30 Second Mayo and Paleo/Whole30 Ranch Variations

This is one of the easiest and best things you can do right now to start improving your life. Okay, that might be a bit dramatic but seriously, making your own homemade mayo is something that most people just don’t know how easy it is! Once you start making your own you’ll forget all about store-bought. The key to a successful mayo is using extra light tasting olive oil, this is the most important ingredient. If you try to make it with regular old extra virgin olive oil it will have a very strong olive flavor and it will not be good. Trust me, I speak from experience.

Another great thing about making your own mayo is once you do that, you open Pandora’s box to alllll kinds of great dressings and sauces that you can make from it. The possibilities are endless. I have a few of my favorites to share with you today! Let’s start with the main ingredient – mayo!

 

30 Second Mayo

What you’ll need:

  • Immersion blender
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp of acid – lemon juice or apple cider vinegar work well
  • 1 tsp mustard – powder or regular both work well
  • Salt and pepper to taste (leave this til the end if you’re making ranch)
  • 1 cup light tasting olive oil

In a deep, wide-mouthed jar, crack the egg and add the tbsp of acid. Swish the acid and egg around for a few seconds to help “cook” the egg. Add mustard, salt, pepper and olive oil to the jar and now it’s time to whirl! Place your immersion blender in the jar right where the egg is and start to blend. An emulsion will start to form and once it has, slowly lift up the blender and move it around the jar, pulling in all of the oil to complete the emulsion. This blending part should take about 20 seconds. Voilà! You have mayo and its miles better than store bought. Bonus – you know exactly what’s in it! 

Once you’ve got the basic mayo recipe down now you can move on to a few staples. When I was growing up, my favorite dressing was always ranch. And not just any ranch, it had to be Hidden Valley ranch in all its creamy goodness. You know what the best part of Hidden Valley ranch is? There’s no dill in it. I cannot stand dill in my ranch and almost every paleo ranch recipe has it so I went on a missions to recreate my childhood favorite. I’ve had numerous family and friends try this recipe out before I brought it here to make sure it was just right. I hope you enjoy it!

Paleo/Whole30 Hidden Valley Copycat Ranch Dressing

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What you’ll need:

 

  • One batch of 30 second mayo
  • ½ to ¾ tbsp each of garlic powder, onion powder, parsley – I would start on the lower end and then increase to taste. After a few times of making it you will know about how much you like.
  • 1-2 tbsp coconut milk – I used canned and use the leftover in my coffee. If you like thicker ranch or want to make a dip, add little no coconut milk.

Add all of the spices to the mayo and mix until combined. Add coconut milk to desired consistency. Taste the mayo and add more spices or salt as needed.

 

This next variation came as a happy accident. I accidentally dumped too much of a certain spice in while testing the regular mayo and I thought ‘what the heck’ and kept adding others until it was a party in my mouth! Thus, the Party Ranch recipe was born. This also just goes to show how easy it is to come up with your own variations, if you have a particular flavor in mind – just start off with small amounts of the spices you like and add to taste from there.

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Paleo/Whole30 Party Ranch Dressing

What you’ll need:

  • One batch of 30 second mayo
  • ½ to ¾ tbsp each of garlic powder, onion powder, parsley
  • ½ tsp paprika and chili powder
  • ¼ tsp red pepper
  • 1-2 tbsp coconut milk – omit if making this into a dip to keep it thick

Add all of the spices to the mayo and mix until combined. Add coconut milk to desired consistency. Taste the mayo and add more spices or salt as needed. Add all of the spices to the mayo and mix until combined. Add coconut milk to desired consistency. Taste the mayo and add more spices or salt as needed. This variation is great on tacos!

Try these recipes out and let me know what you think! I hope you have fun experimenting and creating new tasty toppings for your meals. Let me know what you make in the comments.

xo, Laura

 

 

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The Best Paleo-Friendly Chocolate Chip Cookies

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The Best Paleo Chocolate Chip Cookies by LauraWholeLife

No, I’m not exaggerating. I’ve tried many different paleo-friendly cookie recipes  and they’ve all just been ‘okay’ or ‘meh.’ This one, however, takes the cake, er cookie! And not only are these delicious but they also pack a little protein punch with collagen peptides. You can omit this if you don’t have it and add a little bit additional almond flour/coconut flakes but if you have the collagen available, I definitely recommend you keep it in!

Collagen is great for your skin, hair, connective tissue, bones, and nails – it is the primary protein in repairing any damage done or just ensuring that these areas are kept healthy! My favorite part of using collagen is the work it does for my gut. I grew up eating a lot of junk (of my own accord, my parents did the best that they could to keep me wrangled) and obviously my digestion suffered. I never really realized this until I learned more about the paleo diet and started eating better. That’s really the thing with eating an unhealthy diet for an extended period of time, you never realize how awful you feel until you change.

