Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Favorite Things: It's cold out.

Favorite Things: Baby It's Cold Outside

Favorite Things: Baby It's Cold Outside 

I don't know what the weather looks like where you are, but Dallas is experiencing unseasonably low temperatures this week. And even though tomorrow is supposed to be back in the 50s, I can't get past the feeling of Christmas. What are your go-to winter weather items?

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Post-Whole30 and Where I've Been

This is the story of a girl who... said one thing and did another. Who finished a Whole30 triumphant, and then went back to making bad decisions. Mistakes don't just happen, they're a result of choices.

Oh, Whole30. I loved you and left you, and I miss you desperately.

I figured that when I was done with Whole30, I would just take a little clean eating break. You know, to have a taste of chips and queso, drink the occasional Coke,

Yeah, instead I Ross-Gellar-ed this whole thing. I ended up face-down in a bowl of goat cheese, empty Sonic cups and red straws strewn around me like flower petals.

Okay, not really, but very, very close.

You can come off of a Whole30 and end up making choices that lead you back to your old ways. And as long as you can look at your choices objectively, see how they were decisions and not "just what happens when  you come off a diet," as long as you can understand how you got from point A to point B, all hope is not lost.

Mostly because what they don't tell you is that if you do the Whole30 right, it leaves you with what I am going to call a Clean Eating Conscience. Picture the cricket from Pinocchio, or some other well-intentioned motivator, but picture it floating around with you everywhere, giving you the stink-eye as you slurp down Caramel Macchiatos, Cokes, burgers with their buns still attached...

Not that I'm speaking from experience, or anything.

So, how do you get back to being the best you? I think it starts with It Starts With Food. At least, that's where I'm starting.

I finished a Whole30, and although I've been hiding out away from this blog lately because I didn't want to admit how far from the Whole30 path I'd wandered, now you know what I've been up to all this time.

Here's to fewer Cokes and real food. Here's to all the good stuff.

Monday, October 6, 2014

I Dip, You Dip, We Dip

To all my friends for whom this is the 2nd week of their October Whole30, and for the friends who just started Day 1 today, make it an awesome one. 

Today I'm sharing one of my new favorite things - and it's Whole30 compliant!

During my Whole30, there were moments that I just desperately wanted something sweet. Something to snack on while my husband downed another spoonful of ice cream. Determined not to give into the non-compliant cravings I was experiencing, I searched on Pinterest for "Whole30 snacks" and found this recipe for "energy bites."

Truth be told, I intended to make "bites," I did. But it just didn't happen. My mix wasn't adhering to itself (found out later that a little patience and refrigeration solves this problem), and by the end of everything I just wanted to faceplant into the bowl. What resulted from my frustration, however, was a delicious dip that goes perfectly with a handful of roasted plantain chips from Trader Joe's. 

Jessica's Fruit & Nut Dip:
1 1/2 T coconut oil 
3 T unsweetened cocoa powder
Handful slivered almonds
Handful crushed pecans
1 C dried apricots
1/2 C dried figs, chopped
1/3 C cashew butter

Pulverize all ingredients except cashew butter until all is combined into small, even granules. Spoon into bowl and combine with cashew butter with a spatula. Chow down. 

If you're not doing Whole30, this dip is still super delicious. Put it on toast, crackers, bananas, what have you. 

Happy dipping!

Friday, October 3, 2014

Friday Favorites #11: Woke Up Like This

Friday Favorites #11

Friday Favorites #11 by jlrey

Well, if you're new to HTF and have been following my Whole30 posts, Hey There Friday didn't originally start out as a Whole30/Paleo/Fitness-themed blog. There are so many things that go into my life, and I wanted to write about them all, so the aptly-themed "lifestyle blog" fit my purposes exactly. There will be fashion, there will be food, there will be Fridays.

And today, there are #FridayFavorites. 

I am straight-up obsessed with this Hermes Ear Cuff from BaubleBar and wear it almost every day. I have the link bookmarked on my phone so I can text it to everyone who asks me about it; it's that popular. Next up, the Audacious Lipstick line from NARS has so many new, great fall colors. I just love every single shade in the collection. Tired of the #wokeuplikethis hashtag? Fight back with this awesome T from Nylon. Then, step up your sneaker game with a pair of Roshe Runs by Nike (buying my pair this weekend!), decorate your walls with antlers while you brew a cup of coffee in a French Press. How have I not owned a French Press before now? I don't know. It's a crime, and this one is on sale at Target stores. I got mine for under $10, but the sale isn't online.

Enjoy that weekend, peeps. 

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Whole30 - Day 31: Lessons Learned

Here it is: the finish line. 

The race is behind me, the sprint is over. But the marathon, the training, the how-am-I-going-to-turn-this-into-a-lifestyle mentality has just started. I may be stronger than any craving, more resilient than added sugar, more dedicated than a can of Coke, a block of cheese or a tempting bowl of chips and salsa, but I'm still going. 

This is what makes Whole30 better than a diet. It's a lifestyle change that brings awareness into your life of what the food you consume does to your body. And while I may not live 100% Whole30 going forward, I'll definitely utilize a Paleo or Pale-almost method to keep my body on track. 

With that said, here are some of the lessons I learned during my Whole30. Now, go forth and conquer.

Lessons Learned:
1. When the Whole30 team tells you to clear out all the bad-for-you stuff from your pantry and fridge, do it.

Cravings creep up on you at the most unexpected times, but you don't have to succumb to them. And you can't fail if there's nothing there to tempt you.

Having a hard time throwing away and "wasting "all this food? Then don't. Donate unopened items to food banks, or have a friend come over and help you.

2. Don't wait until you're starving to eat.

Repeat after me: I have to eat to live.

I will say just this: you cannot survive on black coffee alone. When you're hungry, or hangry, you will make bad choices.

3. Take advantage of opportunities to prepare.

You are not going to just "have "time for this. You are going to have to make time. When you're whipping up dinner, can you cook a little extra and set it aside in tupperware for lunch tomorrow? What components can you reuse?

