Clean Eating, Whole 30

The Perfect Roasted Veggies

One of my saving graces during a Whole 30 is having lots of roasted veggies on hand. They are the perfect thing to throw together with chicken sausage or left over ground beef in a pinch for a filling, healthy meal.

I typically roast a variety of veggies on Sunday and then eat them through the week.

My favorites to have on hand are sweet potatoes, broccoli, brussel sprouts and peppers.

Here are my tips for making the BEST roasted veggies:

1- Roast veggies in a hot oven (I always roast at 400 and sometimes up to 425!)

2- Drizzle a little olive oil or avocado oil, salt and pepper before roasting.

3- Roast on a flat pan (not one with sides as they will hold in heat and create a steaming effect – which produces mushy veggies – yuck!)

4- Roast on parchment paper, not aluminum foil for best results. Parchment paper better absorbs the moisture in the veggies allowing them to get crispier.

5- Space out the veggies on the pan. Overcrowding does not allow for even cooking.

6- For an extra crispy effect, turn the oven to broil for the last few minutes of cooking. You have to watch closely though as they will burn quickly!

7- When storing, be sure veggies are completely cooled before closing in a container and be sure to store like veggies together. For example, you wouldn’t want to mix roasted tomatoes with sweet potatoes as tomatoes are very watery and would change the flavor of your sweet potatoes.

Happy Roasting!

Clean Eating, Mom Life, Whole 30

Earth Fare: Your Whole 30 One-Stop Shop!

Earth Fare is truly a one-stop shop for all your Whole 30 needs! I could seriously spend a day there – the produce is super fresh, the seafoods and meats are beautiful and the selection of Whole 30 compliant and endorsed products is incredible!

Here are my favorite Whole 30 Earth Fare finds:

Produce: Fresh fruits and vegetables galore plus a good pre-cut selection for easy meal prep.

Raw Nuts/Seeds and Nut Butters: One of my go-tos for plated fats on W30! You can pick up a variety of raw and compliant roasted nuts and seeds in bulk! Earth Fare also carries multiple compliant almond and cashew butters!

Dressings, Oils + Marninades: Earth Fare carries the best selection of Tessemae’s dressings and condiments I’ve seen! Creamy Ranch and the organic ketchup are my absolute faves! You’ll find them in the refrigerated section in the produce department.

You can also pick up Primal Kitchen dressings and mayos.

The New Primal – a new to me brand – Earth Fare carries the full line of marinades and BBQ sauces that I can’t wait to try!

I found an extensive selection of compliant oils and cooking fats – light-tasting olive oil (perfect for making homemade mayo), ghee, coconut oil and avocado oil.

Coconut Aminos are a Whole 30 must and Earth Fare carries my favorite brand! It’s a must for Whole 30 Egg Roll in a Bowl!

Meats/Seafoods- Hands down the best selection I’ve seen in a grocery store. Plus they carry plenty of W30 endorsed bacons and sausages!

Coffee Creamers- For all my “coffee with cream friends” – Pick up your compliant creamers at Earth Fare! They carry NutPods and Califia Farms unsweetened almond/coconut creamer. Score!

Frozen Veggies- Riced frozen veggies are a must! I use them in casseroles, egg bakes or as a quick side.

For all your egg needs – organic, cafe-free and hard-boiled!

Some compliant fermented favorites: pickles and sauerkraut!

Compliant Salsas + Sauces – I was impressed to find that several Earth Earth brand salsas and sauces are compliant.

A few other Whole 30 must haves:

Kettle and Fire Bone Broth is always in my pantry. Drink it alone for an immune boost or add it to soups and other dishes.

Seaweed snacks are a great crunch addition for salads. I also use them when I make Whole 30 Poke Bowls.

Nutritional Yeast adds a cheesy flavor and texture to your dishes plus loads of nutrients.

Canned tomatoes are a Whole 30 Pantry staple. Use them in chili and soups but be sure to always read labels. MANY canned tomatoes have added sugar – but not this one!

I came home with a 3 bags full of Whole 30 compliant food to prep for my January Whole 30. If you are W30ing and have a local Earth Fare, go now! Save time and get quality, Whole 30 foods in one stop!

