Monday, April 30, 2012

Whole30 Days 1-2 Recap, Brussels and Beef

Thanks for the positive comments yesterday about my Whole30 journey!  Thanks to those of you who sent me links to great sites and also for the words of encouragement!

If you missed my big announcement about the Whole30, you can click here to view it.

So far, it has actually been… delicious!  It is a little hard to watch TV.  I never really noticed how many commercials there are for sweet treats!  I don’t usually notice them, but I guess since I am having a little sugar withdrawal, they stand out to me!  :/  I know from reading about others’ experiences that this is pretty common.

So… on to the food!

I plan on blogging about some of these meals in greater detail later, but here is a quick glance at some of my meals over the last couple of days:

Sauteed Bok Choy with Diced Chicken

Whole30 Food 002

Homemade Meatballs

Whole30 Food 003

Bean-Less Chili topped with Avocado

And tonight… Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Braised Short Ribs


Yes, it has definitely been delicious!  Tonight I would like to highlight the last meal above: the brussels and short ribs.

Let’s start with the veg.  I am fairly new to Brussels Sprouts.  In fact, I tried them for the first time about a year ago.  (Click here to see.)  They were great, but I always wanted to try them roasted.  This week on a whim, I grabbed a bag at Harris Teeter and thought maybe it was time to try.  I cut off the ends, removed any yellow leaves, and then cut each one in half.  I tossed them in EVOO, and then sprinkled them with salt and pepper.  I popped them in a preheated oven (400 degrees) and roasted them for about 20-25 minutes.  (If you choose to leave them whole, they will take a little longer to cook.)  I turned them over halfway through cooking.



So delicious!  I can’t believe I waited this long to try them!  I’ll definitely make them again soon—I have half the bag left!  Yay!  They were crunchy on the outside with great flavor and crisp-tender on the inside.

I also used this recipe to make the short ribs.  It took a little longer than 2.5 hours in the crock pot—more like 3 hours.  But the prep was really easy and the ingredient list was really simple.  Since the Whole30 means no alcohol, I subbed broth for the wine. 



These were really tasty!  I have never used coffee when cooking beef before, but it really did bring out the flavor of the meat!  The sauce was wonderful! 

Even if you are not eating Paleo, I think you should try BOTH of these dishes out soon!  It’s funny how I felt like things would be so different over these 30 days, and they are, but then again, they aren’t.  I’m not eating anything weird.  It’s veggies and meat!  I would say the one difference was feeling like there should be a carb in there.

Discussion Topic: What veggie did you learn to love as an adult (that you never ate as a kid)?  Post your comments below!

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Public Declaration Time: I’m Doing the Whole30!

I’ve been away a few days.  I missed you and blogging!  I’ve been doing some thinking.  I know… dangerous, right? ;)


But in all seriousness… I’ve been thinking about food.  Yes, I know that is probably not that surprising either, seeing as how this blog has always been food-content-heavy.  That is not going to change.  But for now, the food is.

If you’ve been following for a while, you know I have been on-and-off of Weight Watchers for the better part of… I don’t know?  8 years?  Weight Watchers has really helped me.  In 2009, I lost over 30 pounds and have kept off most of it.  But for the past 2 years, I’ve just been stuck.  I’ll try really hard for a month, then derail, crash, and burn.  Then I start again.  I am sure there are others out there with similar stories.  But lately, I have been thinking about the food changes I have made. 

The really awesome thing about WW for me was being able to still eat the foods that I enjoy, but by keeping better track of it.  If you run out of points, I had to cut back.  But honestly, I still ate pretty much the same way.  I swapped out regular ingredients for light versions most of the time.  I explored some other new foods… but mostly I tried to find ways to keep my diet the same as it had always been.  Instead of candy, I swapped for Fiber One Bars—because they taste like candy bars.  Instead of ordering pizza, I made my own using healthier ingredients.  Some days I ate fast food… and I used my weekly points allowance for that.  That all worked well for a while.  But I HATE tracking my food.  But if I don’t, I eat like a crazy person.  But I also don’t want to be tracking everything I eat for the rest of my life.  I definitely think that I became more aware of what I was eating.  But recently I have realized that I didn’t really make a lot of changes to the WAY I eat or how I think about food.  I’ve eaten way too much packaged/processed food.  I have boxes and jars of food that I couldn’t begin to tell you what some of the ingredients are.  Scary!

So this week, a group of friends and I decided to embark on a Whole30. 


 You can go here to read all about the Whole30 program, by Whole Nine.  Basically, it is similar to a Paleo Diet, with a few twists.  If you’re not familiar with Paleo, you can click here to read all about it.  It’s going to sound complicated and technical, but honestly, it basically means that you eat lots of fruits, veggies, and proteins, and you cut out foods/ingredients that may be holding you back, health-wise.

