vegetables

The Weekend Five: Movie Night Snacks That Won’t Throw Your Diet Off Track

Ever since I began my MBA program in May, schoolwork has consumed a lot of my free time on the weekends that I would normally spend with family or friends. As I start to develop more of a routine, I look for little ways to add balance to my life so that work and school aren’t my only focuses. From a beach day with one of my best friends to berry picking adventures in Ocoee, I still try to make time for myself to enjoy the world and everything it has to offer.

On the weekends when it’s harder to get out, there’s nothing better than a night in with the perfect movie, a warm blanket, and delicious snacks. Of course, when we think of movie-related snacks, we tend to think of super-buttery popcorn (admittedly a guilty pleasure of mine), giant soft drinks, and boxes of Junior Mints — all very high in calories and not particularly good for you. Luckily, I’ve mastered the art of selecting guilt-free movie night snacks that still pack a lot of flavor, and I’m excited to share those with you this week!

The Weekend Five: Movie Night Snacks That Won’t Throw Your Diet Off Track

Healthy Movie Night Snacks1. SkinnyPop Popcorn.
Anyone who has ever lived within a 5-mile radius of me knows how much I love popcorn. What I don’t love is seeing how much my skin breaks out and how bloated I feel after I eat it! SkinnyPop has been a deliciously satisfying alternative for me. Their popcorn is low in calories (just 39 calories per cup) and doesn’t have any of the hard-to-pronounce artificial ingredients that comprise so many of our grocery stores’ snack aisles. They offer several flavors (the white cheddar is another one of my favorites!), and they also sell individual 100-calorie packs if you want to have them pre-portioned for you. SkinnyPop was the perfect treat for last night’s viewing of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof!

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2. Bowl of fruit.
I love to wash a bowl of grapes for an easy, no-mess movie snack, but the world is your oyster. Slice up a banana and combine with strawberries and blueberries for another healthy choice, or raid your fridge to mix up a fun fruit salad. That way, you’re getting plenty of nutrients while still enjoying yourself, and even if you go a little overboard, you probably aren’t doing yourself a whole lot of damage.

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The Better Chip3. Vegetable chips.
I’m obsessed with The Better Chip‘s Spinach and Kale chips, which have very few ingredients and still fulfill any chip cravings you might have. They have a variety of flavors to choose from, or you can go ahead and make your own. Love sweet potatoes? Try the Minimalist Baker’s Sweet Potato Chip recipe for something healthy, delicious and homemade.

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4. Veggies and hummus.
I don’t know about you, but I love to dunk baby carrots and other raw veggies in hummus! Hummus is filling enough that you’re likely to stop yourself from going completely overboard, and although there is some debate on the health benefits of legumes (sorry, paleo friends!), there is no denying that they taste absolutely amazing. 🙂

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ApplePizza5. Apple pizzas.
Cut up some apple slices, lather with almond butter, and sprinkle on raisins, unsweetened shredded coconut, and cinnamon! I could eat these for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, but they also make for a delicious movie night snack. These are as much fun to make as they are to eat. They are filled with fiber and healthy fats, but will still satisfy your sweet tooth when you are looking for a healthy dessert.

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What are your favorite guilt-free movie night snacks? Share yours in the comments section below! 🙂

Adventures in Florida: Blueberry Picking in Ocoee

Hey there, readers – it’s been a while! A lot has happened since my last post, most notably that I started an MBA program and seem to know more about regression analysis these days than who’s who on The Bachelorette. It has been a wild ride so far, hopefully to be shared in another blog post soon!

Last month, as a much-needed break from studying, I decided to knock another item off my 25 at 25 bucket list. Just days before the season’s end, I took a little road trip out to Ocoee and stopped at the Tom West Blueberries U-Pick Farm.

TomWestBlueberries

I may stumble in and out of the world of paleo living, but one thing is for certain: I will always love my fruits and veggies. Therefore, it makes perfect sense that – as someone who lives in a warm climate hospitable to many types of produce – I would have to go berry picking someday.

In Florida, the peak strawberry and blueberry seasons run in the early springtime from around March to May, depending on your farm and crop of choice. Tom West Blueberries is a family owned and operated farm, offering activities for all ages during the U-Pick season.

