Whole30 Round 2, Week 1

My first week of my second round of Whole30 was a hot mess. I wasn’t really able to get in a good trip to the commissary, so I found myself throwing together a whole bunch of random compliant ingredients I either had at home already, bought online, or that I could run into the store and grab quickly. Having one car to share between the two of us stinks, especially on days when Kyle has to go back and forth between the office, the barracks, and other areas on base. The commissary isn’t open on Mondays; on all other days, it doesn’t open until 10am and closes by 7pm. Between the limited hours, lack of a vehicle, and Stella’s naps, I really struggle to get over there during the week. If I don’t get my shopping done on Saturday mornings my weekly meal plan tends to fall apart. Even so, I told myself I was starting another round of Whole30 on Monday August 21st and that is exactly what I did.

My breakfast all week was essentially the exact same thing with minor variations – two eggs cooked with a little ghee, a piece of fruit, and coffee with a splash of almond milk. Teething hit Stella pretty hard this past week – I didn’t have much time to make myself big, elaborate breakfasts. I hope I can mix it up this week and try some new breakfast recipes. Eggs every morning gets old FAST.

My snacks included Larabars (apple, lemon, and cherry flavors), nuts, fruit, and deviled eggs. Keep in mind you aren’t really supposed to snack on Whole30. The only reason that I do is to prevent my milk supply from dropping. If I’m hungry between meals, I have to eat something. Here’s what the Whole30 official guidelines are concerning snacking:

“Eating three meals each day with minimal snacking (except pre- and post-workout meals) helps to keep your hormones in a healthy rhythm and teaches you to focus on eating mindfully. However, it’s really okay if you find you have to eat between meals…just make sure you’re leaving about three hours between eating sessions, and not grazing all day.”

Larabars are great to have in your purse, diaper bag, gym bag, etc. for when you’re out and about and hunger strikes. I used to hate them with a fiery passion before doing Whole30. I honestly think that cutting added sugar out of my diet has altered my taste buds or something, because I swear they taste completely different now. However, I still don’t personally care for the coconut or cashew flavors. I haven’t tried the other compliant flavors just yet. If you have, let me know what you think of them! Just make sure the ingredients do not include vanilla extract, chocolate chips, or peanut butter!

Nuts are a great snack to have on hand. I love roasted and salted cashews. I try to keep some in the pantry at all times so I have something easy to grab and munch on when I’m hungry between meals (because breastfeeding).

I really try to watch my fruit consumption. It’s easy to use it as a crutch when you’re craving something sweet. If I don’t eat it with breakfast, I’ll have it as a snack at some point during the day. I’m careful not to eat more than an appropriate serving, though – a small apple, a handful of grapes, a small banana, etc. The official program guidelines recommend two servings a day (and ideally with a meal, not as a snack or dessert).

If you have access to Whole Foods, you can buy premade, approved mayo. I, however, will not be driving an hour and a half for that. Instead, I put 1 C extra light olive oil, one egg, 1 T white wine vinegar, 1/2 T yellow mustard, and a little salt in a mason jar and blend it up with my stick blender. It only takes a minute to make. You can use your homemade mayo to make deviled eggs, chicken salad, coleslaw, tuna salad, potato salad, sauces, and dressings. Do yourself a favor and get a stick blender. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, it is worth the $30 (even less if you go to Bed, Bath, and Beyond and use a 20% off coupon).

For lunches, I kept it pretty simple. I had a big salad almost every day (spring mix, cucumbers, bell peppers, tomato, red onions, shredded carrots, and kalamata olives tossed in oil and red wine vinegar) and some kind of protein on the side (either Aidells chicken and apple sausages, Applegate uncured beef hotdogs, or Safe Catch tuna).

I did try a couple new recipes for dinners that I really liked. I’ll list them and link them below, along with my comments on the finished products:

Almond Crusted Pork Chops with a Mushroom Garlic Sauce
Next time, I’ll be sure to grind up the almonds just a little bit more. I was afraid of accidentally turning my almonds into almond flour (which the directions warned against), so I left them just a little too big. Kyle and I both liked the flavor of this meal, though! I had planned on serving it with roasted asparagus; however, Stella was ready for bed. I only had time to finish the pork chops before I had to bring the little miss upstairs for her bath and bedtime routine.

Sweet Potato Chicken Poppers
WE LOVED THESE. I wanted something we could munch on while watching the Game of Thrones season finale (SO GOOD, btw). These are easy and mighty tasty. I mixed a little mayo with some hot sauce for dipping. You could also dip them in guacamole or ketchup (if you can find compliant/approved ketchup). We had them with fruit salad because we didn’t have time to cook a veggie side. Just keeping it real, peeps. I do think these would freeze very well if you wanted to make them ahead of time and keep them on hand for lunches or quick dinners. You could probably even form the mix into a larger, full size patty and eat it like a burger if you so desired. Be warned – when raw, this mix is extremely sticky! Make sure you take off any and all rings you may be wearing before you dive in to form the poppers!

