Iowa Beef Steakhouse, I think this is our 4th year we’ve done that? Because who doesn’t want to eat steak on the day of love? Plus that day, the pups have daycare so that means they will be completely exhausted all night long. And hopefully that will also mean that they will take adorable Valentine’s Day pictures to send us in their report cards because I will DIE from cuteness. (This paragraph got off topic real quick.)

Before I leave for the day I wanted to thank everyone for eating pizza and bagels for me yesterday. I’m sure it was extremely difficult for you to do – but I so appreciate it. #pizza4lyfe

Lastly, a little snippet about the week in a nutshell.

  • Favorite Meal: Chicken Taco Lettuce Wraps (with homemade seasoning!), Mexican Cauliflower Rice, Avocado Mash, and Cholula
  • What I’m Reading: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (currently reading), Fat Girl Walking (just finished for book club – a week late)
  • Weekend Plans: staying OUTSIDE as often as possible since it’s February in Iowa, and also 50 degrees! Muddy dogs, here we come! Plus – a mindf*** solo movie trip!
  • Next Week’s Outlook: an outdoor run, yoga, new recipes (let’s break them down!) and a clear head from the detoxed Sugar Monster out of my system!

Happy Friday kids – enjoy the weekend and the spring weather in mid-February!


Guys – I’m back. For real this time. It’s been a (long) while since I’ve written in here – but it’s okay. I didn’t want to force myself to write something that I wasn’t feeling passion for. I mean my last post was at the beginning of fall, and now it’s the beginning of winter – so there’s that. I was just told today that the first day of spring is March 19th so let’s just hope I don’t wait another season to write to you. I won’t – I promise. Because I’ve got goals.

And lists. So many lists. Because lists are basically in my top 10 favorite things. Behind pizza, reading, animals, sleeping, and other things. (See what I did there? A list of my favorite things where “making lists” is on my list!) Anyway. My list. For 2016. And going forward really. Here goes…

  • GET HEALTHY. This is basically on my list EVERY SINGLE YEAR… but for some reason this feels so right, and so much like it WILL happen. Maybe it’s because I got a FitBit (from Santa) for Christmas and I’m OBSESSED with checking my steps, calories, etc. all throughout the day. Maybe it’s because I weighed myself (I’m the worst – I know) and plan to do weekly weigh ins. Maybe it’s because the Whole30 (actually the Whole45) is coming up in less than TWO WEEKS and I’m reading the forum and the list of do’s and don’ts for food. Maybe it’s because I turned 29 and want to be the best version of myself coming into my 30th year that I can be. Who knows. Either way – it’s happening.
  • READ ALL THE BOOKS. Again – probably happens every year. But for 6 days into 2016, I’m not doing too bad. I finished my first book of the year (Mindy Kaling’s Why Not Me?) and started reading It Starts with Food – in preparation for Whole45 – and I’m also listening to the 3rd book in the Alex Cross series from James Patterson, Jack and Jill. This year though – 50 books. Minimum. Which is totally doable when I can usually go through at least one book on CD during my drives to and from work in about a week. HOLLA. I also want five of those books to be business/motivational/self-help related. Because you can never read something that won’t make you better SOMEHOW.
  • EAT MORE VEGGIES. This has definitely not been repeated year after year. You know how I know? Because I can go WEEKS without ingesting a veggie. And that’s terrible. Tonight is the “come to Jesus aka Whole45 planning” meeting and veggies are going to be a TOP priority. Spiralize EVERYTHING. Roast EVERYTHING. Seriously – so many more veggies. They’re so damn good for you. Who cares if sprouts and asparagus makes your pee smell funny. You know how to make that better? DRINK MORE WATER.
  • BE PRESENT. This means a few things to me. It means putting my phone away for a couple hours at night where I can have conversations without interruptions, where I can read a book and not worry about what is also going on in the social media world. Talk on the phone with friends rather than text. Send cards, emails, flowers, etc. to those I don’t get to see often. Be a good friend.
  • BE POLISHED. Y’all know I love me a good ponytail. Or a bad ponytail if we’re being honest. (I’m not totally sure what a bad ponytail is – but just go with me here.) HOWEVER. I got my haircut on my birthday and it’s pretty and it does what it’s supposed to – so I’m going to do it. Wear make up to work, do my hair in the morning, wear heels during the week (BTW this is two days in a ROW for me of heels. Look at me GO.) Try not to look (too) scurvy when I go out in public. Except if I go to the grocery store right after working out that’s definitely not going to be pretty for anyone – but oh well.
  • WRITE DAILY. For Christmas this year, and birthday, and other random times I buy books (aka everyday if I could) I found a few books to tackle throughout this year. One is called A Year of Cozy – which is basically a year’s worth of recipes, DIY, etc. for me to do – separated by month and season. HOW FUN. The next, is a list making book (told you I love lists.) Sundays are my new “list making” day. Each week I’ll be brainstorming and listing on a certain topic – and then journaling about it. #creativity. The last one, is a 365 Q&A book. This goes on for FIVE YEARS. I will do a quick Q&A for each day of the year, for the next five years, to see how my answers change. LOVE THIS. Plus – more blogging for you wonderful people. Twice a week – minimum. I mean – I’ll try.

There are so many things I want to do this year – to make me a better ME. Cleaning the house more regularly, cooking more food, trying new food, challenging myself with books I wouldn’t normally read, challenging myself with workouts I wouldn’t normally do. I want to be there for friends more than ever, I want to love so much it hurts. 2016 seems like a pretty great year so far – and I’m ready to tackle it.

food love. book love. FALL.

And just like that – fall has arrived in full force. I’m not even mad that it was accompanied by a hella cold rain – except for the fact that Little Bear thought it was a good idea to take a lap around the block instead of just doing his business in our front yard. I also like how in groups of people when there’s a pause of awkward silence, weather becomes the topic. “So did you see the forecast for the week? Oh man it’s going to be so nice/hot/cold/snowy/rainy/etc.” Talk about it with strangers, talk about it at work with people you don’t enjoy – thanks Weather for being our “go-to” conversation starter in awkward/boring situations.

