Cooking, Daily Life, Jenny

Whole 30

Over the 4th of July, I was talking to Stephanie about how I have been feeling really lousy. Bloated and lethargic and just generally blah. She mentioned that she was going to try the Whole 30 Progam after the holiday. I had read about it before and had always just said no. freaking. way. But I gave it another once over, and it didn’t sound soooo bad (yes it still did) so I agreed to give it a shot with her. My main motivation in trying it were 1). My skin was a mess. I’ve been having a lot of breakouts and it was overall just dull 2). My knees were constantly hurting and swollen and I know dairy is a big culprit of inflammation. 3). I wanted to clean up my diet and stop with the sugar monster and constant snack attacks. 4). Fine. I wanted to lose a few lbs.

For those of you who haven’t heard of this way of eating, here are the basic rules:

*Do not consume added sugar of any kind, real or artificial. No maple syrup, honey, agave nectar, coconut sugar, Splenda, Equal, Nutrasweet, xylitol, stevia, etc. Read your labels, because companies sneak sugar into products in ways you might not recognize.

*Do not consume alcohol in any form, not even for cooking. (And it should go without saying, but no tobacco products of any sort, either.)

*Do not eat grains. This includes (but is not limited to) wheat, rye, barley, oats, corn, rice, millet, bulgur, sorghum, amaranth, buckwheat, sprouted grains and all of those gluten-free pseudo-grains like quinoa. This also includes all the ways we add wheat, corn and rice into our foods in the form of bran, germ, starch and so on. Again, read your labels.

*Do not eat legumes. This includes beans of all kinds (black, red, pinto, navy, white, kidney, lima, fava, etc.), peas, chickpeas, lentils, and peanuts. No peanut butter, either. This also includes all forms of soy – soy sauce, miso, tofu, tempeh, edamame, and all the ways we sneak soy into foods (like lecithin).

*Do not eat dairy. This includes cow, goat or sheep’s milk products such as cream, cheese (hard or soft), kefir, yogurt (even Greek), and sour cream… with the exception of clarified butter or ghee. (See below for details.)

Do not consume carrageenan, MSG or sulfites. If these ingredients appear in any form on the label of your processed food or beverage, it’s out for the Whole30.

Do not try to re-create baked goods, junk foods, or treats* with “approved” ingredients. Continuing to eat your old, unhealthy foods made with Whole30 ingredients is totally missing the point, and will tank your results faster than you can say “Paleo Pop-Tarts.” Remember, these are the same foods that got you into health-trouble in the first place—and a pancake is still a pancake, regardless of the ingredients.

There are a LOT of rules in the Whole 30. A LOT. And they allow zero room for interpretation. They give permission to eat certain foods but not prepare them in certain ways. For instance, you can eat potatoes. But you can’t fry them…or eat commercially prepared chips (even baked) You can use almond or coconut flour to bread your chicken or add to meatballs. But you can’t use it to make tortillas. (And don’t think of saying the word pancake in their presence. They have a real problem with pancakes. Pancake is a 4 letter word to those Whole 30 people.).

So first of all, let’s be clear…in hindsight, I didn’t exactly follow the Whole 30 plan.  I didn’t read the book. I made microwave potato chips. I put almond milk in my coffee. I snacked on lara bars and dipped my plantain chips (which I bought at giant eagle) in my guacamole. I ate corn. I read labels but not as carefully as I should. I looked for the word sugar and tried to find foods that were minimal processed with ingredients I recognized.  There was some soy in a few things I ate, I’m sure. But I did the best I could and definitely finished 30 days of the WHOLE lot-better-than-I-had-been-eating plan.  And I have no shame.

Here were my WHOLE lbtihbe rules:

No grains (I did eat corn. It’s summer. I’m eating corn.).
No legumes (including peanuts/peanut butter)
No dairy
No sugar or artificial sweetners
No alcohol

And you bet your bottom dollar I stuck to every one for 30 days. Toot Toot!

The first 5-6 days are pretty tough. I’m not going to lie. Not as tough as the first 6 days home with newborn twins after a c-section…but still tough. It’s a lifestyle change and it’s difficult getting used to eating a new way. The hardest part for me was making all of my food. Truly, Lara bars, Pressed by Kind bars and plantain chips were the only prepared foods I ate.  I guess mustard, mayo and almond butter are prepared too but I’m not counting condiments as food.

