Finally Friday.

If it scares you, it might be a good thing to try.

Today is not only Friday (which is, of course, enough reason for celebration)… though I’m pretty sure after Denver’s big Superbowl loss last week the entire city has been in a state of overall depression. I’m not really into football, but even I can admit that was embarrassing.

This week has been a trial in finding my new “normal” with food now that the Whole 30 is over. I still have a post in the works about my thoughts on the program as well as another one on what I hope my food life will look like moving forward. They’re coming… at some point. Other than that we went to a Nuggets game on Wednesday night (they won!) and have enjoyed a pretty low-key week — though, we’ve had freezing cold temperatures (think -11 when you get up) making staying warm a big priority.

This weekend we’ve got a date night booked for tonight. I came up with 12 unique dates, wrote them down and put them all in envelopes, mixed them up and gave them to Christian at the beginning of the year (who says marriage is boring) and this is the first one (since food was so restrictive in January we decided to just do two in February). Saturday Christian and I are taking our first foundations class at our local Cross Fit gym (I’m so nervous!) and then Sunday we’ve got the second session before we can start taking normal classes. We’re also going to squeeze in a trip to visit my Dad and then take the rest of it as it comes.

What are you up to this weekend, anything exciting?

Here are my finds from around the inter webs:

If you’re looking for a fascinating read and wanting to develop a small desire to move to Detroit (I know, I can’t believe I said it either) then this article written by a guy who bought a house in Detroit for $500 will warm your heart and break it all at the same time.

I’ve always felt rather indifferent toward Bill Murray. He’s a good actor, but beyond that I never really gave him much thought. Until I found out that he might just be the most interesting man in the world. Also, think he’d want to be friends?

Food is an issue for me – gluten-free, dairy-free, sugar-free, no carbs, paleo, Whole 30 etc. I believe strongly in the power that food holds over our health and as you probably know, the past couple of years have been a struggle to find what works and what doesn’t. At some point I’d like to be able to say “I gave up on healthy eating“, too.

I’m not much of a snoop. I’ve never had the desire to hunt down my Christmas presents (why ruin the surprise), but even I’ve been guilty of checking out emails that were left open on my computer… but sometimes, don’t you think, these things are better left unseen? What if your snooping ended like some of these scenarios?

All I have to say about this article on the fear of success is, “amen”. I’ve always felt like I had a pretty big fear of failure, but turns out I also have a fear of success. If I don’t bust down those barriers I’ll be stuck in mediocrity forever!

This happens to me all the time. I’ll receive a gift, like beautiful personal note cards, and I won’t want to use them for fear of wasting them… but life is short and those beautiful things are made for using rather than sitting at the bottom of a drawer

You’re a confidant to one of your friends, the life of the party at church, the overachiever to your parents… the many faces we wear and roles we play. However, it turns out (which we already knew) that we truly can’t be everything to everyone

Happy Friday — have a great weekend!

Whole 30.

Whole 30 Logo

It’s no secret that I’ve been playing around with my diet over the past year — most recently giving up gluten, dairy and sugar. I did really well and responded really well to that diet and for the new year decided to take it one step further and give the Whole 30 a spin. Whole 30 is essentially a cleaner (I know, how much more strict can you get?) version of what I was already doing. The big “no-no” highlights for me were: no beans, no rice (or any grains for that matter), no honey, no alcohol, no corn, no peanut butter, no paleo-ified desserts etc.

Let me tell you — unless you’re getting it directly from the produce department or the meat counter (both of which have their own set of recommendations) it’s going to take some research. Lucky for me, I’m already pretty familiar with these limitations and don’t feel particularly cornered as far as what I eat.

I thought I might, semi-track, my version of the Whole 30 for two reasons:

1.) To remember what I ate and how it went.

2.) To attempt to track something for the blog – of which I’m absolutely horrible at doing.

So, we’ll see how this goes – I’m not promising anything.

I started yesterday, so in true Megan fashion, this post is coming to you a day late and completely devoid of photos. Mostly because I forgot to take them. [disclaimer: I have the ability to take pretty decent food photos, but since I’ll be sharing meals that I may or may not have packed in a jumbled Tupperware, don’t expect anything award-winning ;-)]

Here’s my meal plan breakdown for Thursday – Saturday:

Thursday:
Breakfast: Boiled Egg
Lunch: Canned green beans + Can of tuna (aren’t you glad I didn’t photograph this?)
Dinner: Chicken breast cooked in avocado oil with garlic and shaved brussel sprout salad with balsamic dressing

Friday:
Breakfast: Handful of almonds (only because I left my egg at home by accident)
Lunch: Chicken + Brussel Sprout leftovers
Dinner: Out to dinner — will order a salad, no dressing

Saturday:
Breakfast: Boiled Egg
Lunch: Out to Lunch with a friend
Dinner: Crockpot chicken tomato soup

In between I’ve been snacking on nuts or apples if I’m hungry. I’ve also been drinking green tea and other herbal teas at night. I’ll be back on Sunday to cover my meal plan for the upcoming week. Hopefully I’ll actually take some pictures moving forward.

