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Health

Pan Fried Sweet Potatoes

Lana Hawk

Adam and I recently finished our second round of Whole30. If you are unfamiliar with Whole30, it is a 30 day program where you cut out dairy, grains, legumes, and sugar. It’s certainly not easy, but we love to use it as a reset to start the year. For us, it helps us refresh the body, get rid of the junk, and remove unnecessary afternoon chip binges. During that time, we ate A LOT of veggies and protein. Our key to surviving? Sweet potatoes and coconut oil. If you haven’t gotten on the coconut oil train, you are missing out. That paired with sweet potatoes is a winning combination. Granted,we LOVE sweet potatoes in all forms, but this is our favorite, go-to sweet potato recipe. We ate this every night of Whole30 and still eat it almost everyday. Even if you don’t like sweet potatoes, give this recipe a try. This recipe will give you healthy little, fry-like nuggets of sweet potato goodness. Enjoy!

PAN-FRIED SWEET POTATOES

Prep Time: 10 minutes // Cook Time: 25 minutes

Serving Size: 2-3

2 sweet potatoes, chopped into small squares
2-3 large spoonfuls coconut oil
salt

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Prepare the sweet potatoes by washing and chopping. (Tip: cut the bottom off the sweet potato and rotate to make chopping a bit easier.) Chop the sweet potatoes into small little squares. The size will help speed up the process of cooking and crisping. (Note: I don’t peel the potato, but do make sure to wash it really well before chopping. We also try and buy organic because the potato is on the “dirty dozen” list of produce with the most pesticides. Yikes!)
  2. Scoop the coconut oil into a pan at medium heat. The key to these potatoes working is the right amount of coconut oil. Too little and they burn too quickly. So be generous with the coconut oil and you can always drain the excess out of the pan at the end.
  3. Once oil is melted and potatoes are chopped, it is time for the magic. Throw potatoes into the hot pan and just wait. You want them to come out nice and crispy, so patience is key. Let them sit for a bit before the first stir. Then, make sure you stir them occasionally to avoid any major burning. Once you hit the 25 minute mark, start stirring a bit more frequently until they look nice and crispy!
  4. Once they are nice and crispy, sprinkle with salt and enjoy!

Notes: These are also a great addition to scrambled eggs in the morning or as a part of a nice balanced breakfast. But, let’s be honest, Adam and I will eat them at just about anytime, with just about anything.

 

Sugar Free Fruit Crumble

Lana Hawk

Post Whole30, Adam and I are trying to stay away from too much added sugar. Once you start looking at labels, it is quite shocking how much sugar is in just about everything. Although we are avoiding unneeded sugar, we still love a little something sweet every once in awhile, and that means we have to get a little creative. This is one of our recent experiments that turned out quite nice. I used an old fruit dump cake recipe for inspiration and modified a cookie recipe by Sprouted Kitchen via Minimalist Baker to create this sugar-free fruit crumble. Don’t be fooled, the sweetness of the fruit makes it the perfect dessert. Throw some ice cream on there and you have a winner!

I use frozen cherries and pineapple because it is easy and always available in our house. I like the idea of a berry blend that includes cherries, blackberries, raspberries, and blueberries. Although, who am I kidding? They all sound awesome! A word of caution on frozen fruit, they can get a bit watery. Fresh fruit will yield the best results, but frozen still tastes good.

SUGAR-FREE FRUIT CRUMBLE

Prep Time: 10 minutes // Cook Time: 25-30 minutes

Serving Size: 2-3

1 1/4 cups almond flour
1 cup (or more) fruit (I used frozen cherries and pineapple.)
1/4 cup honey roasted almond slices, slightly crumbled
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 egg
2 tbsp melted coconut oil

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Prepare a small pyrex or baking dish by spraying the bottom with cooking spray (I use coconut oil cooking spray).
  2. Now, prepare the fruit. If frozen, thaw fruit draining any excess liquid. If fresh, wash and chop.
  3. Melt coconut oil in the microwave. Then add egg and vanilla and mix until combined.
  4. Mix dry ingredients into a large bowl.
  5. Add coconut oil mixture with the dry ingredients. Stir until combined.
  6.  Place the fruit in the baking dish. Drop spoonfuls of the dough mixture on top of the fruit, and spread slightly.
  7. Baking time! Throw in the oven, and let it cook until the top is golden brown (about 25 minutes).
  8. Scoop out some ice cream on top, grab some spoons, and enjoy a guilt-free dessert!