4. Bad habits with good foods are still bad habits.

Swapping your afternoon, sitting-in-front-of-the-tube binge food from chips & salsa to dried mango and cashews is still a bad idea, even when the foods are "healthy." Why is this? Because Whole30 is about more than just what you eat, it's about your relationship with what you eat.

5. Just because you bought it at Whole Foods, Trader Joe's, Central Market, etc. doesn't mean that it's compliant.

Have I mentioned that sugar is in everything? Because it is in Ev.Ry.Thing. Check your ingredients. Then double-check them. Then Google, "Is __________ Whole30 compliant?" if you have any other questions.

6. You can do the whole Whole30 and still not drink enough water, not eat enough veggies, not get enough protein...

Choices. Choices. Choices. Make the right ones. 

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Whole30 - Day 30

Holy avocados... TODAY'S THE LAST DAY!

I'm feeling a strange sense of calm wash over me. I've finished what I set out to do. I ate clean, whole foods for 30 days, and I'm still alive to talk about it. I've shared my experience with friends and family, and received such overwhelming support that I just want to keep passing on this info to everyone I see.

It's cliche, but I think I just changed my own life.

Day 30 Recap:

Pre-Workout Breakfast: mango & apple bar from TJ's
Breakfast: potatoes with pork carnitas
Lunch: pomegranate seeds, fruit & nut dip
Dinner: chili rellenos with ground beef, tomatoes and salsa verde

Monday, September 29, 2014

Whole 30 - Day 29

With only two whole days left to go, I think I finally hit my "Tiger Blood" stride, if a little late. And I am most definitely in the HolyOprahIt'sAlmostOverWhatOnEarthDoIEatNow?! phase. When I went to the store today, I bought a couple of things that I hadn't even looked at during my Whole30. Goat cheese and tortillas... heyo!

And then I felt... guilty.

I hadn't even eaten these things yet, and already I'm feeling pangs of stop it stop it stop it! That's not approvedddd!! guilt.

At the beginning of the Whole30, I would have killed someone for a Coke. I wanted to throttle someone who ate a cheesy pizza in front of me. But now, as Melissa Hartwig put so well in her blog post, my "Worth It" foods have changed. Caramel Macchiato at Starbucks? It was worth it at the beginning, but it isn't now. Cheese on my chili relleno, bread on my sandwich, mayo with my sweet potato fries... not worth it.

Did I buy some non-Whole30 items at the store the other day? Yes.

Am I planning on binge-eating the lot of it on Day 31? Heck, no. I feel too good, I look too good, and there's too much goodness out there to throw it all away.

Day 29 Recap:

Breakfast: mango & apple fruit bar from TJ's
Lunch: Whole Foods salad bar
Dinner: pork carnitas on spicy roasted red potatoes

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Whole30 - Day 28

With just two more days left to go on the Whole30, I've been thinking about how different this challenge has been compared to every other diet plan I've tried. My friends and I were talking this week about other diets we've attempted, and how transient the results have been. Weight Watchers, counting calories, the 5-2 fasting diet, smoothie meal substitutes... Sure, maybe you get the momentary satisfaction of having dropped 5 or 10 lbs., but how do you feel? If you feel the same and look the same, what change did you make? If you're eating loads of processed junk in an effort to stay under 300 calories for every single meal, how is your body getting what it needs?

I can see the change; I can feel the results. And the best part? I know I've made a life-long change.

Day 28 Recap:

Breakfast: bacon, eggs, breakfast potatoes
Lunch: fruit & nut butter
Dinner: grilled chicken with avocado and steamed broccoli

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Whole30 - Day 27

Today, even while I was on vacation, I couldn't help but think about what Day 31 is going to look like. After all, Whole30 isn't meant to be just a challenge you shrug off the moment it's done - it's a lifestyle change.

When I started Whole30, I didn't truly understand how much this method of eating would affect me. I thought I'd do the challenge, then bounce right back to my old habits after everything was said and done.

Um, wrong.

I don't want to binge on bad-for-me-stuff. I don't want to watch all this hard work to go to waste. I want to take a good, hard look at how these foods affect me, and measure how I feel after I consume them. This post from My Primal Provisions only fueled my reintroduction fire.

Day 27 Recap:

Breakfast: fruit plate and black coffee
Lunch: poached eggs with flank steak
Dinner: grilled salmon with grilled veggies

Friday, September 26, 2014

Whole30 - Days 24 - 26

And the final seven days begin!

Day 24

On Wednesday I got a chance to talk to some of my friends about my Whole30 journey - I even shared some of my before & Day 14 comparison pictures, which I thought I would never do. It feels awesome to be able to show off what I've accomplished.

Day 24 Recap:

Breakfast: smoothie with strawberry, banana, avocado, coconut milk and chia seeds
Lunch: Whole Foods salad bar
Dinner: grilled veggies, dried mango, fruit & nut dip

Day 25

Finally some of these cravings have started to ebb. I'm almost used to my new Starbucks order: a tall black iced coffee with no sweetener or room for cream, and what seemed like an annoyingly long lunchtime prep exercise is now a ritual I enjoy. 

Day 25 Recap:

Breakfast: apple & mango fruit bar from Trader Joe's
Lunch: sweet potato with homemade, compliant, chicken salad
Dinner: same as lunch... I got lazy

Day 26

Another day on the road, another night away. Making good food choices when I'm out of town makes me crave my kitchen and comforts of home. It's even harder when someone is cooking food for you, but not impossible. Stick to your (polite!) guns, and everybody wins.

Day 26 Recap:

Breakfast: smoothie and some compliant breakfast sausage
Lunch: mango & apple bar, apple and some fruit
Dinner: grilled veggies and chicken

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Whole30 - Day 23

Bulletproof Coffee: I tried it.
If we're not on the same page of what Bulletproof Coffee is, then I'm going to direct you here, so you can get up to speed. This is where Bulletproof originated, and this site should answer all of your questions, because I'm certainly not an expert.

All around the healthy blogosphere, Bulletproof Coffee is the "it" drink of the moment, especially among the paleo/Cross-fit set (although not the purists, because technically coffee/caffeine isn't paleo). More info on that? Go here.