Clean Eating, Recipe, Whole 30

Whole 30 One Pot Spaghetti Squash and Meatballs

December has been such a whirlwind: Holiday parties, school performances and activities, Christmas shopping (and wrapping OMG), one kid’s birthday party and a 24-hour stomach bug that swept through our house. To say it’s taken a toll on my nutrition and meal prepping would be an understatement. I’m getting back in the game NOW as I prepare for my January Whole 30!

And because I am all about the busy mamas out there, I wanted to share this recipe for Whole 30 Slower Cooker Spaghetti Squash and Meatballs because it only uses ONE POT! Yep, that’s right. One pot, super healthy and only 5 main ingredients.

Here are the deets:

You’ll need:

-1 medium sized spaghetti squash

-2 pounds of ground meat (I used grass-fed ground beef but I really love to mix beef and Italian sausage together when I have it on hand. Ground turkey is also a great option!)

-1 jar of W30 Compliant Marinara Sauce (Rao’s is my absolute fave!)

-1 20-ounce can fire-roasted tomatoes

-2 eggs

-1 tsp sea salt

-2 tsp onion powder

-2 tsp garlic powder

-2 tbsp Italian seasoning (make your own or carefully read labels to avoid sugar and other additives)

Method:

1. In a large bowl, combine meat with eggs and spices. Using your hands, mix well until all ingredients are fully incorporated and ready to roll into balls.

2. Roll into bite-sized meatballs (I put my kids to work in the kitchen as often as possible!) and place in slow cooker (the meatballs, not the kids 😊).

3. Pour marinara sauce and canned tomatoes over the meatballs and stir.

4. Cut spaghetti squash in half through the center and scoop out seeds.

5. Place spaghetti squash halves face down on top of meatballs.

6. Cover and cook on low for 5-6 hours.

7. Remove spaghetti squash carefully, scoop out insides, then top with meatballs and sauce. Garnish with herbs of your choice!

Notes:

-If you have picky little eaters like I do, you can quickly make some pasta and top with the meatballs and sauce from the crockpot. I do this and everyone in my family is happy!

-This is a great meal prep recipe as it makes a lot! You can use the meatballs in other meals too — I love them with roasted veggies and a salad.

breakfast, Clean Eating, Whole 30

Whole 30 Egg Bake

This is so good it’s worthy of a holiday breakfast, yet so easy it’s also a great weekly meal prep option! The veggies can be switched out for anything your ❤️ desires!

You’ll need:

-1 pound compliant breakfast sausage (or 1 pack of @aidells sausage, chopped into bite sized pieces)

-2 1/2 cups butternut squash, diced (sweet potatoes or white potatoes can also be used here!)

-1 yellow onion, chopped

-1 red bell pepper, chopped

-2-3 cups fresh kale, removed from stems and chopped

-10 eggs

-1/4 cup canned full-fat coconut milk (use solid part only)

-Seasoning of your choice (Today I used Traders Joe’s Everything Bagel… but garlic powder, salt and pepper are 👌🏻)

Method:

•preheat oven to 400

•line a baking sheet with parchment paper

•place squash and pepper on baking sheet. Lightly coat with olive oil, season with S+P and put in the oven for about 10 minutes.

•while veggies roast, cook sausage in a pan

•once sausage is cooked, add onion to the pan and cook until tender

•add kale to sausage/onion pan and allow to cook for a few minutes

•crack eggs and whisk in a bowl with the your seasoning and the solid parts of the coconut milk (do not use watery part)

•remove squash and peppers from oven.

•layer into a well coated 9×13 pan (I use coconut oil) in the following order: sausage/kale/onion ➡️squash/peppers ➡️egg/coconut milk

•bake approximately 20 minutes in 400 degree oven or until edges start to brown and eggs are cooked through.

I’m serving this one on Christmas morning, but I like to slice into pieces and reheat for on-the-go breakfasts when I meal prep for the week!

Note: Frozen veggies will not work well in this recipe as they will produce too much water.

Clean Eating, Whole 30

Food Freedom Holiday Tips

There’s no way around it – December – especially the week of Christmas and New Years – is a tough time to be practicing Food Freedom.

Cookie platters seem to be appearing out of thin air and it suddenly seems like a good idea to crack open a bottle of wine on a Wednesday night. Many of us (me included!) give ourselves “permission” to indulge now because we know we’ll pull it together with a January Whole 30.

It is certainly ok to enjoy the holidays but a food-free-for-all is another story! Try these Food Freedom strategies from Whole 30 to decide which foods are “worth it” and which foods don’t really matter after all.

FOOD FREEDOM HOLIDAY TIPS

1.    Breakfast of Champions – Regardless of the holiday festivities in your day, make sure you kick it off with a good-sized healthy breakfast. Load up on protein, vegetables, and healthy fat so you are starting the day satisfied and full of nutrient-rich food.  With a solid foundation in the morning, you’ll set yourself up to make better choices for the rest of the day. The Whole 30 food will also help keep your sugar dragon at bay when faced with goodies at a holiday event.

2.    Routine Matters – Your holiday schedule may be crazy and filled with lots of parties, dinners, and social engagements. Despite the chaos, do the best you can to stick with your regular routine. Have your coffee and quiet time in the morning before the day begins. Get your workout in as you usually do – and maybe even take a friend or family member with you! If you stick with the things you know your body needs and craves, you will be more likely to be grounded and present during holiday events – and in turn, better able to decide if certain foods are worth it. If you are out of sorts with your routine, you can expect your eating to be out of sorts as well!

3.    Have your “worth it” questions handy (from Food Freedom.) There are several questions you can ask yourself before you decide to consume “a potentially less-healthy food or beverage.” Among them are: “Is it worth it?” “How will consuming this impact me physically, mentally, and emotionally?” “Do I really want it?” “Do I need to consume anything here to enjoy the experience?” You can use any of these questions – or some of your own – to help you decide if something is truly worth it. Keep these questions handy on your phone, on a notecard, or on your fridge. Make it a habit to run through them when you are faced with something you know has the potential to “mess you up.” As Melissa says in Food Freedom Forever, “it’s important to honor your truth in that moment by asking yourself if you even want it in the first place, and declining if you realize you just don’t. Nothing derails food freedom faster than eating something you knew you didn’t really want, leaving you feeling out of control and disappointed in yourself.”

4.    Be honest with yourself and others – If you shove leftover candy in your face at midnight when no one is watching, then it doesn’t count, right? Many of us are familiar with holiday (or non-holiday) secret binges. It’s a terrible feeling to sneak food, obsess over it, and then feel guilty after it’s eaten. Be honest with yourself – and with others. If there are foods that are making you feel uncomfortable in your Food Freedom, acknowledge that. You can move them elsewhere or maybe ask relatives to not to bring them. Know yourself – and understand where you are in your Food Freedom journey.

5.    Give yourself permission to decide in the moment – It may be tempting to try to map out your holiday events in advance and try to plan when you will indulge, and when you won’t. Don’t do that! Go into each event with an open mind, and permission to flex your Food Freedom if you think it’s worth it. By doing this, you are not setting yourself up for binges or cheat days, or feelings of deprivation or sadness. And things change day by day: At one party you may decide a glass of wine is worth it but at another gathering, you may be happy sticking with seltzer. Or at a holiday brunch you may decide that you want to stick with eggs and veggies but at work party, it’s worth it to go for a piece of cake. Rely on the tools you learned in Food Freedom Forever to give yourself the space to make these decisions as you as faced with them.

6.    Play the tape through all the way to the end – As you are deciding if something is worth it, fast forward in your head and think about the very end of the situation. Will it truly be worth it in the end? How will the wine/cake/cookies/ chocolate/etc. make you feel in an hour? In two hours? The next day? Will you feel physically sick or emotionally tied to sugar? Will you be able to hit that workout you have planned in the morning? Will you feel your best when you see friends and family tomorrow? Will it all be worth it then? By playing the tape all the way through, you allow yourself the opportunity to think about the final outcome of the eating experience – and then you truly decide if it will be worth it. This is a brilliant strategy and one that I am planning to use throughout the holidays and beyond!

7.    Make your plate last if needed – This is great tip from Whole 30 about going through buffet lines or making a plate during a family-style meal. Let everyone else take first and use the time to run through your “worth it” questions. If you are the last one to take, you won’t feel rushed or stress out about having lots of other eyes on your plate. You can take your time, take deep breaths, and choose wisely. And if you want to go back for more – or something else – make sure it’s really worth it (using many of these strategies listed) and be mindful about what you put on your plate. Go slow (it’s not a race!) and truly enjoy what you are eating and drinking.

8.    Show yourself grace – We are all so much kinder to others than we are to ourselves. If you eat something and it turned out to NOT be worth it, don’t beat yourself up. Take it as a learning experience, vow to do something different next time, and move on. Don’t let your days be filled with guilt or shame. Reframe and grow from it. And don’t wait until the next Monday or month or even numbered day to make a change – Start with your next bite.

9.    Savor the moments and the food – The holidays can be a loaded, emotional time of the year but at the end of the day, they’re about spending time with family and friends. They are not meant to be a time to beat yourself up or feel guilty or shameful. Embrace the holidays for what they are, take time for yourself in the busy-ness, and remember to savor the people and the experiences (special food included) that come around only once a year. Food is a piece of the holidays but there’s so much more. You can be in control of the food – not the other way around. Sip, savor, and enjoy! And know that anytime you need it, a Whole 30 (or a shorter reset) is at your fingertips to help you get back to feeling your best!

Clean Eating, Giveaway, Whole 30

Instagram Giveaway: $50 Gift Card to Neeley’s Kitchen

The holidays are upon us and with them comes the tendency to eat and drink a little more than usual and skip workouts in lieu of social gatherings and travel.  We all know that if you aren’t careful, the time between Thanksgiving and New Years can quickly turn into a slippery slope of cookies and cheese trays.  I have a little something to help you limit your “holiday eating” to the actual holiDAY and not the “holiday season.”  

One of my go-to’s, especially during the busy holiday season, is ordering prepared foods from Neeley’s Kitchen.  Neeley’s Kitchen is a local meal prep service that provides both healthy meals and bulk prep protein and carb options.  Mike and I order from them weekly to supplement our own meal prep and for “emergency food” (so we don’t end up in a bind when all of our prepared food is gone on Thursdays… just us?!)

In honor of this crazy, busy holiday season, I want to share this awesomeness to help you keep your nutrition on track.  I am partnering with Neeley’s Kitchen to give away a $50 gift card to use toward healthy prepared foods between now and New Years!  Order on their website and pick up your food at one of their many local drop off locations!  

Here’s the catch: to win this $50 gift card, you must tag two friends in my Instagram post AND follow BOTH @thecleanlifemama and @neeleyskitchen.   I’ll choose the winner on Thursday!  Every two friends you tag = one entry!  

Recipe, Whole 30

Meal Prep Hack: Sheet Pan Eggs in 6 Minutes

MEAL. PREP. GAME. CHANGER.  

I’ve been meal prepping since before meal prep was even a thing, and this trick may be the best I’ve seen.  Here is a new way to bulk prep eggs in under 6 minutes. Perfect when cooking for big crowds or for weekly meal prep – especially during a Whole 30!

You’ll need eggs, cooking spray (I like Primal Kitchen’s Avocado Oil) or parchment paper, and seasoning of your choice.  

Method:  Prepare your sheet pan by either lightly spraying the bottom with cooking spray or lining with parchment paper.  ( I tried both methods: cooking spray tasted a tiny bit better however parchment paper was a much easier clean up, so you decide!) 

Crack eggs (as many as you want – I’ve made up to 12!) and season with S+P or any seasoning you like (I’m currently obsessed with Trader Joe’s Everything Bagel Seasoning.) Put the eggs in a 425 degree preheated oven for 5-6 minutes. Watch closely the last two minutes to make sure the eggs are cooked to your liking!

Keep your nutrition in line and save time on busy mornings by making your eggs on Sunday.  They can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge to use throughout the week for easy protein – think breakfasts (add a side of bacon and sliced avocado) or to put on sandwiches, salads or hashes.   

We’ve made them twice now and we are hooked!  The boys love them on breakfast sandwiches, Mike adds them to pretty much every meal and I like them just the way they are!  

Here are mine from yesterday: 

I know what you’re thinking: reheated eggs don’t sound great. Of course they are best right out of the oven, but they really are good reheated in the microwave — especially knowing I’m getting a healthy protein without prep time!

I’m actually having them for breakfast this morning. Let me know if you try them!

