Lifestyle, Recipes

Whole 30: Week 3 Review

If you’ve been following along with my Whole 30 journey I want to take a second to thank you. You’re a rockstar for reading about my sugar cravings and digestive problems. 😉 I have heard of one friend who is starting her own Whole 30 journey which is SO exciting, and I hope a few other people can look at these posts and form a belief that it’s something they can do, too. You are SO WORTH taking control of your health, and I’d love to support you along the way! Shoot me a message over on Facebook or Instagram and I’d love to chat. 🙂

Now it is time for a Week 3 review! This was definitely not my strongest week, but I still learned a lot through it! I’m also getting to the stage where I need to form a plan of what will be next once these 30 days are over. I failed in this area the last time I tried Whole 30, and I’m not going to let that happen again! I will share my plan with you on the next recap.

If you’re new, here are the previous posts from this Whole 30 mini-series:

Why I’m Doing It

Week 1 Review

Week 2 Review 

And now for Week 3…

The Good

During Week 3 I saw an improvement in my digestion, HALLELUJAH! This was one of my biggest goals that I was hoping to accomplish. There is still room for improvement, but I’m grateful for every small step forward. For this week I slept great again, my skin is staying pretty clear, and my energy levels were normal. I’m learning more and more how to be in-tune with my body and give it what it needs. I’m learning how much I need to eat for breakfast in order to be full until lunch time and that I don’t need as much fruit as I’d like to have. I’ve been noticing a huge JOY in not having to focus on losing weight. I love the fact that my scale is hidden. I feel more beautiful because I know I am taking care of myself, and if I’m doing that, who cares what I weigh… ya know? I have noticed a little more room in my jeans which feels great along with a confidence in who God has made me to be. I love knowing that I’m taking care of the body He’s given me! This is an area where I’ve always struggled to honor Him and I’m super thankful that I’m growing and changing.

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A new recipe we tried this week was Pesto Baked Chicken with homemade pesto and it was great! I also got 4 workouts in (1 less than my goal), but I’m not going to beat myself up about it. I have grown a love for T25 the past couple of weeks! Nothing like crazy sweet for 25 minutes and then being done. 🙂

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The Bad

You will notice that I only shared one recipe up there because I failed at meal prepping this week. Our schedule got crazy on Monday, which threw off my meal prep, and then, well, you know how that goes. Thankfully another batch of buffalo chicken helped the week not turn into a disaster, but I did end up eating some random combinations! (not recommend)

I have been missing things like gum and Shakeology, and I had to turn down delicious looking cake balls at a birthday party. On Day 15 I had thoughts of “I’ve done fine… I’ve learned my lessons… do I really need to keep going?”, but thankfully I talked myself back to reality and kept pushing. Otherwise, I’m becoming more and more ok with saying no to things I don’t need which feels pretty amazing.

Another struggle I’m having is afternoon snacking. Yes, I’m still eating compliant foods, but I’m usually not super hungry for dinner because of it, and then I overindulge because I want the nutrients dinner is going to provide. This is my next giant to tackle with self control!

Week 4 Goals:

  • Less snacking in the afternoon
  • Figuring out how much I need at lunchtime to fuel me until dinner
  • Workout 5 times
  • Make a plan for Day 31 and beyond

It’s crazy to be on the final week of this plan! It truly has gone by quickly. Like I said earlier, don’t be afraid to shoot me a message with questions or if you’re needing support in your own journey. I’d love to walk beside you in it! Have a great day my friends!

 

Lifestyle, Recipes

Whole 30: Week 2 Review

Well my friends, Week 2 has come and gone which means it’s time for a recap! The second week of my Whole 30 journey was a little more difficult than the first, which I think is normal. The newness and excitement of it all wore off, and visions of ice cream danced in my head basically every day. Ha! BUT I am praising the Lord because I’ve been able to stay strong and stick with it.