IMG_0860.JPG

California Tuna Burgers with Clean Thousand Island Sauce

After debating whether or not I wanted to spend the money on Safe Catch tuna, I decided to give it a try. I am so glad that I did; it is the best tuna I have ever had! The junk we have tried in the past cannot even compare! I believe they have a 10% off coupon available for your first order, or you can get the coupon code listed in Kelsey’s recipe that I have linked above. Kyle and I both loved this recipe so much! The burgers are so quick and easy to throw together – such an awesome meal for a busy weeknight (or for anyone with a needy, fussy, teething baby demanding to be held)! The sauce is fantastic – tastes just like In-N-Out’s sauce, without the sugar! You could put the sauce on regular burgers, too – or make ‘animal style’ fries! The possibilities are endless.

IMG_0828.JPG

I know I had mentioned that I was toying with the idea of putting together a weekly meal plan for you guys, complete with a shopping list. My first week was nothing special, so I thought I would just put together a blog post with the highlights. After this next week, hopefully I will have a chance to get a meal plan and shopping list together to share with you! Please comment below and let me know if there are any meals you’d like me to try out! Kyle and I are always game for something new!

 

Advertisements

Friday Favorites

Hello and happy Friyaaaaay! What a week!

Tuesday morning I decided to try a new way of making banana pancakes. In the past when I’ve tried to make them on the stove in a pan like traditional pancakes, flipping them has always been rather difficult. This time, I lined a baking sheet with parchment paper and set the oven to 400 degrees. I threw two bananas, two eggs, two tablespoons of peanut butter (you could use any nut butter you prefer), one quarter teaspoon of baking soda, a dash of cinnamon, and a tiny bit of vanilla into our Magic Bullet. Once blended, I poured out roughly two tablespoons of batter per pancake on the parchment paper. I baked these for about 15 minutes (edges should start to brown just a little). I put a tiny bit of pure organic maple syrup on mine, but I’m sure they would be delicious with honey, butter, peanut butter (or another nut butter of choice), fresh fruit, or any other number of toppings. This recipe makes plenty for two people, maybe even three if you aren’t super hungry!

If you left out the vanilla and topped with compliant options (almond butter, fruit), these would technically be Whole30 – however, you’re not really supposed to make any baked goods (even if all the ingredients are technically approved). The point of Whole30 is to reboot your system and kick any cravings to the curb. Kinda hard to do that if you’re still indulging in ‘pancakes’. That being said, when you’re done Whole30, these are a nice, occasional breakfast treat – much better than gorging yourself on french toast, waffles, chocolate chip pancakes, etc.

IMG_9564.JPG

I cannot sing the praises of this activity table enough. When I’m home alone with Stella all day, it is the only thing she is content to play in for more than a couple minutes. She loves all the toys on it, and how she can twist around to see everything around her. She loves to hold her hand out when Milo comes over to check up on her – which of course he takes as an open invitation to lick her. Gross. She loves talking to me while she kicks like crazy and smacks her little hands down all over the place. Kyle and I both are so glad we decided to get this for Stella. Money well spent! They also sell it at Buy Buy Baby. Soooo if you have a 20% off Bed, Bath, and Beyond coupon, make sure you use it!

IMG_9581.JPG

My favorite dinner this week, hands down, was this recipe for copycat Chipotle carnitas. I just threw some pork tenderloin rubbed with olive oil, oregano, and cumin into the crockpot along with onion, garlic, jalapeno (I left the seeds in), lime juice, and orange juice. After it was done cooking, I threw it in a saute pan on the stove with some of the juice. I browned the meat until the juice had evaporated and I was happy with the color. I served Kyle’s over rice with some romaine, red salsa from Trader Joe’s, salsa verde from Trader Joe’s, fresh pico de gallo from the commissary, store-bought guacamole, shredded cheddar cheese, and sour cream. I served mine over a much larger helping of romaine, both of the salsas, pico, some red onion, and guacamole. I think this may actually be our favorite Whole30 meal to date. It will definitely be one of our go-to dinners from now on!

IMG_9604.JPG

Last but certainly not least, my favorite picture of Stella from this week. I couldn’t tell you why it’s my favorite. It’s super blurry, crooked, and her hair is a mess. I just can’t help but smile when I see it. Gosh, I have so much love for this little girl!

51858132289__D7565E94-D93C-4CB3-B1CC-10930A7288A6.JPG

This weekend I’m hoping to make it to the farmer’s market and maybe even the drive-in if we’re lucky. Do you have anything fun planned?

A Day in the Life

What DO I do all day? Don’t I get bored?! Someone I love very much recently suggested that stay-at-home parents ‘sit on their a** all day’ and I think my head nearly exploded, but that’s a story for another day. Well, friends, allow me to shed some light on the subject.

7:00am
Up & at ’em! Stella usually gets up around this time, although she isn’t on a strict/reliable schedule. Most days she wakes up happy and spends a few minutes talking to herself in her crib. Kyle has usually left for work already, so it’s just us girls and Milo. I get up, make the bed, grab the little miss, let Milo out of his crate, and head downstairs. I let Milo outside to do his thing, change Stella’s diaper, let Milo back in, feed him, and then sit down to nurse Stella on the couch.

