Hen in a Hurry: Dinner Game-Changer!

Disclaimer: I was provided services/products from Hen in a Hurry as a partnership through US Family Guide. All opinions are 100% my own.

Yinz guys. I have been holding out on you. Two days before I ran my 10-Miler, the most amazing smelling box was delivered to my front door. It was a complete game changer for my dinner game – Hen in a Hurry. This meal subscription service was my first ever experience and it has opened my eyes to the possibilities when it comes to putting good, clean food on the dinner table in a hurry. I am so sorry I haven’t been around to share this with you sooner!!!

Hen in a Hurry: Dinner Game-Changer!

This box of amazingness arrived with dry ice surrounding four frozen meals and matching sides (that I got to pick out). I drooled over all of them and neglected to read the fine print – I could have kept some of them frozen until we were ready to enjoy! Into the fridge went all the packages to thaw to have for our dinners.

Why did this matter? The meals should be consumed between 3-5 days once thawed. That meant we actually had to cook two meals a night and then have leftovers. They were still good, but to get the true experience I shouldn’t have been in such a hurry to enjoy! 

Truth, I love to cook and experiment and make delicious, healthy foods for my family. But truth? I hate spending all evening in the kitchen making dinner. With Hen in a Hurry, I just had to put the thawed meals into a glass casserole dish and cook for 45 minutes. During that time, I was able to spend time with the kids (catching up on Caliou is a big deal around here, you know) and check on that ever-growing pile of school papers. Joking aside, this was truly a blessing for this mom of four.

But even better? I did not spend time cooking 5 different meals. Nope. I cooked one. And we all enjoyed the meals together. No one asked for a PB&J sandwich. No one cried. The only issue was that everyone wanted seconds and the Hen in a Hurry meals were made for a family of four. (So when I said we had to cook two meals at once, it actually turned into a blessing.)

Hen in a Hurry: What We Tasted

Our meal choices were spot on to things we liked. I’m noting which ones were gluten-free (gf) because they are the ones we’d repeat. I’ve been bad and have been eating gluten, meaning my tongue has been itchy for weeks and my stomach is a mess. Here’s what a tried and what we thought:

Fresh Garlic and Turkey Meatloaf with Loaded Cauliflower Mash (gf): This was our least favorite entree of the four but it was still amazing. Day two re-heated and with a tiny bit of ketchup (is that just a ‘Burgh thing?) and it was the perfect meatloaf. The Loaded Cauliflower Mash was the most filling side of the four we selected and tricked everyone into thinking they were eating mashed potatoes. Score.

Cheddar and Chicken Enchiladas and Fire Roasted Vegetables (gf): The enchiladas weren’t spicy enough for mom but EVERYONE ELSE said the fire level was just right (I like things spicy). Greg didn’t realize these were enchiladas because I cooked it upside, making them look like lasagna. Oops. Still delish overall. The fire roasted veggies were good, but the color of them steered most of the kids away from them. More for mom! (These were also a bit watery, so I cooked them in a dish by themselves.)

Zucchini Stuffed Chicken (gf) and Squash Casserole (gf): These two were definitely the second favorites overall. I wish there had been more “stuffed” in the chicken but they were still a great amount of flavor. The chicken wasn’t dry (I was surprised) and the squash casserole was a great pairing with it.

Baked Rosemary Chicken (gf) and Cauliflower Stuffing (gf): Shut the front door. My house is always welcoming but if I order this again, I am not sharing. Heh! No, for real, this one took the cake and was first place overall in our tasting. The chicken was *just right* spiced and moist. And that stuffing? I wish I had remembered to order multiple sides from Hen in a Hurry last week because now they wouldn’t arrive until after Thanksgiving. Yinz guys, this stuffing was next level and we fought over every single crumb. There is no way I can replicate this one!

Hen in a Hurry: How to Order

If this sounds like a dinner game-changer for your family, US Family Guide has brought some promotions to ‘lil Burghers readers to allow you to enjoy Hen in a Hurry. You’ll select meals of your choice and have them delivered to your home or office. This is a great gift, too!

Select one of the offers below by visiting Hen in a Hurry’s website (heninahurry.com) and pick one of these options. During checkout set up your account and then enter in the promo code associated with the deal you choose.

(30) Individual Meals – Subscription for a month – Regular Price: $315.00 – Deal: 45% off ($141.75 off) 1st months subscription **Code: 45offFamilyGuide

(7) Individual Meals – Subscription for a week – Regular Price: $99.00 – Deal: $40 Off 1st week’s subscription **Code: 40offFamilyGuide

(4) 4 days a week- Family Meals – Includes a side and entree for a family of 4 (16 total meals) – Regular Price $96 – Deal: $25 Off 1st week’s subscription **Code: 25offFamilyGuide

(6) 6 days a week – Family Meals – Includes a side and entree for a family of 4 (24 total meals) – Regular Price $132 – Deal: $35 Off 1st week’s subscription **Code: 35offFamilyGuide

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About Hen in a Hurry

Chef prepared meal subscriptions made with clean, sustainably sourced, responsibly raised ingredients from our trusted farmers and purveyors. No Waste. No Prep. No Preservatives. Just heat and enjoy!

hen-in-a-hurry
Hen in a Hurry was hatched in the small kitchen of the popular Greensboro, North Carolina eatery, Iron Hen Cafe. Spurred by a flock of requests from loyal patrons this idea came to fruition, delivering sustainable, ethically-sourced, prepared meals to you – at work or home. We favor organic and locally grown, but make exceptions in order to highlight other farmers and producers, who use time-honored methods and deliver very good products.

Our Mission is to connect the food we serve…to the farm it came from…to the people we love. We pride ourselves in being responsible both, locally and globally, and proudly bring these offerings to you from our 10,000 square foot commissary kitchen located in Downtown Greensboro’s Morehead Foundry. All subscriptions are no commitment – pause or cancel any time.

Visit heninahurry.com to redeem the advertised selections above through December 31, 2018.

The fine print: Promotional value expires Dec 31, 2018. Taxes are paid at the time of checkout with Hen in a Hurry. Shipping and handling are not included and vary based on delivery location; shipping available only within the continental U.S. Must register a credit card with the merchant. The subscription will automatically renew at regular price at end of subscription purchased unless canceled with Hen in a Hurry 10 days prior to the renewal date. Online redemption only. Limit 1 per person. Not valid with other offers or promotions.

 

 

Tips for Packing Healthy School Lunches on a Budget

Back to school is right around the corner. With four kids headed back, this mama is looking for some healthy school lunches on a budget. The tips below were shared with me and I couldn’t help but share. Enjoy! 

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Tips for Packing Healthy School Lunches on a Budget

via Cher Murphy PR

Back to school means back to lunch preparation for parents around the country. It’s a challenge that many parents take on, but often struggle to keep healthy. While it’s easy to toss in convenient snacks, it’s not going to do much in the way of keeping their little bodies healthy and developing well. One pediatrician wants parents to know that sending kids to school with healthy lunches each day doesn’t have to be difficult or expensive. In fact, she’s on a mission to help teach parents how to pack healthy school lunches on a budget.

“School lunches may not seem significant in a child’s life, but when you add up that they are eating them five days per week it’s quite a lot of their calorie consumption,” says Dr. Nimali Fernando, a Fredericksburg, Virginia-based pediatrician who founded The Doctor Yum Project. “Teaching them healthy lunch habits from a young age will give them the tools to build lifelong healthy habits.”

Of concern for many pediatricians is the fact that most children are simply not eating enough healthy foods to begin with. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a report earlier this year which stated that only 12 percent of adults meet the daily recommended fruit intake, and only 9 percent reach the daily vegetable intake. They went on to say that most U.S. children do not meet national recommendations for daily fruit and vegetable servings. Add to it the fact they report that 14 percent of preschool-aged children are considered obese, and it’s a recipe for health disaster.

Here are tips from Dr. Yum for packing healthy school lunches on a budget:

  • Plan lunches for the week. Every weekend, sit down and make a list of what lunches you will make throughout the week. Dr. Yum’s Menu Planner can help you plan lunches, dinners, breakfasts and snacks and then gives you a shopping list for the week that is even sorted by department.
  • Buy in bulk. Skip buying individually packaged items like snacks. They are often much more expensive that way. Buy items in bulk, such as at Costco, and use reusable containers to put the items in. Keep it healthy by opting for things like dried fruit, trail mix, unsweetened applesauce, etc.
  • Use leftovers. Plan your dinner meals so that you can make extra and then put some aside for lunch the next day. The Dr. Yum Menu Planner is terrific for this too!
  • Make from scratch. When we buy items, such as muffins, premade at the store, they often have ingredients in them that we would never find in our pantry. Take it old school by going back to making your own items from scratch. Preparing a batch of healthy muffins, for example, and then putting them in the freezer will help you save money and have healthy options on hand at all times.
  • Skip the sugary drinks. Buying sugary drinks is not only expensive, but it puts too much sugar into your child’s diet. Opt for sending them with a reusable container filled with water or unsweetened tea.
  • Take a twist on old favorites. Most kids like a traditional PBJ, but you can add some twists by making peanut butter and sliced banana sandwiches, using a whole wheat tortilla, or putting peanut butter and jelly into a whole wheat tortilla and grilling it like a quesadilla. Each variation makes it a bit different, but very few different ingredients are used, keeping it easy and affordable.
  • Think smoothies. Packing a smoothie like Dr. Yum’s Green Dragon Smoothie once a week is a great way to get kids nutrition, serve them something they like, and make lunch preparation easy. Keep bags of frozen fruits and veggies (like spinach and kale) on hand and whip together a smoothie to put in their thermos. Smoothies are not just for breakfast!

“Get your kids involved in helping to make healthy lunches this year, which will teach them healthy habits and make them more likely to actually eat what you pack together” added Heidi DiEugenio, director of the Doctor Yum Project. “Once you decide you want to serve healthy and affordable lunches, you just need to stick with the commitment and make it happen. It will become a healthy habit for the whole family.”

Quick, healthy recipe from the Doctor Yum Project website: Rainbow Veggie Pinwheels

Healthy School Lunches on a Budget
Source: Cher Murphy PR

INGREDIENTS

8 whole wheat tortilla wraps

1 cup hummus

1 cup red bell pepper, thinly cut strips

1 cup grated carrots

1 cup yellow bell pepper, thinly cut strips

1 cup fresh spinach, thinly cut

1 cup purple cabbage, shredded

METHOD

Spread about two tablespoons of hummus on each tortilla, leaving a one-inch border on all sides. Line up a thin layer of sliced vegetables across the hummus. Roll up the tortilla tightly. Cut the roll crosswise into four or five pinwheels and serve. These can easily be made ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator, ready for a party, snack, or packed lunch!

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About The Doctor Yum Project

Dr. Fernando created The Doctor Yum Project, an organization with the mission of transforming the lives of families and communities by providing an understanding of the connection between food and overall health, as well as empowering them with the tools to live a healthy life. The project offers healthy cooking classes, child nutrition classes, cooking camps for kids, hands-on cooking instruction for families, first foods classes, a teaching garden, and online tools to help families make healthier meals. They also offer a preschool nutrition program, with 40 classrooms and almost 600 participating preschoolers.

Dr. Fernando, otherwise known as Dr. Yum, is a board-certified pediatrician. She is also the co-author of the book “Raising a Healthy, Happy Eater: A Parent’s Handbook” (The Experiment, October 2015). To learn more, visit the site at: www.doctoryum.org.

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Sources:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Fruits and Vegetables. (Download here.)

Five RDN Approved After-School Snacks from Jo Bartell

*articles may contain affiliate links* ## Our kids have always been snackers. Back-to-school will probably just bring on the snack gene even more fierce! Admittedly, we’ve not been the best at providing whole, nutritious after-school snacks because we have four different appetites and preferences. But honestly, how hard is it to insert a few healthy snacks into the routine?

I was provided with these ideas by Jo Bartell, a registered dietitian nutritionist and think they are totally doable as part of the fall routine. Which is your favorite?

after-school snacks

Five RDN Approved After-School Snacks from Jo Bartell

RDN Jo Bartell says that the key to any snack combo is a blend of protein & fiber. As a general rule, she suggests you shoot for snacks that contribute more than 3 grams of fiber and more than 5 grams of protein. Instead of dreading after-school snacks, see it as an opportunity to incorporate valuable nutrients that are often missed in other meals. Jo has come up with 5 easy snack ideas that fit the bill and will keep your child fueled and focused until dinnertime!

  1. What: 1/2 cup cottage cheese + 1/2 cup blackberries, blueberries, strawberries and/or raspberries. Why: Cottage cheese is a super underrated food that is both versatile and jam-packed with protein. For a sweet and ultra-satisfying snack, pair cottage cheese with fiber-filled and antioxidant-rich mixed berries.
  2. What: 3 tablespoons hummus + veggie sticks (carrots, radish, jicama, celery, bell pepper, broccoli or endive leaves). Why: Hummus packs in the plant-based protein with chickpeas, and the other ingredients, which are typically tahini and olive oil, are wonderful sources of heart-healthy fat to slow down digestion and keep you feeling satiated throughout the afternoon. Think outside of the box with colorful and crunchy veggie dippers–more color and variety in the veggies you choose means more beneficial vitamins and minerals!
  3. What: A brown rice cake or two topped with a tablespoon natural nut butter, sliced strawberries and a sprinkle of cinnamon. Why: Getting in whole grains throughout the day is super important, especially if those whole grains are replacing their white (refined) counterparts. The fiber-filled rice cakes will go perfectly with vitamin-C packed strawberries and healthy fat + protein filled nut butter to keep the energy up until dinner.
  4. What: Pistachios and fruit. Why: Pistachios always help crush hunger with their crunch and combo of protein, fiber, and healthy fat. As a bonus, pistachios are a fantastic source of both potassium and vitamin B6. Pair them with antioxidant-packed plums and you have a delicious solution for your child’s afternoon sweet craving. Try Setton Farms’ new Pistachio + Plum Chewy Bites as your one-stop-shop for a powerful and delicious combination of pistachios and plums that will provide you with powerful energy to get through the afternoon. Setton Farms is my favorite brand of pistachios- they even have naturally flavored pistachios!
  5. What: 2 corn tortillas rolled up with 2 tablespoons mashed avocado, sliced tomato and cucumber. Why: Corn tortillas contribute whole grains and fiber, so choose those over flour tortillas whenever you can. Avocado adds flavor, and heart-healthy monounsaturated fat that works to lower bad cholesterol (a.k.a LDL) and raise good cholesterol (a.k.a HDL). And, even though we usually don’t think of avocados as a source of fiber and protein, they are actually super rich in both! Again, sneaking in tomatoes and cucumbers will add crunch and an extra vegetable serving or two for the day.

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About Jo Bartell

Jo Bartell is a registered dietitian nutritionist with a master’s degree and has extensive training and experience guiding individuals with various health conditions in achieving nutrition-related goals. She graduated Summa Cum Laude with a BA in Psychology and Sociology from Skidmore College, and earned an MS in Clinical Nutrition and Dietetics from New York University (NYU). At NYU, she also completed her dietetic internship. She currently lives in San Francisco with her own private practice nutrition counseling and consulting business. She is an active member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND), the California Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, and the Bay Area Dietetics Association, along with several Dietetics Practice Groups of AND including Women’s Health, Weight Management, Sports, Cardiovascular and Wellness Nutrition, and Nutrition Entrepreneurs. When she’s not working, she loves food shopping, cooking, traveling, riding horses, and long walks around the city with her dogs, Winston and Nikki.

Find her on Instagram @she_dishes

About Setton Farms

Setton Farms is a family-owned business based in California’s Central Valley and are the 2nd largest producer and processor of pistachios in the United States.  The business started as a small bakery in Brooklyn in 1959 and expanded to growing pistachios in 1987. They are a vertically integrated company and are able to focus on every step of the pistachio process from harvesting, to processing, to shipping. The processing plant has a 1.7MW solar power system and their post-harvest operations are 100% solar powered. Their products range from plain pistachios to flavored pistachios to their iconic Pistachio Chewy Bites. Check out their website or find their Pistachio+Plum Chewy Bites on Amazon.

 

Mexican Street Corn Dip

Have you ever had something so good you couldn’t stop thinking about it? That’s how things went about a year ago when we were introduced to Elote Loco, Mexican Street Corn, at our local {favorite} food truck, LA Taco. It is an amazing combination of sweet corn, butter, cheese, and spices served (super hot!) on a stick and wrapped in foil to seal in all the goodness. Who knew this would turn into my latest hit, Mexican Street Corn Dip!

Truthbomb – this isn’t clean or whole or anything on my lifestyle change journey plan but a splurge is sometimes a must

elote loco

I snapped a photo of the deliciousness on Instagram and even that wasn’t enough to get me through to the next time it would touch my lips, about a week ago. After a trip to the truck for tacos and Street Corn, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. It was clear I needed more, but a plan to visit the truck wasn’t in the cards again in the near enough future. We did, however, have a potluck cookout to go to, so I started scheming ways I could make this my side dish.

That’s when it hit me – this would make an amazing dip! Don’t be like me – do this one in your crock pot (and if you don’t have one, this one is perfect for any dip you’ll ever need to make for the army of people at a potluck – go get yourself one now – they were on sale when I posted this!)

dip crock pot
The perfect crock for dips!

See, what I did was do it in a 9 x 13 casserole dish which was fine and well, but it didn’t keep it hot like I needed it to be. All good, it was devoured, save for a little bit I had as breakfast the next day (don’t judge, you’ll do the same). Unfortunately, that’s all I photographed, so you’ll just have to hold out hope I make this again and can get some more pictures to show you – or make your own and see for yourself!

Mexican Street Corn Dip

Mexican Street Corn Dip

Ingredients: 

  • 4 cans of corn (or 8 cups fresh or frozen)
  • 4 TBSP unsalted butter
  • 6 oz Cotija cheese (you can find this in your cheese aisle)
  • Chile Powder, to your taste (we like it HOT)
  • 2 TBSP Jalapenos (diced are best)
  • Cilantro, to your taste

Steps:

So easy. Put this all in your crock and set it on low for 3-4 hours before you want to eat it. Stir occasionally. Or be like me and put it all in a pan, heat it up, then add to the dish (so much more work).

Enjoy.

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Mexican Street Corn Dip is definitely a fan favorite in our house. What is your go to potluck dish? Please pin and share this one if you think you’d love it – then make it! Follow me on Instagram for more food fun!