If you’re new here, you can read about why I’m doing the Whole 30 here, and about Week 1 here! Now let’s discuss Week 2…

The Good

My energy levels felt way more normal during this week which was a huge bonus for my workouts! I hit my 5 workout goal, and not only did I get them done, but they felt really awesome. It’s crazy how great my stomach felt on my run without any artificial nastiness in there.

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I loved trying more new recipes throughout the week and we found some major winners! They included pizza soup and buffalo chicken meatballs (great for our March Madness watch party. I substituted almond flour for the panko and it worked just fine!). But the biggest winners this week were breakfast items. We made these sweet potato waffle breakfast sandwiches (but with russet potatoes) and this sweet potato apple bake and I’m pretty sure I could eat both of these things every single day. Please do yourself a favor and try one or both! Even Brady loved them. 🙂

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Also, I have been sleeping like a rock. I get to where I can’t keep my eyes open much past 10 and I’m feeling better rested throughout the day. I still struggle with waking up, but hey, maybe I’m just not meant to be a morning person?

 

The Bad

Like I mentioned earlier, my cravings hit a lot stronger this past week. When my sugar monster would start roaring, I would try to think about something else, or get busy with a different task and usually I’d forget about it. But it was hard! I would love a scoop of ice cream or a nice warm cookie right about now. Even though I’ve had more cravings, it feels really good to know that I can say no to them and move on. It’s a strength I’ve doubted I have so many times!

My stomach did a few weird things during Week 2. There were a couple of days that any food (especially fruit) gave me some weird stomach pain and I got a lot of random headaches. I was also PMSing, so I’m sure that added into it as well. I’m a little frustrated that my digestive issues don’t seem to be getting better yet, but I’m still hopeful!

Goals for Week 3:

  • Drink More Water– I can always improve on this, and I’m pretty sure I haven’t been getting enough
  • Eat More Veggies– My go-to is always fruit and protein. I need to up my veggie intake!
  • Workout 5 times
  • Watch portion control/eat when hungry

Thanks for stopping by! Is anyone else out there doing Whole 30? How’s it going for you?

Recipes

Mini Frittatas (Whole 30 Approved!)

When I wake up on a work day, most likely in semi-zombie mode, the last thing I want to have to worry about is finding a way to have a nutritious breakfast. Can anyone relate?!

Normally my go-to is Shakeology, a superfood meal-replacement shake. BUT this past week I started the Whole 30, where Shakeology is out of bounds. (It contains natural sweetener which is a no-no). So instead of making myself a hearty breakfast each morning, I decided to mass produce these mini frittatas so I can grab a couple, heat them up, and get lots of nutrition without much thought.

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These little guys are delicious, even if you’re not doing the Whole 30. They are packed with protein and nutrients and come in at about 100-110 calories each. And the best part? They are incredibly versatile. You can use whatever you have on hand. I love recipes that allow me to get creative!

Oh, and did I mention that my husband loves them too? I love sneaking greens into his meals whenever possible, and I’m guessing these could be a great way to get some veggies in for your kiddos as well.

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Below is a basic outline of how we’ve loved making our mini frittatas, but like I said, get creative! Comment below if you think of any other delicious ingredients that could be added!

Whole 30 Approved Mini Frittatas

Ingredients:

  • 10 large eggs
  • 1 Tsp Salt
  • 1 Tsp Pepper
  • 1 Tbsp Garlic Seasoning (I used Flavor God’s Garlic Lovers)
  • All-Natural breakfast meat, chopped (we’ve used 7 chicken sausage links or 7 pieces of cooked bacon)
  • 1 Cup All-Natural Frozen Shredded Hashbrowns
  • 1 Cup of Spinach,chopped
  • 1/2 Red Onion, chopped
  • 2-3 Tomatoes, thinly sliced into 12 rounds

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375. Cook breakfast meat until desired texture.
  2. Spray a muffin tin with cooking oil. Fill tins evenly with hasbrowns, spinach, onion, and meat.
  3. Whisk the eggs, salt, pepper, and garlic seasoning in a large bowl until well mixed. Pour evenly into muffin tins. I found this to be easier by using a 1/3 measuring cup as a spoon.
  4. Place a tomato slice on top of each frittata.
  5. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until they reach the consistency you desire.

