chicken and apple sausage with cabbage~ whole30

simple, delicious and whole30 compliant. 

chicken and apple sausage with cabbage
via my brain

5 links aidell's chicken apple sausage
1/2 head cabbage, chopped
1 small sweet onion, chopped
1-2 tbsp coconut oil
1/2 cup apple juice
2 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp celery salt

heat 1 tbsp coconut oil over med-high heat. cook the sausage until browned. set aside.

reduce heat to medium and add the remaining coconut oil (if needed). once melted, sauté the onion until soft.

once the onion is soft, mix the cabbage in.  let it cook down for about 5 minutes and then add the celery salt, nutmeg, pepper, juice and vinegar.  bring to a simmer and simmer for about 10-15 minutes until cabbage is nearly done.

while the cabbage is simmering, slice the sausage.

add the sausage back in and cook another 5-10 minutes until heated through.

done! yum.


whole30 ~ looking back

whole30 is an elimination diet.  think of it as science experiment to determine how certain foods effect our bodies both internally and externally.  i finished the whole30 program on july 17, 2014.

here i am, day 1 [left] and day 30 [middle and right]. over the course of the last 30 days i have lost 9 pounds, 3.75" off my waist and 1.25" off my hips/butt but besides this, i feel incredible.  my workout was strong this morning, my energy is high, i'm sleeping so well and waking up fully rested.  i've laid off the ibuprofen considerably.  i'm regular!!  this alone is huge for me.  no bloating, no gas, no constipation. my period came and went without a huge notice in a change in my demeanor.  this is worth a celebration all on it's own.

ever since i started having babies, i have struggled to keep unwanted weight off of my body.  i have made exercise a daily habit for the last nine years and tried to keep my diet in check but still, i've struggled.  there have been times when i've gotten frustrated with having to count every calorie, weigh/measure every serving, log every bite into a journal while eating clean yet still going to bed hungry every night.  if i lost focus for even a week i'd gain five pounds in a snap [no lie].  if i gave into to sugar cravings it would inevitably lead to that slippery slope which becomes another five pounds despite exercise and otherwise healthy meals. when i'm not focusing on clean eating and instead living by the mantra "life is short," i might enjoy the moment of eating foods that satisfy a certain emotional or mental need but i walk around bloated and gassy with nothing to wear because none of my clothes fit.  i sleep horrible and i eat ibuprofen like it's candy.  so the cycle continues of me trying to figure out a way to balance both worlds.  it has to be possible.  all thin and healthy people can't possibly go to bed hungry at night and politely refuse every decadent food item that crosses their plate.

in the first picture, i'm at the heaviest weight i've been in a real long time.  battling every month to get my sugar cravings under control while simultaneously trying to be kind to myself, to love my body and not feel guilty or ashamed over the fact that i have put on weight.  i refuse to be defined by a number of any kind.  my exterior is not what makes me who i am.  i approach my life with a deliberate confidence knowing that i can do anything i set my mind to and i won't allow any societal stigma to make me feel less-than for not fitting into a mold. i believe wholeheartedly that the first step to wellness is self-love and when you love yourself, it's easier to care for yourself.  when i am not caring for myself, i feel it.  i feel it physically, emotionally, mentally ... it's all draining.  and for what?  food cravings.  how strange that something so simple, something we have complete control over, can have complete control over us.

as i've gotten older i've noticed my hormones are terribly out of whack each time my period approaches.  it's easy to chalk it up to depression but i knew better.  i started keeping track of my cycle on this cool little app on my phone.  mapping my mood swings, my food cravings, my sleep patterns, etc. it became very clear that something was not right and as i researched my "symptoms" i found a disorder called PMDD.  now, i haven't been to a dr for this.  i simply researched and had several "yes!" moments where i knew this was something that i was dealing with (or not dealing with).  my next step was to figure out holistic approaches to resolving some of the displeasures i was experiencing and no matter how many different resources i came across, every time the same two suggestions popped up; stop eating sugar and stop consuming caffeine.

did i mention i'm a coffee addict?

and a sugar addict?

big. fat. sigh.

so i sat on it.  twiddled my thumbs, had a few more rough months of awful pms and then i came across the whole30 blog.  i knew what elimination diets were and have always been intrigued but this time, i went out and bought the book, read it in one day and then sat on it again for another month.  it sounded so hard! how could i possibly give up my coffee creamer?

did i mention it's a paleo way of eating?

did i mention that i've always been really turned off by paleo diets? i'm not totally sure why besides that i'm turned off by most fads. eat healthy and exercise, it's not that hard. but, i digress ...

enough became enough and i decided, on a monday, that i would start the whole30 program that next day.  i could do it.  i've given birth, ran marathons, and lost a lot of weight before in the past by eating so restrictively, this shouldn't be that bad.

so for 30 days i didn't have even a tiny taste of anything sugar, dairy, grain, legumes, caffeine, processed, or artificial.  no honey, no stevia, no syrup and no peanut butter.

for 30 days i've eaten only organic meat, a ton of eggs, bacon, vegetables, some fruit, a few nuts and high quality fats (ghee, evoo, coconut oil, coconut butter etc.).  i have had only decaf coffee, no gum, no mints, no breath fresheners (lots more teeth brushing).  i continued with my exercise regiment and guzzled 100+ ounces of water every day. i tried for adequate amounts of sleep.  i didn't co unt a single calorie, i never went to bed hungry and i only ate three meals a day (plus an after workout snack if i exercised).

i spent a lot of time in the kitchen.  after all, healthy habits start in the kitchen.  don't be turned off by the fact that you have to cook your meals and plan ahead.  it is this very fact, that people are too busy/lazy to prepare their own foods, that makes america the country with the highest obesity rate in the world.  not a statistic to be proud of.

i kept a journal and shared pictures of my meals.

day 1: "i had to choke down the eggs.  really tired when i woke up today."

day 2: "i am miserable, tired and i have a headache."

day 3: "i slept horrible last night.  my hips, legs and back are so achey."

day 4: "woke up in the middle of the night with horrible hip and back pain.  kidneys?"

day 5: "i haven't felt hungry at all.  took ibuprofen at 2:00 this afternoon for hip pain."

day 6: "i slept really good last night.  tmi but i realized the hip and back pain were caused by severe constipation.  the problem has been remedied."

day 8: "i can't believe how well i have been sleeping and how rested i feel when i wake up! i measured my waist today.  2" off in one week! workout was brutal though.  my muscles feel weak and depleted.  i have felt good otherwise."

day 9: " today was rough mentally.  outside stressors left me wanting a green tea frappuccino from starbucks and nap."

day 10: "food cravings feel more like control issues.  i get really resentful and angry over not being able to have my favorite foods while simultaneously feeling angry that they have that much control over me in the first place."

day 11: "waking up so easily and not groggy at all.  i am really bloated and gassy though."

day 14: "i haven't taken ibuprofen for aches ore pains for over a weeks."

day 15: "my workout felt relatively energized today.  finally."

day 17: "oh man, i was jonesing for sugar today."

day 19: "my clothes are getting looser.  i'm sick of eggs."

day 23: "one more week!"

day 25: " eating dinner late last night resulted in a horrible night's sleep."

day 27: "i was thinking today about how easy this has been."

day 29: "i'm sick of salad."

now i'm here, one day post whole30 and i have still eaten compliant.  it's too easy not to right now.  my plan is to continue on as often as i am able.  i have more weight i'd like to lose and i feel so great, there's no reason to stop.  we are going camping for a few days so i won't be starting the reintroduction phase until later but even then, i don't know how far i'll take it.  no lies, the thought of eating any sugar makes me nervous.  my addiction is real and powerful.

i do not strive for perfection.  my only goal is to do the best i can when i can and my "best" varies from time to time.  i figure as long as i'm trying, that's all i need to do!

maybe someone will be inspired to give this program a shot.  i would highly recommend it!


sweet potato hash browns {whole30}

this recipe is saving breakfast for me during my whole30 journey.  so delicious.

sweet potato hash browns
1 sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1" cubes
1/2 tbsp ghee or coconut oil
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp thyme
cracked pepper and salt to taste
handful of fresh parsley, chopped
few sprigs of fresh oregano, chopped

melt the ghee in a skillet over medium high heat.  

toss the potatoes with the dry seasonings (saving the parsley and oregano for right before serving).

once ghee is melted, add the sweet potatoes and let cook until slightly browned on one side before flipping. 

after both sides are browned, reduce heat to medium, cover and let cook for 10 minutes or until softened (with a little crunch on the outside).  toss in fresh herbs and serve.

