Back to blogging! A little update on life and a couple of recipes.

It’s been about 2 years since my last blog post. At that time Jason and I were newly engaged and doing the whole 30 diet to try and get in shape and healthy for the wedding. Obviously, I teetered off on the updates with that but I did lose close to 30 lbs between starting that diet and the wedding…. hmm.. probably need to try that one again! It did make me feel really good but it is a tough diet to follow long term. If you are interested in any super healthy and delicious recipes check out my previous blog posts!

As many of you know, I left my job in the spring and we attempted to start a farm and a farmers market. It went alright and for the amount of effort I actually put into it, we got a decent return. Needless to say, I could have worked a lot harder and been much more successful. At this point we are unsure as to what we would like to do next year. I am looking for creative ways to earn money over the winter and managing our home and animals. Which at this point, we have plenty of. Except for goats, we are on the hunt for 2 goats by next spring and as always, more chickens!

I am still happy to be out of the 9-5 desk job kind of life but now that our garden has essentially come to a close I am getting quite bored and feel like I am lacking purpose. Within the next 2 weeks, I will be volunteering for the Migrant Council in Cobden at the after school program twice a week. I am also looking into The Boys and Girls Club of Carbondale and the “I Can Read” program. It will be nice to work with kids again! I will keep you all posted on those endeavors.

One bonus of boredom is time to play in the kitchen! Today, I decided to try a new and different recipe. I would probably tweak it a bit in the future but it turned out pretty delicious! I made an Indian inspired dish and brownies for dessert.

Garam Masala Chicken Stew

prep time: 30 mins  Cook time: 2 hours

6 Chicken Thighs, bone-in

3-4 Medium red or yukon gold potatoes

1 medium yellow onion chopped

4 cloves garlic diced

1 28 oz can diced tomatoes

1 8oz can tomato sauce

2  16oz cans coconut milk

1 can of chick peas drained

1 14 oz can of chicken broth or 14 oz of water

4 T garam masala

1 T tumeric

1/2- 1 1/2 T Chili powder (depending on how spicy you want it)

1 T garlic powder

4 T Olive or Coconut oil

Salt and pepper

20150916_162748First, lightly season the chicken thighs with salt, pepper, garlic powder and garam masala. Prepare a large frying pan with 4 T oil. Fry the thighs starting skin side down for 6 minutes. Flip over half way through to brown both sides.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

20150916_161550While the chicken is frying chop the potatoes, onion and garlic.

20150916_163820When the chicken is done frying, take it out of the pan and put it on a plate or platter lined with paper towels to drain of any excess oils.

20150916_162826In a dutch oven place the onions, potatoes and garlic in the bottom of the pan. Place the chicken thighs in a layer above that. Pour in diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, half of all the spices and salt and pepper. Pour chicken broth or water over and give it a little stir. Cover with lid and pop in the oven.

20150916_164509Let cook for 1- 1 1/2 hours stirring occasionally. Once the potatoes are soft enough to eat add the chick peas, green peas and 2 cans of coconut milk. Taste the dish and add the rest of the seasonings as needed. I used just about what I have listed in the ingredient list.  Put back in oven and cook for another 30 minutes or so.

We ate this dish with rice so at this time I prepared the rice in the rice cooker.

Enjoy!

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I served this over rice and it was delish! I wish we would have had some naan but I didn’t get a chance to go get any yesterday!

For dessert we had homemade brownies. Below is a link to the recipe I used:

http://www.hillbillyhousewife.com/fudgebrownies.htm

Hope everyone has a wonderful week! 🙂

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Days 11 & 12 Prepartion Makes Perfect

I don’t have much to report in the way of what we ate this weekend. It wasn’t planned at all and we mostly just snacked on whatever we had left around the house from the week before.

Saturday morning, Jason and I went on a nice walk with Zooey in Giant City. The leaves are really starting to change and it was gorgeous.

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We did go out on a date and eat at Thai Taste on Saturday night. We both ate as close as we could to the diet. As always, it was delicious! We also went and checked out an art reception at the Varsity. It was called “That House” and was art centered around odd and creepy things in old houses. It was a really small collection but it was really interesting and there were a couple of paintings I would have loved to have bought if I had some extra money laying around.

After not planning very well last week, I realized that we were much more prone to slipping up without proper preparation. This week, I wanted to be better prepared. Yesterday we went grocery shopping in the afternoon. When we got home, I cooked and cooked and……. cooked.

I wanted to make sure we had some easy breakfast and lunch options. I also found an incredible looking recipe for Whole 30 pumpkin bread. Now, I know they say not to make things like breads and pancakes but this recipe was super healthy and I wanted something for breakfast other than eggs and meat. I was skeptical about how it would turn out but it is almost better than my pumpkin bread recipe and is sweetened with dates instead of sugar! Dates may be new favorite thing by the way.

I also made some delicious egg muffins for breakfast this week! Here is the recipe 🙂

Southwestern Egg Muffins

Ingredients

12 eggs

1 lb breakfast sausage

1 onion

1 green pepper

4 baby bella mushrooms

fresh spinach ( I used a handful)

2-4 cloves garlic

1 ts paprika

salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a skillet (I use my cast iron), brown your breakfast sausage. Once browned, remove from skillet, reserving as much of the grease as possible in the pan. Dice all of your veggies. If there is not enough grease left to cook the veggies you can add a little olive oil. In the same skillet, sauté your onions and peppers for a few minutes together until they just start to become translucent.

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Add in garlic, mushrooms and spinach. Sauté just until spinach is soft and has released some liquid. You don’t want the veggies to be over cooked but just enough that they are starting to soften.

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While you allow the ingredients to cool just a bit add the 12 eggs to a large bowl and whisk together. Add paprika and salt and pepper. If you have a nice non-stick muffin pan there is no need for cupcake papers. One of mine was fine without them and one pan was not. haha  Spoon the veggies and sausage into the cups evenly. Next, pour the eggs evenly in each cup and allow to settle. Bake for 25-30 mins or until eggs are set.

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I also made homemade mayo and some chicken salad for lunches. We ate that for dinner in a lettuce wrap.

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Needless to say we have some things ready to go for the week! I also have at least a vague menu to follow. It really helps save money when I make a menu and really plan it out. I tend to waste a lot less. If you have time to meal plan you should try it and just what a difference it makes!

Days 8-10

Sorry for the overdue post! I have been slacking a bit this week! I think I will be moving to an every other day set up for the posts because I feel like I don’t have enough material for every day. Don’t want it to feel too redundant or worse, boring. 🙂

Well Tuesday started off about the same as Monday, rushed! I have not been getting enough sleep. Probably because I’ve entered a terrible cycle of being so tired that I come home cook dinner and sit down to watch something and fall asleep for a bit. Then at 10pm when I need to go to sleep I’m all ready to go cause I accidentally took a power nap at 6pm. Going to try to break that cycle this week 😉

I ate the same breakfast Tuesday morning as I did on Monday, 2 eggs with avocado and tomato. For lunch, I had leftovers from dinner, chicken and kale.

All morning Tuesday, I was craving either like a pumpkin spice latte or just any kind of sugary coffee.. I almost justified getting a cup of coffee and putting stevia in it but I stopped myself. I found a nice treat at the co-op to rescue me though….

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Pumpkin pie larabar?! I was pretty excited about it. It wasn’t quite as good as I expected. It was dryer than the other ones I’ve tried. Don’t know if it was just the type or if it wasn’t fresh but it curbed my craving for something sweet. I have found these to be lifesavers so far.

I also had leftovers from dinner on Monday night, Chicken and Kale.

For dinner Tuesday night I made some taco Salad and it was delicious!

WP_001126WP_001128WP_001131     Yummmmy!

I don’t really measure things when I cook normally so I’m going to do my best to give you guys the recipe for this!

Whole 30 Taco Salad

1 lb ground turkey/hamburger

1/2 medium onion

1 medium red pepper

1 jalapeno pepper

1 ancho chili pepper

2-4 cloves of garlic ( I used one big elephant garlic clove)

Cumin (I would guess I used somewhere between 1 tsp and 1 tablespoon)

Paprika (probably about 1 tsp)

2 tablespoons olive oil (may not need that much)

1/4 -1/2 cup Salsa

salt and pepper to taste

 

In a skillet, heat up enough oil to saute the veggies. When the oil is hot add in the onion and peppers. Let them cook just long enough to soften up a bit. Add in the garlic for just a few minutes before adding the meat.  If you are using turkey rather than burger I would say to use a little extra oil at the beginning as it does not have enough fats in it to keep it from sticking. Add in meat and half of your seasonings. Cook until browned and then add the rest of the seasoning and the salsa. If it seems too dry you can add just a little water at this point.  Cook until everything is well incorporated.

The salad part is up to you. I used some spring mix and spinach, tomatoes, cucumber, avocado, cilantro and green onion and topped it with salsa!

 

Wednesday we were out of eggs so I made us some Monkey Salad for breakfast. For lunch I had to go to the Co-op. I got some soup that definitely had a little dairy in it but I just wasn’t feeling chicken and veggies so the soup was the next best decision! (Definitely better than the very yummy spinach and chicken alfredo pizza that I love from there), so I felt pretty good about that decision.

It was Hungarian mushroom soup and I had a left over boiled egg for some protein.

 

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For dinner I had a slightly failed attempt at Paleo Meatloaf. It was ok.. but not something I would make again. I love good meatloaf occasionally but this just wasn’t up to my standards. I used a too lean ground turkey and the texture was weird with no bread crumbs. I wasn’t a fan.  I also made some mashed sweet potatoes and kale for sides.

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Since Thursday was Halloween I gave myself a bit of cheat day. I have done pretty well at staying on track so I thought I would be fine to allow myself some things. We had a potluck at work so I had some gluten and dairy there but stayed away from it where I could. I felt like I still made some pretty good decisions.

Thursday night was the chili cook off in Makanda so I ate several different kinds of chili (Which have legumes so, not approved either) I also had some rum and cider. I still felt like I made healthier decisions and ate way less than I normally would have in the past on a day like Halloween so I still feel fine about allowing myself to go outside of the diet a bit yesterday.

This week I was definitely less prepared than last week and it showed. I slipped up a lot more and felt less motivated to stay on track. I plan on doing more of a menu this week and sticking to it so I don’t end up out of eggs, or end up having nothing to take for lunch or whatever else. One thing I have noticed is that I get headaches when I cheat. I don’t know what that’s about. I never realized I had issues with headaches before. It almost makes me wonder if something was always giving me a constant little headache in the past or if it’s just a result of being off the stuff for awhile.

I am happy to report that I weighed in at work yesterday and am down another 2.5 lbs since last week! That’s 5 1/2 lbs in about 10 days of the diet! Woot. It is nice to see the results especially with a diet like this because I’m limiting myself so much.  It’s totally worth it to finally see some weight coming off and having boosted energy levels as well as just feeling better all around. 🙂

 

 

 

Days 5,6 and 7 The Struggle

Well lets start with my most recent struggle. I just typed out my entire weekend of the blog and it didn’t post or save! So lets try this again.

Saturday, I woke up with the intention of going to yoga with a friend but we just couldn’t get our crap together so we didn’t make it this weekend. I had already made a quick breakfast of 2 boiled eggs, 2 pieces of bacon and some fruit.  After breakfast,  Jason and I headed to the farmer’s market.

I got this lovely load of delicious goods for the week!

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2 pumpkins for carving 🙂  green beans, tomatoes, garlic, 2 leeks, 2 spaghetti squash, cabbage and kale! yum!

For lunch I made the breakfast recipe I mentioned on Friday. It was delicious! Even better than I had anticipated.

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Cowboy breakfast skillet! <<<<<<<< recipe

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I added some avocado, tomato, cilantro, green onion and hot sauce! It was so good! I ate it for lunch and dinner. It was a little heavy and definitely shouldn’t have eaten it for two meals but it would be great for a day that you know you won’t have a chance to eat for awhile!

We went to a friend’s crawfish broil in the afternoon. I decided I wanted a drink so I got stuff for “healthy paleo margaritas” (not whole 30 approved!)  Juiced my own limes and orange, mineral water, agave, 100% agave tequila. They were delicious but after two I regretted drinking them. They have made my cravings for sugar skyrocket the last couple of days. I have not given in again but it has been hard!

Here is the spread at the broil! mmm mm

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I ate a couple pieces of crawfish. It was delish.

Sunday was a complete bust. Didn’t eat breakfast. We each just had a larabar and we went to my parents for lunch. I should have offered to cook since we are on this diet but I didn’t offer quickly enough and my dad already had things thawing out. Needless to say we ate a completely non whole 30 lunch. Dairy and gluten were involved. Shocker! It made me feel like crap. I had a headache the rest of the day and was nauseated today. It was not worth it and won’t be happening again. I plan on keeping those two things out of my diet after we finish the whole 30 as I think I have some problems with them. They both seem to give me some stomach problems and I think add to my eczema issues. It is crazy that after just 1 week I can feel the affects they have on me more clearly.

Today was a total Monday! I was late getting up, didn’t have anything prepared, managed to get food together for the day but it ran me late for work! Forgot to take a pic of breakfast but I had 2 over easy eggs, bacon with avocado and tomato. It was good and kept me full till lunch.

I had a salad with boiled egg and also got some red pepper with chicken soup from the Co-op.  (blurry, sorry)

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Dinner was 2 chicken thighs over a bed of sauteed kale with onion and mushroom.

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I hope you all had a good weekend. I would love to hear from some of you about your struggles with your health/fitness/weight loss plans!

Day 4 – Results and Motivation

Before I decided to start the Whole 30 diet I was struggling with a lot of things.  I was back at my heaviest weight after losing 30-40 lbs a couple of years ago and having kept most of it off for the last 2 years. I had a gained a bit of it back when Jason and I first started dating a little over a year ago but hadn’t gained more until I hurt my ankle this summer.  (I may have been involved in a slightly intoxicated barefoot foot race that ended with me running faster than I had control over and ended with my ankle giving out and me hitting the pavement and rolling to the finish line) It was pretty hilarious. However, the aftermath was pretty rough. I probably should have gone to see an orthopedic doctor but after they told me I didn’t break it, I figured it would get better with time and care.  It did. After about 2 months of almost no physical activity on it. That’s what I did with my summer, I put on the rest of the weight I had lost two years ago.

I’ve always been overweight. Pretty much since my family sent me to school for my first day of kindergarten, I started to get chubby.  I was thin as a rail before then but by Christmas break I was a little chubbykins. I don’t know if that says more about my lack of metabolism or the American public school system. Not that I haven’t gone through my fair share of unhealthy periods but for the last 4 years or so I have been living as if I were a thin person. I was eating pretty healthy. Had a moderately active lifestyle but always stayed within a 30 lb or so weight range. Needless to say, I was pretty thrilled when I lost that 30 lbs a couple of years ago.  I was absolutely not thrilled when I realized it had ALL found it’s way back this fall.

A few girls and I started a Biggest Loser challenge several weeks ago and I was eating healthier, working out more….. and….. NO RESULTS.  After several weeks of that I was ready to go talk to my doctor about it.  To be honest, I wanted the easy way out. I wanted pills and before I asked for them, she offered, but she said I needed to see the nutritionist first to see what I could do myself in a month and come back.  When I talked to the nutritionist she said that the Whole 30 diet is not something she would suggest for her every day patient as she spends most of her time listening to sob stories of her patients having to give up their favorite sugary drinks. She said since I was pretty informed and was already living a pretty healthy lifestyle that she thought it might be a good one for me. We also ruled out a lot of possible underlying causes. She thought gut health and inflammation may be a factor so it could be a good diet for me to try.

I have to say that I am 3.5 lbs down since my weigh-in last Friday and I couldn’t be more thrilled. It was exactly the motivation I needed to stay on the right track!  I can’t wait to see what results I will have in a month. (Mind you I’m only 4 days in, technically)  🙂

Today I ate leftover quiche and leftover spaghetti squash for breakfast and lunch.  For dinner, Jason and I decided to eat something that seemed like a treat.

I made bang bang shrimp and some fried zucchini coated with coconut flour and a salad.  (I wouldn’t recommend frying anything in coconut flour unless you can fry it all in one batch. It burns easily. I had to toss my oil after my second batch. So I fried the last bit of it all together as fast as i could. They turned out pretty tasty just stinks to waste coconut oil.)

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I have a new recipe to try in the morning! Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day. Looking forward to sharing it tomorrow.

I also get to go to my first yoga class tomorrow. I do a lot of yoga at home but have never actually gone to a class at a studio. Really looking forward to it!

Happy weekend people. Get out and enjoy the last bit of bearable weather this season!

Day 3

Wednesday night Jason went to watch the Cardinals World Series game with friends. It was his first social outing since we started the Whole 30 challenge. When he came back home he said “It was terrible! You should have seen all the food they had! There was pie!” haha He fared pretty well, didn’t eat any food but did have a couple of beers.

Like I said, social events are going to be the route of all evil for us this month. Especially with Halloween coming up. Makanda has a Chili cook off on Halloween and Jason always participates (and usually wins). I think we will have to cheat a little on Halloween. I’m not going to do any candy but I think I will have to eat some chili. 🙂

Yesterday started off pretty well. I felt good when I woke up. Had plenty of energy. Tuesday night I had made a crustless, dairy free quiche so that we would have an easy breakfast for the rest of the week. I topped it with leftover guacamole.

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I also had some Monkey Salad for breakfast! 1 cut banana, cashews, almonds, pumpkin seeds and coconut flakes! It was delicious!

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Luckily we have a Neighborhood Co-op that has paleo friendly lunches. It saved me yesterday. I hadn’t had time to prepare anything the night before. I got some baked chicken with sweet potatoes and zucchini and mushrooms.

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For dinner I did spaghetti squash with a simple homemade meat sauce. I hadn’t tried spaghetti squash before, Jason and I both really liked it. Jason said he almost preferred it to noodles!

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After work I was exhausted for some reason, I also had a buzzing sugar withdraw headache all day so I think being super tired may have had something to do with the sugar withdraws. We were both in bed by 8. Hence, why this post is coming later than normal.

I hope everyone is enjoying their Friday!  🙂

Day 2 Sriacha and Sugar Withdrawals

Funny story. My sriacha incident obviously really bothered me because last night I had a dream about being at the store and desperately searching for a bottle of sriacha that didn’t contain any sugar. I do love sriacha but I didn’t expect to have a nightmare about not being able to eat it. I figured I’d be dreaming of pizza and pie and beer. Ha!

This morning I was feeling great! I woke up, put on a pot of coffee and got breakfast together.  Had plenty of energy and felt like it was going to be a great day.

Breakfast – 2 boiled eggs with Applegate Farms Uncured Sunday Bacon and had a little fruit salad of strawberries and cuties again.

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It was delicious but I think I’m going to have to eat more breakfast because by 10 am I needed a snack so I ate my banana I brought, another cutie and a small handful of my trail mix I made this morning. These were all the snacks I brought today since I didn’t feel the need to snack yesterday. . Tomorrow, more snacks and a better breakfast are on the menu.

Trail mix – Cashew, pumpkin seeds, almonds, organic unsweetened coconut flakes

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Technically I eased in to Whole 30 on Monday so this is day 3 of no sugar and the withdrawals are kicking in! Big time. I’ve had a buzzing headache all day. Hoping I make it through them quickly. The last time I gave up sugar it was pretty rough for 2 weeks or so.

Lunch was leftovers. I had some pork and cabbage from last night and leftover green beans.

This was also my first day back to work so more challenges were introduced today, such as two of the girls in the office ordering a pizza.  Honestly, I didn’t even want it. Even after the taunting I got. It’s funny how people react to doing something like this, by the way. I literally felt peer pressured to eat pizza. It was all in good fun but it’s something you have to think about when going on a strict diet. Social interactions and functions can and probably will cause most of my cheats or slip-ups.

After work Jason and I had to go pick up our fur baby who got spayed today. She was not pleased or feeling well. All I wanted to do was snuggle with her. 😦

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Don’t tell Jason I told you this but I got him to do yoga with me before dinner! 😉 We did a 25 minute hip and thigh stretch sequence. I have found my favorite YouTube yoga instructor. Sadie Nardini is awesome and not as cheesy as most online yoga videos! No cheesy music or voice overs. Just her doing some incredible yoga! Her yoga for weight loss video is no joke, it makes me sweat more than most cardio workouts I’ve done!

Dinner – A lean grilled hamburger topped with homemade guacamole and a fried egg with carrot fries and a salad with paleo ranch (Which in my opinion was more of a creamy dill, will have to adjust that recipe).

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Overall, today still felt pretty good. I can already feel my stomach starting to calm and regulate and feel an increase in energy. 🙂

That’s all for tonight folks! Hope this one wasn’t too long for y’all! I’m off to snuggle with my fur baby and prep some things for tomorrow’s meals.