But I digress. HOORAY FOR FALL!! I’ve been waiting on this change since the one day it got down to the high 50s-low 60s in September and all the #basic girls (myself included) busted out their boots and scarves and took a trip to Starbucks for the first #PSL of the season. And then magically it’s 80 degrees. Come on fall, just GET HERE already.

tumblr_mtk5aeNPYB1qc8cx1o1_1280 Over the last few weeks I’ve been trying out some different outlets for media that I haven’t tried before – ie. Podcasts and books on tape/CD. Okay so let’s be real – I’ve listened to PLENTY of books on tape back in the day – but I’m so much more of a “hands-on” reader that I really didn’t use them for YEARS. I’m pretty sure the last book I listened to was Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret by Judy Blume. So yeah – it’s been a while. So while I got the idea to get a book to listen to on my way to and from work – I’ve got plenty of time in the car since I go home over lunch to let the bear out – I thought, why not. The time is there – why not utilize it? (More on that a little later.) I’ve never been a “podcast” girl – is that even a thing? I don’t really know. But I thought I’d try them out – mostly because I follow Gretchen Rubin (author of The Happiness Project) on Instagram and she was always talking about her podcast. So I went to her blog and started listening. She named her podcast “Happier” which I think is fun – and does these talks with her sister, a TV writer living in L.A. It was interesting to see their different points of view – while Gretchen lives in NYC and is a writer – on different subjects. I went through these real fast – since they’re between 25-35 minutes I could get these done in no time. I liked that each podcast had a different “take home” for you to do – and I took a lot of those to heart. Especially the one-minute rule for tackling clutter, making your bed, treat yourself like a toddler, and to pick a one-word theme for the year. If you’ve got some time, need a break, or want to try something new – I highly recommend listening to Happier.

A couple weeks ago I visited the library (my happy place) and picked up six books I wanted to read. Yes you read that correctly – SIX books. A little much for a three-week time period? Maybe. But I flew through two of them already – one was a Sunday read for me and the other was a “before bed to get my mind focused” kind of read. For those of you who watched The Hills (guilty), the first book I read was called If You Have to Cry, Go Outside by Kelly Cutrone – the founder of PR firm People’s Revolution. HIGHLY recommend this book. I think it was something I needed to propel me forward. Not that I was stuck, but I needed something new. Following in Kelly’s booksteps (like footsteps… get it?) I started reading #GirlBoss by Sophia Amoruso. Sophia is the founder and CEO of Nasty Gal fashion and #Girlboss is a combination memoir/how-to. How to become a #GirlBoss. Again – something else I NEEDED in my life. Not that I necessarily have an entrepreneurial spirit or even WANT to be my own boss – but it’s refreshing to hear about strong women totally OWNING everything they have because it was built from the ground up. Bad asses for life.

Next up on my (never ending) list of books to read – our next book club book by Charlie Huston, The Mystic Arts of Erasing All Signs of Death. Sometimes you just start a book and KNOW you’re going to love it. That’s how this one is. Ten-ish pages in – and I’m hooked. Love when that happens. I’ve also got Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In, W. Bruce Cameron’s A Dog’s Purpose, and another Kelly Cutrone gem – Normal Gets you Nowhere. READ ALL THE BOOKS!


Monday morning on my way to work I started listening to The Richest Man in Babylon by George S. Clason. Normally this would NOT be my cup of tea – but since Sophia Amoruso suggested it, here I am. Basically it’s a historic self-help book… if that makes sense. Kind of a how-to-make-money-and-save-money-and-get-out-of-debt-while-putting-it-in-historic-terms. I was intrigued. So here I am – almost halfway through – and actually getting some enjoyment out of this. Although sometimes I space out and it’s hard to understand, it all makes sense. I hate money, I hate talking about money, I hate what money does to people – whether they have a lot or very little – and yet this book is something I actually enjoy. And now that I know that I’ll get through this book in a week TOPS, I’ll need to scour through my TBR (to be read) list and see what else I can enjoy on the road.

ALSO. You all KNOW my love of all things food. Food blogs. The Food Network. Cookbooks. Instagram posts. Like if I could look at food porn all day I WOULD. (And sometimes it feels like I do.) So anywho – yesterday I stumbled across an Instagram post for Slow Cooker Autumn Minestrone Soup that had me DROOLING… so I visited Real Food Whole Life to check out this gem, which I then followed up with at least 30 minutes of looking at other recipes. The one that totally caught my eye and FORCED me to make it for dinner last night – Grilled Hummus, Apple and Caramelized Onion Sandwiches. Like how AMAZING does that sound?! Plus – I had all those ingredients at home. So I made it. And it did not disappoint. My onions may have been slightly over-caramelized, but I also added some shredded mozzarella cheese and it was seriously Making that probably weekly. I mean just LOOK how good it looks!!


This got slightly more wordy than planned – so I’ll hold off until later this week. Enjoy this weather kiddos – before you know it there will be snow on the ground.


mercury in retrograde vs full moon vs off day

Serious question you guys. Is Mercury still in retrograde? I’ll be honest – I really have no idea what that means, but I feel like it FEELS like something is messed up. The last couple days have just been SHENANIGANS. And I’ve just felt OFF. I had an awesome Saturday at BrewFest – drinking all the beers – and then ended the night at the first Food Truck Throwdown at the Social Club. Hella fun. I ate good food, drank (mostly) great beer, and got to bed before 10 pm. So then Sunday I expected to be similar – WRONG.