I limited myself to 1 cup of coffee per day (full disclosure…I drink my coffee out of a 24oz tervis cup. Don’t judge). And I only drank water and unsweetened iced tea. And La Croix. OMG, so much La Croix!

I ate a ton of fruit. Berries, bananas, nectarines, watermelon. Probably 5-6 servings per day.  I ate a lot of raw, cut up veggies but not a lot of salads. Lots of eggs (scrambled, fried & hardboiled).  Lots of “hashes” (potatoes, turkey sausage, peppers, onions).  Roasted and steamed vegetables of all kinds. Grilled or panfried meats and fish. And smoothies.

The results:

I should have taken before/after pictures. I’m kicking myself for not doing so. Regardless…

I lost 8 lbs. Yes, weight loss was a motivation. And I’m proud to say that I lost weight. My clothes fit so much better and I’m flirting with wearing a bikini for the first time in 15 years. But we all know this doesn’t mean diddly if I put it back on. So I need keep up the hard work.

My skin is glowing. The breakouts didn’t really stop until around day 13-14 but I haven’t had one since. I also switched to a new organic cleanser so maybe that helped too.

My knees feel meh…just OK. I may just need to face the fact that I have shitty knees and my diet isn’t going to fix them.

I’m definitely snacking less. Good grief, I didn’t realize how much I was snacking. Taking little bites of pretty much everything.  Cheerios, goldfish, Hershey’s kisses. And hitting up the office vending machine more than I’d like to admit. And I’m actually thinking about what I’m eating as opposed to mindlessly grabbing a slice of cheese from the fridge on a whim.

I’m back to cooking more. Which is annoying sometimes. But I don’t get to eat if I don’t cook and I can’t survive on smoothies. I love to cook though so it’s a good habit I want to continue.

I didn’t eat out much but was pretty tough to do following all of these rules. I had flank steak, grilled asparagus and roasted potatoes. No I didn’t ask what kind of fat they used to prepare the food. And there was some sort of sauce on the steak (I think it was Hoisin based, which is basically sugar) that I scraped off as well as I could.

Going forward:

Do I want to eat this way forever? No. Do I want to keep this as a good basis of my diet. Yes. Absolutely! I’m lucky that I love fruit and vegetables. Grains and cheese are my down fall and I need to work hard to keep from overdoing it. I’m going to reintroduce legumes first. And Stevia…I really want to cut out refined sugar and artificial sweetners as much as possible. Non-Gluten grains will follow and dairy.

You all know my love for pizza. I’m not giving up pizza (EVER), but I am going to eat a lot less of it.  As I am someone who thrives on structure and fails when allowed to wing it, my plan for the foreseeable future is to live by the 80/20 rule.  With 21 meals during the week, 4 of them can be off plan. Not that I can have a free-for-all, but I can eat normal portions of carbs/dairy/sugar without guilt.  So most meals will be still protein/veggie/fruit/good fat. As will snacks. When you only allow yourself cheese 4 times a week, it ain’t gonna be American. My hope is that I continue to really think about what I’m eating and choose high quality food versus empty crappy carbs (yes, I’m breaking up with you Doritos). I don’t believe a healthy relationship with food is one where you don’t indulge on occasion. What is summer without ice cream?! But continuing with this new food mentality will make me appreciate what I’m eating a lot more.

I’m really happy Stephanie convinced me to give this a shot. She stuck to the true plan and is basically a rockstar! I came close enough to be proud of myself. I’ll check in next month to let you know if I’ve stuck to my new habits.

Cooking, Uncategorized

Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal Muffins


If you like your muffins to taste like cupcakes, please move along.  There is very little sugar in this recipe and it’s just perfect for me.  But I’m not a huge fan of sweet.  There is lots of wholesome goodness packed in a small package. I’ve topped them with a little butter and they are fantastic…but they’re pretty tasty all by themselves.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Combine the following dry ingredients in large bowl, mix well

1 ¼ cup rolled oats
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 Tablespoons ground flax seed
1/3 cup chopped walnuts

Combine the following wet ingredients in a separate bowl, whisk to combine.

1/2 cup milk (I used 2%)
6 oz vanilla greek yogurt (should be @ ½ cup) – I used an 5.3 oz individual Chobani cup
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 Tablespoons honey or maple syrup
2 eggs

Sauté the following in skillet until the apples are soft.

1/4 cup organic coconut oil
1 apple, chopped
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

Add the sautéed apples and wet ingredients in with the dry and stir to combine. Don’t overmix.