I didn’t take this decision lightly.  I read every detail about the Whole30 program, and I Googled testimonials from Bloggers out there (like me!) to see what they thought after completing 30 days of this type of clean eating.  And everything I read was overwhelmingly positive.  I couldn’t find anything negative out there!  After all… it is 30 days of just eating real food—healthy food. 

So what’s hard about it?  Of course, there is always something that you have to leave behind if you make a diet change.  For 30 days, I am giving up grains, dairy, sugar, most legumes, and all the preservatives and junk that no one needs.  It will be a challenge, I know.  But I am hoping that at the end of the 30 days, I will be changed in the ways I think about food and the way that I eat.  I am sure that there will be major cravings for some of these foods that I have ALWAYS eaten.  But I am ready for the challenge!


So… I hope that you will come along for the journey!  Maybe you don’t want to actually DO the Whole30… but I would love for you to keep reading as I post my progress and how it is going over these next 30 days. 

You can expect to see easy  and tasty meals and recipes, just like always… but they’ll be much better for you.  Sound good?

Ok… let’s see what happens!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Let’s Talk Condiments: Slawsa

You know, what you put on your hot dog (or hamburger or veggie burger or veggie dog) is very personal.  People have a certain way they like their hot dogs and hamburgers, and very rarely do they waver. 

For me, a hot dog always needed chili, ketchup, and maybe diced onion.  I’m probably the only person in America who doesn’t prefer mustard.  I don’t usually deviate from this hot-dog-building method.  However, a few weeks ago, one of my sorority sisters posted something on Facebook about a product called Slawsa.  I was intrigued.  The first thing I did was go to the website and check it out.


I loved reading the story about how Slawsa started as a family recipe. And the description made me want to taste it.  A cross between slaw and salsa sounded interesting.  I don’t particularly love slaw… but I love salsa, and I love cabbage.  And I love any vegetable pickled.  I really wanted to try it out!  Unfortunately, the grocery stores in my area don’t sell it, BUT I was headed to Greenville, SC and one of the grocery stores there DOES sell it!  So I bought a jar to try.  (And a perfect coincidence—my parents were planning to cook hot dogs and hamburgers the night before Easter!)

First, I tasted the Slawsa on a chip.  It has a little bit of a kick to it, which I really liked.  If you like pickles, you’ll like this.  It’s actually a little bit like relish… but a slightly different texture.  Then I put it on my hot dog—and I loved it!  Everyone in my family tried it out and everyone liked it, which doesn’t always happen. 

Another great thing—you will be able to read the entire ingredient list and know what all the items are. 



So… where can you get Slawsa?  You can click here to see all the retailers who currently carry Slawsa… and they are adding more!  Publix, for example, will carry it starting in June!

So, the question remains… would I be willing to change my hot-dog-eating habits?  Actually… yes!  I would!  I will definitely buy this next time we have a cookout.  Luckily, we have a Publix coming soon to our area!  :)

Great job on the Slawsa, Julie and partners!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Lemonade Cupcakes

It sure does feel weird to be publishing a post at 9 a.m. rather than late at night!  I am home with a sick kiddo today.  You know, I always hate for her to be sick, but there’s something so sweet about a sick child.  They are so cuddly and pitiful. 

Yesterday when I published my pasta salad idea, I told you I had a cupcake recipe to share as well.  Hello, lemonade cupcakes!

lemonade cupcake 1

This was a last-minute dessert idea that I had yesterday when shopping for items for our tailgate/picnic.  On the way to the grocery store, I was thinking about making cupcakes, but I wanted to make a “summery” cupcake.  I knew I had seen lemonade cupcakes on various blogs and probably on Pinterest, too.  But I had never pinned a recipe or bookmarked one.  When I arrived at the store, I quickly Googled “lemonade cupcakes” and I came across this recipe.

It had pretty good reviews AND it was a more of a “sorta-homemade” cupcake, which suited me just fine.  (Sorta Homemade=packaged ingredients with a few items added in.)  Since the picnic was in just a few hours, I wasn’t looking for a very long or complicated recipe. 

This was very simple and easy.  I didn’t make many changes.  The only thing I did differently from the original recipe was add about a teaspoon of the lemonade concentrate to the cream cheese frosting, just to give it a little more lemon flavor. 

I wanted them to look like a glass of lemonade, so I added yellow sugar crystals, yellow straws, and a tiny lemon slice to the top.  :)

lemonade cupcake 2

The cupcakes had good flavor and really did taste like lemonade!  Give these a try if you need to make a dessert for a party or gathering this summer!

I’ve already got another post ready to go for tomorrow about a special condiment that most of you have probably not tried.  I’m going to keep it a secret for now… but if you are a hot dog fan… then you are going to want to try this out! Stay tuned for details!

Readers: What is your favorite food to take to a picnic or tailgate gathering?