When I completed my first whole30, shortly after finding paleo, I felt like I could literally grow wings and turn into a Pegasus. I was bursting with energy and, even though I was eating just as much, if not more, food than I had been eating, I felt light and agile and full of life. I believe this feeling was kick-started by cutting out inflammatory foods and healing my digestive tract with new supportive foods – such as collagen and probiotics. Your gut health is so important to your overall health and I am just starting to learn about its effects in one’s everyday life; it’s so fascinating! I have been using Vital Proteins collagen peptides and have been loving them. I add them to my hot cup of coffee most mornings to give me a little protein and gut-healing boost! This brand is the only one that I have tried so far but I love how their peptides are from grass-fed and pasture-raised (aka: healthy, happy) cows, and you can’t taste them in your beverages (I’ve used the peptides in smoothies as well)! So with all of this (maybe) new info in mind, give these cookies a shot and let me know what you think!


The Best Paleo-Friendly Chocolate Chip Cookies!

Makes: 16 medium-sized cookies

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The Best Paleo Chocolate Chip Cookies by LauraWholeLIfe

Total time: 15 minutes

Ingredients

  • 3 tbsp. coconut oil, room temp
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 1/2 cup blanched almond flour
  • 1/4 cup shredded coconut
  • 2 heaping scoops of collagen peptides (if omitting these, add an additional 1/4 c. shredded coconut and 1/4 almond flour)
  • 1 tbsp. cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 pinch of pink sea salt, plus another pinch for garnish, optional
  • 1/2 cup favorite dark chocolate chips (I like to use Enjoy life brand or chop up some 85% dark chocolate that I keep on hand)

Directions

  1. Pre-heat oven to 375°F. In a mixing bowl, combine the coconut oil, maple syrup, and vanilla. Whisk until smooth. Add egg and whisk until completely combined.
  2. Add almond flour, coconut, collagen, cocoa, baking soda and salt. Stir dry ingredients into wet until combined. Lastly, add the chocolate chips and incorporate into mixture.
  3. On a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, spoon cookie dough about 1 inch apart. Bake in pre-heated oven for about 10 minutes. Remove from oven, let cook for 5 minutes (if you can stand it!) and enjoy!

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The Best Paleo Chocolate Chip Cookies by LauraWholeLife

These cookies are so delicious, I can’t even put it into words. They are slightly crisp on the bottoms, golden brown on top and soft and fluffy on the inside. Share them with your family and friends and see if they can taste a difference!

Until next time friends,

xoxo Laura

 

Paleo Crispy Fried Tilapia with Creamy Tartar Sauce 

Happy humpday, friends! (I always think of that commercial with the camel “Humpdaaaaay!”)

Anyway, I hope everyone has been enjoying the first few days of Spring and is making the most of it! I have been chomping at the bit to get back to my walks at the reservation near my home and once daylight savings hit, I knew they were once again upon me! I hate to walk in the dark by myself or in the cold (duh) and since I live in Ohio where it’s usually one of the two, I usually don’t get too many walks in during the winter months. Yesterday was my first walk and it was grand! Well it was a little chilly because I got so excited to see the temperature was 55°, that I didn’t really register just how cold that would be with the wind… in my short-sleeved t-shirt… Lesson learned! But nonetheless, walk I did. I missed it so. I love seeing all the people out in nature, getting fresh air and exercise; it just makes me feel so alive.

I think we should do more of that, of what makes us feel alive, because we shouldn’t wait until we’re on our deathbed or for some stark life-altering event to make us want to stop and smell the roses. I think we should give ourselves permission to do more things that we find pleasure in, instead of postponing that pleasure to some time in the future that may or may not come to fruition. This being said, I put up a wind chime in my front yard this past weekend, because it makes me happy to hear it tinkling. It sounds like a dream. But I digress…

Since I know so many people are not doing meat on Friday, I thought I would try my hand at a good old fashioned fish dinner recipe. I am a person who hates fish most of the time unless it is convincingly deep fried and is paired with a stellar sauce. I’m quite picky. But this recipe, surprisingly, fit the bill on both accounts also without being overly greasy. It’s simply delicious, and actually so easy to make!


Paleo friendly Crispy Fried Fish with Creamy Tartar Sauce

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Cook time: about 10 minutes
Total time: about 20 minutes

Ingredients 

For the tartar sauce
1/2 paleo-friendly mayo (I use Sir Kensington’s)
1-2 dill pickles from the jar, finely diced (I like my sauce crunchy so I used to, adjust to your liking)
2 tsp dried or fresh dill
1 tsp lemon juice
Salt, black pepper, and paprika to taste

Directions 

  • Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix until combined.
  • Place in fridge until needed. This can be made in advance can keep in an air tight container for about 5 days.

For the fish 

4 pieces of tilapia, or other similar white fish (I used a bag of pre-packaged individual servings of fish, so easy!)
1 cup blanched almond flour (I used Bob’s Red Mill which you can get a nice bang for your buck at Sam’s Club)
1/2 cup shredded coconut
2 eggs
1/4 cup cooking fat for pan frying (I used coconut but lard, avocado oil, or ghee would work well)
Favorite seasonings: I used garlic powder, paprika, cumin, black pepper and pink sea salt

Directions

In a shallow bowl, mix together almond flour, coconut flakes, and all of your spices (don’t be shy on the seasoning, add a little more than you think you’ll need). Set aside.