TomWestBlueberriesThe process, while simple enough, was a whole lot of fun. Once I arrived, I grabbed a bucket and hopped on a tractor, which dropped me off in the nearby blueberry fields. There I had the opportunity to taste and pick the emerald blueberries, a very large and sweet variety of blueberry that I would highly recommend to anyone who visits in the future.

Tom West Blueberries

By the end of my blueberry-picking adventure, I picked and purchased about 3 pounds of delicious, perfectly blue blueberries, which I shared with friends, classmates and family over the next week. In hindsight, I wish I’d picked more so I could freeze them and enjoy even longer! Not only were the blueberries perfectly in season, but there was something so rewarding about eating something I had personally hand-picked at the farm, rather than in the grocery store. (Sorry, Publix – I still love you!)

tomwestblueberries2

Whether you’re looking for fresh produce or simply a fun way to spend the afternoon, I highly recommend visiting a local U-Pick farm! The experience really does appeal to all age groups, and if I ever have children, this will be a must-visit for them too. I look forward to returning to Tom West next season, and can’t wait to visit other local farms for different U-Pick experiences soon!

What types of U-Pick farms have you visited? Share in the comments section below. 🙂

For recaps of my other bucket list adventures, click here!

Sautéed Green Beans & Diced Tomatoes

In many circles, I am known as a picky eater. This is sort of a silly thing to be known for, and I hate when family members bring it up, but since childhood, allergies and food sensitivities have made me hesitant to try new foods. (I’m also half convinced that I am a super taster!) However, several rounds of Whole30 have opened me up to a lot of new foods, especially vegetables, that I never really bothered to eat in the past. Green beans are a veggie that – when prepared the right way – I have grown to love!

Sautéed Green Beans with Diced Tomatoes

For those of you who still are skeptics when it comes to green beans, test out this recipe as soon as you can! Green beans are a great source of nutrition that can take on a variety of flavors, and this recipe is a great way to incorporate a few different veggies into your diet. I love sneaking extra vegetables into my side dishes! This dish serves one — adjust your quantities accordingly!

Sautéed Green Beans with Diced Tomatoes

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup green beans, stems removed
  • 2 tbsp petite diced tomatoes (for convenience, I used the canned kind)
  • 1 tbsp diced water chestnuts
  • 1 tsp ghee
  • Salt and garlic to taste

Instructions:

  1. Bring a pot of water to boil and add in your green beans. Cook on medium for 10 minutes.
  2. Remove from heat and strain. Pat green beans to dry.
  3. Over medium low heat, melt ghee on a skillet.
  4. Add green beans, tomatoes, water chestnuts, garlic and salt.
  5. Cook on medium low for 20 minutes or until desired consistency.
  6. Remove from heat and serve!

If you try this recipe, let me know what you think! Please share and subscribe to my blog for more recipes, Whole30 resources and other goodies!

Easy Whole30 Sweet Potato Recipe – Perfect for Thanksgiving!

Get excited, friends – Thanksgiving is almost here! You might not have realized that, with all of your neighbors’ Christmas decorations already up, but it’s time to break out your favorite stretch pants and start fighting fellow shoppers for the best turkey in the store. (At least I think that’s how people celebrate?) 🙂

In all seriousness, Thanksgiving is a time to remember all of the wonderful things you are thankful for, and in my case, I’m thankful for being able to spend the holiday with my family. I’m also thankful for this easy and fabulous sweet potato dish I’m about to share with you today!

I’ve always loved sweet potatoes, but I’ve never really understood why people were so quick to add sweeteners and marshmallows to theirs. Aren’t sweet potatoes sweet enough on their own? My method takes very little time to make, includes no added sugars, and is so simple that I almost feel guilty calling it a recipe. I love to make these sweet potatoes when the weather starts cooling down – it’s a great way to warm up for breakfast, lunch or dinner! They are also paleo and Whole30 compliant. How much better can life get?

My recipe serves one, so adjust your quantities accordingly!

Whole30 Sweet Potatoes - No sugar added!