Notes: I use frozen fruit because we always have it “in stock” for smoothies. Raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries are a nice combination too. I prefer the pineapple/cherry combination, because the pineapple gives a bit more sweetness. Again, fresh fruit will yield the best results, but we still love the frozen fruit version! If you don’t have honey roasted almond slices, try using roasted almond slices and add a little bit of honey to the dough to make sure you get the benefit of that touch of sweetness.

Double Note: Don’t forget the step of adding the baking powder. Just saying. From experience…of someone I know… through no fault of mine… no baking powder results in a very dense, not nearly as lovely, fruit crumble.

 

Chicken and Roasted Veggie Soup

Lana Hawk

I love easy recipes. Recipes that don’t suck up the precious hours I have at home in the evenings. This is an easy recipe to throw together IF you have shredded chicken on hand. We always boil large batches of chicken and shred it all in our KitchenAid mixer. We freeze what we don’t use right away and that makes recipes like this one super easy to throw together, even on a weeknight. This is another Whole30-, desperate-for-a-hearty-meal-inspired recipe. It is full of veggies and perfect for the last chilly days left in the season. Make yourself a bowl, add some cornbread on the side, and feel good knowing you are fueling your body with healthy goodness!

We upgraded our cheap blender for the Cadillac of blenders… the Vitamix. I’m not going to lie, we love this baby. It is kind of crazy just how powerful it is. The best part is it makes soups a breeze. It is an investment, but to us, it was worth it!

CHICKEN AND ROASTED VEGGIE SOUP

Prep Time: 15 minutes // Cook Time: 45 minutes

Serving Size: 5-6

12-24 oz. butternut squash, chopped (or one complete butternut squash)
1 cup carrots, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 sweet potato, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes
1 cup water
2 cups cooked, shredded chicken (about 2 chicken breasts cooked and shredded)
2-3 handfuls of kale
32 oz chicken broth
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. thyme
1 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. paprika
salt and pepper for veggies

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil and spray with cooking spray.
  2. Chop carrots, butternut squash, bell pepper, sweet potato, and onion. The key to making this a fast easy recipe is buying pre-chopped veggies. Trader Joe’s and Fresh Thyme both sell pre-chopped butternut squash and onion. It is totally worthy it to me to buy whatever I can pre-chopped to help make weeknight dinners a breeze! Plus, if you have never peeled, cleaned, and chopped a butternut squash, it is quite the task. You will need a very sharp knife, some strong arms, and a lot of time.
  3. Toss all the chopped veggies on the baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast veggies until done. Carrots and sweet potatoes should be soft. This should take about 25 minutes.
  4. Now, wash and prep your tomatoes and toss those into a small baking dish. Roast tomatoes until they are nice and juicy. I just leave them in there as long as the other veggies are in the oven.
  5. Once veggies are done, take half of the roasted, chopped veggies and all of the tomatoes and blend up in your blender with one cup of water until smooth.
  6.  In a giant stockpot over medium heat, toss in all the roasted veggies, the pureed mixture, chicken broth, spices, and shredded chicken.
  7. As you warm up the soup, toss in a 2-3 handfuls of kale (again I used pre-chopped, bagged kale from Trader Joe’s). Stir until the soup is warmed through.
  8. Make sure the kale is cooked and soup is warm. Now, cook up some cornbread and enjoy a giant bowl of this healthy, guilt-free soup.

Tips: Again, pre-chopped veggies and shredded chicken are the key. Those two are timesavers and a great way to make weeknight meals healthy and easy. Vegetable amounts can be adjusted to whatever you have on hand. I rarely actually measure the veggies because this is meant to be a fast, easy meal.