Recipe, Whole 30

3 Healthy Ways to Remix your Thanksgiving Leftovers

Thanksgiving is the meal that keeps on giving, am I right?!  I’m pretty sure I have enough leftovers in my fridge right now to feed my family for a whole week.  And, y’all, as a working mom, leftovers are my jam, but I can only eat Thanksgiving dinner so many times! If you are like me and need to mix things up, I have a few ideas on how you can use what you have on hand in new, healthy ways:  

TURKEY TACO BOWLS

Use your leftover Thanksgiving turkey meat to make these delicious Whole 30 compliant taco bowls.  Filled with cauliflower rice, lettuce and your favorite toppings, no one will be thinking “leftovers”!  

You’ll need:

1-2 Cups of Chopped Leftover Turkey

Taco Seasoning (Make your own — {2 T chili powder, 2 tsps of each: onion powder, cumin, paprika, garlic powder, oregano + 1 tsp sea salt}

Cauliflower Rice (I always use frozen that I steam in the microwave.  If I have it on hand, I’ll squeeze some lime juice and add some fresh cilantro.)

Extras (get creative and add what you like): 

Shredded lettuce or spinach 

Salsa (Frontera Roasted Tomato is my favorite store bought salsa!)  

Guacamole 

W30 Compliant Ranch…like Tessemae’s (which is what I had on hand today!) 

Black Olives

Cilantro

Directions: 

  1. Season your turkey: Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a pan, add turkey and stir to coat with olive oil.  Pour 1-2 teaspoons of the taco seasoning over the turkey.  Allow to heat through. 
  2. Build your bowl: Start with cauliflower rice.  Add turkey next. Then top with any extras: lettuce, salsa, guacamole, ranch… whatever you have on hand!  

TURKEY AVOCADO SALAD

Here’s a spin on my absolute favorite chicken salad!  Use your leftover Thanksgiving turkey meat and cranberries in this fast and delicious salad that can be eaten alone or on top of a salad!  Throw some leftover roasted veggies on the side and it’s a full meal! This is a perfect post-Thanksgiving lunch as it’s light and a change of flavors from yesterday’s big meal.  

You’ll Need:

1-2 cups chopped turkey

1 small avocado, mashed

1 small granny smith apple, unpeeled and chopped into bite size pieces

1/2 cup dried cranberries OR 1/4 cup cranberry sauce (or sub sliced red grapes)

1/2 cup toasted pecans (optional… I had these leftover from my Thanksgiving cooking) 

1/2 tsp curry powder (or any seasoning that you like) 

Salt and pepper to taste.

Directions: 

Put all ingredients in a bowl and mix.  Eat immediately.  This can be made ahead of time by squeezing lime juice over the avocado.  

TURKEY BONE BROTH

If you haven’t made your own bone broth yet, you haven’t lived. Ok that may be a little dramatic, but seriously, making your own broth is the best! It’s super easy, makes your house smell amazing and allows you to control the salt content and additives. Freeze it in small batches and pull out for soups throughout the winter!  I will be making mine today following Kettle and Fire’s recipe: https://blog.kettleandfire.com/turkey-bone-broth-recipe/

What are your go-to recipes for Thanksgiving leftovers?  I’d love to hear your ideas!  

Recipe, Whole 30

Stuffing or Dressing?

I was born and raised in the South where we eat dressing on Thanksgiving. Mike grew up in Maryland eating stuffing.

So what’s the difference? Well, technically the difference is how they’re cooked. Stuffing is a mixture used to stuff the turkey before cooking. Whereas dressing, comprised of similar ingredients, is cooked in a pan outside of the turkey. These days the two terms are used interchangeably depending on where you live.

Regardless of which side you’re on, we can all agree that a Thanksgiving menu isn’t complete without it.  Here’s my healthy spin on stuffing/dressing made with sausage, frozen riced cauliflower (hello easy!), apples and seasoned with fresh herbs.

Cauliflower and Sausage Stuffing/Dressing

Ingredients:

-2 pounds sweet or spicy Italian sausage, casings removed OR breakfast sausage*

-8 cups of riced cauliflower (2 bags of frozen, riced cauliflower)*

-2 small yellow onions, chopped

-1 cup celery, chopped

-2 granny smith apples, unpeeled and chopped

-2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley

-1 tablespoon sea salt

-1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

-2 eggs, whisked

-1/2 cup dried cranberries

-1/2-1 cup chopped pecans (optional)

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 300.