Ingredients

  • 1 sweet potato
  • 1 cup applesauce, unsweetened (read your labels!)
  • ½ tsp cinnamon

Directions

  • Peel your sweet potato and roughly chop into a few medium-sized pieces.
  • Bring a pot of water to boil and add in your sweet potato pieces. Cook on medium for 5 minutes.
  • Drain, then add the sweet potato pieces to your food processor.
  • Pulse for a few seconds until it starts to reach a desired consistency.
  • Add in 1 cup of applesauce, and pulse again.
  • Add in cinnamon, then pulse one more time.
  • Transfer to bowl, add a little more cinnamon for garnish (optional), and serve.

If you try this recipe, let me know what you think! Please share and subscribe to my blog for more recipes, Whole30 resources and other goodies!

Recipe Roundup: 50 Delicious Whole30 Recipes

50 Delicious Whole30 RecipesI learned an important lesson last year: In order to look and feel great, you have to fuel your body with nutrient-dense real foods. It sounds like such a no-brainer, but since my early teens, I stubbornly tried to fight this notion with the hope that I could lose weight by eating limitless pasta, 100-calorie snack packs and my favorite junk foods “in moderation.” And while technically these principles sometimes led to weight loss (depending on how much I was actually eating and whether or not I was exercising regularly), I was still left hungry and in a bad mood, with low energy, headaches and eczema for days.

In February 2014, I embarked on my first Whole30, eliminating gluten, dairy, soy, sugar, legumes and processed foods from my diet for 30 days. This was a challenge for me – not only because I love bread and pasta (and there is some variant of sugar in everything!), but also because I’m a picky eater and I had never really cooked before. Suddenly, I had switched to a heavily plant-based diet, which required me to experiment in the kitchen and try a lot of new things. To this day, I’m still figuring out how to balance Whole30 living with the occasional unhealthy craving, but through several rounds of the program, I’ve learned a lot about myself and I’ve greatly improved my cooking skills!

When people hear about the Whole30, one of the first questions they ask is What can you eat? The answer: A lot! Before Whole30, I never ate zucchini, green beans, cucumbers, or cabbage. I had no idea how to prepare sweet potatoes, cauliflower, bell peppers, or any protein other than eggs. I had never heard of a spiralizer, and thought that “poaching chicken” literally meant that I had to hunt and kill my own poultry. Therefore, if could complete 30 days of this program, anyone can do it!

Today, I’m going to share 50 of the recipes I enjoyed on the Whole30. (That’s right – 50 recipes!) Some of these will require slight variations in order to remain compliant, so I’ll make note of those as they pop up. As a rule of thumb, replace soy sauce with coconut aminos, don’t use the optional sweeteners or cheese if you’re sticking to the Whole30, and be mindful of what cooking fats you use. I’ll also share which of these recipes are regular favorites of mine. : )

Enjoy the recipe roundup and be sure to share with friends!

50 Delicious Whole30 Recipes

Soups

1. Watermelon Gazpacho (Our Savory Life)

2. Chilled Cantaloupe Soup (AllRecipes.com)

3. Creamy Dairy-Free Tomato Basil Soup (Paleo Comfort Foods) 

50 Delicious Whole30 Recipes

Salads

4. Moroccan Carrot Salad (@whole30recipes Instagram guest post by @bloemingfabulous) – **FAVORITE** 

5. Cucumber “Pasta” Salad (Holistically Engineered)

6. Pineapple Cabbage Slaw (@whole30recipes Instagram guest post by @whatjennyeats)

7. Red Cabbage Salad with Apples, Walnuts and Raisins (Clean and Delicious)

50 Delicious Whole30 Recipes

Sides

8. Lemon and Thyme Potato Wedges (Olive Tree Kitchen)

9. Roasted Cauliflower Steaks with Meyer Lemon Relish (Brooklyn Supper)

10. Sweet Potato Gnocchi (Lexi’s Clean Kitchen)– Tastes awesome with ghee!

11. Roasted Cauliflower Poppers (Whole Lifestyle Nutrition)– Replace butter with ghee. – **FAVORITE**

12. Shoestring Sweet Potatoes (Fit Foodie Finds)

13. Garlic Cabbage Steaks (Rockin Mom’s Kitchen)– **FAVORITE**

14. Butternut Squash Risotto (Paleo Grubs)

15. Moroccan Cauliflower Couscous (Unbageled)

16. Roasted Herby Spiralized Vegetables (Fit Foodie Finds) – **FAVORITE**

17. Creamy Dreamy Vegan Potato Salad (Max Pankow Fitness)

18. Cumin-Roasted Broccoli Spears (Daily Bites Blog)

19. Cauliflower Roasted in Dijon & Lemon Butter Sauce (Divalicious Recipes) – Replace butter with ghee. – **FAVORITE**

20. Cinnamon Roasted Sweet Potato & Apple (Consider The Leaf Turned)

21. Broccoli Fritters (@whole30recipes Instagram guest post by @happywifestyle)

22. Easy & Healthy Fried Plantains (Lexi’s Clean Kitchen) 

23. Sweet Potato Tater Tots (Paleo Grubs)

24. Garlic Cauliflower “Mashed Potatoes” (Nom Nom Paleo) – Replace butter with ghee.

50 Delicious Whole30 Recipes

Vegetarian Main Dishes

25. Low-Carb Cauliflower Fried Rice (Amuse Your Bouche) – Replace soy sauce with coconut aminos. – **FAVORITE**

26. Zoodles and Creamy Cauliflower Sauce (J is For Judy)

27. Indian Pineapple Cauliflower Rice (Stupid Easy Paleo)

28. Spaghetti Squash Breakfast (Whole Fork)

29. Crispy Cauliflower Carrot Fritters with Smoky Garlic Aioli (Oh My Veggies)– Replace flour with almond flour and skip the Parmesan.

30. Breakfast Bowl (@whole30recipes Instagram guest post by @inexactscience)

31. Curried Cauliflower and Potatoes (Hello Fresh) – Skip the peas. – **FAVORITE**

50 Delicious Whole30 Recipes

Meaty Main Dishes

32. Coconut Lime Chicken Bites (Daily Bites Blog) – **FAVORITE**

33. Sweet and Sour Chicken (Paleo Leap)– Skip the “optional” honey.

34. Zesty Chicken Bites (Lexi’s Clean Kitchen)– **FAVORITE**

35. Whole30 Approved Burrito Bowl (Katrina Runs)

36. Moroccan Grilled Chicken Kabobs (Closet Cooking)

37. Lemon and Cilantro Calamari with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce (Meatified)

38. Chicken Piccata (Elana’s Pantry)– **FAVORITE**

39. Paleo Chicken “Alfredo” Pasta (Just Jessie B)

40. Chicken Fajita Stuffed Peppers (Holistically Engineered)– **FAVORITE**

41. Stovetop Pulled Tandoori Chicken (The Big Man’s World)

42. Baked Pesto Chicken Skewers (Fit Foodie Finds)

43. Tuesday Night Chicken (Popular Paleo)

44. Paleo Curry Lime Chicken (Plaid and Paleo)

45. Paleo Sesame Chicken (Consider The Leaf Turned)

46. Garlic Butter Chicken (Life Made Full) – **FAVORITE**

47. Coconut Crusted Mini-Schnitzel (1000 Lovely Things)

48. Paleo Italian Chicken Fingers (Tastes of Lizzy T’s)

49. Almond Crusted Chicken With Strawberry Balsamic Sauce (Cooking Classy) – Skip the bread crumbs and replace canola oil with extra light olive oil. I used almond flour.

50. Green Fajita Chicken (Meatified)

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Share your favorite Whole30 recipe links in the comments section below!

Forget Quinoa! 5 Superfoods You Should Be Eating

Forget Quinoa! 5 Superfoods You Should Be EatingFlip through any health magazine in your neighborhood supermarket, and you’ll quickly find an article about the next greatest superfood. In the past few years, every time I’ve searched for clean and healthy recipes, I’ve been immediately inundated with quinoa and kale dishes to the point of nausea. Does anyone else feel the same?

Throughout my Whole30 journey, I have tried to incorporate a lot of nutrient-dense foods into my diet, and am amazed at how much better I feel. Over time, I have not only discovered just how delicious they can be, but how many health benefits these foods have. They may not be as glam as the quinoa-kale salads that have exploded all over my home page on Pinterest, but they can still be prepared in fun and flavorful ways and deserve a little love.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact a medical professional. I am not a licensed dietician — I just happen to play one on TV.

Without further adieu…

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Forget Quinoa! 5 Superfoods You Should Be Eating1. Sweet Potato
Forget the marshmallow-filled sweet potato casseroles you grew up eating. Sweet potatoes on their own are an excellent source of Vitamin A (377% of your daily Vitamin A needs in just one cup), which is important for good vision and healthy skin, among other things. Sweet potatoes also have nearly as much potassium as bananas, but only 1/3 of the amount of sugar. Paleo foodies are already aware of the many awesome ways to prepare your sweet potatoes, but for those who need a little inspiration, check out my Pinterest page for recipes. Pop over to Lexi’s Clean Kitchen for my favorite sweet potato gnocchi recipe!

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2. Cabbage
Cabbage gets a bad rap, thanks to this scene from Austin Powers (you’re welcome), but aside from its reputation as a food for circus folks, this vegetable is actually packed with tons of health benefits. Cabbage is a good source of Vitamin K, which is important for blood clotting. Cabbage also has cancer-fighting properties and is good for your immune system, heart health and more. Not sure how to incorporate it into your diet? Try these garlicky cabbage “steaks” from Rockin Mom’s Kitchen and you won’t regret it!

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Forget Quinoa! 5 Superfoods You Should Be Eating3. Eggs
No, they will not give you heart disease. Eggs actually have the potential to improve your HDL (the good kind of cholesterol) and are a complete source of protein. They are pretty much perfect! I hard-boil several eggs early in the week as a grab-and-go healthy snack, but they can be prepared in a variety of ways. Dani Spies from Clean and Delicious has a great 101 video about how to buy, store and cook eggs. Vegetarians, this is a great protein option for you!

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4. Blueberries
As a child, I always heard that if it could stain your clothes, it was probably pretty healthy. Of course, you could easily stain your clothes with food dyes and plenty of not-so-healthy snack foods, but the rule more or less applies for fruits and veggies. Blueberries are packed with antioxidants and a relatively low glycemic fruit, which means they won’t wreak havoc on your blood sugar. Eat them raw or bake them into something – the world is your oyster.

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Forget Quinoa! 5 Superfoods You Should Be Eating5. Pineapple
Not only do pineapples make excellent homes for hyperactive sea creatures (here’s looking at you, Spongebob), but they also taste awesome and have a lot of important nutrients. Pineapples contain an enzyme called bromelain, which reduces swelling, bruising and inflammation. One cup of pineapple contains more than 100% of your recommended daily Vitamin C, which is vital for the immune system. Try cooking up some pineapple chunks in coconut oil and cinnamon for a sweet but still healthy treat. If nothing else, it will make your kitchen smell fantastic!

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What are some superfoods you enjoy? Share your favorites in the comments section below!

Recipe Roundup: 5 Healthy Green Dishes in Honor of St. Patrick’s Day

Recipe Roundup: 5 Healthy Green Dishes in Honor of St. Patrick's DayHappy St. Patrick’s Day, readers! Are you doing anything fun for the holiday today?

For some, holidays like today can be a big deterrent from a strict diet program. From heavily dyed foods to competitive drink specials, parties and restaurants tend to serve unhealthy but festive treats we can’t help but crave. Luckily, today’s post covers a few more nutritious options for flavorful green meals. Make one of these easy meals to bring to your friend’s St. Paddy’s Day shindig and become the life of the party!

1. Popcorn Broccoli.
Roast your broccoli with a little parmesan and get ready for the magic to happen. This recipe is one of my all-time favorites and will be loved even by your veggie hating friends. Dani from Clean and Delicious shares the recipe here.

Recipe Roundup: 5 Healthy Green Dishes in Honor of St. Patrick’s Day2. Cucumber Pasta Salad.
Grab those spiralizers and get to work! I love this Cucumber Pasta Salad because it’s Whole30 compliant (gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free, sugar-free, etc.), the dressing is delicious, and the salad is easy to pack for work or events. As a picky eater, I sub out a few of the ingredients to meet my restrictions. Feel free to add in some halved green grapes for a little extra oomph! Check it out at Holistically Engineered.

3. Zoodles.
Still have that spiralizer at the ready? Whip up some zucchini noodles by spiralizing your zucchini and softening on the stove. Top with Monte Bene Garlic Marinara sauce (which is Whole30 compliant and made from real ingredients, no sugar added) or try out this cauliflower “alfredo” sauce by J Is For Judy. The sauce is dairy free and perfect for those following a paleo lifestyle.

Recipe Roundup: 5 Healthy Green Dishes in Honor of St. Patrick’s Day4. Coconut Lime Chicken Bites.
Okay, so these aren’t primarily green (at least not the way I last photographed them!), but the lime zest adds a pop of color and flavor that you can’t help but love. These chicken bites are gluten free, dairy free, and Whole30 friendly. With only a few ingredients, the recipe is simple but will quickly become a household staple. Check it out at Daily Bites blog!

5. Power Salad.
When in doubt, why not make a salad? With unlimited combinations, the world is your oyster! Grab your choice of greens, mix in your favorite fruits or veggies, chop up a protein (I believe that no salad is complete without a hard-boiled egg), and drizzle on a healthy dressing. My favorite homemade dressing comes from Max Pankow at Max Pankow Fitness, combining equal parts olive oil, lemon juice, Dijon mustard and red wine vinegar. Salads are a fantastic way to pack in a lot of nutrients without spending your whole day in the kitchen.

Bonus Treat: Who needs the pot of gold when your rainbow looks so good? These fruit skewers form a beautiful and easy-to-make rainbow that will be a big hit at parties.

What are your favorite healthy green recipes? Share a few of your go-to meals in the comments section below. May the luck of the Irish be with you! 🙂

Whole30 Recap: Week 1

t-338Hi there, Whole30-ers!

For those of you who are completing the site-wide January Whole30 as part of your New Year’s Resolutions, Mazel Tov on finishing your first week. For those of my readers who are not familiar with the program but eager to learn more about it, you can read my introductory post here. I am so excited to share my own Whole30 experiences with you on a week-by-week basis. Every time I have done this program, I have learned new things about myself and developed positive new habits. I can’t wait to see what this month brings!

Before I proceed with my week of meals, please note the following disclaimers:

  • I am not a medical professional of any kind and I will not claim that what has worked for me will work for you. If you have any medical questions, please consult a professional.
  • This is not a full meal-plan for everyone following the Whole30. There are some days where I just can’t handle a large meal, so I might just stick to roasted veggies or something light. There are other days when I might eat a small (compliant) snack in between meals, and those snacks are not necessarily reported on my blog. Please listen to your body. We are all different!
  • I repeat meals that I enjoy. You will not be getting a list of 90 different dishes, mainly because I am a creature of habit and when something tastes good, I want to have it again! 🙂 However, I will still be testing out new recipes every week, while rotating in some of the old favorites.
  • You can follow along on my Instagram page, where I post meals and recipe ideas daily!

And now, onto the meals!

Day 1 (Jan. 1)

originalFeelings: I woke up feeling like crap on New Year’s Day. My nose was stuffed up, my skin was completely broken out, and I had an awful headache that my mom and I attributed to a food hangover, probably from all the pizza and junk food I gorged out on the night before. I tried to begin the day in a totally zen, conquer-all-my-resolutions-at-once way, but it quickly turned into a Kill All The Things kind of day.

Breakfast: My mom’s scrambled eggs (yum!) and a bowl of strawberries.

Lunch: Salad with grilled chicken and cucumber slices, topped with balsamic vinegar.

Moroccan Carrot Salad!

Moroccan Carrot Salad! This has probably been the most popular food picture I’ve ever posted on Instagram, and it tastes delicious.

Dinner: Moroccan Carrot Salad (inspired by @bloemingfabulous’s recipe on Instagram) and a hard-boiled egg. (For the carrot salad, I season with just paprika and cinnamon, and leave out the almonds. I could go either way with the cilantro – tastes good with or without it!)

Day 2 (Jan. 2)

Feelings: My stomach felt a lot less bloated today, but my headache from Day 1 stuck with me until mid-afternoon on Day 2.