People are raving about it. It's supposed to be "better than a latte," giving you the energy of Zeus and a can-do attitude to boot.

I used an Ethiopian organic, fair-trade blend from Trader Joe's, freshly ground yesterday afternoon. I made my coffee in a French press, and blended it with grass-fed ghee and coconut oil.

Taste-wise, the flavor was pretty similar to the coconut milk latte I had on Sunday. I added a dash of cinnamon, but for me, what this combination is really lacking is something sweet to pull the whole concoction together. And that is definitely not Whole30 compliant, so sweetening the brew just ain't gonna happen. 

Bottom line? I think the effects of Bulletproof Coffee will depend on what your standard caffeine intake already is. Mine is, admittedly, pretty hefty, so I think that's why I haven't felt the jolt of unstoppable energy that others rave about.

Looking for a different way to do coffee? Give it a shot and tell me what you think.

Day 23 Recap:

Breakfast: scrambled eggs with TJ's Salsa Verde
Lunch: plantain "chips" with fruit & nut spread
Dinner: sweet potato with pork carnitas & poached egg

Monday, September 22, 2014

Whole30 - Day 22

Let's talk about snacks.

From the outset, the Whole30 program encourages you to eat meals that are filling enough to get you to your next meal, eliminating snacking as much as possible. But, why?

So far for the entirety of my Whole30 program, I've stayed away from snacking. I'll have an orange or an apple here or there, or drink a Dave's G.T. Kombucha when I would normally down a Coke from Sonic, but since pre-packaged, Whole30-compliant snacks are pretty hard to come by, I just skipped them altogether.

Until yesterday, when I went a little crazy at Trader Joe's.

Chowing down on snacks, even when they're approved, compliant snacks, takes away market share in your stomach from more nutrient-rich, delicious foods that you could be eating as a meal instead. If I eat half a bag of dried mango, no matter how compliant it is, I'm just not going to be hungry for sweet potatoes, eggs and chicken later.

But, no matter where you are in the snacking/meal planning/fruit-loving stages of your Whole30 journey, if you've stuck it out this far, keep on keepin' on. Don't beat yourself up for snacks here and there. Remember, there's no such thing as a "perfect" Whole30.

Day 22:

Breakfast: coffee (womp, womp)
Lunch: sweet potato with compliant chicken salad
Snack: dried mango, spirulina chips and TJ's apple & mango bar
Dinner: sweet potato with chicken, poached egg and TJ's salsa verde

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Whole30 - Day 21

Day 21: Whoamygosh, the temptation.

Must. Not. Give. In.

I actually sent my friend a text today that said, "I can't help it... I just feel like my life is incomplete without cheese."

The cravings today, for me, were insane. I wanted to eat everything in sight and then some. The pack of Twizzlers sitting on the shelf in my pantry had to be thrown in the trash before I succumbed to the evil, Whole30-wrecking temptations. Instead, I took what I had on hand and made a "dip" of sorts.

The dip was originally supposed to be "bites," but nothing was holding together, so into a tupperware bowl it went. I used this recipe as inspiration, but changed the game a little to fit what I had on hand. The last place I want to be on a Sunday afternoon is at the grocery store.

Fruit & Nut Spread:

  • large handful of sliced almonds
  • small handful of crushed pecans
  • 1/2 c dried apricots
  • 1/2 c dried figs
  • 4 TBS coconut oil
  • 3 TBS 100% cacao 
Put everything in a food processor and blend until well combined, but not so much that it's liquefied. If you have the patience, put it in the fridge for an hour or so and then form the mix into little balls or squares. 

If you don't, dunk an apple in it. 

Or a spoon. I'm not judging.

Day 21 Recap:

Breakfast: coconut milk latte with cinnamon
Lunch: grilled avocados with shredded chicken, jalapeno cabbage slaw and pico de gallo
Dinner: sweet potato with grilled chicken 

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Whole30 - Day 20

Day 20: Just 10 days left!

Another day, another meal away from home. I don't know about you, but I'm beginning to get tired of the stress of eating out. Scouring menus, searching for things that are compliant is exhausting.

When I started the Whole30 journey, I explicitly told my husband that we couldn't go anywhere near a place that had my favorite "layered queso" dip: queso with brisket or ground beef, guac and sour cream all in one happy little bowl. Why not? Because I didn't trust myself to not order it, and even now when I trust myself to avoid it on the menu, I don't trust myself to not be completely miserable without it.

It's all about prevention.

Day 20 Recap:

Breakfast: Coffee, smoothie
Lunch: cashews and an orange
Lunch (Part 2): pork carnitas with avocado
Dinner: Salad with grilled salmon and fruit, with a side of chimichurri "dressing"

Friday, September 19, 2014

Whole30 - Days 17- 19

Day 17-19: What to do when you're eating out (for literally every meal)

Sometimes eating out is unavoidable, like when you go out of town on a business trip and don't have your normal schedule, kitchen, or food prep available. That's been my situation for the past few days.

As with anything, but more so with dining out, you're going to be confronted with choices, and opportunities to choose the wrong thing. You have no way of knowing how that restaurant cooks their chicken, if there's any sugar incorporated with their spices, etc., and your server may not know, even if you ask. 

Look at the ingredients and make informed decisions. A glaze on your steak? Probably has honey or some kind of sugar in it. Cream sauces? No go. Mayos? Typically loaded with sugar. Sherry or white wine sauces? Nope.

But here's a tip for when everyone is standing around sipping on their sugar-laden beverages of choice... order club soda with lime. It's more exciting than plain old water, and fills you up so you aren't tempted by the table full of appetizers sitting right in front of you.

Day 17 Recap:

Breakfast: smoothie (on the road)
Lunch: fajita steak with onions, peppers and salsa
Dinner: blackened salmon with arugula, avocado and taro chips

Day 18 Recap:

Breakfast: coffee on the way to a meeting 
Lunch: raw zucchini salad, grilled chicken, green pressed juice
Dinner: homemade chili (hooray for friends who cook!) and fruit for dessert

Day 19 Recap:

Breakfast: chorizo & egg breakfast tacos
Lunch: shredded brisket with avocado and garlic green beans
Dinner: sweet potato fries and a smoothie (on the go again)

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Whole30 - Day 16

I woke up today from having my first food craving dream. I was eating sponge cake in front of coworkers, hoarding it like a hamster.