(If Stella happened to sleep well the night before and sleeps a little late, I might get up before her and pump. This is really the only way I can pump anymore. I freeze all the milk that I’m able to pump – even though she won’t take a bottle or sippy cup now, hopefully that will change soon – fingers crossed!)

7:30am
Usually by now I’m making coffee while Stella plays, either in her activity table or on the floor on her play gym. I unload the dishwasher and take care of any dirty dishes in the sink. I’ll fix myself something for breakfast – usually two eggs and some fruit on the side. I’ll check my email and maybe work on a blog post while I eat and Stella plays.

IMG_9555.JPG

We recently started solids with Stella. After I eat, she goes in her bouncy seat (we don’t have a high chair just yet) and I give her a few bites of whatever puree we’re introducing. She usually only eats a little bit before getting fussy. This is my cue to head upstairs.

8:00am
Roughly one hour or so (maybe an hour and fifteen minutes) after Stella first wakes up, she’s ready for her first nap of the day. I bring her upstairs and nurse her in our room with the blinds closed and the sound machine on. As soon as she’s out, I lay her down on her side and creep quietly out of the room. Girlfriend ALWAYS sleeps on her right side! It’s the funniest thing! In case you think I’m exaggerating, here are some pictures to prove it. These are all from this week.

IMG_9593.JPG

8:30am
I straighten up the house a bit – if you know me, you know I cannot relax if there’s a mess. If there’s laundry that needs to be done, I’ll toss it in. I’ll sit down in the living room with my cold coffee and fold clothes or work on a meal plan and grocery list for the week. Kyle usually comes home sometime during her first nap and has some breakfast.

IMG_9630.JPG

9:00am
Stella usually naps for about an hour at a time, so right around now she’s getting up. When I go upstairs to get her, I get ready for the day. I try and fail to do something with my hair, throw on jeans and a t-shirt, put on a little makeup, and then pick out an outfit for Stella. We’ll head downstairs and I’ll change her diaper, get her dressed, and nurse her. Kyle gets ready for class.

IMG_9626.JPG

9:30am
I play with Stella for a while, either on the floor or with her in my lap. Milo usually brings a toy over and hangs out with us. She likes when I hold her up so she can stand. Kyle leaves for class around 9:45am.

10:00am
I usually put Stella in her activity table or bouncy seat so I can do a little dinner prep. Cut some veggies, marinate some meat, get the crockpot going – whatever I can do ahead of time. Sometimes I drag her play gym into the kitchen and she hangs out on the floor.

IMG_9624.JPG

10:30am
Sometime over the next half hour or so, Stella is typically ready to go down for nap number two. We head upstairs, get the sound machine going, get comfy in the glider, and get nursing. Again, once she’s out, she goes on her side in the crib and I sneak downstairs.

11:00am
I’ll fix myself something for lunch after I lay her down. While I’m eating, I’ll work on a blog post, check Facebook, or talk to friends and family. This is my little bit of ‘me time’.

11:30am
Stella’s stirring! When she’s up and talking, I go grab her. After a diaper change, I’ll nurse her. Then it’s into the kitchen for some lunchtime solids.

12:00pm
Since we’re still in the early stages of introducing solids to Stella, she gets the same thing a few times a day for three days in a row. No blends just yet, only single ingredient purees watered down with a little breastmilk. Her tongue thrust is still pretty strong, so she only gets a tiny bit into her belly. She seems to like it though! She gets so excited when she sees the spoon! Today, she’s having sweet potatoes!

12:30pm
I’ll let Stella play, either on the floor or in her activity table, while I do any chores that need to be done. This may be laundry, vacuuming, dusting, wiping down the bathroom, cleaning up the kitchen, taking out the trash, etc. Milo will usually lay down near her, unless I’m vacuuming. If the vacuum is out, Milo goes upstairs to hide.

IMG_9629.JPG

1:00pm
Time for nap number three! Same routine as before, nursing, rocking, baby in the crib, and mama sneaking out of the room. I’ll go back to whatever I was doing before – some chore of some kind.

1:30pm
Kyle usually comes home from class around this time. If I’m done the housework, I’ll hop on the computer for a bit.

2:00pm
Stella gets up, gets her diaper changed, and nurses.

2:30pm
Kyle usually has to go to a formation or something for work. Stella and I hang here at the house.

3:00pm
Stella and I play. I might call my mom or a friend on the east coast since they’re usually off work by now. If Stella is content playing on her own, I might do some reading.

3:30pm
Nap number four, same as before. I might have a little snack if I’m hungry. Today, I’m having paleo banana bread with some peanut butter. Oh, and coffee. Always coffee.

IMG_9631.JPG

4:00pm
Today, we have an appointment at this time. On other days, I might go to the commissary around now if Kyle happens to be home. Most days, he is home randomly in the afternoon – not officially off work, but on standby. This is my chance to run some errands on base.