Also, if you’re in the Pittsburgh Area, be sure to check out LA Taco – their weekly schedule is on Facebook!

street corn dip

 

McDonald’s Signature Crafted Recipe Sandwiches

*articles may contain affiliate links* This summer, a new line has come to McDonald’s – the McDonald’s Signature Crafted Recipe Sandwiches. I got a chance to test out two of them – have you tried them yet?

McDonald’s Signature Crafted Recipe

The McDonald’s Signature Crafted Recipe line of sandwiches brings three amazing flavor combinations, all with fresh and tasty ingredients. It’s a build-your-own experience, starting from the recipe (Pico Guacamole, Sweet BBQ, or Maple Bacon Dijon) > adding the protein (100% beef, crispy chicken, or grilled chicken) > then picking your bun (artisan roll or sesame seed bun). You can also add a drink and fries to make it a meal.

Now, due to my just finishing up the Whole30, it took me a little while to get my body ready to handle the flavors and additions that are found in these options. I have to say, it was worth the wait! Which two do you think made it in my bag?

I headed to my local McDonald’s and gave the Sweet BBQ with 100% Beef and Pico Guacamole with Artisan Grilled Chicken a try. (For the purposes of this review, I tried two sandwiches but will tell you I had to cut them in half and got very full on a “whole” of each type I tried! These are big sandwiches! Also, I had to take off the buns because gluten and I are not friends…but I have a good source who confirmed they’re delicious…I trust him since he eats the food I cook! *wink*)

Look at all this guacamole on the Pico Guacamole Chicken sandwich! This called for a few napkins, but no complaints from me, the guac-lover!

And that bacon…so delicious!

These are premium sandwiches that were inspired by people just like you and me – people looking for something zesty, tasty, and delicious. Check out this video from McDonald’s:

If you’re lovin’ it, head out to McDonald’s and try your own favorite combination. You can read more about all of the recipes over on McDonalds.com.

If you are in the Greater Pittsburgh Area – I have a chance for you to win! To win a swag bag filled with McDonald’s branded items and coupons to try out these new sandwiches, enter below. Good luck!

Here’s what you could win!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Whole30 Mistakes

(*articles may contain affiliate links*) Well, now that another Whole30 Round is in the books, it is a great time to share with you some of the Whole30 mistakes I’ve made along the way. (Truth be told, this eating right thing is pretty tough, so mistakes are sort of expected.)

Whole30 Mistakes

Whole30 Mistakes

Mistake 1: Not trying Ghee in Round One.

ghee

I loved putting this on my sweet potatoes and cooking with it during Round 2. But in Round 1? I didn’t spend the money on it, nor did I care to take the time to make my own at home (because it involved cheesecloth and patience, but is totally doable with the recipe in the Whole30 Cookbook). That was a big mistake!

Ghee is a healthy fat that is made from pulling all the water and milk solids out of the butter, leaving you with pure goodness. If you’ve ever had an addiction to honey butter, this is a close friend. You should be able to get Ghee at your local grocery store (I did, even in Kittanning!). This is the brand I used and fell in love with – you might just want to put two in your cart now.

Mistake 2: Not keeping compliant snacks handy.

While snacking isn’t a thing on Whole30 (you should really eat three solid meals a day), I was training for the Half Marathon and sometimes needed a little extra to boost my energy and progress. Or there were times that I wasn’t fully hungry (or not feeling well) and just needed a quick, small bite.

For those times, I should have had some good snacks around – like cashews or macadamia nuts. (When I was in Round One, plantain chips were my jam. They’ve now been removed from the plan but will show up in my meals when I’m not 100% Whole30.) And while bars – not granola! – are not shortcuts, they’re really good to have on hand, too.

Mistake 3: Not trying RXBAR until the last day of Round 2.

It was the last day of Round Two. There I was, overwhelmed in Trader Joe’s and super hungry. Knowing my Crispy Angry Chicken Drummies wouldn’t be ready for at least another hour (because the coconut aminos Greg needed to make them were in my basket), I was staring at RXBAR in hopes that I’d see one I’d like that could tide me over yet be compliant. It was only a few hours left, but I still didn’t want to mess up.

I did it. I went for the Coconut Chocolate Rx Bar because I love those two ingredients so much (yes, I’m a Samoa girl). And guess what? Not only was it okay and compliant and delicious, it took me FOREVER to eat. (Perspective, I was at the Penn Ave Trader Joe’s near-ish to Chatham and I didn’t finish it until I was passing the Harmar exit on 28.) As a sweets girl, this was huge. My enjoyment of the bar lasted and it made me feel so much fuller than anything else I’d tried as a “quick win” snack.

If you’d like to try RXBAR, you can get them right from their site and if it’s your first order, you get $5 off your order when you click here!