Spoon batter into lined or greased muffin tins (I used mini muffin tins).

Bake for 15-20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.


Whatcha got cookin?

I may have mentioned 926616 a few times, our kitchen was the thing I was most looking forward to in our new place.  And I’ve wasted no time getting my hands dirty.  In the 10 days we’ve lived here, I’ve been cooking up a storm almost every day. 

The first, best thing about my kitchen, is the cooktop.  Do you notice anything about the eggs in this picture?  They are in the center of the pan.  Not swimming along one side because the burners are all lopsided.  This shouldn’t been as exciting to me as it is…but I’ve never had so much fun making eggs! 


This weekend I made Mel’s chicken enchiladas.  They are In. Sane.  So good!


Served with some brown rice and avocado. 


And when I was at the Market District on Sunday, they had freshly roasted hatch chiles available.  You bet your bottom dollar I picked some of these babies up! 


They’re hot.  But I like hot.  I slow cooked an eye of round roast to make the Mexican Shredded beef from Gimme Some Oven and used the hatch chiles in place of the jalepeno in my simple slaw.  Yowza! 

So about that beef.  It’s ridiculous.  I’m on a chipotle in adobo kick recently (I know, so 2011) and I want to add that flavor to everything.  This recipe is simple perfection.  Make it! 


After our weekend of heavy eats, Jerry and I have pledged to clean up our diet this week.  Fresh fruits and veggies make me giddy!


And seriously, how cute is my dog???  Where’s Waldo Jacob?


Spicy Asian Noodles

Another recipe?!?!  Normally I would try to space out my culinary masterpieces….but this was SO. GOOD!  It was so easy too and came together in about 20 minutes.  This is from Cooking Light….spicy asian noodles with chicken.  Of course I had to mess around with it…my changes are in red.

  • 1 tablespoon dark sesame oil, divided
  • 1 tablespoon grated peeled fresh ginger
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 cups chopped roasted skinless, boneless chicken breasts (I used about a pound of shrimp)
  • 1/2 cup chopped green onions
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 3 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
  • 2 teaspoons sambal oelek (ground fresh chile paste) (leave out if you don’t want any heat in the dish…Chiquita, I’m talking to you!)
  • 1 (6.75-ounce) package thin rice sticks (rice-flour noodles) (I used brown rice noodles)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped dry-roasted peanuts 


  1. 1. Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a small skillet over medium-high heat. Add ginger and garlic to pan; cook 45 seconds, stirring constantly. Place in a large bowl. Stir in remaining 1 teaspoon oil, and next 6 ingredients (through sambal).
  2. 2. Cook noodles according to package directions. Drain and rinse under cold water.  Cook shrimp in large skillet about 2-3 minutes per side.  Add sauce and noodles and heat through.  Sprinkle with peanuts.
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  4.  I steamed some broccoli to serve with the noodles.  Please excuse this picture…I didn’t wipe down the plate. 


Update on the deck situation is coming up tomorrow.  Spoiler alert:  We agreed to disagree.


Embarrassingly Easy Fish Tacos

After 4 days of eating everything that wasn’t tied down (so. much. food), Jerry & I  a) didn’t want to go out to eat on Sunday & b) wanted something lite for dinner.

I had some cod in the freezer so I decided fish tacos would be a good idea.  We are both partial to the grilled version vs. the breaded, fried version.  It was kinda ugly out so I skipped the grill and just browned them in the skillet.


Here is the recipe I used:

1 lb of cod (or other white flaky fish)
taco seasoning.

The end.

For those of you who are sticklers for details, I defrosted the fish, sprayed it with non-stick spray and sprinkled taco seasoning on both sides.  Then I headed a drizzle of EVOO in a large skillet and cooked on medium high for 3-4 min per side.  Once it was cooked, I just chunked it up with the spatula and sautéed it around in the pan.  Throw it on a corn tortilla, top with slaw & a chunk of avocado and eat.  Done & done!

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I made a simple slaw out of packaged coleslaw mix (why would you ever buy a whole cabbage for slaw??  Convenience for the win!)

2 limes, juiced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 jalapeno, seeded and minced
1/4 cup EVOO
salt & pepper to taste

Whisk dressing in a large bowl. Add coleslaw mix, 1/2 bunch of cilantro, rough chopped, and 1/2 a bunch of scallions, diced. Toss to combine. It’s better if it sits overnight.


Simple and delicious!