If you’re interested in trying out the Whole 30, here’s some information (and key posts) to get you started:

What is the Whole 30?

Whole 30 Shopping List

The official Can I Have Post

Pantry Stocking PDF

Meal Planning PDF

I, also, want to note that you don’t have to pay to do the Whole 30 — the majority of the information is online for free. You can, of course, by their book or opt into some of the paid additions, but it is absolutely not necessary. There aren’t any supplements you need to take, you’ll simply be spending money on the food you eat. 

Finally Friday.

Believe In Yourself

Well hello there Friday. It’s so nice to see you.

There isn’t really much to report about this week — I made several, end-of-year, doctors appointments (hello eye doctor and dermatologist), got in some yoga, ate really well and reveled in watching a few shows this week. Pretty status quo. The only change is the fact that I’m surrounded by sickies (the husband, the co-workers, the EVERYONE) and I’ve upped my Immunoshield and Amla-C intake to hopefully get ahead of it and avoid it all together.

This weekend is going to be great. I’m heading to Fort Collins tonight with my friend Jacqui for a little walk down memory lane. We’re having dinner at Austin’s where we had our first friend date way back when, then hitting up all the old favorites from our college days (La Luz, Lucille’s Campus etc.)… then she’s heading back down with me Saturday for some yoga and wine drinking. It should be fabulous.

Sunday Christian and I may have to rake our yard. We have one, beautiful tree that’s refusing to drop it’s leaves… since I only want to do the raking once — it’s delaying us. Also, how is it half way through November — what the heck?

Here are my favorite finds from around the interwebs this week:

This article is resurfacing from a few years ago. In essence, the writer talks about how she didn’t make her husband “trying to leave” about herself and how it ended up saving their marriage. It’s a hard read for those that can imagine what that would be like — but her strength and outlook is pretty refreshing.

I’ve found that the more I experiment with new recipes, the less bored/restricted I feel with my fairly limited diet. This post on what you need for asian cooking was great because I always seem to have “some” of the ingredients, but never all of them.

Each week I seriously consider calling someone to help clean my house. It’s not a big house but Christian and I are barely home during the week and it seems (especially this time of year) that the weekends are jam-packed too. Maybe if I followed this “clean your house in 20 minutes a day” business it would actually get done.

This article really hit me in the heart. There are so many posts out there about dumping “toxic” friends and releasing friendships that are no longer serving you, but this one on whether you should really break up with a friend was a genius, and important perspective to consider. All I can say is: yes, yes, yes.

I’ve now made this recipe two times in the past week — both times to share: Marbled Banana Chocolate Mini Cakes. Whether you’re paleo, gluten-free, dairy-free etc. or not. These will rock your socks off.

Have you seen this map drawn by an Australian who has never been to the U.S. — the “texas” part cracked me up.

And, lastly — to continue on my food obsessed train — is an article about 10 foods in the US that are banned elsewhere. I read the entire thing with a big grain of salt, but nonetheless it provides some good food for thought.

Have a great weekend!

Confessions Round 4.

Confessions.

1.) I frequently burst out into song. And, the timing doesn’t always make sense. I could be singing the dogs a little diddy that I’ve just made up or dropping the lyrics to the Star Spangled Banner while sautéing some veggies for fajitas. It probably gets old, but Christian (and the puppies) are pretty good sports about not telling me how ridiculous I am.

2.) I sleep with an eye mask. If I don’t have one… I don’t sleep. Case in point, last Tuesday I’d somehow managed to wrangle the thing off my head (and even over my messy bun) and found myself totally awake a 4:00am blindly trying to find it in the mess of blankets around me.

3.) I burn myself ALL THE TIME. You might think this means that I burn myself a lot when cooking, which it does. (For instance just last week I pulled a frittata out of the oven only to turn around and grab the handle of the pan (re: 375 degrees) and scream profanity/cry incessantly for the next hour as my hand blistered). This, also, means that I burn myself on the blow dryer, curling iron, clothes iron and on the scalding water that comes out of our faucet.

4.) I’ll only eat flavored mayo. Plain mayo is nasty – let’s just get that out there – it’s not good unless it’s mixed into tuna or egg salad. Period. However, if you stir in a little garlic or chipotle or marinara sauce you will find me crazy eyed and licking the bowl.

5.) I’m crazy nostalgic. I have nightgowns from when I was little, old folded up notes from my friends, ticket stubs, my favorite jeans from high school, weird tchotchkes from my grandma, books from my older sister, CD mixes I made years ago etc.  I, also, have a hard time throwing away birthday cards even if there’s no personal message because I may want them some day.

