Another Whole30?!? Yes!

For some reason, I decided in January that I wanted to complete two Whole30s this year… for some unknown reason… so I felt obligated to myself to complete ANOTHER one. And I’m here to say that I DID IT! From mid-August to mid-September I stayed away from sugar, gluten, grains, alcohol, dairy, legumes, and a lot of other things and focused on eating my body weight in veggies every day. Each time I do one of these, I feel like it was easier than the last one, and that is definitely the case this time around, too. (P.S. you can read about my last mega Whole30 here, here, and here!!)

Just like with all of the Whole30s I’ve done in the past, the reason I got through this one with any sense of sanity was the actually insane amount of PLANNING that I put into it. I’m serious. In this particular situation, failing to plan is absolutely planning to fail. I went into this with a meal plan of all 30 days – what I would eat, what recipes I would make, what groceries I would need to buy, and when I would most likely be cooking and shopping for things. I wanted to avoid cooking at 9pm after getting home from bible study or realizing at 3pm on a Saturday that I needed to go get something at Whole Foods at all costs. (I did make the mistake of going to Central Market at 4pm on a Saturday once during the 30 days though… it was terrible and I will never make that mistake again.)

One thing that I wanted to do this time was try as many new recipes as I could! There are just so many resources out there for free (hello, Pinterest!) and I wanted to find good, healthier recipes that I enjoyed cooking and eating that I would hopefully want to make again after the whole 30 days was over. And while some were definitely not going to be repeated, I did find a few new recipes that I’ll be making again for sure! Here’s what I ate this go-round:

  • Turkey apple sage meatballs with zoodles and veggies – these were…. fine. You have to REALLY like sage, tho. My roommate said “oh wow those meatballs are stinky!!!!” and she could smell them every time she opened up the fridge… so… make with caution… or maybe with less sage? I feel like it used a TON. I ended up mashing up the meatballs and putting some of this bbq sauce on top and it made it SO much better! (I got the bbq sauce at Whole Foods and trust me it’s worth the money!!)
    Will I make this again? Probably not… Maybe because it was the first meal I made tho? I usually tend to not like the first meal I make during a Whole30, so maybe it was the timing and not the food? Either way, I probably won’t make it again to find out.
  • Greek chicken with veggies – I do not love cauliflower rice, so this one took some self-convincing to eat all of it. But the rest of it was actually good! Instead of olives and tomatoes, I just did zucchini and squash. And MAKE THE TZATZIKI SAUCE! That’s the only reason I ate this, really! I found the coconut yogurt at Central Market during the ill-timed weekend shopping trip mentioned above (I think it was this brand?) Eating tip: cut up your chicken into little bites, dump all of it into a bowl, and mix in the sauce. Yum.
    Will I make this again? I believe that I will! I might not use exclusively cauliflower rice, though.
  • Chicken bacon ranch bowls – These were very good. However. DO NOT MAKE MY SAME MISTAKE and use turkey bacon. Nope. Get the applegate Whole30 approved bacon and USE THAT (I get mine at Tom Thumb, but I know they sell it at Whole Foods and probably other places, too)!! And if they’re out of the Whole30 bacon at your store, please drive to another store and buy it there. Don’t think that turkey bacon will be good enough because it will not be. And also since I’m lazy, I did NOT spiralize my own sweet potato but I bought this mix from the frozen section and used it instead and it was still delicious.
    Will I make this again? Oh definitely! But with NORMAL BACON and NOT TURKEY BACON. Seriously, I cannot emphasize that enough.
  • BBQ chicken, roasted asparagus, mashed potatoes – this might be my favorite meal that I’ve had so far and it wasn’t even a recipe!! Here’s what I did tho- for the chicken: just cut up your raw chicken into little chunks, toss in this bbq sauce, and bake! So. Good. I used the same mashed potato recipe that I’ve used in the past, and it’s so good. So so good.
    Will I make this again? Oh yeah! In fact, I made it again at the end of my Whole30 because I wasn’t feeling like trying one of the recipes I’d saved and this was just so easy and so good that I gave it another go!
  • Tomato basil turkey meatloaf and veggies – This was also fine/bordering on good. I think I’ve just made the personal decision that I’m not a huge turkey fan unless it’s Thanksgiving… so I guess ground turkey just isn’t my jam. This would probably be good with ground beef. Just like the sage, you’ve gotta LOVE basil cuz it uses a lot. So I’ll use less next time.
    Will I make this again? Ummmmm I might try it with less basil and also with ground beef. So that’s a solid maybe.
  • Sloppy joe bowls and veggies – ummmm yes these were amazing. AMAZING! I made my roommate take a bite of the sloppy joe part because I thought it was that good! And she agreed! I didn’t add in the green pepper cuz I forgot to buy it and also I didn’t want it and I made mashed potatoes instead of the potato bowls.
    Will I make this again? Yes I definitely will! I mean, it was really really good! Like, really good!
  • Chicken nuggets and sauce – these nuggets are GOOD! Definitely soak the chicken in pickle juice (follow the recipe), it made all the difference. And the SAUCE!!!! #praisehandsemoji ooooh it’s good. But really, I don’t even like pickles, and I thought “why on earth would I soak my chicken in pickle juice that will taste weird” but it didn’t, it tasted wonderful.
    Will I make this again? You bet I will! They took some time and attention but it was worth it. I’ve actually made the dipping sauce again already because I liked it so much!
  • Sweet potato fries – I had these with the nuggets above. So good. I LOVE the seasoning on them! And they got so crispy! I was very careful to cut them thin and as close to the same thickness (thinness?) as possible. And bonus, I would dip the fries in the dip I made for the nuggets above and it’s so good!
    Will I make this again? Already have! I made them when some friends came over for dinner and they also thought that they were crisp and seasoned really well and very delicious!