Breakfast: Scrambled eggs and an Apple + Banana Trader Joe’s bar. (These bars are a nice on-the-go option when you don’t have a lot of time, but you will probably want to pair with a protein.)

Lunch: Sweet Potato Hash (sweet potato diced and cooked with olive oil, salt, pepper and any other seasoning) and a salad with cucumber, strawberries, and a hard boiled egg.

Dinner: Coconut Chicken (made by my mom, but not unlike this recipe, except she used coconut flour instead of almond), broccoli and baked sweet potato.

 Day 3 (Jan. 3)

Feelings: It was great to wake up without a headache! I felt well-rested when I woke up this morning. The day was bittersweet, because it was my last day in South Florida on vacation, so I had to pack up my car and say goodbye to my family that afternoon. Still, I felt somewhat clear-headed and better than I’d felt the past two days.

My mom's famous scrambled eggs!

My mom’s famous scrambled eggs!

Breakfast: One more round of my mom’s scrambled eggs (I never make them as well at home, so I had to take advantage on my last day!) and a bowl of strawberries and blackberries.

Lunch: Leftover coconut chicken, broccoli and a nectarine.

Dinner: Hard-boiled egg and a bag of grapes. (I was driving around dinnertime and couldn’t stop for dinner, so I had these packed ahead of time to eat in the car.)

Day 4 (Jan. 4)

Feelings: I started to notice a big difference in my skin by Day 4. My skin felt a lot smoother (although some of that could have been from all the time spent in my parents’ saltwater pool!), but I also noticed that my eczema breakout from back home was finally clearing up. In the mirror, I saw that my face looked less puffy than it had looked in a while. The only negative symptom on Day 4 was that my awful headache decided to return.

Breakfast: Moroccan Carrot Salad. (Throughout this Whole30 series, you’ll start to notice that this is one of my favorite meals… In fact, I can eat it at all times of the day!)

You can throw together a salad so quickly with whatever ingredients you have!

You can throw together a salad so quickly with whatever ingredients you have!

Lunch: Salad with strawberries and a hard-boiled egg.

Dinner: Zesty Chicken Bites (from Lexi’s Clean Kitchen) and a bowl of roasted broccoli (drizzle with olive oil, salt, pepper and garlic, and cook for 20 minutes at 400F).

Day 5 (Jan. 5)

Feelings: I was exhausted this morning! This probably had something to do with the fact that this was my first day back at work in two weeks, so I had to adjust to getting up earlier and getting back into my old routine. I was also extremely bloated on Day 5, but my face still looked thinner and less puffy.

Breakfast: Apple with almond butter, cinnamon and a few raisins sprinkled on top.

Lunch: Salad with strawberries, hard-boiled egg, cucumber and blackberries.

Cucumber Pasta Salad may have been my favorite recipe all week!

Cucumber Pasta Salad may have been my favorite recipe all week!

Dinner: Cucumber “Pasta” Salad (from Holistically Engineered) and a hard-boiled egg. The pasta salad was to die for and my very first experience with a vegetable spiralizer! The dressing was superb, and I will definitely make a bottle of it in the future to use on other salads. I skipped the olives and instead of grape tomatoes, I decided to be extra fancy and use actual grapes.

Day 6 (Jan. 6)

Feelings: I was even more exhausted on Day 6 than I was on Day 5. I definitely could have used a nap! I was no longer bloated, but I had a lot of stomach pain throughout the day – I even woke up in the middle of the night with it! Because of this, I stuck to smaller meals and tried to drink more water instead.

Breakfast: Banana with almond butter.

Lunch: Roasted broccoli.

Cauliflower “couscous” features cauliflower, cilantro and raisins (yum!), while this Moroccan chicken combines pretty much every spice in my cabinet.

Dinner: Cauliflower Couscous (from Unbageled) and Moroccan Chicken (pan-fried instead of grilled onto kebobs, inspired by Closet Cooking). This has been one of my more adventurous meals and my first experience with cauliflower rice. It was delicious!

Day 7 (Jan. 7)

Feelings: When I woke up on Day 7, I realized it was the first time in a while that I slept completely through the night! I felt a lot more well-rested, and when I looked in the mirror, I noticed that I looked a little smaller around the ribcage.

Breakfast: Two hard boiled eggs. How fancy!