Crack your eggs into another shallow bowl, whisk until combined and set aside.

  • Remove fish from package and pat dry.
  • Set up your assembly line with your raw fish all the way to the left, next to that, the bowl of whisked eggs, and finally the coating mixture.
  • Once your assembly line is ready, begin heating the cooking fat in a frying pan on medium heat, once hot turn down to medium low (1. My stove is gas and runs hot, so adjust your heat accordingly 2. I recommend opening a window and turning on the fan, at least at my house it can get a little smoky!)
  • Dip your fish into the whisked egg and thoroughly coat, lift fish out of egg, shaking off any excess and move into coating, thoroughly cover with mixture. Gently shake off any excess coating and place carefully into hot pan.
  • Cook fish on each side for about 4 minutes and flip and cook 4 minutes on the other, until coating golden brown and fish is cooked through.
  • Place on paper towel and drain off excess cooking fat.
  • Once drained move to plate and enjoy topped with tartar sauce with a side of veggies and starch. I like mine with coleslaw mix and oven roasted potatoes.

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I would love to hear your thoughts on my recipe so please give it a try with your family and let me know in the comments what everyone thought!

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Until next time, friends.

xoxo Laura

Paleo Chicken Tikka Masala Recipe + My ‘Why’

So as you probably have seen on my other recent posts, I will be starting a Whole30 this coming Monday! (Please join in!!) Because of this, I will be sharing my favorite meals that I have successfully put a Whole30 spin on. Normally I am a person who just throws things together and calls it good. I have a hard time following written directions, but since I love you all and want to make it easier for you, I have been sitting down and writing out recipes for my favorite staples. Last week I posted my new favorite way to liven up cauliflower rice with my Spanish Cauli Rice recipe you can find here, and this week I have a new favorite for you, Chicken Tikka Masala!

Now I’m new to Indian food so I was amazed when I recreated this new fav of mine in one try and totally nailed it (totally patting myself on the back here)! I had been buying some random brand of pre-made tikka masala sauce from Aldi that I had stumbled upon while looking for new ways to spice up my meal prep rotation and boy, did this stuff do the trick. I was really happy with it until I decided to read the ingredient list, bleh! It contained all kinds of preservatives and soy products which really started to mess with my skin and gut. No bueno. So I set off on a little research and I could not find a recipe for paleo approved tikka masala sauce without using cashew cream to replace the heavy cream in the recipe. Now I’m sure those recipes are great but I have an allergy to cashews so those were out. So I decided to try my hand at my own attempting to use coconut milk in place of the cream.

I researched the flavor profile for this sauce and discovered that the two main flavors were garam masala and cardamom, neither of which I had so I ventured out to find them. Since I new I would make this dish many times over and I wanted to have really good ingredients, so I headed to Whole Foods to find these spices and splurged a little. Please give this a try and let me know how it goes for you!

I also wanted to talk to you about ‘why’ I’m doing this Whole30. This past November I stopped taking birth control pills for the first time in seven years. Seven years is a long time to be taking something that affects your hormones. I was scared. I was afraid that one day, when I decide I want to have children, maybe I won’t be able to because I was on the pill for too long. This thought was in the back of my mind for a long time and after becoming more educated about hormones and the way that they can affect literally every aspect of your body and health, I wanted to make the change and stop taking hormonal birth control. So I did. After a couple of weeks I noticed a huge change. I felt more ‘me’ than I had in a long time and I felt more in tune with my body. The change was amazing and I felt amazing! Then came the bad part…

After puberty I never really had acne on my face except for around that time of the month or if I was very stressed; I only had the occasional pimple and I was so thankful for that. Well after giving up hormonal birth control that changed. Ever since I stopped taking the pill I have been getting constant breakouts around my jawline and its super annoying and uncomfortable. I know it doesn’t seem like much (see pictures below) but this is something I know I am able to heal in time.

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 A lot of this type of acne is caused by hormonal changes and imbalances which can be helped and healed through changing your diet, so that is one of the biggest factors for my embarking on this Whole30. Hopefully I can share some wonderful ‘after’ pictures once these 30 days are through, but it may take longer. Like I said, seven years is a long time…


Paleo + Whole30 Chicken Tikka Masala

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*Recipe requires marinade time of at lease one hour.

Ingredients

For the seasoning:

  • 3 tbsp granulated garlic
  • 1 tbsp garam masala
  • 1 tbsp turmeric
  • 2 tsp ground cardamom
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp ground red pepper

For the dish:

  • 2 tbsp cooking fat*
  • 2 lbs chicken**
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2- 12 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1 can coconut milk, full fat
  • fresh cilantro, optional

Directions

Combine all spices for the seasoning together in a container, set aside. Pat dry chicken and coat with half of the seasoning spices. Place in refrigerator for at least 1 hour to marinade.

