I’m back!

As the title suggests, I’m back to blogging and it has been a while…5 months to be exact! Even though I have not posted a blog post in months does not mean that I have not thought about it often. So much has happened in that short time; I got married, went on a honeymoon, traveled, and so much more. As you can see, most of the last few months involved weddings, more specifically, my own. Justin asked me to marry him on April 15, 2016 and we spent the next year planning our special day.

I am not exaggerating when I say that I had been dreaming about my wedding for as long as I can remember and about the man who would make that day possible. I would always fantasize about what he would look like, how we would meet, what he would do for a living, and where we would live. While I am not going to share our love story today, I can say that I am grateful everyday that Justin is in my life and that we get to spend the rest of our lives together.

What I do want to focus on is something that no one ever tells you about getting married and that is the stress involved in the planning process. My Other 62 quickly became the other 32 as I spent months planning every detail of that special day. I always imagined planning my wedding would be one of the happiest times of my life and for various reasons from about February until May 21 (our wedding day) I was under a considerable amount of stress. Although everyone I work with was ecstatic that I was getting married and eager to celebrate, the work load was incredibly demanding. On top of the demanding workload, I also had to tackle the list of decisions that had to be made for the wedding and the pressure to look and feel my best. Although I wish the process of planning a wedding was carefree, I truly believe that having gone through the process together brought Justin and I closer together and quite frankly made me appreciate him even more than I did already and at the end of the day we were married and that is truly one of the best feelings in the world!

We had such an amazing, albeit a bit windy, day at Klehm Arboretum surrounded by our closest friends and family. It was truly a day we will never forget and will cherish those memories forever.

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Not only were we able to express our love for one another in front of friends and family in the city where we first met, we were also able to share a special moment in Colorado (our honeymoon destination). Justin and I are both relatively private people and really wanted to write our own vows. However, sharing those vows with everyone was a bit intimidating. So we planned to have a little “elopement” session when we were in Colorado for our honeymoon. Our wonderful photographer, Summer Leigha, traveled with us to capture that special time. She found the cutest spot in Breckenridge and we packed a picnic and headed out, which was followed by the most gorgeous mountain photo session. Sharing that time together was priceless.

After our elopement session, we spent the next four days enjoying all of the wonderful things that Colorado has to offer. We saw the most amazing sunset over the mountains.

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We biked from Breckenridge to Frisco.

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We went hiking in Vail.

We explored Glenwood Springs.

We ate the most delicious gluten free pizza!

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And tasted lots of delicious gluten free beer!

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Colorado holds such a special place in our hearts as being the host of our engagement, “elopement”, and honeymoon. It was so hard to leave but I know that we will be back!

We’ve been back to reality for a few weeks now and it seems as if things are finally slowing down a bit and summer is in full swing! There are some really exciting things happening in Rockford and I can’t wait to share them with you! We also have a few short trips coming up so you will be hearing more about that as well and much more!

-KN

Black Bean Taco Recipe and Week 4 of the Elimination Diet Meal Plan

Anyone who knows me, knows that I am obsessed with Mexican food. I could eat nachos, tacos, enchiladas, and burritos on repeat and never get bored but finding the perfect homemade tortilla recipe has been a challenge. I have tried no less than 10 different recipes and only found one that I really like. Making your own tortillas is no easy feat and as such I needed a quick and easy recipe that can be whipped up in about 30 minutes. Luckily, the Elimination Diet book contained a brown rice tortilla with only 4 ingredients (two of which are water and salt)! It really does not get much easier than that.

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For the Tortillas

Ingredients:

  • 1 ½ cups brown rice flour

 

  • ¾ cup arrowroot flour or tapioca flour
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • Avocado oil (or favorite cooking oil)

Directions:

  1. Start by heating up the water and mixing the dry ingredients in a medium size bowl.
  2. Once the water is boiling, add it to your dry ingredients and mix right away with a fork.
  3. The dough should be pliable but not too sticky. I usually have to add another ½ cup of water and brown rice flour to get it to the correct consistency. You will be pressing it between parchment paper so it needs to be wet enough to stay together but dry enough that it will not stick to the paper.
  4. Heat up a medium size pan with avocado oil on medium heat.
  5. Once the dough has reached your desired consistency, separate it into eighths. Press the tortillas in between two pieces of parchment paper with a tortilla press, plate, or rolling pin.
  6. Cook each tortilla for 2 minutes each side, adding more oil as necessary.

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For the Filling

Ingredients:

  • 2 cans of black beans, drained

 

  • 1 ½ tablespoons Taco Seasoning (homemade or store bought)
  • 1 white onion, diced
  • 1 avocado
  • Avocado oil (or favorite cooking oil)

Directions:

  1. Heat the oil in a small to medium size pan on medium heat.
  2. Add the onion and cook until slight translucent.
  3. Add in the black beans and taco seasoning
  4. Once the filling is heated through remove from heat.
  5. Add the filling to the tortillas and top with avocado.

These tacos are super simple but do not lack in flavor and the best part is you’ll have enough leftovers to enjoy them for a few days!

Below is the meal plan I followed for the fourth week of the Elimination Diet. I continued the Reintroduction but tried to keep it as “safe” as possible. I did add a few more things to both my “can eat” list and my “can’t eat” list but overall felt pretty good.

Saturday: Day 22

Breakfast: 2 rice cakes with cashew butter and ¾ of a banana

Lunch: Black bean tacos

Dinner: Black bean tacos with 2 kiwis

Sunday: Day 23

Breakfast: 2 scrambled eggs, lemony kale, ½ a banana and a Matcha Latte

Lunch: 1 rice cake with cashew butter

Dinner: Sushi!