I found some recipes last week and wanted to try them over the weekend – #shoutout to Ali from GimmeSomeOven and Juli from paleOMG for restoring my love of pesto – so Friday night I totally dominated some Pesto Pasta with Chicken Sausage and Roasted Brussels Sprouts. AMAZING. I had it for lunch again today and it was still amazing. Sunday morning I had BIG plans for brunch. Pesto Chicken and Sweet Potato Breakfast Bake. It tastes just as good as it reads. So rather than slicing the sweet potato thin (a la the recipe), I decided to use my Paderno and spiralize that bad boy because WHY NOT. Except I struggled HARD to make it work. I used the blade to make super thick noodles so it would be similar to the thin potato slices. But sweet potatoes are meaty, tough suckers and it just wasn’t working. So while I cleaned off the blade and tried to get a big chunk out so it would actually spiralize, my thumb about got sliced OFF. Not completely – but it still sucked. And it’s right by my nail so it’s hard to do other things with this MASSIVE INJURY. (Over dramatic. My apologies.) So while half the sweet potato turned into sweet patoodles, the other half needed to be sliced. All went well until the very end when my hand slipped and the meaty part of my hand got (barely) stabbed by the knife. No blood, no foul – BUT IT HURTS. Still. After the dual injuries, breakfast still ended up HELLA GOOD and there are plenty of leftovers for the week – BUT STILL.

The laundry got done, food was prepped, and the house was WIDE OPEN to let the gorgeous weather inside. But that also meant that the slightly broken screen door would let a Big Orange out. This guy has no claws – and doesn’t really like the grass. HOWEVER. He does like chewing on the grass and plants. So I planned on putting his leash on (he hates it so much) and we could hang outside for the afternoon but he was having none of it. Blah. So I thought I should work on my (already beginning) farmer’s tan and put on my swimsuit and grabbed a new book to read outside. Even though it was only 70 degrees, that sun felt AMAZING. A tiny tan line showed up after 45 minutes so I’ll call that a win. It was time to start dinner so I found a recipe for a bubble breakfast bake – clearly “breakfast” and “bakes” were on my mind all day long. I’m not even mad about it.

While the maple sausage was cooking, I went through and quartered the biscuits and put them in a bowl. Now remember how I mentioned that whole “Mercury in retrograde” thing? Here’s where it comes back. Rather than letting the sausage cool down for a while prior to either mixing it with the biscuits or just pouring it on top while it was already spread out in the pan, I literally dumped the meat DIRECTLY FROM THE PAN onto the biscuits. Now if you think about this – you can just picture the biscuits immediately squishing into a dough glob covered in meat sprinkles. That is not a pretty sight. Lots of f-bombs were dropped during this “woops” moment. Then the eggs got mixed up along with the cheese – a dozen eggs and a bag of shredded cheese – which in hindsight (again) was probably a little too much. Meh. You live and you learn amirite? I switched the meat-sprinkled dough blob to a smaller pan and dumped in the cheese and egg mix. This BARELY fit into the smaller pan. But I just wasn’t up to pouring EVERYTHING into a bigger pan. I don’t think I could handle that. ANYWAY. The meat-sprinkle dough blob bake turned out delicious – and nothing overflowed onto the bottom of the oven. Again. A win-win. Holla.

Sunday nights always make me sad because I know that 4 am comes WAY too soon for the traveling man to hit the road. But last night you guys. UGH. About 2:30 this morning I am JOLTED awake by the sound of a cat coughing. Nothing wakes you up faster than the sound of your brand new comforter ALMOST having a barf pile on it with the lights out. So with a half-asleep arm, Big Orange got pushed off the bed but he kept coughing. Nothing came up – that I’ve found anyway – so I went back to bed. And apparently my brain thought the barf-alarm was an ACTUAL alarm so I laid there, wide awake, thinking about everything I needed to do during the day. LAME. Then another 30 minutes later, I hear a few sniffles and than an f-bomb. Bloody nose. So now I’m more awake to make sure there’s no blood on the freshly washed white sheets. There was. So they got hand washed. Okay cool – so now it’s like 3:30 and the alarm is going off in 30 minutes. AND THEN – like probably 97% of you, I got a HELLA LOUD Amber Alert on my phone. Terrifying. And then before you know it, the 4 am alarm is going off. I tried staying in bed and sleeping, but I was probably awake until 5:30 – with my alarm set for 6:00. COME ON. And today was a day I NEEDED to be at work early. Like “leave my house at 7 am” early. Mondaze. For real. I don’t think I stopped moving from the moment I got to the office from the time I left.

But now that I’m home, things are back to normal-ish. I made myself a fancy dinner of popcorn and Coors Light and had my barf-alarm snuggle me as if to apologize for waking me up early. I assume that’s what he’s saying anyway. SO. Tomorrow is a new day. I plan on getting to bed early and waking up fairly early so I can get some HIIT workouts in before I head to work. Assuming the weather holds out, we’ll have volleyball tomorrow night – for the first time in like A MONTH – and I will be home again and in bed prior to 9. Just the way I like it on a weeknight. Let’s be real – any night.

Dear Mercury, please GTFO of retrograde (if that’s actually happening) so my days can get back to normal. Thank youuuuuu.

Pants v Squoodles v Weird Food

After traveling two weeks in a row, I’m finally back home and back in a routine. Not to say I don’t LOVE to travel, but sometimes I just have that “homebody” feeling of wanting to sleep in my own bed, shower at my own house, and if we’re being honest – NOT WEAR PANTS. Because I think that’s a rule – “home is wherever your pants are not.” Maybe this needs to be printed and hung in my new place. Either that or “Pants off at the door” but then that would feel weird when the UPS man delivers something. Maybe I’ll just keep it as a silent reminder for myself. (**Sorry this got weird. But I hate pants**)

Sunday this week was the opposite of a rest day. I was allotted a little extra time to sleep in (if you call 8:30 sleeping in – and as an “adult,” that’s exactly what I call it) and then got going with the day. Breakfast and coffee – and then we parted ways. Him: yoga #alldamnday. Me: grocery shopping, baby shower, cleaning #alldamnday. I may have overexerted myself in attempting grocery shopping before I needed to get ready, but I made it in plenty of time to celebrate my pretty little friend and her baby bump.