4:30pm
Stella gets up, gets her diaper changed, and nurses.

5:00pm
Stella tries some solids.

5:30pm
I’ll get dinner started while Kyle takes care of Stella. They usually relax on the couch while he watches a show or plays a game. Sometimes he just plays music on YouTube and holds her. While I’m in the kitchen, I give Milo his dinner.

IMG_9618.JPG

6:00pm
While dinner simmers or bakes or roasts, we hang on the couch as a family. Kyle tells me about his day and I fill him in on what went down with Stella and Milo. We laugh at the funny faces she makes, tickle her, talk to her, and try to get her to giggle.

6:30pm
We eat dinner together while Stella hangs out in her activity table, bouncy seat, or play gym. If she’s particularly fussy, one of us will hold her on our lap while we eat. Tonight we are having walnut crusted chicken piccata with salad on the side. This meal is Whole30-friendly!

IMG_9656.JPG

7:00pm
I bring Stella upstairs for her bed time routine. This usually consists of a warm bath, lotion rub down, a nighttime diaper, pajamas (or lately I’ve just been putting a onesie and a pair of leggings on her), and brushing her hair before snuggling up in the glider with the lights off and sound machine on. She’ll nurse until she falls asleep, at which point I lay her down and head downstairs. Sometimes I read her a book before I feed her. I know I should every night, but I just don’t always have it in me. She gets fussy around this time and just wants to eat.

IMG_9653-1.JPG

While I’m upstairs with Stella, Kyle gets a little time to himself. He might watch some videos on his phone, go out back to smoke (grrr), play a game, work on his little model boat project, or something else.

7:30pm
I clean up dinner and pack some leftovers for Kyle’s lunch the next day. I load up the dishwasher and get it running. I might set up the coffee pot for the morning if I’m feeling extra on top of things.

8:00pm
I join Kyle in the living room. I usually have some clothes to fold. If not, we just hang out. Probably watch some Netflix or a movie.

8:30pm
Stella usually gets up to nurse again, but goes right back to sleep. I feed her in our room without turning on the lights or talking to her. It’s all business. We don’t change her diaper overnight anymore, either. She never poops at night, so it’s just pee.

9:00pm
Honestly, Kyle and I are usually still watching Netflix.

9:30pm
Yup, still watching Netflix.

10:00pm
You guessed it. Netflix. I’m trying to be better about reading a book or something instead of watching so much tv. Most nights, the tv is still on, though.

10:30pm
By now, Kyle is usually passed out on the couch. I’ll gather up any dishes or glasses I see and put them in the sink. I’ll throw away whatever trash he has on the end table next to him (he is notorious for leaving an orange peel or a tissue behind). I’ll shut off the light, lock up the house, and wake him up (which is easier said than done – he is a freakishly heavy sleeper). We head upstairs and shut Milo in his crate. If I’m lucky, I can get ready for bed without waking Stella up. I’m usually not so lucky.

11:00pm
Stella wakes up to nurse and goes right back to sleep. Kyle is dead to the world, snoring away. I eventually fall asleep, usually after spending some time on Pinterest on my phone. I know I shouldn’t look at the bright screen so close to bedtime, but I can’t help it. I hate laying there wide awake while everyone else is sound asleep. I can never seem to get comfortable. Maybe I should try some bedtime yoga. I’ve heard that can help you fall asleep faster.

At some point in the wee hours of the morning, Stella typically wakes up again to nurse. Sometimes it’s once, sometimes it’s twice. It varies every night. Whenever she does, she goes right back to sleep.

I know I need to get a workout in there somewhere. Maybe during that first morning nap…I’ve also been meaning to take Stella for a walk in the evening after it cools off a little outside. Haven’t decided if it’ll be before or after her bath. She sleeps in the stroller as long as it’s moving, so it wouldn’t really interfere with the amount of sleep she gets. It’s so hot here already – I think it’s going to have to be after her bath. The later the better.

That’s it! That’s what a day in my life looks like! I know it probably doesn’t sound super exciting to most of you, but I wouldn’t change a thing. What does your day look like?

2017 Summer Bucket List

Really this is more like a ‘Before-We-Move-to-Louisiana Bucket List’. Our time out here in California is coming to an end. Who knows if we’ll ever make it back out here! There are a couple of things we’re hoping to do on our way back to Louisiana at the end of September (Havasu, Skywalk, Lake Mead, Hoover Dam, Sedona, Flagstaff). The other things on my list, I hope to cross off while we’re still living here in the desert.

Stella and I have a trip to Pennsylvania coming up soon. We should be able to complete at least a couple of the things while we’re on the East Coast! The Jersey shore is calling my name! I can smell those heavenly Brown’s donuts already!

If you have any book recommendations, send them my way! I’m currently working on Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah. Novels are my jam. If you’re looking for a fantastic book to kick off your summer, I absolutely loved another book by Kristin Hannah – The Nightingale. I would lend you my copy, but, alas, I bought the eBook on my Nook. Sorry friends!

Here it is – my ‘bucket list’!