Have any confessions you feel like unloading? If so, please share! The more that I do these, the more I realize that I’ve got a lot of weird tendencies quirks.

Want to see my past confessions? You can check them all out over here.

I want Italian!

Noodles

“Italian, Italian, anything with noodles, spaghetti!!”, I’d yell while my sister yelled back “Mexican, guacamole tostadas, Mexican!”. My parents would indulge us both, allowing us to think that our opinions were being heavily weighed when, in all reality, they already knew where we were going.

For the majority of my childhood macaroni and cheese graced the top of my all time food favorites list, and if I was lucky enough to get Kraft Blue Box delivered from the kids menu at a restaurant… it was like I’d hit the jackpot. The golden, creamy, fake cheesy jackpot. This absolutely, consuming love of pasta continued for years as I made it my mission to create the very best spaghetti sauce on the planet. Pot after pot of tomato-y, meaty, deliciousness simmering away on the stove.

Side note, because if we were talking in real life I’d say: During my senior year of college I was simmering one of said pots of sauce and studying for a test down in my room. My roommate came wandering in, after her night class, only to announce that she’d spent the last 15 minutes, uncontrollably, spooning the sauce into her mouth. To this day it was one of the most flattering cooking compliments I’ve ever received. 

Once I’d mastered that, Christian set me to task developing the ultimate homemade mac ‘n cheese. I tried pancetta, 6-cheese, carmelized onions, garlic, beer… all of which were delicious… only to fall back on good ‘ol cheddar as my favorite.

Then, the unthinkable happened. Last year, on the cruise we took to the Caribbean I contracted the stomach flu after eating a, most delicious, pasta dinner. After spending hour upon hour either in the bathroom or hugging the toilet (all the while praying that the sewage drain in our bathroom didn’t back up while I pathetically hovered above it) I was over pasta. I was over tomato sauce. I was over noodles.

I wanted nothing to do with them, the sight, the smell – the everything made my stomach roil in rebellion. And, to a certain extent it still does. Obviously in the past 1.5 years I’ve had my plate loaded with cheesy rigatoni or saucy angel hair, but not even one meal hit the proverbial spot. Not a one.

It feels like the end of an era.

These days you’ll find me pining over any kind of potato I can get my grubby little mitts on. Also, organic strawberries, where have you been all my life? If I had my pick of what I would shout on the way to dinner tonight? It’d probably be Mexican, just like my sister — or at least some sort of Southwest fusion restaurant. Or, ahem, pizza – which I’ll love until my dying breath.

It’s fascinating to me how our taste buds evolve, change, mature if you will. 10 years ago you’d never see me with a cucumber in my grocery cart or with a salad packed full of greens + peppers for lunch. I never would have guessed that I would choose a fresh-cut farmers market watermelon over almost any gooey brownie you put in front of me. But here I am, guilty (in a good way) of both. What’s next? Conquering raw tomatoes or mushrooms? I doubt it.

*Image source: Max Straeten

Life Hack: Food & making more time.

This winter life felt like one big ‘ol to do list. No matter what the line items were, even the good things, they felt like moments I had to get through just so I could move on to the next. It sounds so depressing when I say that, but in a way it really was. Week nights felt bogged down and packed full and the weekends were just as bad. The worst part was I didn’t know how to fix it and there wasn’t an end in sight.

Plus, when you add on goals and intentions for the year it became really easy to get overwhelmed. One of the areas that seemed to take up a lot of space was meals – what we were buying, prepping and eating throughout the week. Making sure most of the food that made its way into our mouths was healthy became a huge task and one that just didn’t feel like it could be tamed. I started dreading our weekly trip to the super market on Sundays and knew that my afternoon would be shot trying to get everything ready for the week ahead. This may sound a touch dramatic, but I promise it was how I felt. And, if you could have seen me thawing, washing, chopping, mixing, roasting and organizing I’m pretty sure you would have joined in with your own enthusiastic sigh.

By the start of May, Christian and I had committed to doing the 24 Day Challenge through Advocare (see note below) and the rules of eating got a little stricter than usual around our house, but in some ways it got easier. We had meal shakes every morning and leftovers at lunch. At least breakfast was taken care of, right? This is when I read a tip from Nicole over at a Life Less BS about her formula for healthy eating…

[I know this is a really long-winded way to get to the hack, but I think how we got there is what makes it so great]

Each day you aim to have one smoothie and one salad (the kitchen sink of meals, as she says, because just about anything can go in them). This may sound rudimentary, but just having the decision making taken out of two meals a day gives me an immense sense of relief. SERIOUSLY. I felt so much relief that I implemented it the next week.

But, it gets better. Instead of packing leftovers for lunch, we ate them for dinner either the next night or later in the week. I was now getting 2-3 meals out of each dinner I actually cooked. It was amazing.