Find Your Jam

Lana Hawk

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Music is a funny thing. It is a very diverse and large industry. There are all kinds of artists that you can listen to in a wide variety of venues and mediums. You can listen via vinyl, CDs, digital music and find artists you never knew about before through Spotify or Pandora. The other funny thing about music is the wide variety of tastes in music. People will argue until they are blue in the face about the “best” music out there, but in the end it comes down to personal preference. Preference in what moves you and speaks to you. I have found that staying fit, active, and healthy is similar to taste in music. It is all about finding your jam.

I have gone through a number of phases in my workout career. As a competitive swimmer well into college, I spent several hours a day with a set plan to keep me moving and in shape. Then, when I made the decision to stop swimming after my sophomore year in college, I was left without a plan. I didn’t have anyone telling me what to do to stay in shape and I stopped working out. For the next six years or so I would randomly show up at the gym for an elliptical workout or a jog on a sunny day. In the end, I never stuck with it. I just didn’t work for me. I spent most of my life with a set workout plan and then all of a sudden it disappeared. I knew the workouts, proper lift techniques, and how to be fit, but for some reason I was a bit lost when left to my own devices. So I entered into a quest to find “my jam” when it comes to fitness.

Here’s the thing, there are a million fitness plans and diet plans out there, but when you truly break it down, the best one is the one that works for you. What keeps you moving, healthy, fit, and happy is the best for you. I have tried solo gym time, spin classes, yoga, triathlons, endurance running, and more. Through all of those attempts, I have found what I like and don’t like and what I need to stay motivated. Here’s what I have learned:

  • I need a group fitness setting.
  • Despite the pain of an early wakeup, mornings are better because by the time the afternoon rolls around I am toast.
  • Elliptical is a throwaway workout.
  • Having a goal and tangible numbers helps me stay motivated.
  • I am super stubborn with myself when I have a goal.

I have also learned that what works for me changes with different seasons of life. I have loved training for half marathons, but after some health stuff last year, it hasn’t worked for me. I love triathlons and even worked up to a half ironman, but cycling is hard for me to maintain on my own. So here in Denver, I have found my next phase of workout. My new jam. Orange Theory has been a welcomed update to my fitness routine and meets all the requirements above. It’s a group class, widely available class times, numbers to help me stay on track during class, it is one hour, and it works for me. My goal is to be fit and keep moving and I have figured out what I need to do to accomplish that.

So what works for you? Do you need social interaction? Join a group fitness class or get a group together to run/walk a 5k together. Do you like solo time? Hop on a bike or in the pool and just go for it. Do you like outdoor adventure? Go for a hike, snowshoe adventure, or hit the slopes. Do you need something chill that helps unwind after a long day? Find that yoga studio and enjoy! Whatever works for you, make it happen, find the time. Find your jam.

Breakfast on the Go: Egg Souffles

Lana Hawk

Experts say breakfast is the most important meal of the day. It jumpstarts the day, gives you the nutrients you need to be on it from the start, and helps keep energy levels up. The question is, do experts know that mornings are the busiest time of the day? I don’t have kids and getting out of the door on time each morning is a struggle making breakfast a tough problem to solve. The easiest breakfast option? Cereal. The problem? Cereal is full of sugar usually and if it isn’t, it usually falls in the “near cardboard” category. A balanced breakfast is what these experts are calling for, but I need something convenient too.

During Whole30, I got back on the egg wagon and started having 2 fried eggs every morning with a side of Canadian Bacon. The problem is that can get boring and even something that simple requires substantial time. So my husband and I devised a solution to our breakfast “problem”. A yummy and healthy breakfast option to go! The best part about it is with about 30 minutes of prep on the weekend, you can have breakfast for the week done. All you need for your morning is 30-40 seconds to spare and a microwave. Done. Pretty great right?

These are also great because you can adjust the ingredients as you see fit to cater them to your taste. We have had them a couple different ways and they are great either way! Here you will find our latest version and below are some options to get you started on customizing your breakfast soufflé.