Something I did differently with this Whole30 was I worked out more than I have with previous ones. After a few days of acclimating to the lack of sugar I resumed walking/jogging outside regularly and I even switched my gym and joined one closer to my house! There were a few days where I struggled energy-wise (depending on the time of day, I don’t think I had eaten enough calories to balance with the exercise… I’m not a person that does well with fasted cardio) but for the most part it went really well! I was “training” for a 5K that I ended up walking with a friend last month, and it was good to have a goal in mind to keep me motivated during those 30 days.

So now that it’s over, have I kept up with eating all the healthy things? Ummmmmm no, not exactly… remember my friend came into town at the end of September and we ate ALL the food that weekend, haha. But I have been eating more veggies and I’ve definitely noticed that I’ve cut down on sugar more than normal – there is halloween candy EVERYWHERE and while I want all of it, I haven’t really felt the need, which is new and different for me! (I say that while actively texting with my roommate about having leftover pumpkin bread for breakfast this morning… pumpkin bread that definitely had cream cheese frosting on it… so basically I had cake for breakfast… lol you can’t win ’em all.) Really I’m hoping that going into the holiday season with all the yummy foods and treats and cookies (the cookies!!!) I’ll be able to keep myself in check and be healthier overall, while still being able to enjoy myself and enjoy the meals and treats that accompany family gatherings and work potlucks and things like that.

I love talking to people about Whole30 and how to do it successfully, so if you want to know anything specific or have questions feel free to ask! I send emails to people all the time with a fully curated list of products, tips, and recipes, and would love to share it with you, too! 🙂

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2019 Book Bingo Update – September Update

It’s time for more books, y’all!!! Since we’re officially in *~*spooky season*~* I thought I should read a few books that would get my anxiety up a little bit because that is a normal, healthy thing to do. I also finally read a book that one of my friends wrote, and I can’t wait to tell you more about it!