Here’s what a typical meal plan looks like at our house right now:

Weekly Meal Plan

On Sundays, I’ll usually grill or roast a bunch of chicken for salads and chop up a couple of cucumbers & peppers to toss in salads as the week goes on. Other than that, there’s not much that goes into it.

So, for us, the hack is this: 

Smoothie for breakfast
+ Salad for lunch
+ Make dinner stretch for 2-3 meals during the week
———————————————————————-
= More hours in your day & a mostly healthy diet

It may not be rocket science, but it makes such a huge difference in how I feel about planning, prepping, making and eating. Give it a whirl, I promise you’ll love it just as much as we do. Unless, you’re one of those people who doesn’t eat leftovers… then, you’re on your own.

 

*Disclaimer: Since I’m all about being 100% real, after falling in love with Advocare’s 24 day challenge (amongst a plethora of other products) we’ve decided to become Advocare distributors. From here on out, links to Advocare will take you directly to our microsite. If you have any questions please feel free to shoot me an email. Thanks! 

Let’s Chat.

I love all the tea time, coffee break and catch-up posts floating around… and I’m a big-time lover of lists, so merge the two and I’ve got myself a perfect blog post! Bam! So, instead of a Finally Friday post, let’s catch up…

Getting In Some Baby Snuggles

 

[Getting in some after work baby snuggles last night]

My Sisters Baby: 

My sister had her sweet baby boy on April 24 and I can’t get enough of him… his wrinkly little hands, sweet little face and snugly little body. There’s something about him being my sisters baby that makes me just *that* much more comfortable. With other people’s children (even my other nieces and nephew) there’s always been this worry that they don’t trust me not to break their kid (or even soothe them when they’re upset). With Sarah, I’m just a lot less worried that she doesn’t trust me. Plus, I can beg to hold him, feed him, change him… (no shame)… and she won’t judge me too much.

On remodeling our house:

We’re living in complete chaos right now… while we do have counter tops and a sink (after 1.5 weeks without), all of our dishes and appliances are either jammed in the pantry, residing in the office or covering our kitchen table. There isn’t an end in sight, either. We’ve got another week ahead of us in the world of cabinet painting and then we’re painting the first floor and redoing all the flooring. It makes me tired just thinking about it. Having a house that feels like home (and like us) will be worth it in the end, but it’s keeping us on our toes for now!

Eating Well:

As you probably know by now, one of my goals for the year was to start feeling better. Along  with that goal was to get stronger, eat better and hopefully lose some weight. I didn’t want to conquer the weight thing head on because at this phase in my life I’m a lot more focused on being healthy rather than being a size 2. Ahem. Also, wine + cookies are a few ingredients in the recipe for my happiness.

I have however embarked on two 24-day Challenges through Advocare and have been really limiting the dairy, wheat (most grains) and sugar in my life. Last Friday marked the end of the second challenge and while I was so excited to eat a freakin’ slice of pizza, I can also say that I’ve been feeling SO much better on the whole (and as a bonus sleeping better too).

TV:

I’m sick of our TV. Or, more precisely, all three of them. They seem like this time suck attached to all the major rooms in our home and I find myself gravitating towards them when I’m either avoiding or lacking something to do. Netflix this or DVR that takes over most nights after we’ve eaten and cleaned up dinner. I would quit (get ready for the lamest excuse you’ve ever heard), but I’ve invested X amount of months into some shows (I’m looking at you Elementary, Big Bang Theory and Nashville) and want to see how the seasons wrap up without waiting until September. So, while I work on a solution for a more healthy TV relationship, know that I’m giving our TV the side eye each time I turn it on.

Warmer Weather: 

I’m almost overwhelmed by the joy I feel when I wake up and see the sun peeking in through my blinds. As I get older I’m finding more and more patterns with the way I feel (in all aspects) with one of the major changes in my attitude/outlook on life hinging on the seasons plus the amount of warm temperatures/sunshine. Spring and summer (and even fall) hold such hope, I’m drinking it all in and trying not to get too addicted. Also, is it weird that I’m already dreading November when it shifts back to dreary-ville?

Getting Up Early:

I’ve started several posts that talk about how I’ve been a little crazed and over scheduled – it seemed like there just weren’t enough hours in the day to enjoy (and/or do) life. I was just checking things off my list (even the good things) and not allowing myself the time to really enjoy the moment. Plus, there are some remedial life tasks that just weren’t happening which added to the stress load. All of this to say that I’ve been working on my morning routine, specifically getting up early. Out of the last 8 work days, I was up at least 30 minutes earlier than usual and some days over an hour earlier than usual. I love the extra time I have to get ready without scrambling, take the dogs for a walk or just do the dishes. It’s making such a difference… hoping that I can make it a forever habit.


That’s where I am today. I’m also thankful it’s Friday! Finally.