BREAKFAST SOUFFLES

Prep time: 30 minutes // Cook time: 20 minutes

Serving size: 12 muffin size soufflés or 6 large + 3 small

8-10 oz cooked brown rice

10 organic, cage-free eggs (yes I mean all of that)

3 slices Canadian Bacon

1/2 of 8 oz jar of sun-ripened dried tomatoes or roasted red peppers, chopped

1/4-1/2 C cheese (I used Parmesan, Romano, Asiago mix)

1 tsp salt

1 tsp pepper

1 tsp garlic powder

handful of spinach

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Cut the Canadian bacon slices into small squares. Saute in pan over medium heat to add flavor. Once browned, remove from heat.
  3. Chop your sun-dried tomatoes and pat dry to soak up any excess oil. If you haven’t cooked your rice, do that now. We use the frozen, microwave ready packs from Trader Joe’s. They are great to have on hand and make this process much faster.
  4. In a medium sized bowl, mix up your 10 eggs.
  5. To your eggs, add your sun-dried tomatoes, cheese, cooked rice, Canadian bacon, salt, pepper, garlic powder, and spinach. Mix to combine.
  6. Prep your muffin tins by spraying with a cooking spray. These soufflés tend to stick a bit, so feel free to be generous with the spray.
  7. Pour your mixture evenly into the muffin tins. Be sure to watch the spinach to make sure it is evenly distributed. You may also choose to put spinach in your muffin tin first before pouring the egg mixture in. Get crazy! We have done both large soufflés and smaller ones. This solely depends on your appetite in the morning and what kind of pan you have! Both are equally appetizing.
  8.  Place your soufflés in the oven and cook for approximately 20 minutes. When they begin to brown on top (and are cooked through) they are done!
  9. Let your soufflés cool before taking them out of the pan. This will help keep your pan as clean as possible.
  10. Store in airtight container for the rest of the work week. Grab one to go each morning and cook in the microwave for 30-40 seconds. Enjoy! Feel the energy for the day!

Modifications: We have made several versions of these soufflés. One version included only the eggs, rice, cheese, and spices. Another included those ingredients plus Canadian bacon. Lastly, we have tried it with all of those ingredients, plus Canadian bacon and our Coconut Oil pan-fried sweet potatoes. The basic building blocks are simply eggs, rice, cheese, and spices. The rest is up to you! The recipe above is my favorite because of the tomatoes. I’m a sucker for those tomatoes.

Make it your own and enjoy breakfast a go-go!

 

BBQ Pork with Carolina Slaw

Lana Hawk

I am drooling just looking at that sandwich. Seriously, I ate that exact sandwich for three days in a row. I finally figured out a Carolina-inspired slaw that I could pair with BBQ pork on one epic sandwich. A few months ago I tried the Carolina Slaw at EarthFare and loved it. I’m not a huge fan of traditional coleslaw, but the vinegar-based Carolina Slaw is right up my alley. It’s light and fresh and perfect for a summertime cookout. Plus, bonus, it’s easy and quick.

My husband and I tried the slaw both on a sandwich and solo and both ways were delicious. So next time you need a quick cookout side dish, try this healthy and fresh Carolina-inspired slaw. If you’re looking for the BBQ pork recipe to pair with the slaw, scroll to the bottom to see how I made this easy (but not quick) BBQ pork.

CAROLINA-INSPIRED SLAW

Prep Time: 20 minutes // Cook Time: 5 minutes

Serving Size: Makes about 6-8 servings

One bag of cabbage/slaw mix (I use a Broccoli Slaw mix from Trader Joe’s)

3/4 C apple cider vinegar

1/2 C Extra Virgin Olive Oil

3-4 Tbs honey

1 Tbs dijon mustard

salt/pepper to taste

  1. Pour your cabbage/slaw mix into a large mixing bowl.
  2. In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine all other ingredients. Whisk and stir until combined and warm, 3-4 minutes. Give it a taste and adjust if necessary. If you feel it is a bit to vinegary, add a bit more honey or dijon mustard to offset.
  3. Once the dressing is combined, take off the heat and pour over your cabbage/slaw mix. Stir until the dressing and slaw is mixed all together.
  4. Chill and serve. Easy easy!