  1. Read at least three books (just being realistic)
  2. Establish a workout routine and stick with it
  3. Spend the day at Big Bear Lake
  4. Take Stella to the beach & boardwalk in New Jersey
  5. Go to the beach in California
  6. Go to the San Diego Zoo
  7. Go to the Santa Monica Pier
  8. Visit an aquarium
  9. Go an entire day without technology
  10. Go to a drive-in movie
  11. Watch fireworks
  12. Have a picnic in the park as a family
  13. Go to the farmer’s market in Joshua Tree
  14. Take Stella to the splash pad
  15. Make s’mores around a fire with friends
  16. Watch the Perseid Meteor Shower at Joshua Tree National Park (August)
  17. De-clutter our home
  18. Visit Lake Havasu
  19. Visit the Grand Canyon Skywalk
  20. Visit Sequoia National Park
  21. Have a girls’ night with friends
  22. Make homemade ice-cream
  23.  Visit Lake Mead & the Hoover Dam
  24. Visit Sedona and/or Flagstaff
  25. Pay it forward

If you live nearby and wanna join in on any of these things, please let me know! I could use a workout buddy for sure! Also a buddy to eat s’mores with! It’s all about balance, right?

Our Weekend

Gosh, it feels so good to spend a couple days doing nothing. Am I right? Now throw in some homemade donuts, baby snuggles, dinner with friends, AND homemade cheesecake and you’ve really got my attention. Remember how I said we would be cleaning this weekend? I lied. I didn’t clean a single thing (except the dishes) all weekend and it was AMAZING.

On Friday morning Stella had her six month checkup and vaccines – she handled them like a total champ. She’s right around the 50th percentile for height, weight, and head circumference. The doctor also reassured me that her head shape was in fact, not cause for concern. For the past few months I’ve been obsessing over whether or not she was suffering from torticollis and, subsequently, a flat spot on her noggin. Apparently she’s perfectly fine and I’m just a crazy lady. He gave us the go-ahead to start solids. I think Stella’s ready, too – she’s definitely more interested in watching us eat now!

After a quick nap for Stella, we went to a spouse event for Kyle’s company. I met a few lovely new ladies and spent an hour or so chatting about our babies, soon-to-be babies, hometowns, husbands, and more. It was so wonderful to interact with adults, even if it was just for a little while. Stella had a blast, too! She passed out not even five minutes into the drive home.

FullSizeRender.jpg

After drooling over Donut Day Instagram posts all afternoon, we decided we should make some donuts. Of course, we decided this around dinner time, which meant we were up pretty late frying, glazing, stuffing, and devouring donuts. We made jelly donuts and cream-filled donuts. Some we coated in granulated sugar, some we dusted with powdered sugar, and some we dipped in a chocolate glaze. They were delicious and so much fun to make! Why can’t making a salad be as fun as frying balls of dough in oil and rolling them in sugar?! We used this recipe for our dough, this recipe for the chocolate glaze, and this recipe for the cream filling. In hindsight, I wish the cream filling had been a tad lighter and less like a buttercream. Next time, I think we’ll look for a recipe that calls for whipping cream!

IMG_9527.JPG

Saturday we decided to see what Stella thought of peas. She seemed a little confused at first, but the lack of gagging and/or vomit makes me think she kinda likes them! We even managed to keep most of the peas out of her hair, with the exception of a tiny drop.  It could be all in my head, but I think she’s already sleeping better – even if she’s only getting a couple spoonfuls of solids a day. After three days of peas, the plan is to move on to sweet potatoes. I’m so excited to see what she thinks of all these new foods! We will receive some store-bought purees with WIC; however, I’m also toying with the idea of making some homemade baby food. Please feel free to share your favorite recipes!

peas

One of my favorite things to do is watch Stella and Kyle play, cuddle, ‘talk’, etc. This little girl just loves her daddy so much! He can make her laugh anytime, anywhere. One of her favorite things to do these days is kneel on the couch and kinda lean on Kyle. She’ll play like this for a good while! She also really seems to enjoy watching Milo play now. She’ll reach out for him and laugh when he wags his tail or brings her one of his toys. The bond that these two will share as they grow up warms my heart. There’s nothing sweeter than a child and their dog.

couch chillin.jpg

Saturday evening, we lost power for a little while. It was getting a tad stuffy in the house, so we went for a walk around the neighborhood as a family. It was so nice to get outside and get moving together. It was surprisingly warm for 8pm – summer is most definitely here in the desert! We finished up our walk just as Stella fell asleep in the stroller. Luckily the power came back on before we went to bed. God bless whoever invented air conditioning. Fo real.