I don't even like sponge cake.

To quote the Friends theme song, "Momma told you there'd be days like these..."

Now I feel like I'm increasing my speed on the Whole30 downhill slope. It's easier to make the auto-compliant choices, because I know the effect it's having on me. No more 3pm slump, my clothes fit better, I have more energy... And I don't want to do anything to screw it up!

Day 16 Recap:

Breakfast: smoothie 
Lunch: pork carnitas
Dinner: sweet potato hash

Monday, September 15, 2014

Whole30 - Day 15

Day 15: HALFWAY!

What a day to be halfway. In the spirit of full disclosure, this was probably one of the toughest days on my Whole30 journey. 

I woke up late, and didn't have time to make breakfast. Coffee and a clementine orange was as close as I got to a meal. 

Waking up late also meant that I had left my carefully-planned lunch in the fridge, and had to surf the Whole Foods salad bar for afternoon eats.

What does lack of preparation get you? An opportunity for cravings, and the siren song of quitting altogether. Don't give in. I repeat: don't. give. in. I made a list of everything I was craving and texted it to a friend, then made my way home and set up the delicious plate in the pic above.

Sometimes I feel like I'm spot-on with the Whole30 timeline, and sometimes other stages creep up and attack me when I least expect it. What's the key? Pushing forward. Remind yourself why you started. Look at your #nonscalevictories.

And make these Pork Carnitas (originally posted here).

Jessica's Paleo Pork Carnitas
You'll need:
Pork tenderloin, not frozen
4 TBS Lime juice 
1 TBS Ghee
1 C Olive oil
Three large hatch chiles, or a few good-sized jalapeños
1 heaping tsp Paprika
2 tsp Chile powder
1 TBS Crushed garlic (TJ's has it in a jar!)
1 tsp Red pepper flakes
1/2 C Chopped white onion
Salt & pepper to taste

Note: I used a Dutch oven to cook the meat on the stovetop for three hours. I'm not sure that there's enough liquid in the recipe to allow for a crockpot modification, but if you figure out a method, let me know.  

1. Pour olive oil, lime juice and ghee into the bottom of your pot/Dutch oven, and whisk together until the ingredients are fully integrated.
2. Add in dry seasonings and whisk.
3. Place your tenderloin in the pot so that it sits well in the liquid/spice mixture.
4. Rub crushed garlic along the exposed edge of the tenderloin, add a little portion into the liquid mix.
5. Cut hatch chiles in half lengthwise, and add them to the pot. Lay them on top of the pork, wedge them in there.
6. Turn the burner on low and let cook, checking every 45-minutes to an hour. When the bottom of the tenderloin gets charred and caramelized with spices and the liquid starts to evaporate, flip the tenderloin and caramel use the other side.

You'll know it's time to take it out when you try pick up the tenderloin with a large fork or tongs, and the meat falls apart. 

8. Shred the pork with two forks and pour the remainder of the juice over the pork in a bowl that you can refrigerate or serve it in. Add additional salt and pepper to taste. 

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Whole30 - Day 14

I've been getting a little discouraged lately, since the end of the Whole30 is so far away, but today I compared my "Before" pictures to the "now" me, and there are definitely differences in how I look, and more importantly, major differences in the way I feel.

I had a friend ask how I'll be eating after I come off the program, and it gave me pause. I'm not sure yet how I'll incorporate the Whole30 lifestyle into my everyday. It's something to think on as the challenge winds down. 

If you've done the Whole30 before, what's your method for reintroducing foods into your diet post-program?

Day 14 Recap:

Breakfast: compliant bacon and coffee
Lunch: grilled avocados with barbacoa, onions and pico de gallo
Dinner: veggie sushi with seaweed instead of rice, no soy sauce

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Whole30 - Day 13

Day 13: Bacon.


Every Saturday, we wake up, lollygag around the house a bit, and make an epic brunch. Bacon, however, is an integral part of brunch foods. It's what makes the world go 'round.

Pederson's Natural Farms  makes sugar-free bacon that's delicious, and available at Whole Foods. No antibiotics, no preservatives... and totally Whole30 compliant. This morning we made sweet potato hash, with pulled pork carnitas, bacon and poached eggs, and I actually forgot that I was actively giving up anything for a blissful hour.

And then a new round of cravings set in. Goodness, it would be nice to not feel like I want to eat anything and everything in the world right now.

Day 13 Recap:

Brunch: sweet potato hash with carnitas, bacon and eggs
Dinner: turkey, bacon and avocado salad

Friday, September 12, 2014

Whole30 - Day 12

Holy cravings, Day 12. 

I see it, I want it. I practically have to close my eyes when I drive by a Sonic (I don't, because I'm driving...) and even things that I'm not usually interested in eating sound DELICIOUS. Snickers bar? Gimme. Cheeseburger and fries? Yes, please. Cocoa Puffs, Cinnamon Toast Crunch. Twizzlers. I feel like I could eat anything and everything. 

And then I start seeing some #nonscalevictories:

  • I don't crash at 3 pm anymore. I get tired around 9:30 or 10, like I'm supposed to. 
  • Everything is less foggy. I think more clearly. It's awesome.
  • Nothing I've been eating has made me bloat, which is a definite plus.
  • Clothes fit better. Period. 
  • I don't feel the need to constantly snack throughout the day.
Day 12 Recap:

Breakfast: smoothie with fresh fruit and coconut milk
Lunch: sweet potato with pork carnitas
Dinner: grilled avocados with barbacoa and pico de gallo

Tomorrow I'm posting a recipe for

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Whole30 - Days 10 & 11

Days 10 & 11, according to my two go-to sources (Primal Provisions and the Whole30 Timeline), are the days you're most likely to quit the program. Why? Who knows. It's just what happens.

Day 10

If you made it to Day 10, you made it a third of the way through, which feels awesome. 10 days, no matter how you cut it, sounds big. Sounds amazing. Sounds like you're doing it. Really, actually doing it.