 

BBQ PORK

Prep Time: 10 minutes // Cook Time: 2 hours (told you it was long)

Serving Size: 6

3-4 lbs pork shoulder

1 Tbs cumin

1 Tbs paprika

1 Tbs garlic powder 

1 Tbs onion powder

1 Tbs chili powder

1 Tbs brown sugar

2 Tbs salt

1 tsp cayenne pepper

2 tsp black pepper

1/2 C lemon juice

1/2 C lime juice

water

  1. Combine spices into small bowl.
  2. Cut pork shoulder into chunks. The pieces should be bigger than bite size.
  3. In a bowl, rub spice mixture into the pork shoulder.
  4. Pour lemon juice and lime juice into large stockpot. Then, dump pork shoulder into the pot.
  5. Fill the pot with water until the pork is covered (completely submerged).
  6. Bring water to bowl and then turn down to a steady simmer. I usually keep the heat at low-medium to make sure it doesn’t take 3 hours instead of 2.
  7. Now you wait. Wait for about 2 hours until all the water/liquid has disappeared. Watch closely and turn the pork to get a nice sear on all sides of the meat. Once you feel you’ve done enough, you’re good!
  8. Serve shredded with your favorite BBQ sauce AND your new favorite Carolina-Inspired Slaw on a toasted bun of your choice.

Banana Chocolate Chip Cookies

Lana Hawk

As I’ve mentioned before, I love baking and desserts, but my husband and I have made a conscious effort to cut back on too much added sugar in our diet. Once you start reading labels, you will be amazed at the amount of sugar in food we eat everyday! Seriously, watch Fed Up (documentary) and read labels. It’ll ruin you in the best possible way. Ask my husband. I was craving sorbet one night and we went to three stores looking for the best, low sugar option. It was quite the debacle. I ended up going with Talenti Raspberry because at least raspberries were the FIRST ingredient.

Either way, I still like my desserts and love to bake, so I’ve been working on finding some go-to dessert recipes that aren’t packed with sugar. This particular recipe is a mix between banana bread and chocolate chip cookies. It has just enough sweetness to satisfy those dessert cravings, but is certainly not in the over sweet category. They also have the consistency of cake with the shape of a cookie. I mean you have a cake, bread, cookie combo here. Does it get any better? Try them out and see what you think. Don’t be afraid to play around and modify a bit to make it your own. These also make a great gluten free option for all you #GF4life fans out there. Yeah, you’re welcome. 

**Sorry for the lack of pictures! This originally appeared on Old Pink House and I can't find the pictures! I will make these again soon and remedy that problem. 

BANANA CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES

Prep Time: 20 minutes // Cook Time: 15 minutes

Serving Size: 12 cookies

1 banana

1 egg

1 tsp vanilla

1 Tbs coconut oil, melted

1 Tbs honey

1.5 C almond flour

1 tsp each of baking soda and baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

3/4 tsp cinnamon

1 C dark chocolate chips, adjust as desired

  1. Preheat your oven to 350.
  2. Mash up your overripe banana in a medium-size bowl. Add in egg, vanilla, coconut oil, and honey. Stir to combine.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix all remaining ingredients. Add to banana mixture and stir to combine.
  4. Now, mix in your chocolate chips. I rarely measure chocolate chips. It’s all about how the dough looks! Since these cookies don’t have any other added sugar (aside from the honey), I’m pretty liberal with those chocolate chips. Make it rain those chips!
  5.  Once everything is combined, let the dough chill in the refrigerator for about 5 minutes.
  6. Scoop the dough onto your baking sheet into 12 inch round balls.
  7. Bake cookies for about 15 minutes until edges begin to brown.
  8. Enjoy!

Tomato-Spinach Pasta

Lana Hawk

When we were in the Netherlands, we stayed with some wonderful family friends. They were the most gracious hosts and we truly enjoyed our stay. One thing they taught us in our time with them is what it looks like to truly make a guest feel welcome. I can’t even begin to describe the daily breakfast spread, delicious dinners and desserts, the evening tea, and of course the wine. We were spoiled.