The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn

I read The Woman in the Window to take the spot of a book being made into a movie. This book really reminded me of The Girl on the Train, in that your main character is a bit unreliable and you’re not sure if you’re crazy, she’s crazy, or everyone else is crazy. The story is about an agoraphobic woman living in New York City who becomes friends with one of her neighbors. But then… her neighbor is gone and replaced with someone else? And did that neighbor get murdered? Is everyone trying to cover it up? Is she going crazy? Will she find out what happened? This book had a great plot twist at the end that surprised me! I will definitely watch the movie when it comes out to see how they portray all the characters and how closely they stick to the story!

The Death of Mrs. Westaway by Ruth Ware

For the spot of a thriller, I read The Death of Mrs. Westaway. I chose this one because the author also wrote The Woman in Cabin 10 and I really liked that book, so I thought oh good, I’ll probably like this one, too! And wow. I was so very wrong. This book…. I mean honestly, just skip it. Was it thrilling? No. Was it full of plot twists? I mean kinda but they weren’t surprising or great. Let me tell you what it’s about real quick: a young woman is in financial trouble and accidentally gets invited to a will reading for a seemingly wealthy woman, so she decides to go and pretend to be a relative to see if she can get some money out of it. Then there is a lot of drama that happens and family stuff going on and flashbacks and blah blah blah you get it.

There were SO MANY things I had problems with about this book, but one of them was that there were seriously like 18 plot holes that just never got resolved by the end of the story. Like (spoilers alert) there is this guy who threatens her like “you owe my boss money I’ll come break your legs if you don’t pay up” and then we just like, never hear about him or his boss again. Don’t they want their money? Did she ever pay them back? Did she kill him along the way and I was just so bored reading this that I missed it? Who knows.

No More Holding Back by Kat Armstrong

Oooooooooh this one was so good! And I don’t just think that because I know and love the author! I read it to fill the square of a book about faith. In her book, Kat emboldens women to love God with all their heart, mind, soul, and strength, and move past insecurities or perceived barriers that have kept them holding back in their ministries and their faith. She debunks 5 common myths that women of faith often hear but just aren’t true: that women can’t be trusted to learn and lead, that we don’t have a lot to offer, that our greatest joy is marriage and highest calling is motherhood (as a single lady this one really spoke to me!), that we are too much to handle, and that leading ladies don’t fit in supporting roles. I can’t recommend this one enough!

 

 

 

Five for Friday #55

Hello and happy Friday!! How’s your week been? It FINALLY started feeling a tiny bit like fall here in Dallas (kind of… it was in the 90s yesterday but today the high is only supposed to be in the 60s – hallelujah) and it has been amazing!! I’m mentally ready for sweaters and boots and cozy overdosy and I’m very excited for the weather to finally get on board. I’ve already been burning fall-scented candles for weeks, which is a weird thing to do when you’re still wearing shorts and flip flops and sweating just from going outside to check the mail.

Here’s what has been on my radar lately!

one || This hot pink blazer. Do I need a hot pink velvet blazer? No. But actually DO I need a hot pink velvet blazer? Yes.

two || This mirror from World Market. I saw it in the store the other day and love the live edges on the wood! I’m making a bunch of mental notes of things I like for when I finally buy a place, and I think I would like something like this.

three || I saw this quote on Instagram this week and liked it.

four || These pumpkin Mexican wedding cookies. I have made Mexican wedding cookies (or polvorones) in the past, but this pumpkin version looks so perfect for fall!!

five || The Good Place is back! I just love this show so much, and it’s interesting to see what they’re doing for the very last season. Do you watch it? Do you listen to the podcast about it?!?! Seriously, listen to the podcast if you watch the show!! It’s so worth it! You hear from actors and writers and even the creator and the special effects people and it’s all fun facts and trivia and good conversation!

 

Unwritten Rules of Musicals

Over the last 2 years, I have seen a LOT of musicals (if you remember, I signed up for season tickets for 2 years just so I could be guaranteed an at-cost ticket to Hamilton, and it was worth it!) which is good for me, because I LOVE musicals! There have been some decent ones, and some AMAZING ones, and one in particular that I still can’t believe ever made it to the stage let alone a tour but I sat thru it anyway (yes I’m clearly still mad at you, Love Never Dies….)