IMG_8672 After the shower, I hit up my second grocery store for the day and headed home to get after it. Luckily for me, I found a Law & Order: SVU marathon so I switched that on and got to work. But not before dropping an entire beer on the floor and shattering it. The worst thing to clean up. (Sidenote: there was almost a throw down before bed when the roommate stepped on the tiniest shard of glass and claimed he “always steps on the glass pieces when something breaks.” Crybaby.) So I blew through laundry like it was my job, and food prepped like a BOSS. #foodprepsunday is totally a thing and this week I dominated.

I picked up some new bamboo cutting boards which I was super pumped about – so I got to break those bad boys in during #foodprepsunday. They clean well, they keep nice, and they don’t dull my knives. Major plus. <– I cannot believe how adult-like that just sounded. Go me!!


Then I brought out my Paderno and had veggie noodles coming out my ears. Not really – but it felt that way. I cut up some butternut squash noodles for dinner (which I promptly nicknamed “squoodles” and intend to keep using that term FOREVER) and a HUGE sweet potato (patoodles) to eat all week long.

Squoodles v Patoodles. All. Day. Long.


Plus my usual hard boiled eggs. Always eggs. I wish I had just a smidge more counter space – but it was kind of fun to have ALL THE THINGS on the stove at once. Chicken apple sausage (for realz –, pineapple brat burgers (thanks HyVee for this deliciousness), and some Italian chicken (spices courtesy of Graziano’s.)


My plan for dinner (which NEVER goes according to plan) was to work off Ali’s Roasted Red Pepper Butternut Squash Noodles with Chicken. But alas, sometimes reading directions are hard, and I didn’t have enough red peppers to make this. So I did what I do best when it comes to cooking: ditch the recipe and throw stuff together. I roasted the red pepper in the oven for about 20 minutes at 400 degrees, until there was a good char on it. I let it cool for a while and tossed the butternut squoodles (it’s literally becoming my favorite word) with olive oil, salt and pepper, and garlic powder, put them on a pan and popped them in the oven for about 10 minutes. Then I started working on my “sauce.” I’m not even sure you could call it that – I mean it was delish and it was a liquid-ish consistency, so yeah – we’ll call it sauce. Again – my method of cooking is to throw it together and hope it works out. I cut up the roasted red pepper and put it in my food processor, along with olive oil and coconut milk. Once it was to a good consistency, I poured it into a pan on the stove, mixed in some chili powder and paprika, and heated it up. Once the squoodles were done I plated them and topped it with a pineapple brat burger. While those melded flavors, I (attempted) cooking a couple eggs over-easy (one broken yolk, one a little hard and a little runny) to top the burgers with. And on top of that – the roasted red pepper sauce. Served up with some asparagus (tis the season!) and bam – dinner is served. I got a high-five halfway through dinner letting me know it was a recipe I “should never forget” and then that plate was licked clean. Not really – but basically.


So that was my weekend. Friends and shopping and food. Always food. And back on that (mostly) #whole30 train. I just feel better when I eat GOOD food. And I want to tell people about my awesome recipes without hearing “I could never eat that” or “you eat such weird things.” It’s not weird… it’s REAL food. And it’s delicious. And I’m going to keep making my “weird” food and make all you weirdos eat it. You’re welcome.

Food Blog Fantasies

So I’m back from New York and working on getting my sleep patterns back to normal. Being in a different time zone when Daylight Savings came through was a little rough – while we were waking up at 5 am to get to the Today Show on Monday it was really 3 am here. My body was not super impressed with me. It also didn’t help that I’d gone HOG WILD while I was there and ate enough sugar to keep a three-year-old running around for hours. But now I’m back. And I’m back to eating (mostly) #whole30.

**New York post to follow at a later date**

On Sunday (normally #foodprepsunday) I wasn’t home but I got a little heads up for what was on the docket for the roommate and his food for the week. I honestly couldn’t help but feel a little jealous and left out. About FOOD PREP. Is that weird? Maybe a little. But I also had a feeling that when I got home late Monday night, I would be incredibly unprepared for my breakfast/lunch/dinner on Tuesday. I barely had time to hard boil some eggs that morning (I know I said I was done with them… but I think now that I don’t HAVE to eat them and have the choice to eat something else, I don’t hate them as much) and threw some random stuff together for lunch. I was ill-prepared and hungry – which is not a good combination. Tuesday night I had planned on stopping by the store on my way home to pick up some food for the week, but by 11 am I had “that 2:30 feeling” so I just went home instead. I drank a couple beers on the patio, soaking in the 70 degree weather, and realized I hadn’t eaten yet – so I made a bowl of popcorn. And that’s ALL. I. ATE. That’s outrageous is what it is.

Yesterday morning I woke up regretting my {lack of} dinner – knowing I hadn’t given my body the proper nourishment it needed to be fully functional all day long. I had coffee and cashews for breakfast but then redeemed myself with zucchini noodles and pasta sauce for lunch. I picked up some good food for the rest of the week over my lunch hour so when I got home I got to work. I browned some hamburger with red peppers, spiralized two sweet potatoes – one for dinner and one for the rest of the week, I spiralized some zucchini (because you can literally NEVER have too many zoodles), I hard boiled eggs and peeled them so I wouldn’t have to fight them when it was time to eat. And then I made a bomb-ass dinner. Sweet patoodles (probably the best name ever), topped with a flame-thrower burger, topped with a couple eggs (I messed them up but they were still delish), TOPPED WITH avocado slices to cool it all down. I need to work on my presentation skillz, but once I snapped the pic I cut it all up, mixed it all together and ate the sh*t out of it. And not all of it – so guess what I’m having for breakfast today. LEFTOVERS. Love me some leftovers you guys. FOR REAL.

This weekend I’m attempting some butternut squash noodles (for what – I still don’t know) and then on Sunday I’ll be back at #foodprepsunday. I’m traveling for work next week so it will be interesting to see how that works… I can bring food but I’ll also have to plan around what everyone else will be doing/eating there. Wish me luck in that arena.