On our last night there, our hostess whipped up this easy, but delicious tomato-spinach pasta. It was so easy and so delicious that within a week of our return to the states I was cooking up this baby myself. The best part about it is how easy it is to make and how perfect it is for a summer night. It’s light, fresh, and just lovely. Our hostess served it with shrimp, but unfortunately, my usual grocery stops didn’t offer any wild-caught shrimp. {Yes, we are those people.} Because we couldn’t get our wild-caught shrimp, we modified the recipe to include shredded chicken instead and I must say, it was equally as delicious. If you are ever in need of a quick weeknight meal, this is your answer. Prep to stove to table in less than 30 minutes!

TOMATO-SPINACH PASTA

Prep Time: 10 minutes // Cook Time: 10 minutes

Serving Size: 2-4 servings

Ingredients

1 lb. Chicken, cooked and shredded (or wild-caught shrimp)

3-4 handfuls of spinach

1 pint grap tomatoes, halved

1 clove garlic, minced

Pasta, depends on serving sizes

olive oil

Chili pepper flakes, to taste

salt and pepper, to taste

Grated parmesan

Directions

  1. Prepare veggies by chopping the tomatoes and measuring out your spinach.
  2. Boil your water and cook pasta according to package instructions.
  3. Fill a skillet with olive oil, making sure most of the bottom of the pan is covered by the oil. Turn to medium heat and toss in your minced garlic. Cook the garlic for just a couple of minutes to bring out the flavor.
  4. If using shrimp, prepare second pan with a drizzle of olive oil. Cook shrimp until done.
  5. Once garlic is done, add tomatoes and spinach to the pan. Toss in olive oil and cook on low-medium heat until spinach is cooked down.
  6. Toss shrimp or shredded chicken into pan with tomatoes and spinach. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and chili pepper flakes. Stir to combine.
  7.  Fill up your bowl with pasta, chicken-tomato-spinach mix, and top with parmesan. Add chili flakes as desired and ENJOY! From stove to table in less than 30 minutes. Score!

Guilt Free Pumpkin-Apple Muffin

Lana Hawk

I love fall and all things pumpkin. If it hasn’t been made obvious to you in previous posts, let me make it obvious to you now. When pumpkin stuff comes into the stores, I am obsessed. Pumpkin pancakes? Made them. Pumpkin crackers? Yep. Pumpkin chocolate chip cookies? Nailed it. Granola? Salsa? Soup? Chili? All with pumpkin? Mm hmm. With that information, this post makes a whole lot more sense.

Fall is perfect for busting out the pumpkin and trying it with everything. The hubs and I are still on our quest to cut excess sugar out of our diet, so when baking and trying new things, we always make some adjustments. I found this recipe on Literally Everything (here) and started from there. After the first batch, I made some adjustments to add some oomph. Nothing says fall like pumpkin and apples in a perfectly baked muffin form. And bonus, these are guilt-free! So make them in bulk and eat them until your pumpkin-loving heart explodes.

Pumpkin-Apple Muffins

Prep time: 10 minutes // Cook time: 15-20 minutes

Serving size: 12 muffins

1 1/2 cup almond flour

1 can pumpkin

3 eggs

2 Tbs pumpkin pie spice

1/2 cup almond butter

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp nutmeg

1 apple, peeled and chopped (Honeycrisp… always)

dash of salt

Optional: 1 Tbs honey or maple syrup (for added sweetness)

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees, and prep your muffin tins with cooking spray or paper liners.
  2. Combine all ingredients into a bowl, including the apple, and mix until smooth. If you the batter is a bit dry, add a little water or another egg. I used three eggs every time and didn’t need to add anything else. Add a little honey or maple syrup for sweetness, but the apples provide a decent amount of sweet on their own.
  3. Scoop your batter into your muffin tin. Stick in the oven and wait. Bake until a fork or toothpick comes out clean. Mine took pretty close to 20 minutes to bake, but sometimes the altitude plays tricks on baking. So watch them!
  4. Enjoy your perfectly, pumpkin fall treat.