This past season, my musical buddy and I got to see EIGHT shows!!! The Phantom of the Opera, The Book of Mormon, Anastasia, Hamilton (which I saw twice!!!), Miss Saigon, Aladdin, Hello Dolly, and Fiddler on the Roof. Time and time again, I was just blown away with the talent and creativity that we saw! The sets were great (especially Anastasia – those sets incorporated technology in a way that you just don’t get with older, more classic musicals and it was neat to see the difference), the singing was great (even though this is a touring cast they’re just so insanely talented!), and I just loved all of it!

Well… that’s not true. I should say that I loved most of it. The things that I didn’t love were most of the other people in the theater, haha. People just being rude or annoying or not having any sort of social awareness to realize that they’re in a theater and not on the couch at home alone. So because of that, I thought I’d share some unwritten rules of going to musicals that SHOULD BE COMMON SENSE but clearly are not. They so are not.

1. Arrive on time.

Things happen. Unexpected traffic happens. The person you’re picking up isn’t ready on time. Things happen. But just try your best to arrive on time. Not even on time but early!! The rush of people coming in after the opening number using flashlights and cell phones to find their seats in the dark is very distracting!

2. Don’t wear gym shorts.

Things have gotten pretty casual at the theater lately, and I usually end up in jeans and a nice top when I go, but please just whatever you do, don’t show up in gym shorts!!! Being comfortable is nice, I get it, but it’s just hilarious when you see a family all dressed up sitting next to a dude who clearly just came from the gym. Or just woke up.

3. Don’t sing along.

NO! This is not a time for you to showcase how you know every single word to every single song! NO! People are paying money to hear the professionals sing, not you! Save it for your car on the way home when you can enjoy the songs and sing as loud as you want. But please, please don’t sing along during the actual musical itself. (Side note – this rule does not apply to adorable children under the age of 6 who are so genuinely elated that Princess Jasmine and Aladdin are riding on the magic carpet that they can’t help but belt it out. That is forever allowed.)

4. Don’t use your phone during.

Is there a reason that you need to check facebook in a dark theater, lady? Is the singing and dancing happening in front of you just not enough entertainment? Do you need to look at ALL the vacation photos from your cousin’s honeymoon RIGHT NOW?!?!?! Even when screens have the brightness turned down, they’re still pretty bright, so don’t be rude and just keep your phone out of sight until intermission.

5. Eat responsibly.

I love snacks. Snacks are the best. But this theater in Dallas only sells baked goods and candy in the crinkliest, loudest packaging known to man. And I’m pretty sure that people wait for the silent, sad moments in the musicals to CRINKLE CRINKLE CRINKLE their candy open. Maybe try opening your treat before going into the theater. Maybe wait till the end of a song and open it while there’s lots of loud applause happening. Maybe pour a bag of skittles into your empty eyeglass case in your car outside so you don’t have to worry about crinkly wrappers OR spending $4 on a treat. So many options.

6. Don’t leave early.

I know you have VERY important plans you need to get to immediately after the musical and you want to be the very first car out of the parking lot to avoid the extra 10 minutes of waiting, but please please do not think you’re being smart by leaving during the final number! You’re missing part of the show! I even think it’s bad when people start filing out during the curtain call. I’m just trying to stand and applaud for all the talented people, not get my feet stepped on as you try to shuffle out from the middle of the row because you HAVE to be the first one out the door.

 

 

Food + Friend = Best Weekend Ever

I had one of my very favorite and very best friends visit a few weeks ago and we had the best time!!! She’s one of those friends that we can go go go and do a lot and have fun, or we can get a package of oreos and sit on the couch all day chatting and still have so much fun – don’t you love those? I feel like we had a good mix of both when Jen came to visit – we went and did fun things, but we made sure just to relax and enjoy each other’s company, too! I was joking with my roommate before she got here that most of our plans were food-based… and I was not wrong! We love trying to places and we HAD to make sure to get her a Sprinkles cupcake to celebrate her birthday!