During an email thread with my fellow whole30-follower, we both came to the conclusion that the lack of food prep is somewhat anxiety-ridden. It’s hard to just “grab and go” during whole30 so while you needed to be prepared for EVERY MEAL during the week, it was comforting knowing you always had something to eat. It was healthy, it was whole30 approved, and it was delicious. Plus – you could reach in your fridge, pull out a Tupperware full of something you made, and be good to go. Do you know how many times at home (ie. Tuesday night) I look through the cupboard and just grab something random to eat? I don’t look what it’s made of, I usually can’t pronounce 2/3 of the ingredients, and I just eat it mindlessly? TOO MANY TO COUNT. And now that I think about it and look back, that is not the way food is meant to be eaten. It is meant to be enjoyed. Food is meant to be tasted and savored – it’s supposed to make you want to ENJOY each bite rather than eating it as fast as you can without thinking about what is going into your body. Food is fuel, and although it is sometimes overwhelming to make – it’s worth it in the end.

As I’ve said {many times} before – I love all things having to do with food. I can read through cookbooks like I’m reading something for book club. I can sit FOR HOURS watching the Food Network/Cooking Channel just watching food be made. I love all steps leading up to a meal – the search for ingredients (ie: Chopped), the preparation involved (thanks Chef Anne Burrell for teaching me what mise en place means during a binge marathon of The Worst Cooks in America), the final product and presentation, and then of course – the tasting of the dish. If I could be there to take just one (or five) bites of the finished product – I would be one happy (and fat) camper. But alas – the only tasting of the final dish will be at my house… and usually, it ends up okay – sometimes AMAZING. And I want to keep working at perfecting my knife skills and making eggs over-easy like a boss. I want to not worry about whether my chicken is undercooked – or about my fish being overcooked. I want to continue trying new recipes with food I’ve never eaten or at least never cooked for myself. I want to read ALL the food blogs and make friends with these amazing people who just started out cooking for fun – and then turned it into a lucrative career path. I want to write about food, read about food, and LIVE food. I’ve got a lot of work to do if I want to be like Ali or Kristen or Lexi. It’s going to be a fun and delicious ride. With hopefully not too many hiccups along the way. Brace yourselves friends… it’s happening.

Day 30 + Zoodle Love + Whole9 Factors

Happy DAY 30 y’all – we made it! Well – I have two more meals for the day and THEN I will have made it. Two #whole30s down and with this one, significant lifestyle changes will come with. Last year after I finished, I had PLANNED on easing my way back into eating regular foods – so I could see how my body reacted. I think I tried it for a day and then I had a pizza and beer binge. I felt terrible after – but it just tasted SO GOOD. For the remainder of the week I plan on continuing down this #whole30 journey. I’ve made my food for the week so I don’t really want to leave that delicious food to waste. I’ve got a couple bowls of The Best Chicken Zucchini Noodle Soup, Ever sitting in my fridge just WAITING to be devoured – plus another three zucchinis just WAITING to be zoodled. Plus, this month Ali challenged her readers to a #30DaysInspiralized challenge – and I plan to do as much spiralizing as I can over the next 30 days, and beyond. (Why can’t spiralize be entered into the dictionary yet?? I’m tired of Microsoft Word telling me it isn’t a word when it CLEARLY IS.)

On #foodprepsunday I did my usual mass hardboiled egg making and then decided to double up on #inspiralized recipes – making the chicken zucchini soup (see recipe above) and for dinner I whipped up some Hearty & Healthy Beef Stew with Zucchini Noodles. I omitted the Worcestershire sauce as it is not #whole30 compliant, but other than that – delish. Mine wasn’t as “stewy” as Ali’s and I ended up spilling broth EVERYWHERE (more than once) but still – a major hit. I also learned a very important lesson during this process: be sure you cut down your zoodles after you’ve spiralized them. They literally come out in one long ribbon of zucchini goodness – and it makes it hella difficult to eat. Did we still eat it? Of course. I just steered clear of using my manners and ate it like an animal. I was starving, it was delicious, and no one was judging me (I don’t think.)



After discussions this weekend of keeping (mostly) on track with our clean eating habits, I visited the Whole30 website to read up on what people do AFTER they’ve completed their 30 days. From there I did some reading up on the Whole9. Something different than #whole30 – but still very, if not MORE, important. The Whole9 focuses more on lifestyle than JUST your eating habits. Melissa and Dallas Hartwig (authors of It Starts with Food and founders of the Whole30 and Whole9) focus on 9 factors (Whole 9 – get it?) that they believe, when properly balanced, will lead to a “healthy, vibrant, balanced life.” Ummm you got it. Tell me MORE. A community built with its focus on health, fitness, balance and sanity is pulling at my brain telling me that THIS is what I want to do next. What I NEED to do. These nine factors (nutrition, sleep, healthy movement, fun and play, stress management, socialization, natural environment, personal growth and temperance) are about creating balance in your life. You can eat healthy and exercise all you want – but just think of everything you’re leaving out. That was one thing that was discussed during this year’s #whole30 experience. We were HELLA anti-social. If I couldn’t have a drink, I didn’t want to go out to dinner with my friends. If I had to network with other young professionals and couldn’t have any snacks – there was no way in hell I was going. I had a couple choices to meet friends out – and just didn’t. I’d go to yoga because I didn’t have to talk to anyone for more than a couple minutes before or after class, and then I’d go home and cuddle up with Toby, my book, and whatever meal of sweet potatoes or eggs I had planned for the night. That just worked for me. But for the long term – I don’t think it will. I miss my friends when we can’t gather over food or drinks – but balancing out friend time, me time, and other time is something I need to work on and will continue to work on.