6 Things I Learned Doing Whole30

Lana Hawk

February of this year marked my second round of Whole30 with my husband. If you are unfamiliar, it is a wonderful, but torturous month focused on eating all things lovely and fresh. We cut out dairy, legumes, any added sugars and sweeteners, carbs, wheat and grains, and even limited our fruit intake. The first few weeks were absolutely horrible. Seriously. Horrible. Massive headaches, hungry all the time, and constant cravings for sugar or those wonderful afternoon salty snacks. But through it all, I survived round two and once again learned a few things along the way. Here are the six things I learned this time around:

  1. Coconut Oil is Clutch: If you haven’t gotten on the coconut oil train, get over it and join in! It’s a healthy fat that tastes awesome and smells like you are vacationing in the tropics. We buy this stuff in bulk at Costco because we go through it so quickly. I recommend coconut oil that is organic, cold-pressed and unrefined. We’ve tried other versions and it isn’t as good! Sweet potatoes in coconut oil? Awesome. Pan-fried plantains in coconut oil? Awesome. Coconut oil in cookies instead of butter? Awesome. And you know what is even better? If I get a little bit on my hand in the process of scooping, I can just rub it in because it’s moisturizing. Win. Win. Win!
  2. Sweet Potatoes are Power: We/I love sweet potatoes. Our favorite go-to recipe is Coconut Oil Pan-Fried Sweet Potatoes. We ate this EVERY night on Whole30 and still do. It’s the perfect mix of salty and sweet, but also crunchy. I already knew I loved sweet potatoes, but Whole30 solidified them as one of my all time favorites.
  3. Always Read the Labels: Nearly every pre-packaged food in the grocery store contains added sugar. Seriously. Everything. Whole30 required a lot of label reading resulting in a lot of frustration at the state of the food industry in this country. If I am going to eat sugar, I want to know that I’m eating it. Did you know that pasta sauce is full of sugar? Or ketchup? Those delicious, salty crackers? Sugar. Even things that are sugar free have things like sucralose in them, which is another way of saying SUGAR. I truly am thankful for this lesson. I am now adamant about knowing what I put in my body. If I’m eating chocolate or a dessert, I know I am indulging in something majorly sweet, pre-packaged, processed nightmare. Rant over.
  4. Afternoon Cravings are a Sham: I am usually hungry at the end of the day, but before Whole30, I would come home and just go to town on a bag of chips or another salty snack we had around the kitchen. Now, I know that those salty, “I need it now” cravings were really all in my head. I bring an apple, cashews, and a Larabar everyday now to satisfy any mid-afternoon hunger pangs. Instead of overeating on things I don’t need, I am filling my body with fruit and some healthy fats. Plus, I do love Honeycrisp apples.
  5. Hazelnut Coffee and Hold the Creamer: One of the hardest things about Whole30 is the no creamer or fancy-shmancy coffee drinks. I love Starbucks, and I NEED coffee. So talk about a challenge! Coconut milk was my saving grace here, but even still, coffee just was not the same without a little sweet kick. That’s where hazelnut coffee comes in. During Whole30, we spent the weekend in Nashville, and I discovered that I could actually drink hazelnut coffee black. Me! The one who loves creamer and sweeteners and Starbucks. Black coffee. It was quite the surprise! I am happy to say that I am still on the hazelnut coffee train and plan on staying there.
  6. A Hearty Breakfast Makes All the Difference : I used to be a girl of convenience when it came to breakfast. Oatmeal or cereal was my breakfast of choice. Despite the pleadings of my husband, I continued to eat those things only to be left hungry at 9 a.m. Whole30 forced a change of habit and a change to the morning menu. I switched to two over-easy fried eggs with two slices of canadian bacon. Add a little salt and pepper and you have a meal that will stick with you until at least 11 a.m. (my lunch time).

Whole30 is hard, but I love that even a couple months later our refrigerator is stocked full of fresh veggies, fruit, and meat. We eat more veggies than we ever did before, and I love it! I feel better, have more energy, and don’t have to feel guilty when I indulge in a lovely dessert from say Cake Bake Shop in Broad Ripple. Even if Whole30 isn’t up your alley, I challenge you to take notice of what you are putting in your body because as they say, “you are what you eat.”