That being said, I did have a few Lara Bars this time, too – Apple Pie and Cashew Cookie. They sound so “bad” but they are good too! I just ate them way too fast and will be sure to have a combo of these and the Rx Bars on hand next time – see Mistake 2. 

Mistake 4: Evangelizing Whole30 Too Much

Guys. I love this program / lifestyle. Maybe I talked too much about it, but it’s really changed my life. Sorry, not sorry. Some of my fears are that I made it sound scary and tough, but it’s really not. If you have your mind set on being successful with this, then every meal prep is worth it. Every “sacrifice” is worth it.

And it really helped to talk to everyone I knew about it – because then they understood when I couldn’t try their oh so delicious looking brownies or sloppy joes or have a beer at Beer Friday. And it helped them know that I am committed to making myself better. That’s big when you do something big like Whole30.

Mistake 5: Not keeping coconut aminos in the pantry.

coconut aminos

Some of our favorite recipes (Spicy Turkey, Chicken Drummies) call for coconut aminos and we always seemed to run out. I’d been buying them on Amazon which was fine, but a little pricey. Thankfully I was clued in that Trader Joe’s has them for just $2.99 a bottle! We are now stocked up and ready – we’ll be using this for our stir fry, meatloaf, wings…anything that called for soy sauce in the past!  (I’ve found throughout the years that soy makes me itch from the inside out – before I go to a hibachi or enjoy sushi, I have to take benedryl to “survive”!)

Mistake 6: Not trying Passion Fruit La Croix sooner.

Alright. This one is tough. As someone who really only drank pop when it was a birthday party or pizza night (hey, there’s something about Diet Pepsi with chocolate cake and pizza), giving up the sugary drinks was not an issue for me. Instead, I actually added something by giving La Croix waters a try. But I didn’t give my absolute favorite, Passion Fruit, a try soon enough!

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Say what? These don’t sound like Whole30 mistakes! The honesty about this post: if you make a true mistake on Whole30 (stepping on the scale, eating dairy, etc.), then you start over at Day 1 the next day. These mistakes I made aren’t like that, they’re mistakes I learned from and want to pass on to you – you’ve stuck around this long, why not give the Whole30 life a try?

What’s the first step to Whole30 Happiness?

Buy this book and this recipe book because they will teach you everything you need to know. We got some really great recipes from living out of these books during my Whole30 rounds and they’ll be family favorites for a long time. Promise.

And ditch the scale. This isn’t about weight loss. This is about feeling good again. My mood has changed for the better. My body is lifting heavier and working harder and smarter. It doesn’t matter what’s on that scale. Just ditch it.

If you’ve decided to embark on the Whole30 lifestyle, let me know! I’d love to support you in your journey. Good luck! 

Whole30 Dump Ranch Veggie Dip

*articles may contain affiliate links* This recipe for Whole30 Dump Ranch Veggie Dip was (as Greg put it) “a happy accident”. Because it would be great for picnics, I had to go up to the computer and work on this post right away (after I gobbled up my lunch with it as a side)!

whole30 dump ranch veggie dip

All I did was make my Dump Ranch (based on this recipe that’s from the must-have Whole30 Cookbook) for dinner the other night. Okay, I made it but I was one room temperature egg in before I realized I was out of my olive oil (and we’d been to two stores and dinner was already late). I stared at my gigantic jar of coconut oil and decided it would do. I scooped some in a bowl and heated it up so it was nice and melted.

The ranch served its purpose for dipping my wings in, then I put it in the fridge. The next morning when I had piping hot potatoes that were begging for something tasty on top, I grabbed for my ranch. Unfortunately, it looked more whipped than creamy. Oops.

Or not.

I had just discovered a way to 1) thicken without adding an extra egg and 2) have a healthy veggie dip (just in time for a 4th of July picnic, too!). It went great on my carrots but also worked on the potatoes because it came to the just-right temperature when hitting their heat.

To say I was surprised and ecstatic is an understatement. I was giddy! Arianna and Greg confirmed that I’d found a goldmine in my “mistake”. We’ll be making this more often, and perhaps you will, too!

Whole30 Dump Ranch Veggie Dip

Before you start this recipe, make sure you have an immersion blender (this one is the one we use because it is able to withstand lots of mixing when preparing dinners for six, even though it’s small it packs a punch!) and a wide-mouthed jar (while a pickle jar is good, if you are creeped out about sharing the dill taste with your ranch, give these ones a try).


If you try this, let me know what you think!

Whole30: Round Two

Yesterday completed Whole30 Round Two for me. Let me just shout it out – I am out top of the world happy with my results. There, I said it and that’s that, right?