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Imitation is a Sincere Form of Flattery

So… I have eaten this salad twice this week:

(Image borrowed from McAlister’s Deli Website)

This is the Italian Chopped Salad from McAlister’s Deli.  In the mix: green olives, salami, provolone, roasted peppers, ham, tomatoes, onion, cucumbers, and mixed greens.  I am telling you, it is absolutely delicious.  Ever since I tried it, I have been thinking about recreating it at home.  It has the best flavors! 

Yesterday we were heading out for a picnic with friends, and I thought this would be the perfect dish to make.  I decided to put a twist on it and turn it into a pasta salad, just to change it up. 

IMG_3325 IMG_3326

pasta salad 2

pasta salad 4

I thought it turned out delicious!  I didn’t use any measurements here—I just chopped until it looked like enough.  That’s the beauty of salads—pasta or green—you can make them to your liking.

In the mix:

  • 2 boxes of macaroni noodles—cooked, drained, and rinsed with cool water
  • turkey pepperoni (I used this instead of salami to save fat grams and calories)—chopped
  • 4-5 slices of honey ham, diced
  • provolone I used about 4-5 slices-- chopped
  • Green olives, stuffed with pimentos (about 1/3-1/2 cup)—chopped
  • 1/2 cucumber—diced
  • roasted red peppers—julienned
  • carrots—about 1/3 cup chopped
  • Ken’s light Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing

Again—you don’t have to use these amounts.  I was preparing for about 10 people, so if you wanted to make this for yourself or your family, you could cut back on these amounts.  I didn’t add a lot of dressing—just enough to keep the pasta from sticking together and to give it a flavor boost.  I might have used 1/4 cup. 

This pasta salad has great flavor and color!  It’s perfect for a picnic or summer light meal!


pasta salad

Luckily, the weather held out for our picnic!  We were worried, because the past two years we have had rain for this event.  But thankfully, it stayed away last night!  The tailgate/picnic is the culminating event for the Come See Me Festival each year.  Unfortunately, we haven’t made it to much Come See Me this year, since we were out of town last weekend. 


We even got to watch a skydiving demo!


The kids all had fun running around and playing together, and we adults enjoyed the time to get together. At the end of the night, we enjoyed a great fireworks show! 






I think there must have been something in the air, because everyone in my house has a sore throat and Sadie and I are congested.  Must be spring allergies.  But now we’re getting some rain, so I bet that will help. 

Events like this make me look forward to summer.  It’s coming soon!!!  Speaking of summer (and imitation) I also made some lemonade cupcakes, which I will share soon!  Hopefully tomorrow!

Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Weekend in Lake Lure

It’s Tuesday!  I hope your week is off to a great start! 

We were away for the weekend, so I haven’t posted in a few days.  I can’t wait to tell you about our trip to Lake Lure!  Some friends of ours won a weekend away and invited us along.  I had never been to Lake Lure, which is strange, because it’s not very far from Charlotte. 

We made a little dinner stop on the way…


I’ve always heard great things about Bridges Barbecue in Shelby, but I have never been.  Since we were passing right by, it was the perfect opportunity!  We had to pose by the sign… after all, we ARE Bridges… Interestingly, my husband’s dad grew up not far away from there.  But as far as we know, we’re not related.  :)


The inside was really cool—modern  and retro at the same time.

I went for the BBQ Plate.  I wanted to try the chopped BBQ and the slaw, which is vinegar-based, not mayo-based.  (I am not a fan of mayo-based slaw.)


Plus, we had to try the onion rings and the hushpuppies because they are highly recommended!



Oh yum.


I did like the slaw.  It is crunchy and tangy—and doesn’t have the same flavor as “traditional” slaw.  This was much better.

Soon we arrived at our weekend home and it was so nice!  Very roomy and clean.  A perfect place to relax for the weekend!




On Saturday, we spent some time in Chimney Rock…

 photo (1)

photo (4)

photo (2)

photo (3)

and then we had lunch at a restaurant overlooking Lake Lure.  What a view! 

photo (5)

We enjoyed many great weekend eats, and I think I am going to be able to share this delicious Monkey Bread recipe with you soon that a friend of mine made.  It was soooooo good! 


I also made two batches of Mimi's Christmas Breakfast for us to enjoy.


It was a wonderful relaxing weekend with friends and my only wish was that it would have been longer!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Road Trippin (Again)


Excuse this short little hiatus… we’re road-tripping again.  Details coming soon!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Ten Steps to a Happy Easter Weekend

1.  Start with a trip downtown to listen to talk, listen to live music,  and slide on a giant slide.

Myrna and Me

Sadie Laughing 2 



2.  Take a trip to the park and be silly.




3.  Try to do a back flip out of a swing.

david david 2 david 3

4.  Make cake pops and a bunny cake.



5.  Dye eggs.



6.  Play a game of basketball.



7.  Enjoy nature.

 IMG_3171 IMG_3172


8.  Eat a delicious meal with your family.


9.  Go on an egg hunt in the yard.




10.  Don’t forget the special meaning behind today.  :)

(Photo Source: