Sunday, May 27, 2012

Zumba Road Trip

About a week ago, I promised you a look at a full day of Whole30 Eats.  And I have to apologize, because I haven’t delivered yet!  :(  I promise, it is coming.  Last week just got a little crazy for me.  I had several days where I woke up at 5:10 a.m. and didn’t get home until after 9 p.m. and blogging just didn’t happen.

And then… I took a little road trip over the weekend!  I didn’t even take a computer because I knew we’d be pretty busy.  Where did I go?

Richmond Trip 001

Richmond, Virginia!

I hit the road on Friday afternoon with three other fellow Zumba instructors.  I know what you are thinking… a road trip just for a Zumba class?  But this wasn’t just ANY Zumba class… it was a class with Tanya Beardsley and Gina Grant.  If you are not into Zumba, those names may not mean much to you.  But in the Zumba world, they are really famous.  Let me see if I can explain this through an analogy.

Paula Deen:Southern Cuisine::Tanya Beardsley:Zumba Instructors

Gina Grant:Zumba::Jane Fonda:80s Exercise

Does that help at all?

When I first received my Zumba Instructor License, one of the first DVDs I got was of Tanya Beardsley.  I loved her style and her way of teaching right away.  So I jumped at the pooprtunity to see her and dance with her LIVE!

Richmond Trip 004

The class was so much fun and full of great energy.  It was 90 minutes long, but it went by really quickly.  Gina and Tanya were such a great pair.  It’s really amazing to attend a Zumba class with over 300 people (maybe over 400!?) but not feel lost in the crowd.  I think that is a sign of a really fantastic instructor!

Richmond Trip 009

Richmond Trip 011

Afterwards, we were so excited to meet Gina and Tanya and have our picture taken with them. 

Richmond Trip 017

The rest of the road trip was filled with laughs, good food, and storytelling. 

Richmond Trip 018

Richmond Trip 019  

What a great dance-cation!

Whole30 Quick Update: As I type this, I am ending day 29!  I am so excited!  It was definitely a challenge to go on a road trip and stick to the Whole30 plan.  I made the best choices I could for two days and really didn’t stray too far off the path.  Success!  I’m planning to do a post on my experiences eating out on Whole30 after I do my daily eats post.  Stay tuned!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Spice It Up

Well, I have good news for you!  Monday is over!  :)  Actually, I had a really good day.  Great day at school, taught a Zumba class, and made some yummy chili!

Whole30 Update:

23 days down… 7 to go!  Still feeling, sleeping, and eating great!  I’ve been telling people lately that while I thought this would be the hardest thing I have ever done, it’s actually been much easier that I would have imagined.  I have also been thinking about what I will do once this is over.  What changes will I make?  What will I continue to do?  I think the one thing I am missing is dairy.  Not all dairy—but some specific items like Greek yogurt.  I think I may add some yogurt back in to see how I react to that.  I also have a deep love for frozen yogurt, and I may have to indulge from time to time now that we have a fro-yo place in our town.  I think for now I am going to stay away from the grains and also keep limiting/staying away from sugar.  I am still having some sugar cravings from time to time, so I want to see if those subside over a little more time. 

On to the food!

It seems like I have been on a spicy kick! 

Yesterday, I had a delicious taco salad!




In the mix:

  • romaine lettuce
  • grass-fed beef browned with basil, garlic, oregano, parsley, cumin, red pepper, salt, and pepper
  • roma tomatoes
  • sauteed onions
  • avocado

(I wish I’d had salsa in the fridge—it would have made it extra tasty.  But it was still delish!


Tonight: Paleo Turkey Chili




  • 1 Tbsp. EVOO
  • 1 lb. organic ground turkey
  • 1 chopped yellow onion
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • spices: cumin, red pepper, basil, oregano, salt, pepper
  • 28 oz. can of diced tomatoes


Heat EVOO over medium-high heat.  Brown turkey and onions together until cooked through.  Add garlic and cook about 2 minutes, or until fragrant.  Add spices and cook 30 seconds-1 minute.  Add tomatoes and bring to a boil.  Reduce to low and simmer, covered, for 15-20 minutes.


(By the way, I know chili is typically a cold-weather food, but I eat it year-round!)


Coming Up: Lately, I have had a lot of people ask me, “You can’t have grains.  You can’t have dairy.  You can’t have sugar.  What CAN you eat?!”  So I think I am going to do a “What Does a Day of Whole30 Eating Look Like?”  I’ll be documenting all of my eats tomorrow and sharing it all with you. 

Have a great week!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

So, Does “Clean Eating” Cost More?

So… this turned out to be a long post.  There are several sections here.  Feel free to read it all or scroll down to what interests you:

1.  Whole30 Update

2.  Discussion on Clean Eating and Cost

3.  A Meal Idea

Ahhhh… Saturday.  It’s a rare kind of Saturday here at the Confessions house.  First of all… we really don’t have anywhere specific to be today!  (Well, the hubby has a quick work activity that he has to do this morning… but I don’t have anywhere specific to be!)  It feels great to be IN TOWN and to have a Saturday morning to enjoy my coffee and breakfast while blogging!

Whole30 Update:


It is hard to believe that I am on Day 21!  Only 9 days to go until my Whole30 is technically over.  I imagined that this would be the hardest thing I have ever done, as far as eating goes, but it has actually been so much easier than I thought!  One cool thing that has happened is something in my 2 crisper drawers.  (Side note: way back when, I used to keep BEER in the crisper!  Ha!)  Anyway, each week, when I make my regular grocery runs, I always buy lots of veggies with the intentions of eating all of them all week.  However, I always would end up throwing out so much each week because I would forget about it or decide not to eat it.  What a waste!  But since starting the Whole30, I have been cleaning out the veggie drawers every week!

I have now been off of my joint supplement for 3 weeks and my knees feel great!  I have drastically cut back on the Motrin!  I am also sleeping better than I can remember in years.  Seriously, my head hits the pillow and I am DEEP sleeping until the alarm or a 4-year old climbs over me in the morning.  (This  morning, it was the latter.)  I used to wake up throughout the night and many mornings I would not feel rested.  But I feel rested every single morning!

I am not having any severe cravings anymore.  Occasionally, I will crave something for a minute if I see it on TV or if it is in my face.  Like last night, I made mac n cheese for my husband and kiddo when I made dinner, and as I was stirring it, I kind of wanted to put a spoonful in my mouth.  But I resisted.  And as soon as it was out of my sight, it was forgotten.

I’d like to change the focus now to a topic that I wondered about before starting Whole30:

Does Clean Eating Cost More?

(gratuitous Sadie picture)

I think the answer is yes and no.  There are several factors that come into play, like whether you are buying organic foods and meats, where you are shopping, and how you are shopping.

Organic: Sometimes organic food costs a good bit more than the regular counterparts.  However, I am going to show you a meal idea that was VERY affordable for me, and almost the whole meal was completely organic.  You can use this list to help you decide what you really need to purchase organically.

Where you are shopping: This week I did most of our shopping at Earth Fare, which I don’t normally do.  Now, keep in mind that we had some meats in the fridge, so I didn’t have to buy as much protein.  But I was able to get a cart full of groceries, plus 3 proteins (chicken thighs, ground chicken, and grass-fed beef) for about $50.  My cart included lots of veggies, almond butter, and some water and Kombucha.  I consider a $50 grocery trip pretty great!  I also love going to Trader Joe’s.  They offer a lot of organic items for way less than a traditional grocery store would.  Most of my shopping is done at Harris Teeter, which I would say is a more high-end grocery store featuring really great deals.  I also like hitting our local farmer’s market when I can.  I can get a whole grocery cart of locally-grown produce for less than $20.  (I have joined a CSA for June and July, so I am really looking forward to getting my produce that way very soon!)

Earth Fare Find:  This week I discovered “tubes” of organic ground chicken and pork in the freezer section at Earth Fare for about $5 each!  I never knew these were there, but I love using ground chicken (especially organic) for breakfast or for chilis and soups!

How you shop: When I say “how you shop,” I mean whether or not you gravitate towards the deals.  I tend to form my meals around what is on sale or special.  That is how I put together the meal you’ll see below.  When frozen veggies are on sale, I stock up.  Even though these aren’t usually organic, they’re usually free of preservatives.

A Note About Coupons: Unfortunately, if you are a “coupon-er,” it is going to be difficult to eat this way.  There just aren’t a lot of coupons for meats and produce.  Sad, but true.  As a former coupon-er, it is sometimes hard for me to pass up a great deal.  But I have had to remind myself—just because it’s cheap doesn’t mean I have to eat it.  Many of the items that regularly feature coupons are, unfortunately, full of preservatives and chemicals.  It’s sad but true.  Read your labels.  It was eye-opening to me, too.  Want a shocker?  Read the ingredients on your coffee creamer.  Or your mayo.

I was lucky this week and a friend at work who raises chickens brought me 2 dozen farm-fresh eggs for $1 a dozen.  That’s cheaper than any grocery store and way fresher!  Win!

So, how about a meal idea?



Chicken and Bok Choy Skillet Meal

This meal comes together quickly!  The key is to chop your ingredients while the chicken is browning.  I also think some coconut aminos would be a good addition to this dish, but I was out.   Total cooking time is only about 10-15 minutes, and that includes prep time! I paired mine with sauteed mushrooms on the side.



-one pound of organic ground chicken (found in the freezer section at Earth Fare for $5)

-one whole head of organic Bok Choy, chopped (about $3)

-one quare of frozen ginger (maybe $0.10-0.20?)

-organic green onions (clipped from my kitchen windowsill—free!)

-about 15 organic baby carrots (maybe about $0.50?)

-one to two TBSP of EVOO  (probably about $0.20 or less)


Brown the chicken in a saute pan in EVOO.  When chicken is fully cooked, add bok choy, ginger, onions, and carrots.  Cook on medium heat until Bok Choy is wilted and carrots are tender.  Serve hot.  (Serves about 3 people—2 if you want seconds.  He he.)

Total cost for the meal: $9.00 

I ate half for dinner on Thursday and took the rest for lunch on Thursday.  Now, in my opinion, that is pretty affordable—especially for an organic meal!

Question for YOU: Do you think “clean eating” costs more?  What tips do you have on how to save money on groceries on either a Paleo or “Clean” diet?

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Mini Vacation and Fancy Tuna

Hello, everyone!  I have missed talking to all of you!  I’ve been away for over a week, which is a long time!  Last week, the family and I packed up our things and headed out for a mini-vacation…


(Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge, Charleston, SC)

…to the beach!

We had a wonderful weekend.  One of the highlights was walking the “big bridge.”  My sisters and I walked/ran 4 miles on Friday morning.  The weather was amazing!


Did I mention that my sweet little girl walked TWO MILES?  She’s a little rock star.


Afterwards, we hit the sand.  Some of us made “sand angels.”  Some of us just relaxed on the beach.  It made me excited for summer vacation!




I took my computer with every intention of blogging from the beach house at night, but I actually NEVER took the computer out of the bag!  That is unheard of, for me.  I wasn’t totally unplugged… I did have my iphone, and if you follow me on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, then you probably got a few peeks at our weekend!  (If you want to follow me, there are links on the right side of the page to find me on all 3 social networks!)

So anyway… no blogging all weekend.

This weekend was a big challenge for me, since I am following the Whole30 plan, and I am the only one in my family.  I knew there would be a lot of NON-Whole30 foods around, and I also anticipated that it would be a challenge to turn down some of those things.  (i.e. potato chips!)  However, I am proud to say that I MADE IT!  This is a first for me.  Normally, vacations have been a time for an eating free-for-all!  It feels good to know that, even though it is hard and takes willpower, I can do it!  :)  I am on Day 17 and I am feeling great


(Mocktail: Low sodium V8, hot sauce, pepper, celery, and green olives.)

I wanted to share some of my latest eats that have been especially delicious!

1.  Fancy Tuna: We’ve all had tuna salad before, but I’ve never had tuna salad like this before.  I made my own mayo to use in this tuna salad, which was a new adventure for me.  Then I combined tuna, homemade mayo, mustard, diced apple, green onion, chopped almonds, and diced celery.  Delicious!  I never would have thought that tuna and apple would taste good together, but they DO!  If you want to see how to make this yourself, check out this post for directions from Melissa Joulwan.  She is one of my newest favorite bloggers.  Into the Google Reader list she goes! 



(Also pictured: sauteed green beans!  Also delicious and VERY easy!  I’ll share tomorrow.  Only 2 ingredients and you can even use frozen beans!)

By the way—if you want to make your own mayo—see this post for directions!

2.  Sweet Potato, Sausage, and Apple Hash: combine diced sweet potato, sweet onion, bell pepper, sausage, and apple.  I sauteed this in coconut oil until the sweet potato was cooked through.  YUM!  Very filling, and the flavors blended very well.  I am not crazy about sweet potatoes, but I thought I would try this out anyway, and I am so glad I did! 



Tomorrow I am making pan-fried chicken.  Can. Not. Wait!  Come back and see me and see how delicious it turns out!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Weekend Cooking Wrap-Up

Well, it’s Sunday night.  This is about the time that I would be getting the “Sunday Blues” because the weekend is over.  However, I am not feeling that way tonight.  (Yes, I do have to go to work tomorrow!)  But I think it was just a productive day, so I feel ready to head back to work.  It is Teacher Appreciation Week at my school this week, so that usually makes it a fun week. 

Well, I am officially over 1 week into my Whole30.  I am about to complete day 8, so I am almost a third of the way into it!  You know from my previous recaps that I have had a serious decrease in joint pain.  For those who are new, I have had bad knees ever since high school (cheerleading).  The pain definitely is worse if I am working out often, especially if I am doing a lot of squats and lunges—which I do A LOT now that I am a Zumba Instructor.  For over a year I have been taking a vitamin supplement specifically for joint pain.  However, I stopped it as soon as I started the Whole30 because I wanted to see what my body would truly feel like.  And I feel great!  (Did I mention that I did over 100 athletic squats yesterday as a part of a fitness assessment?) 

Another observation… Normally when I would eat a meal, I would eat until the point where I was stuffed.  It was like I would go from starving to stuffed with no in-between point where I felt just satisfied.  But doing the Whole30, I feel different.  It’s like my body is just naturally saying, “That’s good.  We’ve had enough.”  I don’t feel sluggish and sleepy after meals, either.  I think it must be a difference in what I am putting into my body.  I guess if you put crap in… you get crap out, right?! (Not that I was eating crap all the time.  I thought I was eating healthy.  But maybe I wasn’t.)

Ok, now on to the weekend meals. 

Lately, I know you aren’t seeing a lot of recipes that I have originally created, but that’s because I am just exploring some of the great Paleo blogs out there.  So I hope that as I link to some of these great recipes that I have found, you can try them out too!  So make sure that you click on any links that you see!

Yesterday, I made mashed cauliflower. 




I’ve been wanting to do this for years, but I had two problems: 1.  I didn’t have a steamer basket, and 2. I was scared.  Despite the husband’s skepticism, I decided to try it last night.  I pan-seared some pork shops and used this recipe from Nom Nom Paleo.  I skipped the butter and used just a dash of vegetable broth instead.  It really was surprisingly easy!  My main question was, “Will this really taste like cauliflower?”  Because I like it OK… but I am not wild about it.  Well, I was shocked.  They really were delicious.  Sadie ate LOTS and had no clue that she wasn’t eating mashed potatoes!  Seriously.  No idea.  So if you have been on the fence, try this method.  The garlic and the smooth puree is what makes all the difference, I think! 

Today’s lunch: Sauteed Baby Bok Choy with Chicken



(I cooked a lot of chicken today to eat throughout the week.  I reserved a 4 oz. breast, chopped it up, and threw it into the hot saute pan just before serving.  I did not use raw chicken.)  I washed and sliced the baby bok choy.  I sauteed it with EVOO, salt, pepper, about 1/2 tsp of fresh ginger, and some chopped green onions.  At the last second, I added the chicken just to warm it up and incorporate the flavors.  This is so quick and delicious.  It makes a great lunch or dinner!

And finally, tonight… we had Zpaghetti and Meatballs! 


Thanks to a tip from my friend Jenn, I got this cool little gadget at Target yesterday:


a julienne peeler!  I followed these directions from Nom Nom Paleo.  I did one extra step—after cutting the zoodles, I laid them out flat on paper towels and salted them, then laid paper towels on top, to try an bring out the water—just so they wouldn’t be soggy.  I rolled out meatballs and made some sauce to go with them, and boom!  Meatballs and zoodles! 


Click here to see my meatballs and sauce post.

I know you’re wondering what zucchini noodles must taste like.  Actually, they were a lot like regular noodles.  You can twirl them on a fork, slurp them like regular noodles… they’re just a little more crunchy.  I think that salting them in the preparation process really helped add flavor.  Zucchini by itself can be a little bland, in my opinion.

Don’t you like the pretty red and green together?

So… there’s a weekend wrap-up of Whole30 eating!  Hope you are enjoying the Whole30 food and recaps!

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Meatza for Breakfast? Why not?

Hello, Saturday!  And hello Cinco de Mayo!  Are you headed out to a fiesta somewhere today?  We’re really not… just a few errands to run and things to take care of around the casa. 

Here are a couple of random observations.

1.  I realized this morning that about 90% of the time I am in the bathroom, a little someone follows me in there.  “Mommy, what are you doing?”  Ha! 

2.  Some of those kids’ shows really do increase your child’s vocabulary.  In the past few days, I have heard the following sentences:

  • “Mom, the red-headed woodpecker is endangered. Do you know what endangered means?  It means they are in trouble.”
  • “My friend Brooklyn has a caterpillar.  Soon it might make a chrysalis.”
  • “I wish I had skates that could go allegro.”

Thank you Fresh Beat Band, Dora, and Diego.  I guess our Saturday morning routine is relaxing AND educational.

3.  I am eating the most random breakfast ever.


Let’s do a quick Whole30 update and then we’ll get to that random breakfast. 

I am on Day 7 today, which means I have made it through a whole week!  Yeah!  It is going great!  I think I have got my energy back now that I have figured out what to eat when.  It’s funny learning to eat all over again.  :)  No headache yesterday and again—little-to-no knee pain!  That’s my favorite part!  I wanted something different yesterday, exercise-wise.  I was thinking about swimming.  I really miss swimming. I decided to do water aerobics instead.  It was great!  I think people have the wrong impression of water aerobics.  If you have the right teacher who really makes the workout tough, it can be a great workout.  It’s NOT just for little old ladies. 

Ok, so on to that breakfast.  Actually it was dinner last night after water aerobics and the leftovers were saved until today.  It’s called a “Meatza.”  Following Whole30 or a Paleo diet, I do not eat any grains.  So traditional pizza is out.   I happened to come across this recipe when blog-browsing over the past couple days, and I thought I would give it a shot.

I made very few changes.  I left out the green pepper and onion strips because my salsa was fresh and included both. 



It was actually really good!  It didn’t remind me at all of pizza except that I cut it in wedges, but the beef, avocado, and salsa tasted really good together!  It was really simple to make, too.  Only five minutes of prep, 20 minutes in the oven, and them topping it took no time at all.  I steamed some broccoli on the side to go with it. 

Click here to see the original recipe on the blog “The Clothes Make the Girl.”

And now I am having the leftovers for breakfast!  With carrots this time.  Yes, random.  But that’s ok.  :)

Question for YOU: do you eat random foods for breakfast or do you have to stick to the “traditional” breakfast foods?

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Whole 30 Eating & Days 3-5 Recap

Happy Thursday!!!  Guess what?  Tomorrow is Friday!  Yesssss!  I hope all of you have had a great week!

So, let’s start with a Whole 30 Recap of the past few days:

I have to be honest.  For a few days there, I had zero energy.  Tuesday and Wednesday were ROUGH for me.  I had read on the Whole30 forums that I might feel this way, so I was kind of expecting it.  I would feel great until about lunch, and then around 3:00,  CRASH.  After chatting with some of my friends who are also following the plan, I found that I might not be eating enough.  When you swap out lots of wheat products (which is what I was eating) like toast, whole wheat waffles, pasta, etc., and replace them with vegetables… well you can imagine there is a bit of a calorie difference.  Today, I knew I would be teaching Zumba, so at lunch, I added extra calories and almonds and it made a HUGE difference.  I feel soooo much better and I had plenty of energy to teach!  Woo-hoo!  And, I have even better news.  After waking up for 3 years or so with terrible knee pain, I have had little to no knee pain for the past two days.  This is HUGE news.  I think this may be from cutting out wheat.  As I said before, I ate a LOT of wheat.  However, I have been reading a lot of information about wheat and how it really causes a lot of inflammation.  If I am able to cut out my Joint supplement after changing my eating habits, well—that would be nothing short of amazing. 

So now that I have reported the good news about how I am feeling, let’s talk food!

Whole30 Food 003

I thought I would share this meatball recipe with you.  This was the first time in years that I have made my own meatballs.  And it was the first time I didn’t use a “filler” like breadcrumbs.  I thought these turned out pretty darn tasty, if I do say so myself.  And who doesn’t  love a meatball—am I right?  I thought it would feel weird to eat them without a big bed of noodles, but actually I did not miss it!

photo (6)


  • 1 lb. ground beef (I used 96%lean beef)
  • garlic powder, dried oregano, salt, pepper
  • 1 large egg
  • coconut oil or EVOO
  • 2 14-oz. cans of diced tomatoes
  • more garlic powder, oregano, salt, and pepper


Combine beef, spices—as much as you would like—and the egg.  Mix well in a bowl.  The best way to do this is with your hands.  Just dig right in and don’t think about how messy it is.  :)  Roll out meatballs—whatever size you like.  Heat oil in a large skillet with a lid.  (But keep the lid off for now.)  When the pan is hot, add the meatballs.  Cook for 3-4 minutes, or until brown on the bottom.  Turn the meatballs and brown the other sides.  Remove from pan.  Set aside.  Pour in the tomatoes and scrape up the brown bits from the pan.  Add any spices you like to the tomatoes.  Once the tomatoes are hot, add the meatballs back in.  Bring the sauce to a boil, and then simmer on low for about 15-20 minutes, or until meatballs are cooked through. 

I’ve had fun experimenting with new meal ideas over the past few days, including chicken-salsa-avocado lettuce wraps


and a new tuna salad recipe that I made tonight with homemade mayo! 


That’s right, kids.  I made my own mayo tonight!  I’ll have to tell you about that sometime soon!

Alright, time to settle in and watch “The Office.”  Tomorrow’s Friday!