Blueberry Oatmeal Bread

Last week, I really was in the mood for blueberry muffins.  The blueberries are so good right now!  But, as what seems to be a reoccurring theme these days, all of my muffin pans are packed away in storage.   My favorite recipe is so yummy yet healthy…made with whole wheat flour and oatmeal.

As I do have loaf pans in the apartment, I decided to search on Pinterest for a similar blueberry bread.  The first one that popped up was this fabulous looking Blueberry Oatmeal Bread

So I decided to give it a shot.  Of course, I modified it a bit.  Here’s my version:

Blueberry Oatmeal Bread
     makes 1 loaf
1 C old fashioned oats
1/2 C oat flour {or blend 1/2 C oats in food processor or blender}
1 C whole wheat flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp baking power
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 C non fat, plain Greek yogurt
1 pack unsweetened apple sauce
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
3/4 C sugar
1-2 C blueberries*

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray loaf dish with baking spray with flour in it, such as Baker’s Joy or the Pillsbury brand. In a medium bowl, mix together the oats, oat flour, flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
In a large bowl, whisk or mix together the yogurt, apple sauce, eggs and vanilla. Add in the sugar and mix.

*After the blueberries have been washed, mix them with 1-2 tablespoons of the dry ingredient mixture until they are coated. This way, the blueberries won’t sink to the bottom of the bread.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet a little at a time and gently mix until everything is incorporated. Add the blueberries to batter and gently fold in. Pour batter into a loaf bread pan and bake for 55-60 minutes or until bread is fully cooked and a tooth pick comes out clean.

Let cool for a few minutes then tip bread out of pan to cool on a cooling rack.
IMG_0359 IMG_0364


The original recipe calls for 1/4 cup of vegetable oil.  I was going to add 1/4 cup of coconut oil but I put in the microwave to liquefy and forgot about it.  It really didn’t need it.  The bread isn’t too sweet and is hearty from the oatmeal.  Jerry and I both loved it!


tap, tap, tap…is this thing on?

Well, hello there.  I seemed to have drop off the face of the earth for a bit.  Truth is, things have been pretty boring around these parts.

But that’s about to change…Summer is unofficially here!  Tomorrow kicks of Memorial Day weekend and Jerry and I have filled our calendar with about a billion fun holiday activities.

Friday – Date Night! Walkin’ the hood with the Jake, grillin up some fish & dining on the patio.
Saturday – Estate sale & cookout
Sunday – Brunch at Eleven & another cookout
Monday – golf (for Jerry) and the true sign it’s Summer…Red Fin Blues

With all of this gallivanting, I’m trying to avoid gaining back the 6 lbs I just lost.  So I’m bringing lots of yummy, healthy food to the picnics.

For Saturday:

Thai Veggie Burgers from Oh She Glows

thaiveggieburger 2351   Thai Sweet Potato Veggie Burgers with Spicy Peanut Sauce

Spicy Peanut Noodles from Table for Two


And basic deviled eggs…because the host loves them!


Southwestern Corn Salad similar to Skinnytaste

And Chipolte Turkey Burgers similar to Pinch of Yum (I follow this basic recipe and add some peppers, corn and scallions)

Chipotle Turkey Burgers

I hope to be back with some house updates soon (we have brick!).  Happy Memorial Day to all!


Pinspired: Quinoa Salad with corn & scallions

Doesn’t this salad look amazing!?


I have a horrible habit of looking at a recipe and making up my own concoction based on the picture.  Following recipes is not my forte.

I had some left over cooked quinoa in the fridge, along with some scallions and a zucchini that were nearing extinction.  My version turned out pretty well.  Here is what I used:

1 clove garlic, minced
1 T olive oil
1 cup frozen corn, thawed
1 medium zucchini, diced
2 cups cooked quinoa
salt and pepper, to taste
5-6 scallions (white and green parts), diced
1/2 lemon, juiced
1/2 – 3/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese


saute garlic, corn and zucchini in olive oil until soft and fragrant.  (about 4 minutes).  Add quinoa, salt and pepper and heat through (about 2 minutes).  Add scallions and parmesan cheese (cook for 1 minute).  Add lemon juice and serve!

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It was a quick and delicious side dish.  I served it with marinated tomatoes and a jelly donut.

No, no…that is actually a cheeseburger on a bagel thin with dill relish.  Bet I fooled ya though!


Embarrassingly Easy Stromboli

For our bowling extravaganza on Saturday, everyone brought some sort of appetizer or dessert in lieu of going out to a big dinner.  This is my favorite way to eat…dips, munchies and pretty much anything with cheese. 