Lunch: Moroccan Carrot Salad.

Dinner: Salad with strawberries, grapes and a hard-boiled egg.

Takeaways from the Week

  • No matter how experienced of a chef you are (or in my case, inexperienced), it is still important to try out new techniques. I used a spiralizer and riced cauliflower for the first time this week, and will definitely be incorporating both of those into my meals in the future!
  • My selfies will never get as many Instagram likes as my food pictures. (Waaaaah.)
  • I may not be experiencing all of the fabulous feelings I have gotten from previous rounds of Whole30, but I know that these things take time. My job is to be patient and keep at it! I am still feeling a thousand times better today than I did on Day 1.

How is your Whole30 going? Any recipes or tips you’d like to share? Feel free to add yours in the comments section below!

And don’t forget to follow me at @veemoze on Instagram for more recipe and food excitement!

The Weekend Five: Healthy Recipes to Try in 2013

stock-photo-healthy-diet-fresh-food-in-a-paper-bag-110601509For many of us, a new year provides the chance to reinvent ourselves. This can take place in a number of ways – through a more presentable appearance, a brand new hobby, a switch in career or even a change in overall health. Last semester, I began spending more time in the kitchen to prepare more nutritious meals for myself (instead of resorting to my typical trips to McDonald’s and Asian Chao during breaks from work and class). However, because my culinary skills are extremely limited and uncreative, I wound up resorting to sites like Pinterest to find easy-to-make, delicious meals.

To help each of you on your way to healthier living, I would like to share links to five of the successful recipes I have tested out. Post links to your favorite healthy recipes or food blogs in the comments section below, and feel free to follow me on Pinterest for more ideas!

The Weekend Five: Healthy Recipes to Try in 2013

1. Popcorn Broccoli (link to video).
This recipe, posted by Dani Spies of Clean & Delicious, is great for those looking for a yummy side dish with a lot of flavor. If you’re anything like me and you’re looking for a healthy way to curb salt cravings, this recipe is for you. I have made the popcorn broccoli as a side dish several times, and it’s always a big hit with friends and family. Roasting the broccoli in the oven brings out the taste and gives it a bit of a crunch.

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cheesey-chicken-and-rice-bake-cropped-410x3072. Cheesy Chicken and Rice Bake (link to recipe).
My mom baked this casserole, posted on Tasty Kitchen, just a few weeks ago, and my family loved it. This one is packed with delicious ingredients, but replaces a lot of the bad stuff with healthier alternatives. It’s also pretty convenient to put away and reheat as leftovers, and can last you a long time.

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3. Garbanzo and Rice Salad (link to recipe).A few of my coworkers like to make fun of me for this one, because it happens to be one of my go-to lunches when I need something filling and easy to pack! For my own purposes, I’ve altered Fat Secret‘s directions a bit by replacing the rice with quinoa, taking out the tomatoes (I’m not a tomato person) and adding olive oil to the mix. Another way to add flavor to the recipe is to use a pre-chopped tri-color pack of bell peppers so that you aren’t limited to just one. This salad takes about five minutes to make and tastes best cold.

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742b3f66-5a90-4f49-85ca-9fee0d396b2a4. Oatmeal Banana Bakes (link to recipe).
This one is becoming another favorite among my friends, and most of the ingredients will likely already be in your kitchen. These cookies are mainly a mix of banana, oatmeal, apples and cinnamon, and have a lot of natural sweetness already. The first time I made these, I used about half of the sweetener that the recipe called for, and the second time, I used only a quarter of it. Incredibly easy to make – and addictive too!

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5. Healthy Baked Falafel (link to recipe).
Ever since my trip to Israel in 2011, I have been a big fan of falafel (fried chickpeas, more or less), which is a very common food there. However, because of its fried nature, falafel isn’t exactly the healthiest food on the planet. I was determined to find a more nutritious version of this Middle Eastern staple, and was very excited to find one on The Picky Eater. The ingredients are good for you, and the site offers a gluten free version as well. The falafel is baked instead of fried, but equally fantastic. I have cooked these up for guests before, and served with all the popular toppings!

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What are some of your favorite healthy recipes/recipe blogs? What are you doing to stay healthy in 2013?