I finished up my 20 classes last week for our 20/30 challenge. I was pumped about it – especially because last year I finished 19 classes. Like – WHO DOES THAT. I’ve surpassed 20 classes now, with a few more days left – but I still want to continue going. My shoulders are toning up from a thousand downward dogs in the last month, and my waist is slimming down. My yoga booty is tightening up and I’m getting more comfortable being upside down. I say this every time I go through one of these challenges – but I feel SO GOOD while I’m practicing more often that I always tell myself to KEEP doing it so often so I keep feeling that good. I also don’t want to overdo it. This week my wrists are a little sore so I’m backing off – probably a combination of volleyball and yoga. I’m honoring my body by not practicing. I could go balls to the wall and get in 30+ classes (sidenote: a guy in the barre class I went to over the weekend – I’m also still sore from it – was taking his 43rd class. My body says no to that) in – or I could hold off and just reap the goodness for how I feel. I got my gold star, I don’t need to overdo it and hurt myself just so people can congratulate me on going above and beyond.


I know I won’t be perfect this weekend – I just won’t. But knowing the ratio of what I eat to how much I move, and to how it makes me feel (do I feel guilty for eating that piece of pizza/brownie/beer or not) will help me move into a more balanced and healthy life that I want for myself moving forward.

I’m over eggs. I want bacon. Let the countdown begin.

You guys. I have a week left of this #whole30 challenge. I’m excited – and a little nervous. I love the way I’m feeling – but I miss pizza. After a hard day at work sometimes I just want to have a beer (or three.) I’m getting hella sick of hardboiled eggs. I am enjoying the new recipes and the search for substitutions to make some of my favorite foods #whole30 approved. I like that I’ve had someone at work as well as someone on my volleyball team tell me that I’m losing weight. My pants fit better, my spandex-filled yoga clothes make me feel more comfortable, and although I have really vivid, odd dreams at times, my sleep is second to none. I feel GOOD in the morning and have energy throughout the day. Of course I want to nap sometimes – but who doesn’t?


I’ve been a little anti-social, mostly because many dinners and   nights out include drinking – and I just don’t want to be tempted. And being around drunk people when you’re sober isn’t the most fun I’ve ever had. But because of that anti-socialism, I’ve gotten a lot of reading done. I’ve also cleaned out my closet, organized my dresser drawers, and done A LOT of yoga. I’m on class 19 after today – and I still have a week to go for the 20/30 challenge. My practice feels strong although my legs and shoulders have been super sore. Not that I’m surprised – spending a considerable amount of time in Warrior 2 and Crescent Lunge will strengthen and tire your legs out in no time.

Non-scale victories have been considerable this time around. Like I mentioned before, my pants and spandex fit and feel better, I’ve had two mentions of looking thinner, the redness in my face is near gone, I have more energy, I sleep better, and I don’t want to punch people (as often) in the face when they irritate me.


But I’ve also had some downfalls. The first week sucks – I wanted 25 beers after work on the first Monday we started because work was just full of shenanigans. I wanted creamer in my coffee. I wanted an effing chocolate bar. And for God’s sake give me a Casey’s taco pizza. And then all of a sudden – I was out of my haze. I felt good, I wasn’t hungry all the time, and food prep was getting way easier. And then all of a sudden last week, something hit me and I wanted the ice cream in my freezer SO BAD. It was ridiculous. I’m not even a big ice cream eater – but for some reason I needed that. So what did I do? I took it out of the freezer, opened it up, grabbed a spoon, and dumped it down the sink. It was such a sad site to see – but I knew I had to do it. I’d never had one of those moments where I wanted and NEEDED something SO BAD that I was willing to screw it all up by just having a bite. So now, that ice cream with chocolate chunks and caramel is in ice cream heaven, slow-clapping me for not giving in. (I assume that’s what is happening anyway.)


So what happens next week? Next Wednesday is my last day of #whole30. And after that, what are my plans? I’ll be honest – I really have no idea. A few things that I know are a permanent change in our house – cutting out a lot of dairy. After trying coconut milk early on, it seems that it would be a good and easy switch from regular cow’s milk. I’m not a big milk drinker as is, but sometimes I do want a bowl of cereal with milk. (I’m not sure how I just now decided to do this – I’ve never been a milk-on-my-cereal kinda gal. Thanks Mom.) Coconut milk and almond milk seem like a good switch for us. It can be used as a coffee creamer as well – and with far less shit than is in the actual coffee creamer. And the less shit I put in my body, the better. I’ll significantly cut down on my egg intake – at least for a while. But will I go back to eating oatmeal in the morning? Or a bagel? Or toast? I really don’t know. I like the idea of eating three meals a day as prescribed by #whole30 – and I also like that it’s set up as Meal 1, Meal 2 and Meal 3… rather than breakfast, lunch and dinner. I’ve eaten eggs and avocado for dinner, while I’ve had hearty meat and (sweet) potatoes for breakfast. I love the way I feel without all the extra sugar in my body from coffee creamer, candy, and literally ALL THE OTHER FOOD I eat on a daily basis. It’s just amazing how much sugar is in EVERYTHING. I used to think reading labels was for that person who just “wants to lose 5 pounds” and is only looking at the calorie or fat intake. But really, reading labels has opened my eyes to how much garbage is put into processed foods. I’ve adapted the “if you can’t pronounce it, don’t put it in your body” mentality when looking at labels. I feel like I’m a pretty good reader so being unable to pronounce something that I’m putting in my body to fuel it seems pretty outrageous.

So. Long story short – I’ll decide what I’m going to do next week, when next week gets here. I may have a piece of pizza and a beer to celebrate. Or I may hold off and keep going. You just never know. Plus I have so many new #whole30 approved recipes from the amazing paleo blogs I follow – I can’t wait to see how those turn out! Pictures to come. As always. Sorry if you’re sick of my Instagram account. I looked through the other day and realized that 95% of my pictures revolve around food, drinks and Toby. I’m not even mad about it.

Maybe I’ll do a #whole45 – or maybe I’ll make some small changes but stick with it. Maybe I’ll say “screw it I want McDonalds” and feel like trash for a week until that garbage gets out of my system. Maybe I’ll eat some pasta and realize I hate the way I feel after I’m done eating. I love carbs – and I like carbs with my carbs. But maybe I can ease back into it and cut that love of carbs in half… you just don’t know. So stick with me for another week – and we can find out together.

All the {food} feels. Day 16.

Well I’ve made it over the hump. I’m currently on day 16 of the #whole30 and I feel great. I knew I would – I did last year so I knew it would happen again this year. Except the difference with this year – I want to keep it up. I won’t follow it COMPLETELY – because I love beer – but steering clear of dairy won’t break my heart. In fact – it will probably help. One thing that has happened each #whole30 that I’ve done, is my face has cleared up. Not from adult acne (which is the worst) but from the redness going away. I think I have a mild case of rosacea (self-diagnosed of course) and whatever I’m eating normally, seems to cause inflammation and redness on my face. It’s not cute guys. I hate it. And I don’t like wearing make up to cover it up… I’d rather just have it gone. I sleep like a rock and have hella vivid dreams. I’m sure it’s a combination of the deep REM cycle I make it to more often, as well as not having a “foggy” memory from going to bed after a few beers.

At a break during #foodprepmonday yesterday we did some research as to WHY you’re not allowed to have grains or legumes or sugar or dairy or alcohol during the #whole30. Basically – it’s all hard to digest, it causes inflammatory issues in your body, and even the “whole grain” healthy stuff you’re eating, is still processed and you lose so many of those nutrients – those you can easily find in fruits and vegetables. It’s interesting to really pay attention to what you put in your body – rather than just stuffing your face and never looking at a label. There is sugar in EVERYTHING and it totally boggles my mind. Don’t get me wrong – I love candy and cookies and creamer in my coffee – but it is just DESTROYING our insides. And that breaks my heart because I would love a little chunk of chocolate right about meow.

A couple follow ups from the weekend… Friday night I made some lemon pepper tilapia on a bed of spinach wrapped in foil in the oven with a baked sweet potato on the side. The fish was a little moist (I hate that word – but it was) so the next time I try that I think I’ll use a “meatier” fish. I ate it all so I guess I didn’t hate it too much. For Valentine’s Day, we decided to mark a couple things off our 2015 Bucket List (the Des Moines version) which included lunch at HoQ, some coffee from the Village Bean to warm up, and a visit to Graziano’s. If you haven’t been to that glorious place, GO NOW. Literally drop whatever you’re doing, get in your car, drive over to the southside, and go inside. The smell ALONE will make your stomach growl – and it’s not even FOOD that you smell. It’s the fresh dried herbs that are instantly in your nose the moment you walk through the door. The place is WONDERFUL… and full of so much I wanted to eat. While we were originally shopping for our trifecta of meats for homemade meatballs, we walked out with herbs, olives (not for me), prosciutto and capicola. My mouth is watering right now just THINKING about those noms. Since we had to be #whole30 compliant on our marinara (aka gravy) we went to Gateway to pick up our meat and sauce there. After a slight mini-disappointment on their meat selection, we grabbed our sauce and almond flour and left for our third grocery store trip of the day. Dahl’s saves the day! A pound each of ground pork, veal and beef came home with us. And my Italian man got started on the meatball prep. First off – we had to simmer the sauce to get it started. Second of all – I realized I need a MUCH larger pot. The meatballs smelled AMAZING. Since we couldn’t add any Parmesan or bread crumbs to our meatballs we ended up with almond flour which surprisingly had the same texture and acted as a binding agent. Now – we’re all friends here right? I did NOT do most of the work for these meatballs. This was 90% his doing. Maybe 95%. He hand-mixed the Holy Trinity of Meat together, added in the seasoning, and mixed it until it was my turn to help with the meatballs. Almost 60 meatballs later… it was time to start cooking. First you need to get a crisp outside on the meatballs before you toss them into the simmering nomlicious gravy. After these were done, it was time for us to head to yoga (for the second time). By the time we got back, our place smelled SO GOOD and it still wasn’t ready to cook. This is where I came in. I used my new “zoodler” (as I lovingly call it) and noodle-fied three zucchinis. They had to dry out a little bit (which I will let dry even MORE next time) and then I heated them up in a pan, covered them with meatballs and gravy and holy cannoli… AMAZING. The meatballs were soft and delicious and sooooo tasty. I’m having the leftovers for dinner tonight. I also had some on Sunday night. Glorious little gems. Highly recommended.

The prosciutto went on to make two dozen egg cups – one for the weekend’s breakfasts and one for breakfast this week during our #foodprepmonday. The capicola got sent away to Cedar Rapids this morning (if he hasn’t found it yet… he will be PUMPED to read this and snack on it with those olives later.) A batch of sweet potato hash was cooked up for the week as well as some crockpot salsa chicken. That is literally ALL that’s in the recipe: chicken and salsa. Again – MAKE THIS RECIPE. Step one: pour salsa into crockpot. Step two: put chicken in crockpot. Step three: turn on crockpot on high for four hours. Step four: shred chicken and put back in salsa mix. Step five: EAT IT ALL. I haven’t had anything in the crockpot that I didn’t like… so I highly suggest making anything in the crockpot you can. Genius invention. For dinner last night I tried out some baked avocado eggs – and they were pretty delish as well. You half an avocado, take out the pit, and put an egg in each side. Next time I may need to make the hole a little larger so the egg doesn’t spill out onto the top of the avocado… but now I know.

I love food. I love talking about food, reading about it, watching shows about it. Food blogs are a new passion and I love finding new, easy (or difficult) recipes to try. I could read cookbooks all day long. Pictures of food and how it’s supposed to look, the process to get it there – those get me excited and thinking “I can do this.” Also – it’s total food porn for me. Do I have a healthy relationship with food? I’m not sure. Somedays are better than others I suppose – but going through this #whole30 process (again) has really taught me how important it is to put GOOD things into your body. This body is the only one we’ll ever have – we need to take such good care of it. Keeping it hydrated, nourishing it with whole, REAL food – keeping its mobility in top functioning condition. These things are all so important to keep yourself alive and healthy and functioning and beautiful.