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How easy is that?! I love eating mine with hot sauce or salsa, and I also think avocado would go great on top. Let me know what you think when you give them a try! 🙂

Recipes

Grown Up Mac ‘N’ Cheese

One of the first foods I remember learning how to make was my beloved, boxed, macaroni and cheese.

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I mean, where can you go wrong with carbs covered in cheese?! Nowadays, I’m not surprised to see versions of mac ‘n’ cheese on restaurant menus. It’s like our generation doesn’t want to let this classic meal go!

I now realize that this isn’t the healthiest meal in the world, so I’ve been on a mission to make it more nutrient dense and a little cleaner than the stuff we grew up with. I’ve tried  a couple of versions for my husband and I and even took a spinach and bacon version to a friend recently. I love this recipe because you can get creative and it’s quick to throw together!

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Grown Up Mac ‘N’ Cheese

Ingredients:

  • 1 Box Annie’s Organic Shells & Real Aged Cheddar Macaroni & Cheese, prepared (follow box directions)
  • 1-2 chicken breasts, diced
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • 1/2 red pepper, diced
  • 1/2 green pepper, diced
  • 1/2 yellow pepper, diced
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1-2 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • Milk (if needed to prevent dryness)

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Directions:

  1. Warm the oil in a pan on medium-high heat. Add chicken, peppers, garlic, and onion to pan. Cook chicken thoroughly.pictapgo-image-2
  2. Add garlic powder and cumin, stirring to coat evenly.
  3. Add prepared macaroni and cheese, stirring until well mixed. You may need to add a extra milk if it seems too dry.
  4. Plate and enjoy!

Other ingredient combinations:

  • bacon, onion, spinach, and garlic (this one goes great with Annie’s white cheddar macaroni and cheese option!)
  • avocado, chicken, onion, lime juice, and cilantro (also great with the white cheddar)
  • chicken, bacon, and yogurt ranch dressing

Like I said, get creative and make this your own! You’ll definitely be able to find a combination your family loves. 🙂

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Lifestyle, Recipes

How to Meal Prep for ONE

I am so excited to have our first guest writer on the blog today! Jacque and I taught together for 2 years in the Philippines at Faith Academy, an international school for missionary kids. More recently, we’ve been challenged to take our health seriously and honor God with the bodies we’ve been given. I’ve loved having this lady as part of the journey! Jacque has had great success by using 21 Day Fix Extreme and portion-control containers along with Shakeology, and I’m pumped for you to hear some of her golden meal prepping tips!

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Jacque lost 10.5 pounds and 26 inches after 4 rounds of 21 Day Fix Extreme!

So, you’ve signed up for a healthy lifestyle challenge and you’re ready to tackle your fitness goals. You’ve heard some friends talk about how meal prepping has changed their life and you think, “How hard could it be? Make some food, plop it in containers. I got this.” Soon it’s time to plan your meals and shop. List in-hand, you walk into the store and stare at the veggies. “Wait, how many green peppers do I need? Should I buy bagged salad? What do I do with the food in my pantry? Do I have to eat the same thing everyday? Well, I can’t afford to buy too many organic berries. What can I buy that fits my budget, meal plans, AND won’t go bad before I can use it up?” And finally, the big question: “Is this really worth it?”
Eighteen months ago I had one of those moments in a grocery store. I was prepping for my first challenge group and had never disliked grocery shopping more. It was paralyzing to try to shop for one (do I buy in bulk or single serve?), stay on budget (hello preschool teacher paycheck…), and find “clean” items that didn’t break the bank (organic is HOW much more?!). I’ve been around the block with this meal prepping gig and I’ve managed to create a method to my madness. This blog is an attempt to save some of you the mental gymnastics of meal prepping for one.