Sunday morning we woke up to a surprise! Our sweet little Stella had rolled over from her back to her belly while we were sleeping! She was grinning from ear to ear when I went over to her crib. She looked so proud of herself! In under a week’s time, our little baby has rolled once from belly to back, and once from back to belly. Before I know it, she’ll be sitting up on her own, scooting, crawling, pulling up, walking, running…graduating high school…getting married…How long do you think I can go without blinking? Have any other mamas found a way to slow down time?!

roll over

We spent our lazy Sunday lounging at home. We FaceTimed some of our nieces and nephews in Louisiana while I made my very first cheesecake. I threw together a strawberry topping, too. That sucker was pretty dang tasty, but sorta ugly. I blame my spring-form pan. It was just a tiny bit too small for the recipe I used. I should have left out some of the filling – I think it would have set better had I done so. Kyle wanted it to be a little heavier, but I liked that it wasn’t super rich. If you want to give it a whirl, I used this recipe for the cheesecake. For the strawberry topping, I used one 16oz bag of sliced frozen strawberries, one cup of sugar, two tablespoons of lemon juice, and one quarter teaspoon of vanilla. I just simmered all the ingredients together on the stove until they reduced down to a thick, syrupy consistency.

We took our somewhat ugly cheesecake over to our friends’ for dinner and dessert. We ate, drank, and relaxed until it was time for our kiddos to hit the sack. As our time in Twentynine Palms winds down, we are soaking up every opportunity to spend time with the friends we have made here. As excited as we are to move closer to family, saying goodbye to our Marine Corps ‘family’ is tough. I sincerely hope we can stay in touch with everyone!

cheesecake.jpg

Now the weekend is over. Monday is here. Kyle has gone back to work and class. Milo, Stella, and I are catching up on laundry and all the cleaning that didn’t happen this weekend. If anyone wants to come take the cheesecake leftovers away from me, that would be greatly appreciated.

Friday Favorites

Hello and happy (almost) weekend! I’ve decided I’m going to try to pull together some of my favorite things – pictures, recipes, outfits, new purchases, books, etc – and share them with you in a weekly update. Weekly might be a tad ambitious, but I’ll do my best! 

This week was a quiet one at the Douet house. We spent last weekend deep cleaning the kitchen and the floors. We washed all our slipcovers, too. Of course, this means I then promptly spilled red wine on the arm of the chair in our living room…so that one was washed a second time. Good job, Amanda.

This week, I pulled out a new toy for Stella and she LOVES it. This silicone teething necklace by Nuby is her favorite thing to chew on these days. I can’t wait to bring it on our flight back to Pennsylvania later this month. I’m betting it’s going to come in handy big time. Usually I can’t wear many necklaces thanks to my super sensitive skin. The hives just aren’t worth it. Since this one is silicone, it doesn’t bother me! It’s a win-win! I’ll definitely be looking for some more colors and styles to add to my collection now that I know Stella likes them!

I’ve also been loving this Kate Spade tumbler I picked up from the Marine Corps Exchange here on base. Summer is well underway here in the desert. Staying hydrated is a must – especially for us breastfeeding mamas! It fits perfectly in the cup holders on both our strollers, as well as the cup holders in our car. I always seem to drink more when I have a straw for some reason, so this cup is great!

While I was at the Exchange, I also picked up this e.l.f. bronzer/blush palette in St. Lucia. I like it a lot so far! It has some shimmer to it, which I don’t mind. My foundation doesn’t have any and I don’t usually use highlighter. It adds just enough somethin’ somethin’ to my day-to-day makeup routine. And by ‘day-to-day’ I mean every couple days. What can I say, when it comes to a beauty routine of any kind, I am super lazy. I consider it a good day if I shower before noon. On the plus side, by neglecting my eyebrows I’ve given them a bit of a chance to fill in. My esthetician sister would be proud! 

This week was also full of foods I haven’t had in a while since I just finished up my first round of Whole30. I’ll dedicate another post to how the reintroduction phase went for me. For now, I’ll just say this: boy oh boy, did I miss wine. I picked up a bottle of FitVine Wine’s Cabernet Sauvignon. I think I have a new favorite! It was delicious AND I didn’t feel guilty treating myself to a glass – each 5 ounce pour only has 95 calories, 3.4g of carbohydrates, and less than 0.2g of sugar. All of their wines are free of additives, excessive sulfites, GMOs, and residual sugars! I’m probably just a liiiittle too excited to try the other wines they make.

This weekend is probably going to be another one spent doing some serious cleaning. Shhhh, don’t tell Kyle. 

I’ll leave you with my favorite picture of Stella from this week. This girl’s eyelashes are something else!

IMG_9470

My First Whole30

I DID IT. Well, I’m currently in the reintroduction phase (hallelujah, helloooooo peanut butter). BUT I survived the first thirty days! Why would I want to give up legumes, added sugar & artificial sweeteners, alcohol, grains, and dairy?! Well, I’ll tell ya.

Whole30 served as my postpartum ‘reset’. Aside from the time during which I was pregnant, I weighed more than I had in my entire life after having Stella. I only gained twenty pounds during my pregnancy (since I was already overweight, this was the maximum amount recommended by my doctors). About fifteen of those twenty pounds fell off pretty easily with breastfeeding. However, I still needed to get my weight down to a healthier number. I needed to regain some of my confidence, too. I hated seeing myself in pictures, even pictures of me holding my newborn daughter. I knew my diet was largely to blame for my weight gain, in addition to my lack of physical activity. I knew I needed to make some serious changes for the sake of my health. I want to be a good example for Stella as she grows up. I want her to see and follow healthy habits. I decided to tackle my diet first, in the hopes that making the switch to whole foods from processed foods would give me the energy to get more active.