My day 10 was also my non-Whole30-er husband's birthday, which meant dinner out and cake. Look here, people who are thinking about quitting: cutting a birthday cake and not licking the icing off your fingers takes a small amount of willpower, but you can do it. Not indulging in chips and spinach-artichoke dip stinks, but you can do it. Sitting there watching your significant other scarfing down a thick-crust pizza while you try to incinerate it with your eyeballs may test your limits, but it is possible.

Instead of telling myself, "I can't have that," or "That's off limits," I've been trying to internalize the phrase, "I don't want (insert craveable food here)." It helps remind me that this Whole30 challenge was my choice, and that I'm doing it for a reason.

Day 10 Recap:

Breakfast: sweet potato hash and a smoothie (strawberry, banana, avocado and coconut milk)
Lunch: pork carnitas in butter lettuce wraps with onion and TJ's salsa verde
Dinner: remaining half of the smoothie and sweet potato hash

Day 11

Geez, Day 11. Lay off me, all right? I need a day without a headache. 

Is this a sugar-detox situation? I am getting little headaches like nobody's business. 

Look, guys. I am not overstating the awesomeness of the pork carnitas. They are day-fixers. They are wonderful. Perfectly charred, magically seasoned, these things go on everything. They will change your life.*

I spent my evening working the coffee bar at our church for a concert night, and must have made 15 lattes, with full-sugar caramel syrup, 2% milk... I was tempted. At this point, though, I'm starting to relish each good choice I make. It's like a little Mario Bros. power boots; I can hear the sound effects in the background.

As I go through these recaps, I notice that I'm making a lot of the same food choices day-in and day-out. It's easy to get in food ruts, but I'm eating these foods because I truly love them. 

And here's a bit of Whole30 advice: know thyself. If you don't like salads, you aren't going to love them overnight. If the thought of red peppers makes you want to gag, okay. Don't force yourself into prepping and eating things that you hate. Don't waste your time and money. Instead, find new foods to love, and keep trying out foods you're skeptical on. You might just find a new favorite. 

Day 11 Recap:

Breakfast: Smoothie with strawberries, banana, blueberry and coconut milk
Lunch: pork carnitas in butter lettuce wraps with onion and TJ's salsa verde
Dinner: last part of the smoothie and sweet potato hash

*I can't really say this; it's not evaluated by the FDA or anything, but dang. Pork carnitas = deliciousness.`

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Whole30 - Days 8 & 9

Forgive me for the laziness of lumping two days into one post. I think after you read my Day 8 recap, you'll understand why I couldn't just leave you with that sad blurb.

Day 8

According to my Whole30 "whole"-y grail, the My Primal Provisions blog, Day 8 should feel... puffy. And that's an understatement. As your body gets used to all the new foods, lack of sugar and hyper-processed stuff that you normally gorge on, your digestive system takes a few days to reset itself. This usually happens around Day 8. Imagine you ate all of the sodium and fried foods in the world, and then double that gross feeling.

The good news? Waking up with my alarm clock is getting a lot less difficult to do.

The bad news? The gross feeling made me not want to do anything. When I got home, the only thing I was interested in doing was passing out on the couch, but I forced myself into making a smoothie and doing some Day 9 food prep.

Day 8 Recap:

Breakfast: leftover sweet potato and hatch chile hash with chicken and baked egg
Lunch: broccoli salad with Trader Joe's canned salmon (not a fan.)
Dinner: smoothie with strawberries, banana, peaches, avocado, coconut milk and chia seeds (made enough for two so I would have an easy breakfast on Day 9 or 10)

Day 9

Well, thank goodness for a good day. Day 8 was so depressing that quitting looked like a viable option, but Day 9 has been a complete 180. 

Sometimes you just have to buckle down and make good food. Meal prep helps a ton, but so does knowing exactly what you like, don't like, and what you're willing to try. I tried the whole broccoli salad/salmon thing, and was not a fan (at all, not at all...), but I should have known my taste buds would need some time getting used to a giant pile of broccoli as "lunch." 

On Day 7, I made some delicious Pork Carnitas (my own little recipe), and packed them for lunch for Day 9. I wish I would have taken a picture of them for you, but to be honest, I ate them too fast. These tacos with butter lettuce, diced white onions and Trader Joe's Salsa Verde are a total game-changer. They make your day better, I promise. 

Day 9 Recap:

Breakfast: Sweet potato hash with chicken
Lunch: pork carnitas tacos!
Dinner: sweet potato hash with pork, chicken and a poached egg (protein for the win!)

Monday, September 8, 2014

Color-Blocking for Work

Color-Blocked Work Day

Color-Blocked Work Day by jlrey

One day a few months ago, I was shopping at Nordstrom Rack and stumbled across this amazing, incredibly versatile perforated white leather, boxy-cut shirt by Vince Camuto. I picked it up and instantly fell in love. It goes with skinny jeans, boyfriend jeans, destroyed denim shorts, black pants, and like the image above, high-waisted maroon skinny jeans and cobalt suede pumps. 

What versatile pieces in our wardrobe do you love?

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Whole30 - Day 7

Image via The Clothes Make The Girl
Man, meal planning is the name of the Whole30 game. I honestly don't see how I could be successful without it. And although last week had some missteps, this week is going to be much better (and more delicious).

Last night I pulled out all my freshly-purchased ingredients, and made a couple of items to get me through the week. 

First up, this Paleo Broccoli Salad, which I made without bacon, because none of what I have is plan compliant, and without raisins, because I hate raisins. I plan on eating this with canned salmon from Trader Joe's, mixed with homemade mayo. 

Homemade mayo, people. I MADE MAYO! I tried and failed earlier this week (making me doubt my mad kitchen skills...), because I was impatient and didn't take the "room temperature" and "light-tasting olive oil" directions seriously. Whoops. Look, follow this recipe exactly, and you will have glorious, delicious homemade mayo. 

A helpful hint: if you have one of the dinky, 4-cup Cuisinart food processors like I do, which requires the lid to be locked and loaded before you hit the chop button, you can still achieve your mayo dreams. Look at the top of your lid - there should be an oval with raised edges, with sloping ramps to two tiny holes that feed into the bowl. This is where you pour the oil to integrate it into the mix. Amazing, amirite?!

Then I also made my own recipe for pork carnitas, which I'm planning on wrapping in butter lettuce with onions, pico and lime throughout the week. This stuff is SO good. Seriously. 

Jessica's Paleo Pork Carnitas
You'll need:
Pork tenderloin, not frozen
4 TBS Lime juice 
1 TBS Ghee
1 C Olive oil
Three large hatch chiles, or a few good-sized jalapeños
1 heaping tsp Paprika
2 tsp Chile powder
1 TBS Crushed garlic (TJ's has it in a jar!)
1 tsp Red pepper flakes
1/2 C Chopped white onion
Salt & pepper to taste

Note: I used a Dutch oven to cook the meat on the stovetop for three hours. I'm not sure that there's enough liquid in the recipe to allow for a crockpot modification, but if you figure out a method, let me know.  

1. Pour olive oil, lime juice and ghee into the bottom of your pot/Dutch oven, and whisk together until the ingredients are fully integrated.
2. Add in dry seasonings and whisk.
3. Place your tenderloin in the pot so that it sits well in the liquid/spice mixture.
4. Rub crushed garlic along the exposed edge of the tenderloin, add a little portion into the liquid mix.
5. Cut hatch chiles in half lengthwise, and add them to the pot. Lay them on top of the pork, wedge them in there.
6. Turn the burner on low and let cook, checking every 45-minutes to an hour. When the bottom of the tenderloin gets charred and caramelized with spices and the liquid starts to evaporate, flip the tenderloin and caramel use the other side.

You'll know it's time to take it out when you try pick up the tenderloin with a large fork or tongs, and the meat falls apart. 

8. Shred the pork with two forks and pour the remainder of the juice over the pork in a bowl that you can refrigerate or serve it in. Add additional salt and pepper to taste. 

And there you have it! Go forth and enjoy!

Day 7 Recap:

Breakfast: homemade smoothie with frozen strawberries, frozen banana, frozen peach and canned coconut milk
Lunch: chicken-stuffed, bacon-wrapped jalapeños
Dinner: leftover blackened mahi with broccolini

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Whole30 - Day 6

Mexican Hash via Free People
If you're doing the Whole30 and not following the blog My Primal Provisions, you're doing it wrong. The writer of this site started the September Whole30 a day early, so you can read his tips as you start your day and get an idea of what to expect. It's been a lifesaver as I try to navigate through my first-ever Whole30!

Going into Day 6, I was coming off of 10 hours of blissful, amazing sleep... and woke up tired. What? How is this possible?

But then reading the Whole30 Timeline and My Primal Provisions' Day 6 recap made me feel like at least I wasn't alone. I struggled all day to get some sort of energy going, and then came home to meal prep for next week. I also (disappointingly) discovered that Chipotle doesn't taste as delicious without the gobs of corn salsa, sour cream and cilantro rice...

Day 6 Recap:

Breakfast: Mexican Hash with Baked Eggs (recipe under image above, modified for Whole30 compliance)
Lunch: Chipotle bowl with pork carnitas, pico de gallo and guacamole
Dinner: Broccoli with tahini and G.T. Dave's "Synergy" Kombucha

Friday, September 5, 2014

Whole30 - Day 5

Oh, Day 5. The final day of "KILL ALL THE THINGS," and I am ready for the weekend. At the start of the week, I felt like I had a great meal plan set up, but at the end of the week, I was bored with my predetermined food choices. Word to the wise: same-old, same-old, day after day, will make you go crazy, and it makes the "kill all the things" phase so much worse.

I was already bored with my food options, but then we went out to eat for the first time since starting the Whole30 challenge. Dinner with friends at a cajun restaurant left me eating blackened fish with broccolini... delicious, but a far cry from the dirty rice and crawfish etouffee that I wanted to dig into. *sigh*

I'm ready for new things, a new week, and the Tiger Blood phase to kick in!

Day 5 Recap:

Breakfast: last day of mini frittatas! Hooray!
Lunch: sweet potato with chicken, chorizo, tahini
Dinner: blackened mahi mahi with broccolini

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Whole30 - Day 4

Helloooo, moodiness. Today, some angsty feelings crept in. First, it was a bad night's sleep with some rotten dreams, then it was a late start to the morning, trying to be a trooper about eating the rest of the leftover frittata and instead having a bad attitude, then a full work day and a grueling drive home in rush-hour traffic. 

Every blog, everywhere, reminds us Whole30-ers that this feeling comes, and passes. There will be better days. At some point you will get to the "I can do anything!" phase, and while that may not be today, don't give up. Make some eggs, drink a cup of black coffee and take a deep, deep breath.

Day 4 Recap:

Breakfast: leftover frittata with tobasco, avocado and a side of fruit
Lunch: sweet potato with broccoli, chicken, chorizo and tahini
Dinner: red potato stacks with smoked salmon, a poached egg and tahini

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Whole30 - Day 3

On the Whole30 website, Day 2 & 3 are listed as "The Hangover." It's the feeling you get when all the garbage you binged on pre-Whole30 catches up with you. 

I expected to be more monstrous than this, but days 2 & (so far) 3, have not been horrible. I have been tired, so dang tired, but the little headache gremlins have left me alone so far. Like the Whole30 Timeline says, "the amount of suck you experience in this phase is directly proportional to the amount of crap you consumed before you began the program." If I objectively examine my diet leading up to the challenge, I didn't really binge or divert from my norm. My norm, however, is definitely not Whole30-friendly, and so I've been experiencing some major cravings. 

Yesterday I had to keep telling myself, "No." No, you can't have that Jolly Rancher. No, dolmades are not plan-approved. No, don't go near the cheese aisle in Whole Foods. No, you cannot have hummus. 


I bought loads of fresh veggies at the grocery store, organic grass-fed meats and good-for-ya fruits. I told you - I read the labels a million times. And I was sometimes disappointed. Sriracha has sugar in it! This vinegar has sugar in it! Everything has sugar in it!!

Everything! Ev. Ry. Thang. 

That was how I felt yesterday. I admit I was a bit cranky. 

I think it's okay to feel aggravated by all the new "don'ts" in your life. It makes you realize how much of your diet is crowded with bad-for-you stuff. But like Jacob (we're gonna be on a first-name basis here) at MyPrimalProvisions.com says, Whole30 is about more than just what you eat. It's about your relationship to what you eat, how you eat it, and how it affects your lifestyle.

Day 3 Recap:

Breakfast: three mini frittatas, half an avocado with tobasco sauce
Lunch: sweet potato with chorizo, chicken, tahini and a side of broccoli
Snack: apple with cashew butter
Dinner: soft-boiled egg and apple with cashew butter

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Whole30 - Day 2

Image via Pinterest
I don't know day this hits everyone else on, but today I was struck by how much work the Whole30 plan requires. I spent at least twice the time I usually do at the grocery store, reading, re-reading, checking and re-checking labels. Even when the sticker said, "organic," I scanned the list of ingredients for Whole30 "no-nos." 

And then once you buy the food, you have to prep it. 

I spent three hours tonight cooking chicken, boiling eggs, making salads, separating out meal ingredients and putting everything in handy little tupperware containers. 

And then I realized how hungry I was. 

Note to self: do not allow yourself to get to the point of starvation. You will consider doing awful, sugary, horrible things. 

Here's my Day 2 recap:

Breakfast: three mini frittatas with red peppers & onions; black coffee

Lunch: hit up the salad bar at Whole Foods (which handily has the ingredients to every item written above it) for a medly of salad items, and chicken, no dressing; raw kombucha

Snack: Granny Smith apple dipped in cashew butter

Dinner: two small sweet potatoes, baked with ghee, topped with tahini, chorizo and chicken; broccoli and water

Monday, September 1, 2014

Whole30 - Day 1

Via whole30.com

I woke up this morning with a strange sense of anticipation. A little over a month ago, I decided to do the Whole30 challenge, starting in September. I had thought about starting in August, but a new job and a vacation to the Pacific Northwest stopped me from doing something I wasn't prepared for.

There upsides and downsides to waiting. And there's a difference between waiting, and procrastinating.

I waited to do the Whole30 challenge because I knew that I wanted to enjoy my time in Seattle, not worrying about whether or not the Eggs Benedict I love so much were plan-approved. I didn't want the stress of a new job to interfere with my goal. 

I wanted to tackle Whole30 with bright eyes and clear intentions, because I know it will be hard enough to give up goat cheese, sourdough bread, hazelnut macchiatos and Cokes as it is. I know that this plan requires dedication.

When I announced my decision to some friends a week ago, I was met with suspicion. "You're going to start this thing on Labor Day? No way - there's too much good stuff to eat. Why don't you wait until Tuesday?"

And there it is: the opportunity to procrastinate.
Waiting until the time is right to make a lifestyle change = good.
Putting off your decision because it's inconvenient = bad. 

You know, I thought about it. I considered putting off Whole30 until Tuesday so I could eat burgers with a bun on them, and have multiple pieces of cheesecake, and then I read this on the Whole30 site: 

It’s For Your Own Good

Here comes the tough love. This is for those of you who are considering taking on this life-changing month, but aren’t sure you can actually pull it off, cheat free, for a full 30 days. This is for the people who have tried this before, but who “slipped” or “fell off the wagon” or “just HAD to eat (fill in food here) because of this (fill in event here).” This is for you.

  • It is not hard. Don’t you dare tell us this is hard. Beating cancer is hard. Birthing a baby is hard. Losing a parent is hard. Drinking your coffee black. Is. Not. Hard. You’ve done harder things than this, and you have no excuse not to complete the program as written. It’s only thirty days, and it’s for the most important health cause on earth – the only physical body you will ever have in this lifetime.
  • Don’t even consider the possibility of a “slip.” Unless you physically tripped and your face landed in a box of doughnuts, there is no “slip.” You make a choice to eat something unhealthy. It is always a choice, so do not phrase it as if you had an accident. Commit to the program 100% for the full 30 days. Don’t give yourself an excuse to fail before you’ve even started.
  • You never, ever, ever have to eat anything you don’t want to eat. You’re all big boys and girls. Toughen up. Learn to say no (or make your mom proud and say, “No, thank you”). Learn to stick up for yourself. Just because it’s your sister’s birthday, or your best friend’s wedding, or your company picnic does not mean you have to eat anything. It’s always a choice, and we would hope that you stopped succumbing to peer pressure in 7th grade.
  • See more at: http://whole30.com/step-two/
Talk about hitting you where it hurts. Look at me, not even started and already setting myself up to fail.
I made the decision to do Whole30. I waited until the right time, where I was in a position to succeed. But now, I would be failing if I procrastinated, so I'm charging forward. See below for my Day 1 recap.
Day 1

Breakfast: scrambled egg with roasted red peppers and black coffee

Late Lunch/Early Dinner: hatch chili sausage with mustard (approved ingredients), salad, water with lime

In the interest of full disclosure: I made a bad food decision yesterday as well, but not I'm not quitting. I may go an extra day at the end of the challenge to make up for my choice, but I'll make that decision as time progresses with the challenge. 

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Whole30 - The Night Before

Via whole30.com

There are always reasons NOT to do something. Money, time, resources... Over time these reasons become excuses, and then that thing you meant to do becomes the thing you never did because you let something else get in the way of accomplishing your goal.

Sometimes I'm guilty of letting reasons run my life. Not anymore. 

Starting tomorrow, Sept. 1, I am doing the Whole30 challenge. Not sure what this is? The website explains it all way better than I do. Go here: http://whole30.com/

I'm not going to stare at other people's before and after pictures, thinking, "Wow, I wonder what I would look like if I could pull that off." I'm going to do it for real, for me. 

So that workouts pay off. 
So that jeans fit better. 
So I can see my abs. 

So I can stop living the excuses. 