Preheat oven to 375°F. Place marinated chicken on foil lined baking sheet and place in oven for about 35- 40 minutes. In a large frying pan, heat cooking fat over medium heat. Once pan is hot, carefully add onion to the pan and saute until soft, about 3-4 minutes. Add minced garlic and saute for another minute or so. Add the tomato paste and stir into onion and garlic. Once combined, add diced tomatoes and the other half of the container of spices.  Turn heat to low and simmer for about 25-30 minutes to thicken sauce and breakdown tomatoes, stirring occasionally. Remove chicken from over and set aside.

Once sauce is thick, remove from heat, stir in whole can of coconut milk and transfer to a blender or food processor.* Blend sauce until smooth then add back to pan. Add chicken to pan and warm mixture in pan. Roughly chop cilantro, if using, and add to pan. Serve over cauli rice with broccoli or other green vegetable for a complete meal. Enjoy!

*Ghee would be the best option for this dish but coconut oil or lard would also work well. **I used whole legs because they have so much more flavor than breast and you can save the bones to make gut-healing bone broth.


 

I hope you enjoy this recipe, let me know if you give it a try in the comments below!

Until next time,

xox Laura

Whole30 tips+ Spanish Cauli Rice Made Easy

You guys, our Whole30 starts a week from today! Are you as excited as I am? Don’t worry that will wear off after the first week (lol just kidding but really).

A Whole30 can seem very fun and exciting in the beginning when its shiny and new but it can quickly become a burdensome ordeal when you’re in your deep dark place with your sugar dragon and you haven’t eaten lunch and got pulled into a long, unexpected meeting. If you don’t have a plan in place before this moment, you are setting yourself up for failure. You will most likely give in to those muffins and Sunny D brought to the meeting (this is a real life situation that has happened to me in the past!). I’m here to share some tips to make sure we’re all prepared and ready for whatever life throws at us during this time. For most of us, dealing with the changes going on inside our bodies during this month are enough for us to deal with, we don’t want to give options in these moments of weakness, if you have compliant, planned food with you, it makes it that much easier to make a good choice.

Change your mindset.

I like to think of each moment during my Whole30 as a choice. I am choosing to eat this way, I am choosing not to have this dessert, I am choosing to go bunless for my burger, etc. I can have any of these things if I really wanted to (because I’m an adult!) but as of right now, I am choosing to go without. This mindset is much more empowering than going into this month thinking of all of the things you can’t have and dreading having to face them.

Plan ahead.

This is a no-brainer but you know that old saying if you fail to plan, you plan to fail? Yeah, well its true. So do whatever works for you in this regard, every one is different. Some people can make a big pot of something on Sunday and have that for lunch and dinner every day during the work week and make something fresh for breakfast and on the weekends (this is my boyfriend). Others like to meal prep different dishes specifically for breakfast, lunch, and dinner for the whole week (this is me). Others like to make a couple different types of proteins and veggies that are mildly seasoned, and then mix and match them and add seasonings to go for what they’re craving that time/day (this is also me). Whatever way works for you, set some time aside on a day you know you’ll have the time and meal prep! Don’t forget snacks. I know, I know, snacking is frowned upon during the Whole30 but I still think its a good idea to have some on hand for those moments when you’re in a pinch and about to go ham on a snickers bar, especially in the beginning when you are getting used to a new way of eating. So keep some compliant Larabars, portable fruit and nuts, even hard boiled eggs on hand for those moments.

I bought a few Larabars (there are many compliant ones, check the labels-I’m very limited since I am allergic to certain nuts) and Justin’s almond butter packets. I also prepared my own ghee. You can buy it but this way is cheaper and doesn’t take very long. I also like to keep some fresh herbs on the counter in my StarWars cups 😀

 

 Find Support.

This one is probably the trickiest of them all. Trying to convince someone else to give up sugar, grains, alcohol, and peanut butter for a whole month probably won’t go over well. The average person is going to find this protocol very difficult if they don’t have a strong ‘why’-like an ailment or food allergy they are trying to nail down, or are new to paleo-ish eating. Now the best option is to try to convince the person/people whom you live with to join you in this venture. If you can swing this, it will make the 30 days so much easier because you will be there to support each other in person and you won’t have to worry about sharing space with someone with completely different eating habits that may make it hard to stick to it. You can grocery shop, meal prep, and go through the tough withdrawal symptoms together. Another good option is recruiting your friends or coworkers. If you can find some like-minded people who are close to you or you see on a regular basis, this can be almost as good as having the person you live with on board. And finally, there is a huge support community online. From the Whole30 forum, Whole30 groups on facebook, or even the comments section on the Whole30 instagram feed, there are many options to hook up with like-minded people who may be struggling or just have some great tips/recipes to share. Regardless of which options you choose, a strong support system is a must for success.