2. Brown sausage in a pan.

3. Remove sausage from the pan and add onions, celery and apples. Cook until tender.

4. Add sausage back into pan with the apple mixture. Stir in cauliflower and allow to heat through.

5. Season with salt, pepper, and parsley.

6. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly. Stir in cranberries. Next stir eggs in and mix well.

7. Pour mixture into casserole dish.

8. Top with chopped pecans if desired.

9. Bake at 300 for 30 minutes or until set. Keep an eye on the pecans on top to be sure they don’t burn.

Notes:

*I tested the recipe using breakfast sausage from Whole Foods. This is not Whole 30 compliant. This recipe can be made W30 compliant by using ground pork in place of the sausage or making your own sausage.

*Fresh cauliflower can be used in place of frozen. Rice or chop into bite sized pieces.

Whole 30

EATING YOUR WAY THROUGH THANKSGIVING DAY: A HOW TO GUIDE FOR AVOIDING A FOOD COMA

1,875.  

That’s how many calories are on the typical Thanksgiving Day dinner plate.  

Sounds like a lot, right?   Well, it adds up fast when your menu consists of turkey, cornbread stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, green bean casserole, sweet potato casserole, cranberry sauce, macaroni and cheese and buttered dinner rolls.

Don’t worry, I’m not going to tell you to NOT eat the things you love; and I definitely don’t want you to count calories.  I just want to provide some perspective and food for thought for you to have on your radar as we head into the holiday season.  Here are my go-to tips for fully enjoying your Thanksgiving without having to ride out an ultra uncomfortable food coma!

  1.  Eat Breakfast.  Going into a Thanksgiving feast starving never ends well.  Eating an early morning meal of protein and healthy fat will help you to feel satiated and less likely to over consume throughout the day.  
  2. Get a workout in before the meal.  Combined with a healthy breakfast, exercise sets your metabolism for the day and will help you make better food choices.  Hit up your local Turkey Trot or take a brisk walk.  If you’re in the Lake Norman area, we will offer several Thanksgiving Day workout options at CrossFit Cornelius and C2 FHIT.  I’d love for you to join us!  
  3. Drink lots of water before and during your Thanksgiving meal.  Water helps your stomach stay full to avoid overeating and assists the gut in digestion.  Soft drinks and sweet tea just add unnecessary sugar and calories to your meal. 
  4. Use a smaller plate.  Swap out that huge dinner plate for a smaller one.   You’ll still fill it with the food you want, but portion sizes will be more appropriate.
  5. Be mindful as you fill your plate.  Start by putting one to two palm sized portions of turkey in the middle of your plate.  With the remaining space, fill half to three-quarters with colorful vegetables.  Then add on the side items that you consider to be your favorites or ones that you only have on holidays.  Keep serving sizes small as you really only need a few bites to feel satisfied.  
  6. Decide if it’s really worth it.  Just because it’s on the table doesn’t mean you have to eat it.  As you are moving through the buffet line, ask yourself, is this food really worth it?  My mom’s homemade sweet potato casserole?  Heck yea! Canned cranberry sauce?  No thank you.  
  7. Eat slowly.  Engage in conversation.  Enjoy the moment.  Once your plate is empty, wait a minimum of ten minutes before returning for a second helping.  This gives your brain and gut a chance to communicate to let you know just how full your stomach actually is.  
  8. Leave the table when you are finished eating.  Physically removing yourself will keep you from snacking after the meal and allow your brain and gut time to do their thing and send necessary satiety and satiation signals.  
  9. Practice portion control with desserts.  Thanksgiving is definitely one of those days when you should exercise your food freedom and enjoy a dessert that you love.  Here’s the deal:  There is no need to eat all five of the desserts being served.  Even if they are small portions.   You are more likely to over consume if you serve yourself “a little” of each dessert.  It’s best to choose one that you really want, savor every bite and then call it quits for the day! 
  10.  If you end up over indulging and in a serious food coma, don’t panic; but also don’t let it lead you down a slippery slope of unhealthy eating habits for days to come.  Ride it out, pull it together and get back on track the next day!  Give me a call if you need some tough love to get through it.