I want to say that I did it, I want to be stronger and healthier because of it, and as sure as this Sonic Coke sitting next to me, I want to be a better, healthier, happier me 30 days from now. 

Here we go. 

Monday, July 28, 2014

Monday Inspiration

It's Monday. I hope you have your coffee in hand. You may not be ready to start the day yet, so here's something pretty to stare at for a minute, while you get your bearings.

Today I'm feeling inspired by things that are soft but strong, like these gorgeous images from a J.Crew blog post, featuring the artwork of their set director, Tracy Morgan.

These giant canvases just make me want to go grab a paintbrush, shrug off work for the day and spend the whole afternoon creating something. 

And then there's this...

I mean, could your desktop look any prettier? Go here to download this and more awesome desktop designs by my favorite computer background source (and a place for a lot of other awesomeness) - DesignLoveFest.

A good reminder. My sister took this picture in Norway. 

Friday, July 25, 2014

Friday Favorites #10: Heat Wave Edition

Good gosh. Just last week I was talking about how chilly the weather felt outside, and now I'm staring out the window at 100-degree temperatures and a whole lot o' humidity. Bleh.

Of course, that means there's no better time for the Heat Wave edition of my Friday Favorites.

It also just occurred to me that I haven't posted since last Friday. Please bear with me while things are happening. Life and whatnot. We're potty-training a puppy, and there isn't time for much else.

Below are a few of my favorite things for this end-of-July heat wave: the perfect orangey shade of lipstick, a light jacket for when restaurants have their A/C on full blast, ear cuffs that look cool even when your hair is tied up on top of your head, a hat for ballgames and general Saturday laziness, a solid pair of metallic sandals  (now an extra 40% off!) and the coolest (and cheapest!) sunglasses you'll need for summer.

Friday Favorites: Heat Wave Edition

Friday, July 18, 2014

Friday Favorites #9: What's in My Bag

The original title of this post was, "Friday Favorites: Heat Wave Edition," but I didn't take the weather forecast seriously when I was jotting all my handy ways to beat the summer heat.

It was 64 degrees this morning when I stepped outside. In July.

I contemplated running back indoors for a sweater, but then I remembered that this is Texas, and I would probably be sweating by 3 p.m. So instead, let's talk about what's in my bag!

I think that the true test of favorite items is whether or not you allow them to take up real estate in your purse. My bag of choice? The Kensington Satchel by Madewell. I have no shame in telling you that I have this bag in both English Saddle and True Black.

What's in my bag?

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

What to Cook When You Don't Know What to Cook

I had a plan. I printed off a recipe, I bought ingredients. But then, life happened. The dog threw up in her kennel and I had an hour's worth of cleanup to tackle, the husband had a surprise after-work commitment, and just like that, my plans for these enchiladas from How Sweet Eats circled the drain and died.

No matter, the enchilada idea will live to fight another day. 

Whenever I get a night all to myself, I usually resort to takeout or a very sophisticated spread of goat cheese, baba ganoush and pita chips.


That is what I eat, but it's far from sophisticated, as I down a bag of TJ's pita chips dunked in goat cheese while chugging a can of Coke.

But there are other options. Other delicious options. 

Enter the following parade of ingredients: ground turkey, bacon, sourdough bread, sweet potato, arugula, a poached egg, lemon, and a generous sprinkling of sriracha salt.

Excuse the quality of the photos below. I didn't have time for my real camera... I was starving!

Cook your turkey first, sweet potato second, bacon third, egg fourth. 

  1. Brown ground turkey in a cast-iron skillet with seasonings of your choice. While the turkey is cooking, wash your sweet potato and slice it into matchsticks. 
  2. After the turkey has finished cooking, transfer it to a bowl, add butter to the cast iron pan, and toss in the sweet potato matchsticks to cook through. Once cooked, remove from heat. 
  3. Start a small pot of water boiling with a generous splash of white vinegar. 
  4. While the water boils, cook three pieces of bacon in the microwave for 3 minutes.  
  5. Allow the pot to reach a soft boil, then crack your egg into the water, gently so the white doesn't break. 
  6. Remove egg from water at desired doneness with a slotted spoon. 
  7. Arrange everything on the plate however you want to, and squeeze a wedge of lemon over the items that you want to have a bit of acidity. I added a few drops to the sweet potatoes, arugula and even the watermelon. Sprinkle sriracha salt over everything on your plate (including the watermelon... holy moly) and consume.

I'm gonna call this pale-almost? Everything except the bread fits.

Find this little bit o' heaven here.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Your Week's To-Do List

Do or Die Notepad

I'm big on To-Do lists. I get a great bit of satisfaction from striking completed items off, one by one. Since I'm trying to jump-start my week after a holiday weekend (ugh), here's a peek inside my week's To-Dos:

1. Clean out clutter.

I feel like I am forever cleaning out my closets. Shoes, bags, clothes that I no longer wear... Every time we move, I shed a few more outfits, and whenever I pick up a new item that truly replaces a bevy of other duplicates, I try to choose the most quality, functional item to keep. The rest go on Poshmark, or on to friends. I love The Everygirl's tips for cleaning out a closet.

2. Turn off the TV, and read a book.

I know I'm not the only one who gets seduced by Netflix's siren song. Just one more episode! But in all truthfulness, I feel as though I get more out of my down time when I'm turning the pages of a novel, not cranking up the volume on my TV. Head over to my Goodreads page to see the books I'm reading now! 

Books to Read

3. Try out some new heat-proof styles.

I keep going back to the standard, high, half-pulled-through pony as my go-to dirty hair look, but it always feels like a cop-out. The temperatures here in Dallas are supposed to hit 100 starting tomorrow, and I need some new frizz-proof styles. 

What are some things you've been meaning to do, but haven't found time for? What's on your To-Do list this week? 

Monday, June 30, 2014

Come Sale Away...

You can't always get what you want, unless of course, it's on sale.

Now that summertime is officially here, there's a chance your wardrobe needs a revamp. I'm in desperate need of shirts and shorts, plus a good pair of white jeans, but I keep getting distracted from my "needs" by all these awesome wants! What do you "need" this summer?