Have some good stand-by’s on hand.

This week I’m lucky enough to be on vacation and I am putting this time to good use! I made sure to make some homemade ghee, riced some cauliflower to put in the freezer for future use, and got some compliant snacks- just in case. The rest of the week I plan to create some freezer-friendly meals that I can have on hand in the coming weeks. Not everyone has a ton of time, and I totally get that; normally I fall into that category. Everyone has some time to spare, you just have to realize how you’re spending your time and find a way to cut out some time-wasting activities (like checking social media constantly) and put that time into making freezer meals or even just doing a tedious task, like chopping up your veggies all at once to keep in the fridge for an easier dinner later. For example-I hate cutting onions but I use them all of the time so later on this week I’m going to set aside some time to chop up a bunch to put in a container so I don’t have to chop every time I wanna use an onion in a meal. It seems like a no-brainer but these little things can honestly make the biggest difference in your success and enjoyment!


Spanish Cauli Rice

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Ingredients

  • 1 large or 2 small heads of cauliflower
  • 1-2 tbsp fat of choice (I used lard because I had it on hand but ghee or coconut oil would work as well)
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced (or about 2 tablespoons from a jar of pre-minced garlic #easymode)
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1-1 1/2 tbsp cumin
  • 1/4 cup bone  (or vegetable) broth
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • fresh bunch of cilantro, chopped (optional)
  • juice of fresh lime (optional)

Directions

Remove leaves and stem from head(s) of cauliflower and roughly chop into smaller chunks. Place chunks into a blender or food processor and run until the cauliflower roughly resembles rice. Place riced cauliflower into a bowl lined with paper towels and set aside. Heat fat of choice on medium heat until pan and fat are hot. Carefully add onions to pan and turn heat down to medium low, saute onions until translucent, about 4 minutes. Add minced garlic to the pan and saute for 1 more minute. Add tomato paste and cumin to the onion and garlic, stir until combined. Slowly add in riced cauliflower to the pan and incorporate into the mixture. Once cauliflower in mixed in, add broth and stir until combined. Let simmer for 1-2 minutes to let the cauliflower soak up the flavors and broth then remove from heat. Tear leaves of cilantro and squeeze the lime over the pan, if using, and combine into rice before serving. Enjoy!

This rice can be frozen and thawed later to fill out a meal anywhere you would normally use rice. Make sure rice is completely cool before putting in a container for the freezer.

This rice can also be stored in the fridge for about a week and will still be as tasty as it was the first day, if it becomes dry just add about a tablespoon of water or broth before heating.

Let me know in the comments below if you’re going to be following along with my Whole30 or even joining in! Also please share any tips you have for making the Whole30 easier and enjoyable. I’ll be here sharing my experience and recipes along the way.

xox Laura

Holiday exhaustion and Spicy Deviled Eggs with Crunchy Bacon Crumble

Hey guys! I hope all who celebrate had a wonderful Christmas.Now let’s get down and dirty.

I want to start off with telling you guys a secret. I am so glad that Christmas is over! Don’t get me wrong, I love the holidays. I am merry and bright. Well at least that’s what I aim for. The holidays, while a wonderful time (for most) to spend much-needed time with family and away from work; there’s a ton of pressure that come with them. Decorating your house with the best lights, finding the perfect ornaments for your tree and all of the nooks and crannies of your home, buying the perfect gift for each and every one of your loved ones, not to mention getting festive little presents for your coworkers and boss… oi vey. I’m exhausted. No wonder so many people lose control of, not only their diet, but also themselves during this hustle bustle. So the moral of this tiny soapbox rant is this, be kind to yourself. Give yourself grace during this busy season of our lives. You don’t need to berate yourself for any and all slip-ups. Just do your best and never stop starting to better yourself.

Now on to the goods. Next weekend is the beginning of the New Year! Most of you may be attending parties or even having one yourself so I have the perfect little appy for you! Heck, this would be perfect eaten all by yourself watching Netflix at home in your jim-jams with your pets. (That sounds pretty effing amazing to me, actually!) This twist on a classic appetizer is so delicious, I shared it at work and it was gone in an hour, I swear! So maybe make a double batch 😉


Spicy Deviled Eggs with Crunchy Bacon Crumble

Makes 24 half egg portions// Total time: 20 minutes

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Spicy Deviled Eggs with Crunchy Bacon Crumble

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 dozen large eggs, hard-boiled
  • 3 strips of bacon, pan-fried and drained
  • 3-4 tablespoons mayo of choice (I used Sir Kensington’s)
  • 2 tsp yellow mustard (this can be wet or dried, I used wet)
  • 1 small pickle, diced very thin (I used dill here)
  • 1 tbsp juice from the pickle jar
  • spices of choice (I used salt, pepper, garlic, and Primal Palate’s meat and potato seasoning)
  • 1/2 to 1 full tsp of ground red pepper

MAKE IT

  • Hard-boil your dozen eggs – for this I add all of my eggs to cold tap water in a pot (one with a lid), just enough to cover the eggs. Bring water to a rolling boil then once boiling, remove pot from heat and cover with the lid and put a dish towel over the lid to trap the heat. Keep covered for 10-12 mins. Drain and add to bowl of cold water and set aside.
  • Pan fry bacon while eggs are setting in the covered pot. I like to get mine nice and crispy so that it will crumble really well with minimal fatty, rubbery parts later on.
  • Once eggs are cool enough to handle peel and rinse off any excess egg-shell. Cut eggs in half length-wise and gently scoop out yolk into a separate bowl. You can set up your whites on a lined tray to keep the mess to a minimum.
  • Once all yolks are in the bowl, mash gently with a fork then add mayo, mustard, diced pickle, pickle juice, and all spices to the yolk. Mash together with the fork until combined. (I like my filling chunky with a lot of texture but if you prefer a mix that’s very smooth, you can all the filling to a food processor and blitz it up that way) If it’s very thick and stiff, add more mayo to thin it out and stretch the filling.
  • Scoop your mix into the egg white (I like to start off with a modest amount to make sure all the yolks have enough and then go back and add more if there’s enough. You can use a spoon for this if you don’t care about looks, or if you’re trying to impress your friends you can put the filling in a plastic baggie and make a piping bag by snipping off a bottom corner.)
  • Crumble up your bacon into a small garnish and sprinkle over the top of your deviled eggs. Sprinkle with extra red or green spice (paprika is a traditional choice, parsley or cilantro would be nice as well-I used the Meat and Potato seasoning)
  • Transfer gently to your serving platter and dig in!

This appetizer is so quick and easy and its sure to be a crowd-pleaser. Let me know if you try out this recipe on your family and friends, I would love to hear any feedback you have!

I hope everyone takes some time for self-care this week and come back to yourself after all of the craziness! Let me know your favorite self-care tips in the comments below.

Talk to you soon,

xox Laura

 

The Start of Something Big

This January I decided to tackle something that I have only successfully completed one other time, but  have attempted many times since. I affirmed that I would, again, successfully complete a round of Whole30.

If you are unfamiliar with the Whole30 program, its a reset that spans (you guessed it) 30 days wherein you eliminate certain foods (all grains, dairy, legumes, added sugar not found in fruit, alcohol, certain chemical additives, and harmful oils) in order to get your body back to a baseline. After these 30 days of elimination, there is a reintroduction period that spans, at minimum, 15 days, where you incorporate the foods that you had previously eliminated. During this phase, you gauge your body to assess how you are feeling with these foods. Do they make you feel groggy or bloated? Do they cause hives or breakouts? Do they have no effect at all? This will be different for each person and it lays a road map that can help you to continue to feel your best over time and find freedom with your food choices. You can find all of their info here: https://whole30.com/

Back in March of 2014 was the first time I had attempted this reset. I read all about it, loved the message, and fell hard for the program. I convinced Matt to give it a try with me and at the end of the 30 days, I felt like a new woman. I had so much energy I couldn’t sit still, I wanted to shout from the rooftops about the way that I felt. I was sleeping like a baby every night, eating until I was satisfied, had minimal sugar cravings, no energy crashes and to top it all off, I lost 15 lbs in a month. I was over the moon. The only problem was, I didn’t do it right that first time. After the 30 days I allowed to let myself celebrate that victory, mistakenly, with food and gradually found myself back where I had began. I didn’t actually complete the program. I never did the reintroduction the right way.  I didn’t know what foods where causing my acne or my achy, swollen joints. I didn’t take the time to find out if sugar still had a hold on me (spoiler alert: it did).

After I had realized my mistake in not completing the reintroduction phase, I tried to complete other rounds. I kept failing. My mindset wasn’t right, a part of me thought I had it all figured out. It was like the cliché where I had an angel on one shoulder and a devil on the other. I was torn and this was the reason I kept sabotaging myself whenever I attempted another round. I gave up for a while, convinced myself I didn’t need the program or anything I learned from it at all. I turned to other programs but nothing was helping the way the Whole30 had begun to and would have continued to do if I had let it. I was scared, too. I was scared I was going to have to eat that way forever and I wasn’t ready give up my vices completely. I was also afraid because nothing had ever worked the way the Whole30 had. I was afraid of succeeding. People would expect more out of me and could I live up to that? Out of fear, I had rebelled against the program, telling myself it was too restrictive (even though I thrived with the guidelines previously) and it wasn’t healthy to think about food that much (in the beginning it did take some planning and prepping but that’s just because I was eating absolute garbage before so I had to think about my choices). These were both excuses I allowed myself to reconcile my fear. And to allow myself to give up.

Fast forward to present day. Its not January 15th and I am 14 days into my January Whole30. I’ve come a long, long way since my first round and I feel like I’m more mentally and emotionally prepared. I am doing it and it doesn’t feel hard. The first week I was walking on egg shells, afraid to even see a picture of ice cream (my favorite food) or some delicious sandwich, thinking I would go off the rails at one look. I had no confidence in myself because I knew my past. But I was also determined. Once I got through the first week I thought to myself, ‘hey, maybe I can do this.’ I stopped being so afraid of the challenges and temptations and embraced them. The first weekend I went to dinner with my best friend and she ordered a milkshake. I don’t even remember what kind because I acknowledged it and moved on. I didn’t obsess over the fact that I couldn’t have it. I felt so satisfied and proud of myself by the end of the meal. That was the point I knew I could tackle the rest of the month.

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I have been writing every night in this great book from Melissa Hartwig and it has been a huge help in deciphering what is working for me and what needs tweaked.

I’m not entirely sure what clicked but I can definitely tell you that change happens when you are truly ready for it and man, am I ready! This round has been all about mindset and support. I have two great people joining me in this journey and they help motivate me more than they know. I have had more a positive outlook on life since I began this journey again and I think that has been a huge key to success. I’m not sure if its coming from a clearer head  from the lack of sugar or the yoga/meditation/journaling I’ve been incorporating into my daily routine but whatever it is, I ain’t stopping! I’m finally ready to change my relationship with food.

I feel like this is the start of something big for me and I hope you’ll continue to follow along. Your support means a lot. I’ll be back later this week to share a recap of what I’ve been eating and how I’ve been prepping and shopping.

Until next time,

xo Laura

A Baby Powerlifter +Whole30 Chat

Hello, all! I hope everyone is having a great start to their year!

Have you stuck to your New Year’s resolutions so far? Did you make any? What’s the 411?!

If you haven’t noticed, I took a little break. Writing more consistently was one of my resolutions, as you know if you saw my previous post, but others needed my immediate attention. I took about two months to get into a groove with meal planning and scheduling time for my powerlifting gym sessions. In case you missed that, yeah I transitioned from crossfitting (however sporadic it was) to powerlifting. Let me tell you about that…

I discovered crossfit a few years back and I immediately loved it, as many do. The workouts kicked my ass and the community I found was top notch. These things motivated me to get to the gym at least 3 times a week for about a year. Then life started to get in the way as it does. I changed locations at my job and then received a great promotion that I had been chasing for a few years; it was a very stressful but happy time in my life. During this time crossfit changed from a great, butt-kicking workout to a huge, daunting feat that left me feeling drained. Like, literally come home and fall into bed and not even care if I ate dinner kind of exhausted. If you’ve met me at least once, you probably know that I food and hardly ever miss a meal so this is not normal for me at all. This coupled with the exhaustion I felt during the day was my bodies wary of telling me something needed to change.

Since I had just landed the promotion I had been working so hard for, I wasn’t going to lay that aspect of my life aside just yet, so I took some time off from the gym. I tried to stay active in the mean time, I took a lot of long walks at the park and eventually we bought a home and turned half of our garage into a home gym. I did a couple crossfit-style workouts a week along with the walking. I did this for about a year and I quickly found out that motivating yourself to workout alone is hard. I was lonely and I missed my friends at the gym. I was desperate for a change, for anything to keep me from throwing in the towel altogether.

During late summer 2016, I began listening to a few new-to-me podcasts that had a heavy emphasis on powerlifting. My interest was piqued to say the least. I loved how they interviewed as many women as men and the women were so empowering in how they valued their strength. I started reading up on how to begin, but there’s not too much information out there specifically for women beginners in powerlifting and I didn’t have the money to pay for a program. I just started modifying what I saw for men and did it all in my little garage gym. Before I met with a coach, I had already moved past my max lifts that I had done while attending crossfit classes so I was very motivated. I needed more.

I met with my coach towards the end of this past December. Since then I’ve grown and learned so much. My max lifts are still improving, which is thrilling! I hope to join the 750lb club this year and within the next couple, the 1000lb club. This long winded post is all to say, I put writing aside to focus on getting my lifting off the ground (pun intended) and now that I have, I hope to get back to it at least once a week. Spring is almost here and even with the faintest glimmer of it I have found myself with  more energy and excitement.

I have a little project upcoming that I want to blog about. I will be starting a Whole30 on March 3rd. I recently went off of the pill after taking it for 7 years and I’ve noticed a lot of changes in my body (not all for the better, although a lot of them are!) such as more acne throughout my cycle and I think cleaning up my diet would be a great first step to healing any damage that has been done over the years. If you’d like to join me, leave me a comment below and if there are enough of you interested I could create a Facebook group so we can support each other and share tips, recipes, etc. And if you’re unfamiliar and would like more info about Whole30 they have so many great resources on their website http://whole30.com/whole30-program-rules/.  I think now is the perfect time to put your health first, and that is what my main focus is at the present time.

Are you interested in joining me? Let me know your thoughts below!

Until next time,

xo Laura

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To Resolution or Not to Resolution?+ New Recipe

Hey guys! Thanks for visiting me today!