Since I am breastfeeding, I allowed myself to snack between meals if I was hungry. I tried to make sure I wasn’t grazing all day – three hours between meals and/or snacks is the goal. If you are not pregnant or nursing, the official rule of thumb is to avoid snacking. If you’re hungry between meals, you need to be eating more at each meal.

What I Learned & Advice I Can Offer

First of all, I absolutely DESPISE cauliflower rice. No matter how I tried to disguise it, it always let me down. I don’t think I’ll be wasting my time or money on it again.

Washing all my produce the day I brought it home helped me so much during the week. If I was hungry, I could just grab an apple. If I was putting together a salad, I could toss in whatever veggies I wanted in no time. I also chopped some things ahead of time to make my daily meals that much easier to prepare – onions, bell peppers, melons, and celery to name a few.

Do you know how easy it is to make your own mayonnaise? Like, stupid easy. The Whole Smiths’ recipe has been my go-to. You can check it out here. I typically make a fresh batch every week. I mainly used it to make chicken salads and deviled eggs. I also made a few seasoning blend to have on hand at the beginning of my Whole30: ranch, Greek, fajita, and BBQ. Having these ready to go made mixing up marinades, seasoning ground meat, or making a salad dressing quick and easy.

You need a stick blender in your life. I have this one, on which I used one of my millions of 20% off coupons. You’ll be able to make mayo in under a minute, I swear. It comes in handy for sauces, too. It is well worth the $28 (I’m assuming you, too, have a stash of Bed, Bath, and Beyond 20% off coupons).

I would consider dates, coconut milk, almond flour, arrowroot powder, coconut aminos, nutritional yeast, ghee, and a decent variety of spices, vinegars, and oils to be absolutely crucial pantry must-haves. The dates you can use to sweeten things, like sauces or dressings. Date paste is incredibly easy to make and can be stored in the fridge for a while. Coconut milk is called for in many Whole30 recipes, or you can use it with some frozen fruit to make the occasional smoothie (and I mean occasional – don’t use smoothies as ‘dessert’ – it defeats the purpose of Whole30). Almond flour can be used as a kind of breading for chicken. Arrowroot powder is a great thickening agent – several Whole30 recipes that I came across called for this. Coconut aminos are a soy-free substitute for soy sauce. You can find them at Whole Foods or on Amazon. I found that one bottle does not go very far – I would have a couple ready to go just to be safe (Whole Foods is over an hour away from me and Amazon takes a couple days to ship). Nutritional yeast is tasty tossed with veggies you plan on roasting, or sprinkled in your morning eggs. No matter what anyone tells you, it will NOT fully replace cheese. It is, however, a nice flavor to add some variety to your dishes.

I would ensure that you have all the basic spices, such as garlic powder, onion powder, salt, pepper, basil, oregano, parsley, chili powder, paprika, cumin, cinnamon, cayenne, and crushed red pepper. Extra points if you have ground mustard, smoked paprika (my favorite), bay leaves, sesame seeds, and ginger. These are things every well-stocked kitchen should have, Whole30 aside. I like to make sure I have balsamic vinegar, red wine vinegar, white wine vinegar, and white vinegar on hand. During Whole30, the only one I didn’t use was the balsamic. These come in handy for salad dressings, marinades, and making your own mayo. As for oils, I primarily used olive oil, with some occasional coconut oil. Ghee was another fat that we cooked with from time to time (available at Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods). You can make your own ghee; however, I haven’t given this a try just yet.

Other items that I consider nice to have on hand would be Aidell’s chicken and apple sausage, Applegate uncured beef or turkey hotdogs, and salad fixings. These things can be thrown together quickly if you don’t have time to make a big lunch or dinner, or if you’re just sick of leftovers. They will save you from ordering takeout and ruining your Whole30. Larabars are also a good emergency snack to have on hand for when you’re out and about. My favorite approved flavors were the lemon and cherry.

Speaking of being out and about, the only time I dined out during my Whole30 was when we stopped at a Chipotle. I opted for carnitas salad with every salsa option (not the corn one) and guac. It was delicious and 100% Whole30 compliant. Highly recommend it.

Ahhhh, breakfast. My true weakness. I used to dream of eggs Benedict, chocolate chip pancakes, buttered toast, waffles, cheese on my eggs, cream and sugar in my coffee…until Whole30 crushed those dreams. Let me just tell you, eggs for breakfast gets really old really fast. I know they weren’t technically approved, but I did make banana pancakes a couple times. The way I look at it, it’s better than cheating and having REAL pancakes or waffles or any other magical breakfast treat. I just blended together one egg and one banana with some cinnamon, then cooked the batter like a pancake. They were tricky to flip, since the batter was a little on the runny side. The addition of some arrowroot powder in hindsight may have helped. I’d put a little almond butter on them and have some fresh fruit on the side. I did this maybe twice, so I don’t think I hurt my personal Whole30. You will get used to black coffee, I promise. Try putting some cinnamon in with the grounds when you brew it – it adds a nice flavor.