Does this mean I’ll never have another piece of pizza or beer or piece of chocolate? Absolutely not. Does this mean that I’ll think twice before eating a King Size Kit Kat bar in one sitting while I have a couple cookies later because it’s someone’s birthday? Definitely. Food is delicious. I will ALWAYS love food – but after making it through this challenge, I hope it increases it’s love for me back.

Week One Recap. #realfood

A week has passed, and I’ve made it through. #whole30 I’m going to make you my bitch. Not really – that was super aggressive. Sorry about that. It’s just that I woke up early, had a productive morning, and had delicious coffee to help me through the process. Plus – I slept like a baby. I think my body has FINALLY realized it’s going to sleep well without all the outrageous amounts of sugar in my body.

Let’s recap week one. For the most part I felt just “okay.” I didn’t feel good and I didn’t feel bad. I was tired – combinations of working out and cutting out sugar/carbs/alcohol. I was hella irritable – combinations of not sleeping well, cutting out the above, and idiots (work was rough last week.) I experienced “hanger” (hunger+anger) a few times – but quickly eviscerated that negativity with yoga. So. Much. Yoga. And it was awesome. Every time I go on yoga-sprees (aka the 20/30 Challenge or Wanderlust) I remember just how good I feel after each practice. Sometimes I feel like I’m going to die – like in Sculpt – but once I’m done I feel great. Still a little sweaty – but so GREAT. The 20/30 Challenge started the same day as my #whole30 – and with 7 days under my belt, I’ve eaten numerous delicious, clean-eating dishes and have taken 6 yoga classes. And it’s going to feel AMAZING.

I’m challenging myself during the 20/30 Challenge – I’ll obviously do the 20 classes… but I ALSO want to take a class at each of the four studios, as well as take one of each TYPE of classes. Which shouldn’t be too terribly difficult – I’ve already taken four different types of classes at two studios. I plan on adding P2 to my rotation today – and we’ll just see about the rest of the week. I also want to take classes from as many teachers as I can as well. Along with early morning classes. If I had as much energy the rest of the month as I did today, then those early morning workouts shouldn’t be an issue at all.

Friday night the plan was to go to bed EARLY – because we were both exhausted. A long work week on top of cutting out sugar/carbs/alcohol makes for two tired folks. I tried out a new recipe though – and nailed it. I made #whole30 approved Lamb Gyros with a homemade tzatziki sauce… and both were the The fluffy orange monster was going CRAZY for the smell of lamb… he just had no idea what to do. I mean I don’t blame him – it was DELISH. The raw smell of the meat was pretty yuck – but cooked I just kept eating and eating. Can’t wait for those leftovers today.

Saturday we took a trip out to Whole Foods – a first time visit for the roomie. I of course chose to go on Saturday afternoon because I have a death wish – but it wasn’t as busy as I thought it would be. We ate lunch from their buffet and wandered the aisles to see what we could find. We came home with some compliant chorizo (oh mah gah it was amazing – we promptly made it for dinner that night) and some Toms coffee. I’ve been wanting to buy some of their coffee forever – since it came out pretty much – but just hadn’t pulled the trigger and ordered it. Now that I know it’s sold at Whole Foods, I will be drinking it ALL. THE. TIME. The rest of the day consisted of movie marathons and relaxing. I dug it.

Yesterday was an early morning and packed with a busy agenda. After all, it was #foodprepsunday. Earlier in the week I’d gone through the ads at the grocery stores I frequent to find what I needed. I gotta be honest… I ROCKED grocery shopping this week. I spent about $85 for two people – along with a new car air freshener and cat food (because I needed them BOTH) – and got so much FOOD. Both stores I went to had deals that were 10/$10 on items that I needed and I took full advantage. 10/$10 on hamburger patties? Done. 10/$10 on carrots? You got it. 10/$10 on celery, tuna, spinach, mangoes? Done. I obviously didn’t get 10 of EACH… but that just meant that each item was only ONE DOLLAR. #onedollanoholla. Since we eat eggs like they’re going out of style, the 60 count is what we buy. And when it’s under $9… that’s a pretty baller price. We also tried out some coconut milk in a few recipes – and honestly… I almost like it better than DAIRY milk. I’ve never been a huge milk fan anyway – my sister on the other hand could do the milk challenge and not even blink an eye. But almond milk and coconut milk are pretty delicious. Definitely a different flavor – but I added coconut milk and chili powder to my mashed sweet potatoes last night and they had just enough sweetness that it made it even better than plain sweet potatoes. Lame? Maybe a little. Meh. I’m over it.

Last night when we were talking about what worked, what didn’t, what we were craving, I brought up that my favorite thing about the #whole30 is it FORCES you to know exactly what you’re putting in your body. No mindless snacking, no stopping at the vending machine for a snack, no picking up dinner at the gas station. This is all whole, REAL food that immediately gets turned into fuel. While reading through the rules, I remember being surprised when it said not to log your food during this time. Why wouldn’t you want to log these foods? That seemed silly to me. But when I was logging my food BEFORE starting this process, I remember being BLOWN AWAY at how many calories a salad would have if you added “hearty” ingredients to it. But if you think about it, all that healthy, hearty and WHOLESOME food goes directly into making energy for you. It doesn’t sit stagnant causing you to feel bloated and gross – it is IMMEDIATELY going to work. And I like that.

Food is fuel. It’s a natural energy rather than one provided by sugar or energy drinks or candy. The food you’re putting in your body is REAL. The energy you’re receiving from the food is REAL. The sleep and relaxed mind and genuine fullness from your meals is all REAL. Because you’re putting nothing but clean food into your body. And with that – your body thanks you.