It’s that time of the year! Saturday is New Year’s Eve and not only that, but its the eve of major life changes and promises to be better with your diet, your workout routine, your house cleaning, your budgeting, your parenting, your knitting-you name it, people will make resolutions about it. Is this inherently bad? No, I don’t believe so. Where I think so many of us go astray is that we make such huge monumental goals in the times that we feel most inspired and motivated and neglect to break it down for ourselves in those times where we want to give up or just completely forget why we started.

This year, instead of throwing up grand promises to yourself or loved ones, sit down alone with yourself with a piece of paper, or a new notebook, or your dream/vision board-whatever you know will work to keep you motivated – and really think about these large goals. Long term goals are great but the biggest issue is most of us stop there and don’t think any further. I want to weigh x lbs. Great. But what do you have to do to get there? How long is this realistically going to take? How much time do you need to dedicate per week to prepping meals/going to the gym/sleeping/stretching/mobilizing/etc? Take some time and really think these goals of yours through and break them down for future you. Future you is bound to become frustrated and lose motivation, we’re human, it happens. So make a better plan for when these moments arise so that you can work through these hard times and make its past the end of February with your new goals. You’ll thank yourself later!

So what are my New Year goals? Oh, I’m glad you ask, friend!

One of my long-term goal is always to strive to become my most healthy, happy self (doesn’t that sound nice? :-p)  So to head toward this goal I will…

  1. get into the gym and lift or move my body intentionally at least three times a week.
  2. follow my nutrition plan
  3. devote a block of time on Sunday evening to prepare nutritious food to take to work with me
  4. not graze on break room snacks without intention
  5. instead of thinking about my cravings and letting them control me, I will think about how a certain food choice will affect the way my body feels and moves
  6. spend more time mobilizing and stretching, possibly taking up a yoga session if my weeks allows
  7. give myself grace. If I have a moment of indulgence, I will recognize it for what it is, a moment. I will continue on my path towards health and not berate myself for these actions – that would not serve my goal.
  8. ensure that I give my body proper rest, whether this is sleeping more or taking a day off of the gym if needed.
  9. work on keeping my cool. I’m part Irish and part Slovak so patience and serenity aren’t my strong suits but most of the time when I do jump to anger, I look back on it later and realize anger was not the best response. I want to add that step into my thought process to temper (no pun intended ;-)) my reactions.
  10. and last but not least, I will spend more time working on my hobbies!

Try this process of breaking down your goals and let me know if it helps you, I thought it was very therapeutic myself.

Speaking of preparing nourishing meals for yourself, I have the perfect recipe for you! It’s perfect for me this week because I have had a butternut squash haunting my counter for like two weeks because I’ve never prepared one and wasn’t sure what to make. This inspiration came from my love of roasted root veggies and needing to maximize the amount of vegetables I can consume per meal, so out came this experiment, and its delicious!


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The finished product!

Creamy Butternut Squash Soup with Roasted Chicken Legs

Serves about 5 // Time to make: 1 hour 40 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 4 whole chicken legs, with skin and bones
  • 1 butternut squash, peeled and cubed
  • 3 medium carrots, ends trimmed
  • 2 celery stalks
  • 2 medium onions
  • 1 medium gala apple
  • 1 can full fat coconut milk, only the cream off of the top
  • 4 cups vegetable or chicken stock
  • cooking oil of choice
  • Spices- rosemary, garlic powder, red pepper, pumpkin pie spice, salt and pepper

Make it:

  • Pre-heat oven to 400°F. Pat dry chicken and place on foiled baking sheet, drizzle with cooking fat (I used olive oil) and season with salt, pepper and garlic powder on both sides place in oven.
  • Once chicken is in the oven, roughly chop all other veggies and apple and place on baking sheet with squash, drizzle with oil and season with rosemary, salt and pepper. Place on oven with the chicken. Bake for about 45 minutes-1 hour.
  • Once chicken is cooked through and veggies are looking caramelized and soft remove from oven. Set chicken aside to rest.

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The veggies are lookin’ nice and caramelised 😀

  • Add veggies to a pot and turn heat to high. Add the additional spices to taste and the 4 cups of stock to the pot. Bring this to a boil. Once boiling, turn heat down to medium-low and simmer for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
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Gettin’ all cozy in the pot!
  • Once reduced down a bit after 20 minutes, remove from heat and add the separated coconut cream from the can to the pot and stir to combine.
  • At this time, if you have an immersion blender you can blend this up with that, sadly I don’t but I added it all to my Ninja blender and it worked perfectly. Just blend until all chunks are gone.
  • At this point you can portion out your containers with a good portion of the soup and about 4 oz of the chicken legs on top or mixed in, whichever you prefer. I received these handy mugs with vented lids for the microwave to take to work with  me, they’re perfect for soup meals – which I’ve been loving this winter. This should be enough for about 4-5 meals, enjoy!

Thank you so much for stopping by today and I hope you will try this delicious soup! When you do, please let me know how it turned out for you and what you thought!

Talk to you soon,

xox Laura