  • Use versatile ingredients so you can buy in bulk, especially if budget is a concern. Stick to chicken breast/tenderloins and beef cuts that are commonly used (hamburger, stew meat, roast, etc) or turkey. I learned several different ways of seasoning and preparing it so it didn’t taste the same. My stand-by flavor combos are Tex-Mex (taco mix), Asian (orange ginger), homestyle (Lawry’s and/or Mrs. Dash Onion and Herbs), and BBQ (Sweet Baby Rays and onions). Mix any of these seasoning combinations with rice, quinoa, sautéed greens, fresh bread, or noodles and there’s usually a winning combination waiting for a few final touches.

 

  • The freezer is your friend. Buy in bulk and then freeze at least half of what you buy. This weekend, I intentionally bought far more spinach, meat, bread, quinoa, feta, and berries than I could eat in a week. Of the 4 lbs of berries I bought, I made 7 snack packs (1 cup each) and then cut up and froze the rest for smoothies/Shakeology. I bought 4 lbs of beef stew meat and made 4 crock pot meals (3 of which are in the freezer). I opted to buy bread, even though I can’t eat a whole loaf myself in a week, much less the family pack of 2 loaves! So I froze one loaf and will freeze whatever I don’t eat by Friday. Same goes for the giant box of spinach – the rest will be put in quart bags and frozen for smoothies or baked pasta dishes. For about $140, I strategically bought enough food to last a full 3 weeks. The first time I did 21 Day Fix Extreme, I easily spent $90 for one week of food. Ouch!

 

  • Make your Fix food visible! Re-organize the fridge, pantry, or even your counter space to direct your eyes where they should go instead of where they’re used to going. (Somehow, I always see the Doritos first…) For me, this means the first thing I see in the fridge is a box of snack packs (fruit or veggies) and next in line are my pre-portioned meals. In my pantry, I put junk food in an entirely different container so it’s not just staring me in the face when I go looking for something else.

 

  • Find 3-4 hours to meal prep and knock out the whole week’s worth of food prep. Grabbing a lunch is so much easier when it was portioned out the day before. I always prep on the weekends because weekdays are too busy to find 3-4 hours. And when I don’t prep… I pay for it. I’ve also kept a list on my fridge door with all the things I prepped because sometimes a container gets pushed to the back and forgotten.

 

  • Choose one mid-week night to do a crock pot meal, which can be prepped and frozen days or even weeks ahead of time. Hands down, the hardest part of meal prep for me is feeling like I have to eat the same things for 6 days. When I can come home to a delicious smell that’s different than what I prepped and have eaten for lunch for the last 2 days, I’m a happy girl.

 

  • Always buy extra bananas. They’re one of the cheapest clean foods available. You can easily peel and freeze them if they brown quickly, so you’ll rarely waste them. I have a banana in my Shakeology every time. And who doesn’t love banana bread made with coconut oil? So good and you’ll have the main ingredient always ready.

 

  • Choose recipes that freeze well and portion them into freezer-friendly containers. If by Thursday, you have meals left in the fridge, throw them in the freezer and grab one some day you ran out or need to make sure you have supper as well as lunch. It’ll also help with variety. Sometimes, if I prep something like chili or soup, I’ll throw 2 containers of it in the freezer right away. They’re perfect for a night you don’t feel like cooking but don’t want to eat out.

 

  • Always have a Clif Bar or Lara Bar in your purse and a container of Shakeology. There are few things worse than mid-morning “hangry” crashes or an unexpected delay in meal times. My go-to flavors are Clif’s Nuts and Seeds or Pomegranate Berry Chia bars. I also keep a container with oatmeal and craisins in my desk at work, which has saved me money, time, and bad decisions by just adding a cup of water.

 

  • Consider doing a meal prep swap with a friend who also meal preps. My mentor recently told me she’s trying 21 Day Fix and we’ve talked about meal swapping for variety and as an act of solidarity. I love the idea of cooking for someone else, especially when I know they’ll notice it and appreciate it.