(serves 2)


open-face philly cheesesteak

this recipe was adapted from another i've had saved on my pinterest for philly cheesesteak stew for some time.  the problem was, i couldn't find sourdough bread bowls so i bought sliced sourdough to go for open face sandwiches instead but then, after making the steak mixture, i realized it was too runny to put on top of the bread and be broiled without resulting in a big mess.  what a predicament.  i knew by putting the bread in first, it was likely to become soggy once baked but, it actually turned out good enough for me to want to save the recipe here and make a few tweaks at another time. it was a little soggy in some places so next time, i will try drying the bread out in the oven (on low) for a few minutes before i add it to the casserole dish or, making sourdough crostini's to serve alongside the steak mixture.

this dish is not exactly "clean" as far as clean-eating standards go but, i'm trying to be kinder to myself, to be more patient, to live a little more true to me, even if this includes having to embrace the fact that i am not a stick-thin woman and the natural and balanced version of myself does not desire to survive on chicken, broccoli, green smoothies, no-sugar, no carb, low salt, no this, no that etc.  food should not be feared and the complexes that i've developed over the years have left me so unbalanced, i've had one fight with myself after another as i've tried to figure out how to live in a healthy and balanced way.  i desire, intensely, to be at peace with myself.

so far, as i've made small changes here and there, i feel a sense of relief that i cannot even describe.  i've been practicing yoga regularly, going outside to run, listening to my favorite music, reading as many books i can find the time for and learning to grow plants and food in my yard.  spending time doing this that rejuvenate and inspire me.  making a real effort to eat foods that fuel my body, when i'm hungry and that i enjoy preparing.

in the past, holding myself to an unrealistic standard has had a tenancy to drain me in a such a way that i forgot to sit back and truly live my one and only life.

no more.

my point, partially, is that sourdough bread is delicious and so is cheese.  together, my goodness, they're wonderful.  i won't berate myself for enjoying it.  i will get up in the morning and go running because i enjoy it, not because i ate what i "shouldn't have" and, i will eat a salad for lunch tomorrow because i am darn good at making delicious salads, i can enjoy it and it's good for me.  balance.   onward ....

open-face philly cheesesteak
printable recipe

1.5 lb thinly slice top sirloin*
4 tbsp flour, divided
salt & pepper
1/4 tsp onion powder
3-4 tbsp olive oil
1 green bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 yellow onion, thinly sliced
8 oz fresh button mushrooms, sliced
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 tsp dried thyme
3 cups beef broth, hot
8 slices (1/2 lb) sourdough bread, cubed and dried
10 slices provolone

*the butcher at our supermarket sliced the sirloin for me

add the thinly sliced beef sirloin to a medium sized bowl and season with salt, pepper and the onion powder.  toss to coat and then toss in 2 tbsp of flour and mix again. 

heat a heavy-bottomed skilled over medium-high heat with 3 tbsp of olive oil.  once hot, add half of the sirloin (i had to put each piece in by hand because they were sliced so thin and stuck together in clumps).  sear the meat a minute or two per side and then remove it onto a plate; repeat with the other half.  set aside.

once the meat is cooked,  add a little more oil to the pot and toss in the sliced onions and peppers.  season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring frequenting, just above medium heat until they begin to caramelize (5-6 minutes).

add the mushrooms to the onion mixture and continue to cook until they are soft (another 5-6 minutes).

at this point, add the dried thyme and garlic and cook until garlic is fragrant.  sprinkle the remaining flour over the mixture, mix it in and then slowly pour in the hot beef broth.  as you pour in the broth, continue stirring so the flour will not clump.

reduce the heat to medium and allow the stew mixture to simmer while you prepare the bread.

slice the bread into cubes and toss in the bottom of a 9x13" casserole dish.

add the steak back to the skillet, mix well to incorporate all of the ingredients and then pour the mixture over the bread.

cover the mixture with the slices of cheese and bake, uncovered for 10-15 minutes (until cheese is bubbly and browned).

delicious! i'll update this post when i make it again with some changes to the bread portion.


toasted coconut cashew energy bars

toasted coconut cashew energy bars
recipe via food52

2/3 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
2 cups unsalted cashews
1 cup medjool dates, pitted
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp sea salt
3 tbsp coconut butter
1 tbsp coconut oil

preheat oven to 350 degrees.  spread the coconut evenly across a baking sheet and toast in the oven for 2 minutes, stir and then toast for another two minutes (or until golden and fragrant).

set the coconut aside and toast the cashews on the same baking sheet for 5 minutes (stirring 1/2 way through cook-time).

pit the dates.