No, for real. I’m more proud of myself than I was the last time I went on my weight loss journey. And if you don’t remember, during that one I dropped 130 pounds, ran a half marathon, and even wore a bikini for the first time since I was a kid. I was (excuse me) damn proud of myself and what I accomplished – and not just because I looked good but because I felt good and was healthier for my kids.

But this time is different. This time, I am older and have two more kids and a longer commute. I have more faith. I have more drive. I have more to overcome. And I am doing it.

Choosing to do a second round of Whole30 this year was a no-brainer. After reintroducting foods and then training for the half, my eating sort of slushed a little. I was mostly gluten-free, but I allowed myself some treats (and paid for them later). I was mostly dairy-free, but I ate ice cream twice in one weekend – packed with guilt. It was time to do something for me again.

This time, we tried a few new recipes. I ate less sweet potatoes. I lifted heavier (I still have lots of gains to make there, but boy am I seeing changes). I ran less distance. I found beauty in my imperfections. And I learned that eating clean is a good way for me to live.

Whole30 Round Two Results

As a result of my commitment to my health, I have:

  • Longer hair
  • Looser clothes (I have gone from an 18 to a 14/16 and even put on a pair of size 12’s!)
  • More energy
  • More strength
  • Lost 6 inches
  • Lost 17.6 pounds

And you guys – that’s just on Whole30 Round Two. In all this year, I have lost 43 pounds in six months and have found out what I need to put in my body to fuel it properly. And I’ve gained confidence, courage, and strength.

I have to give a big thank you to my husband for letting me take care of me – putting in hours at the gym or on the trail, leaving dinner work up to him, making him read labels and hunt for “weird” ingredients. Greg, you’ve made this so much easier on me, even though this time around of losing it has been the hardest. Thank you!

Grilled Ice Cream Sandwiches

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #GrillNGear #CollectiveBias 

This summer, make a commitment to your family to spend more time soaking in the sun and the memories together. This recipe for Grilled Ice Cream Sandwiches is perfect to help you stay true to your word!

Summertime is meant for family and fun – but all too often we moms and dads get too busy to stop and enjoy it. This summer, I’ve committed to being more present with my family and enjoying moments spent doing our favorite things – like grilling and enjoying ice cream. Since we are on a tighter than usual budget this year, trips to the local ice cream shop will be less frequent. That’s sparked my creativity and I got to thinking about cookouts completed with a treat – grilled ice cream sandwiches!

Grilled Ice Cream Sandwiches

Because more time for family gets to include my recently retired and new homeowner parents(!), we decided to load the kids in the van and make some memories with Grammie and Pappy. Our only stop along the way was at our local Giant Eagle grocery store to get everything we’d need for a fun evening of grilling.

Our Giant Eagle shopping list included:

  • Lipton Tea Bags
  • Lemon Lemon Sparkling Lemonade
  • Bacon Cheddar Angus Beef Burgers
  • Chips
  • Veggies
  • Breyers Ice Cream (for this recipe)
  • Pepperidge Farm Farmhouse Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies (for this recipe)

After getting our ingredients, we headed to their house and got some sun tea brewing to make “Sparkling Arny P’s” – a twist on your usual Arnold Palmer (half iced-tea and half lemonade).

While letting the kids play, Greg fired up the grill and got the burgers going. I‘m sure know all of the neighbors who could smell the grill were jealous – the Market District line of gourmet burgers from Giant Eagle are incredible! They have the perfect ratio of bacon to cheese to burger and stay juicy. The store tag says “the best Angus beef available” and that has to be true.

(PS – if you are looking for some ways to take these burgers to another level, check out this Giant Eagle Pinterest board for “Summer of Grilling” ideas!)

After we enjoyed dinner, it was my time to shine. My special treat, the Grilled Ice Cream Sandwiches, were about to make their debut. I’m sure at first there were a few skeptics in the crowd, but I just knew the combination of hot cookies and cold ice cream that was just starting to melt was going to taste like perfection.

To get started, I put the cookies in a skillet on the hot grill. I let them heat for just a few minutes – long enough to see the chocolate was starting to melt.

Then quick work began, scooping the ice cream onto a cookie and topping it with another. (Pro tip – if you are like me and like your ice cream to sit out a few minutes before enjoying it, get over that. Have a helper bring you the tub straight from the freezer and have a ice cream scoop with some hot water ready to go. You really want the ice cream to be firm for this step!)

ice cream sandwich ingredients

I had to quickly hand off the treats and let the kids (young and old!) get to enjoying them. Can you blame them?

Grilled Ice Cream Sandwiches

Serves 4

Ingredients (aka #GrillNGear)

  • Pepperidge Farm Farmhouse Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies (or your favorite flavor)
  • Breyers Ice Cream (in your favorite flavor)

Tools

  • Outdoor grill
  • Grill-safe skillet
  • Ice cream scoop

Instructions

  1. Place the cookies flat side up in a skillet.
  2. Place the skillet on a grill (about 300-350 F) for 3-4 minutes.
  3. Scoop firm ice cream onto one cookie.
  4. Top the ice cream with another cookie.
  5. Enjoy!