 

  • Give yourself grace enough to go out when you’re sick of what you’ve got. Honestly, there’ve been a few meals I prepped that didn’t turn out well and I did my best to eat it up, but by Thursday lunch, I was so over it. Panera looked SO much better. I know myself well enough that if given the choice and no accountability, I’d opt for junk food instead of another less-than-awesome-recipe of my packed lunch. In those moments, my best choice is to go to Panera, order something I like that’s nothing like whatever I didn’t want to eat, and just move on.

Jacque Olson is a native Minnesotan with a love for Jesus, solid community, and coffee. She spends her days working for a suburban church and her evenings diving into ways to move people God-ward. In her 27 years of life, she has personally worked with 2,800 kids of all ages and various backgrounds. Her motto in life is simply “Choose joy!” You can find more of her writing on her blog, Consider the Ravens.

Question of the Day:

What meal prep tricks and tips do you have? 

Recipes

Spaghetti Squash + Turkey Meatballs

This recipe is full of delicious, whole ingredients that will satisfy your taste buds along with your health goals!

There is nothing like taking a healthy spin on an old classic! One of my favorite things is to find favorite recipes or foods, and find a way to make them more nutritious with less processed ingredients. My husband, Brady, is a big fan of spaghetti, so this italian dish found it’s place on our week’s menu!

I used the Fixate Cookbook for the turkey meatball recipe with a few adaptations based on what I could find at the store and the time I had to prepare it. (It’s an amazing cookbook if you’re looking for simple, healthy recipes or if you’re completing the 21 Day Fix program!)

I hope you and your family enjoy this meal as much as we did! Bon appetit!

Spaghetti Squash + Turkey Meatballs

(Adapted from Fixate Cookbook)

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Ingredients:

1 Spaghetti Squash (medium size)
1 TSP Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper

1 lb. Lean Ground Turkey
2 TBSP Olive Oil
1 Medium Onion, finely chopped
3-5 Cloves of Garlic, chopped (It’s your preference on the amount)
2/3 Cup Panko Bread Crumbs
1/4 Cup 2% Milk
2 Eggs
1/4 TSP Oregano
1/4 TSP Parsley
1/4 TSP Sea Salt or Pink Himalayan Salt
1/4 TSP Ground Pepper
2 TBSP Grated Parmesan Cheese

1 Jar Spaghetti Sauce (go for low sodium and organic if possible)

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Step 1: Spaghetti Squash

1. Heat oven to 400.
2. Slice the squash in half and remove seeds and fibers from the middle.

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3. Brush inside of squash with olive oil and season with salt and pepper, to taste.
4. Place parchment paper on a baking sheet and top with the squash, face down.
5. Bake for 45 minutes to an hour, depending on size of squash. The edges should start to brown.
6. Remove from oven and let cool. Use a fork to shred the squash until it looks like spaghetti noodles.

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Step 2: Turkey Meatballs

Once the squash is in the oven, start on the meatballs!

1. Heat oil on medium to low heat in a skillet.
2. Add chopped onion and stir frequently for 5-6 minutes, or until onion is translucent.
3. Add garlic and stir for one more minute.
4. In a bowl, mix the ground turkey, onion mixture, bread crumbs, milk, eggs, oregano, parsley, salt, pepper, and parmesan cheese. Mix well with your hands or a wooden spoon.
5. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper, lightly sprayed with cooking oil.
6. With clean, wet hands, roll meat mixture into small balls and place on baking sheet. Recipe should make around 40 small meatballs or 20 large meatballs.
7. Turn oven to 425 (once squash is out) and bake for 13-18 minutes, or until meatballs begin to brown.

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Step 3: Spaghetti Sauce

This is the easy part! Heat your sauce, covered, on medium to low heat. Stir occasionally.

Once all of your ingredients are prepared, plate your meal and wa la! You’re done! 🙂 Please let me know what you think if you try this recipe. I’d love your feedback!

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Next time, I plan to make extra meatballs to freeze and save for an easy meal later on. I hope you all have an amazing weekend! Thanks for stopping by!