add the coconuts, cashews, dates, cinnamon and salt to the food processor.  because my processor is smaller, i had to do this in two batches.  pulse the ingredients until you have crumb sized pieces.  add the coconut butter and 1/2 of the coconut oil.  pulse until the mixture forms clumps, adding more oil if dry.

spread mixture in a 8x8 baking dish lined with parchment paper.  freeze for 20-30 minutes and then cut into bars.  i cut mine into 16 snack-sized bars.  wrap each bar in plastic wrap and store them in the refrigerator.

makes 16 bars
nutritional data per bar:

160 calories, 9.5 g fat, 3.8 g sat. fat, 18.4 mg sodium, 18.8 g carbs, 2.6 g fiber, 12.9 g sugar, 3.1 g protein


winter minestrone ~ slow cooker

(*this recipe was inspired from another i found via pinterest.  personally, when i make it again, i will use sweet italian turkey (or chicken) sausage in place of the pancetta.  pancetta is not very flavorful in my opinion and i believe the sausage would add a nice flavor).

winter minestrone
printable recipe
recipe adapted via crave by random house

6 oz pancetta*, diced
1 large yellow onion
3 large carrots, peeled and diced
3 large stalks of celery, diced
2 large red sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp thyme
26 oz can crushed tomatoes, no salt added
4 cups lower sodium chicken broth (swanson's)
4 cups no-salt added chicken stock (kitchen basics)
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp cracked black pepper
1 15 oz can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 tbsp store-bought pesto
parmesan cheese, for top

using a heavy bottomed stock pot or preferably, a slow cooker with a stove-top option for browning, brown pancetta (6-8 minutes).  - my slow cooker is a non-stick stove top cooker so i did not use any oil to brown the pancetta or cook the veggies (there was plenty of fat from the pancetta to cook the veggies).  if you're using a pot that is not non-stick, you might want to add some oil while pre-heating.

turn the heat up to medium-high and add the onions, carrots, celery, sweet potatoes, garlic, thyme, salt and pepper.  cook until beginning to soften, about another 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

add the tomatoes, chicken stock, beans and bay leaf.  at this point, you can either leave the soup on the stovetop and simmer over medium heat for at least an hour (for vegetables to fully cook) or, transfer everything to the slow cooker and cook over low heat for 4 hours (up to 6) or high heat for 2 (up to 4). don't want those potatoes to get too mushy.

about 20 minutes before serving, stir in the pesto and wine (i did hear my daughter say to her brother as a warning, "i saw mom put green throw up in that."  nice).

drink the rest of the wine.

top with bruschetta (or a nice garlic loaf) and parmesan cheese.

yields 6-8 servings
calories: 326
fat: 9.3g
saturated fat: 3.4g
cholesterol: 15.5mg
sodium: 790mg
carbs: 37.5g
fiber: 8.5g
sugar: 10.8g
protein: 13.1g

chicken "cordon bleu" ~ lightened up version

chicken cordon bleu
printable recipe
recipe adapted via skinny taste

parchment or wax paper
olive oil cooking spray
4 chicken breasts, halved and then butterfly sliced
kosher salt and cracked pepper
8 slices deli ham
8 slices swiss cheese
1 cup whole wheat seasoned bread crumbs (winco)
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
2 eggs (no need to shy away from whole eggs, folks)

preheat oven to 375 degrees.

spray 9x13 baking dish with non-stick cooking spray

line cutting board with parchment/wax paper. slice each chicken in half and then butterfly slice each breast (take care not to cut all of the way through when butterfly slicing, keeping the breast in one piece).

cover the chicken with more parchment/wax paper.  using a rolling pin or mallet, flatten the meat by pounding each piece through the parchment paper.  remove paper, season each piece with kosher salt and cracked black pepper.

whisk eggs in a shallow dish/bowl.  combine bread crumbs and parmesan cheese in another shallow dish/bowl.

place one slice of ham and one slice of swiss cheese on each breast (use thin sliced deli cheese if you're worried about fat grams).  roll tightly and then dip rolled chicken in egg mixture (use 1 egg and 1 egg white if you're worried about cholesterol).  roll chicken in bread crumbs and then place, seam down, in prepared baking dish.  repeat with each piece of chicken.

bake for 35-40 minutes at 375 degrees.

yields 8 servings
calories: 406
fat: 12g
sat fat: 5g
cholesterol: 201.8mg
sodium: 597mg
carbs: 8.1g
protein: 63.9g
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