If this recipe caught your eye and has you drooling, remember that you can grab everything you need for it at Giant Eagle. They’ll be sharing fun summer grilling recipes all summer long on their Pinterest Page, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. If you make this over the summer, please share with us and let us know how it tasted.

What do you plan to grill this summer? Does your grill “stop working” in the winter or has it been going all year long?

Can you help us settle a score – are you team cookie dough ice cream or team chocolate truffle? 

 

 

 

Whole30: It’s a Wrap

*articles may contain affiliate links* My Whole30 journey (round one, anyways) officially came to a wrap on February 4th. It was an amazing experience and I couldn’t help but sounding like a “junkie” throughout the entire process – maybe too much.

For thirty days, I stripped grains, dairy, sugar, and legumes from my diet. For thirty days, I put my husband to the test in the kitchen. For thirty days, I made a commitment to myself and my family to be better. And for thirty days, I was whole.

whole30

Sure, eliminating cheese, bread, and peanut butter isn’t the easiest things to ask of anyone. I get that. But when you do, you’ll realize how much better you feel. At least that is what happened to me. Let’s rewind.

I started the Whole30 on January 5th following a 3-day refresh from Beachbody. **Full disclosure – I didn’t prescribe to quick fixes when I originally lost 130 pounds, so I was skeptical about the process. But after the holidays and  a year of holding onto 75 pounds gained before/after having the twins, I needed something to jump start my progress.**

Because I pretty much ate whole/clean from 2011 to 2014 (save for couscous, quinoa, whole wheat, cheese, peanut butter, and black beans), my body didn’t go through the rough days that many experience in the first days of Whole30. Pushing the reset button on my life actually felt right and not like a crash course diet (because it’s not, it’s about changing your life). (Alright, I did have 2 days of stomach issues – likely keto flu because my body started processing things a bit differently – but I soon bounced right back.)

Along the way, there were temptations, though not as many as I expected. The Mounds Cake was a tough one to walk away from. One night, Evan redeemed a Book It! pizza and I had major flashbacks to working at Pizza Hut as a teenager and I had to walk away quickly. And another weird one, Red Bull. (Someone opened one in the van while I was driving Uber and I got this pang of wanting one – I did kinda have an addiction to the sugar free version in 2006 because of the flavor. Thank goodness a co-worker clued me in the that cran-raspberry La Croix water has a similar taste.)

Along the way, there were wins. We really love the Spicy Turkey and Cauliflower Rice recipe in the Whole30 Cookbook and it was super easy for Greg to cook. I felt different, more energized. I enjoyed a girls’ weekend with my best friend and didn’t find eating difficult. We brought real bacon into the house and Evan about passed out with glee (he’d only ever had turkey bacon, but now that I know what’s really in there, I don’t want it anymore). Arianna and I went through about 10 dozen eggs (and are even more upset that we can’t rent chickens in our town).

And at the end? I felt so good. So good. I had some amazing NSVs (non scale victories): longer hair, longer/stronger nails, more energy, consistent exercise, no heel or hip pain while running, stress off my shoulders, less stress in general, better skin). And although it wasn’t about the weight loss, I did lose 17.5 pounds and 8.75 inches (officially retiring a pair of size 20 and size 18 jeans that I’d survived in for the last year).

whole30 before after
Can you see the difference?

Reintroduction (the ten days, for me 14, of bringing back the things stripped out) didn’t go so well. Wine was good. Oatmeal, too. Peanut butter gave me some hives. Gluten gave me issues – bloating and other gross stuff. I ate ice cream for the first time in 45 days (or more?) on February 15. I finally ate chocolate the other day – I missed that friend but not as much as I thought I would.

So my next steps? Living 90/10 Whole30. That means I’ll be eating clean 90% of the time as my goal. I know I can’t do glutens. I did them today – Thin Mints called my name – and I’ve felt awful ever since (my stomach is in knots). Cheese will still be part of my life, but in small batches maybe once a week. And I hope that I’ll see the results I saw in the two weeks post ending the Whole30 (down another 9 pounds) continue.

Pro Tip: If you are interested in doing the Whole30, I highly suggest you get a copy of the book and cookbook (linked above) and finding some friends who are into it, too. Like me. If soy sauce is something you love, I suggest replacing it with (compliant) Coconut Secret Organic Raw Coconut Aminos Soy-Free Seasoning Sauce-8 Oz (2-Pack). Trust me when I say I know it will be hard, but think about your end goals. You’re worth it.