My contribution was Stromboli.  I make this for pretty much any event where I won’t be able to keep something hot or cold.  This is delicious at room temperature, although I do love the ooey, gooey, melty cheese right out of the oven. 

It’s always a crowd pleaser and I’m always asked for the recipe.  Which is embarrassing because its so simple and I generally want to look like a culinary goddess.  I guess I could make my own dough, cure my own meat and age my own cheese.  Yeah, I think that’s a dumb idea too…

I made two versions. 

Turkey, roasted pepper & cheese
One tube pizza crust
One jar roasted red peppers
1/2 lb smoked turkey
1/2 lb cheese (I prefer sharp cheddar, colby or pepper jack)

One tube pizza dough
1/2 lb mozzarella
1/2 lb provolone
1/2 lb baked ham
1/2 lb pepperoni or salami
dried oregano or Italian seasoning.


 Preheat oven to 400.  Line a cookie sheet with foil, parchment or silpat baking mat.  It helps to coat it with non-stick spray.  Pop open pizza crust and lay it flat on sheet.  Spread it out with your fingers.  Pinch together any tears in the dough.  

Layer your meat/cheeses: 
(sprinkle about 1T oregano over dough) Ham, provolone, pepperoni, mozzerella

You don’t have to follow this order but it’s how I always do it :).  Be sure to rinse and drain the peppers and dry very well between paper towels.  If the peppers aren’t dry, it’s a hot mess.

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 Roll em up!!  Start at the end closest to you and fold the two corners in .  Tuck and roll, tuck and roll, tuck and roll until you reach the end.  Make sure you pinch all of the dough together so everything is nice and tight. Adjust the stromboli so it’s seam side down on your baking sheet and cut 3-4 small slits in the top. 

Bake at 400 for 20 minutes.  Check your progress.  Rotate baking sheet as needed.  (Mine took 30 minutes in an electric oven).  It’s done when it’s golden brown on top. Remove from oven and rest for 15 minutes.


Tell Jerry he’s not allowed to sample it until it’s cooled.  Repeat 3 times.

Slice it up and serve immediately.  Or let it cool completely before transferring to an air tight container.

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 Ooooey, Goooey and YUMMY!




Spicy Shrimp Fried Rice

I don’t love Chinese food.  There, I said it.  When Jerry and I are going out to eat and we’re trying to decide a location, he always throws out a Chinese restaurant first.  And I immediately shoot it down.

Jerry: “You hate Chinese food!”
Jenny:  “No I don’t, I just don’t love it.”
Jerry:  “No you hate it…just admit it”
Jenny: “I don’t hate it.  There are simply WAY more things I’d rather eat other than Chinese food.  Like pizza.  Or Mexican.  Or sandwiches.  Or pasta.  Or salad.  Or chicken wings. Or pizza”

Maybe I just don’t like the way I feel after I eat it.  It’s always super salty (and I LOVE salt) and I’m hungry again 15 minutes after I eat it.

Then Jerry declared on Friday “I’m getting Chinese food this weekend and you can either come with me or you stay home and find something to eat by yourself”.

Hmmmm, ok.  “Well how about I make us a nice stir-fry at home?  And I’ll make some healthier fried rice”.  (Jerry only ever gets fried rice when we get Chinese food.  Or Thai.  ONLY fried rice.  So he really doesn’t love Chinese food either…he just loves fried rice).  He reluctantly agreed…although he looked very defeated.

So I went on my favorite healthy foods blog, Skinnytaste, and there it was…Spicy Shrimp Fried Rice. And I had all of the ingredients on hand.  Done and done.

Note:  I find it is really helpful to stock up on a bunch of Asian ingredients to keep on hand.  You drop $30 in one shopping trip, but then you always have them to whip up a quick dinner and don’t have to run to the store for one thing.  My staples are soy sauce, toasted sesame oil, asian fish sauce, thai garlic chili paste, rice vinegar, hoisin sauce and oyster sauce.

I roasted up a big batch of veggies (season with toasted sesame oil, soy sauce, salt & pepper, 425 for 15 minutes) to go with it.


All I can say is WOW…it blew us both away.  I cooked up some brown rice earlier in the day so the whole thing came together in 20 minutes or so.  I followed the recipe pretty closely, but my sesame oil was just plain and it turned out just fine.


I may actually like Chinese food after all.