The fun weekend started before she even got to town – I got a haircut! This really isn’t relevant, but my hair looked AMAZING and I was clearly feeling myself, lol. I get my hair cut twice a year, so it’s always a big deal to me when I go in and get it chopped. I got a healthy 3-ish inch trim and it still feels so good to get a little bit of length off.

Ok, now back to the regularly scheduled weekend recap. After some flight delays due to weather, Jen got in town just in time to go to dinner! We tried a new (to us) restaurant in town, Manny’s Uptown Tex Mex! We went there because I’d heard people say that they had good queso blanco, which is SO rare and SO hard to find here in Dallas. You wouldn’t think so, but it’s a sad truth about my city. They generally have trash queso and the people just accept it. So tragic. But this place was pretty good!! We liked the queso enough to finish the entire thing and enjoyed fun drinks and had a blast getting caught up in person!

 

We went to bed at a responsible time Friday night because the next day we had to wake up bright and early and do a 5K! We signed up months and months ago and I am here to tell you that we finished it!! We pretty much walked 98% of it but guess what you still get a medal no matter your time!! It wasn’t hot out, but it was 438% humidity and so sticky and muggy and gross, so even though the sun wasn’t shining, everyone there was sweaty and feeling slightly miserable.

After the race, we went back home and got ready for the day, and then headed out to our next food-related activity! Also it was time for lunch, so that’s what we did. We tried out another new-to-us place that had been on my list for so long – Biscuit Bar! If you’re imagining an entire restaurant based around the delicious buttermilk biscuits you usually see a breakfast, then you’re spot on because that is exactly what it is and it was SO DELICIOUS!!! We joked about getting like 8 biscuits to go after lunch because they were just that good. And I’m still kind of sad that we didn’t.

After the world’s best lunch, we went to check out an outdoor market in Frisco! It was a million degrees outside so we didn’t explore the entire thing (it was gigantic) but we did look at a lot of booths, try on some wildly expensive headbands that we both wanted until we heard the price, and made some fun purchases! There was one booth with a bunch of cute printed quotes and graphic design prints, and I loved this one from The Office!!

Same, Stanley… same. On our way back home, we stopped by Sprinkles cupcakes (yay more food-based adventures!) to get Jen her free birthday cupcake… and also a few more flavors so we could try them! (I got Jen the Sprinkles recipe book for her birthday, so OBVIOUSLY we had to test out a few flavors in order for her to know which recipes to try first. The answer was all of them.)

 

That afternoon Jen and I went to the movies! Since we had participated (again, walking still counts!!) in a race that morning, we thought it would be fun to see the movie Brittany Runs a Marathon. It was actually pretty cute – better than I expected! And it had a really sweet ending and I maybe cried a tiny bit which was very unexpected! We had popcorn at the movie, so when it let out we weren’t super hungry for a real dinner… so instead we did one of my favorite things on the planet- DIP DINNER!!!! It’s a very exciting concept (first encountered on my trip to Boston last fall) where you get some dips and chips and snacks (Oreos are a must) and make that your dinner. We spent the rest of the night snacking and laughing and watching part of a movie on Netflix and it was lovely!

We only had half a day together on Sunday as Jen had to fly home (boo) so we slept in a little bit and had a nice, lazy morning. We finished our Netlifx movie (someone got too tired and could hang the night before – it was me), started dreaming up where our next fun friend group trip would be, and got Jen all packed up. Before taking her to the airport, we had to get one last good meal together! She remembered me getting a fried avocado taco from her visit back in 2015 and asked if there was anywhere that had one, and I knew immediately that we would go to Torchy’s!! Those tacos. Their queso. So good. Then it was off to the airport after a full weekend of food and fun!!