My go-to lunches were either some version of chicken salad (made ahead of time) or crispy prosciutto over a spring mix with cucumber, carrots, olives, bell pepper, and red onion, tossed with some olive oil and red wine vinegar. I’m pretty sure I could eat that crispy prosciutto salad every day, but we all know prosciutto isn’t the best thing for you. In moderation, it’s fine – I would only put one or two slices on this salad. When buying prosciutto, double check that there is no sugar in the ingredients list. As far as chicken salads go, I made three different versions over the course of my Whole30: ranch chicken salad, buffalo chicken salad, and Asian chicken chopped salad. Of the three, my absolute favorite was the Asian chicken chopped salad. It does call for a lot of ingredients; however, if you like Asian-inspired dishes, having these ingredients in your pantry will come in handy. If I wasn’t having any of the above, I most likely chowed down on some dinner leftovers for lunch.

Dinners were either hit or miss. I really liked some of the recipes, while others were a total bust. For a quick, easy meal I liked to use Aidell’s chicken and apple sausage and a butternut squash. I would peel the squash, cut it up into roughly one inch cubes, toss it in some olive oil with salt and pepper, roast it at 400 degrees for fifteen minutes on a sheet pan. At the fifteen minute mark, I would take it out and toss it around, then add the sausage to the center of the pan (I butterflied the links so they would lay flat). Just cook the squash and sausage another fifteen minutes and dinner is done. Minimal prep and only one dirty pan. I did the same thing with some compliant Italian sausage that I found at Whole Foods, along with sliced bell peppers and onions. My other favorite meals included chicken saltimbocca (sub ghee for butter); sweet potato noodles with chorizo, baby spinach, and roasted red peppers (for the chorizo, I used a combination of ground pork and ground turkey with spices and red wine vinegar, recipe for that can be found here); beef and broccoli; chicken souvlaki & veggie skewers on the grill (we skipped the tzatziki sauce and used red onion, green bell pepper, and cherry tomatoes on the skewers along with the chicken); bacon-wrapped pork tenderloin; and chicken piccata. Most of these meals I served with some kind of roasted veggie – we like brussel sprouts, broccoli, butternut squash, sweet potatoes, and bell peppers among others. I like my roasted veggies pretty crispy, so I usually do them tossed in olive oil, salt, and pepper, spread out on a sheet pan, in a 400 degree oven for 15 minutes, out to flip ’em around, and back in for another 15 minutes.

I’ve noticed a few changes since the start of my Whole30. I have more energy than I did before, even though Stella still keeps me up through the night. I’m able to keep up with laundry, clean my house, run errands, and more without needing a nap in the middle of the day. My skin seems a little clearer to me, although I still have the occasional breakout (always have, always will). I also haven’t had a single day where my stomach has hurt because of something I’ve eaten. Before Whole30, I definitely noticed some meals triggered cramping and just a general discomfort – particularly those with a lot of dairy. I’m a little nervous about reintroducing dairy; however, I’m also curious to see if my suspicions will be confirmed. My cravings for sweets have decreased drastically – I made roughly ten dozen chocolate chip cookies over the course of my Whole30 for friends and family without eating a single cookie. That being said, of course I would love some chocolate. However, the results that I’m seeing because of my dedication to these dietary changes are motivating me to stick with a paleo-inspired diet. Kyle and I talked about it, and we are going to try to stay paleo Monday through Friday. Weekends will be when we let ourselves have a glass of wine, some cheese on our morning eggs, or a little dessert from time to time.

Overall I lost about twenty two pounds. I see the biggest difference in my face, arms, and waistline. My clothes fit so much better – even some that I couldn’t wear before getting pregnant. I even recently purchased a bathing suit that I don’t totally hate. It feels amazing to have options when I get dressed in the morning. I am happier because I am healthier, thanks to Whole30.

During my entire Whole30, I worked out ONCE. Bad, I know. The three days I spent recovering from said workout may or may not have killed my desire to exercise completely. I know I need to get active and that’s the next thing I’ll focus on now that I have improved my diet. After seeing how violently my thighs reacted to squats, I do think I’ll start with something more mild. I think walks in the evenings with Stella are more my speed.

Whole30 is something I truly believe everyone should try at least once. It forces you to reevaluate your habits in the kitchen. You’ll find yourself cooking new things, and maybe even liking them *gasp*. During the reintroduction phase, you may find that you have some dietary intolerance that you didn’t know about. Maybe it’s gluten, dairy, or even legumes (yes, that includes peanut butter). I am so grateful that my cousin Christina introduced me to this ‘reset’ – it was so needed. I hope I’ve convinced some of you to give it a try. It’s only thirty days. That’s it. One month to reboot your gut and kick start a healthier lifestyle.

Please reach out if you have any questions or you want some help getting started!