Monday: Day 24

Breakfast: Black bean taco with lemony kale

Snack: Banana with almond butter

Lunch: Salad

Snack: Matcha Latte

Pre-workout: 2 rice cakes with cashew butter and 2 tortillas

Dinner: Black Bean Burger with green beans

Tuesday: Day 25

Breakfast: Black beans, Lemony Kale, and Matcha Latte with Almond Milk

Lunch:Black Bean Burger with green beans

Snack: 2 rice cakes with cashew butter and date syrup

Dinner: Black Bean Burger with green beans

Wednesday: Day 26

Breakfast: Black beans, Mashed Sweet Potato, Lemony Kale, and Matcha Latte with Almond Milk

Lunch: Chicken Beet Salad

Snack/Pre-workout: 2 rice cakes with cashew butter and date syrup

Dinner: Black Bean Burger with green beans

Thursday Day 27

Breakfast: Black beans, Raw veggies and a Matcha Latte

Snack:  2 rice cakes with cashew butter

Lunch: Black Bean Burger with green beans

Snack: Pear

Pre-workout: 2 rice cakes with cashew butter and date syrup

Dinner: Homemade Pot Pie

Friday: Day 28

Breakfast: Black beans, Raw Veggies and Rice

Lunch: Chicken breast with sauteed mushrooms and sweet potato fries

Snack: Pear

Dinner: Homemade Pot Pie

This week was definitely a test of trying to stay compliant while eating out. I had three work lunches this week and it was difficult! I thought I was making good choices but upon further investigation they were not as good as I had hoped. Namely, the pre-made dressings that came with my salads contained several foods I had not reintroduced yet and I certainly felt it! Additionally, I had some issues with eating a plain chicken breast, which just reminds me that plant based proteins are what my body needs right now.

Whole30 and Chasing the Tiger Blood

Thousands of people around the nation are completing, have completed, or are planning to complete a Whole30. I’ve spoken before about how I consider myself to be a Whole30 veteran (having completed 6 rounds at varying lengths over the last few years) but also about why I probably will never complete another one. But just because I do not have plans to complete another Whole30 does not mean that the things I’ve learned during my Whole30s are not applicable and have not stuck with me. For example, I was only able to find out I have a gluten intolerance because of this program and because of that I will be forever grateful. Not only that, Whole30 taught me how to cook, showed me my passion for cooking healthy meals, made me a label reading pro and so much more. I know the program seems daunting and I would be lying if I said it was easy. It’s not, but it’s worth it. And because I want everyone who attempts a Whole30 to succeed, I’ve rounded up a few tips to help you all on your journey, whatever that may be.

To start off, I would never have been able to complete a Whole30 without dedicated paleo bloggers. They make it so dang easy to search for Whole30 approved recipes, which completely take the guess work out of “is this compliant?” Luckily for you, I’ve rounded up a few of my favorites. Now, I’m a strong advocate for buying and using their cookbooks (just ask my fiance) but when you are first starting out and do not want to invest a lot of money into a lifestyle that you are not sure you like, the online recipes are a lifesaver.

Top 5 Favorite Whole30 Bloggers

  1. Primal Palate: (http://www.primalpalate.com/) Bill and Hayley of Primal Palate offer so many great easy recipes and becasue they love the Whole30 program so much, they’ve added a separate section of their website completely dedicated to compliant recipes.
  2. Stupid Easy Paleo: (http://stupideasypaleo.com/) Ok, this should really be called Stupid, Easy, and Simple Paleo because Stephanie Gaudreau provides so many great recipes that are easy enough for a beginner and simple enough for someone who does not have all day to spend in the kitchen (aka ME!).
  3. PaleOMG: (http://paleomg.com/) Juli Bauer’s recipes are absolutely amazing! I have both of her cookbooks and cook out of them regularly. They are perfect for my skill set (moderate) and time constraints.
  4. Fed and Fit: (http://fedandfit.com/) Cassy Joy got me to eat (lemony) kale. Enough said.
  5. Nom Nom Paleo: (http://nomnompaleo.com/) I’m going to be honest, I do not cook from Michelle Tam’s Nom Nom Paleo as much as I would like, but I do follow her on Instagram and draw a lot of inspiration for meals from her posts. Plus, she has a dedicated section of her blog for Whole30 Receipes. She is definitely worth checking out.

These are just a few of the people that I relied upon to cook healthy, delicious, Whole30 compliant meals. But I also really loved cooking through the Whole30 Cookbook. And because I know that not everyone has time to review hundreds of recipes; below, I have included a few of my favorites.

Top 5 Favorite Whole30 Recipes

  1. Mongolian Beef with Cauliflower Rice: http://www.paleocupboard.com/mongolian-beef.html (leave out the honey. I promise it still tastes delicious!)
  2. Chicken Piccata with Mashed Cauliflower: http://www.paleocupboard.com/chicken-piccata.html
  3. Skillet Balsamic Garlic Chicken: http://cookiesandcups.com/skillet-balsamic-garlic-chicken/ (sub butter for ghee)
  4. Creamy Lemon Chicken with Asparagus and Mushrooms: http://www.wholesomelicious.com/creamy-lemon-chicken-with-asparagus-and-mushrooms/
  5. Sweet and Sour Chicken with Cauliflower Rice: https://thedomesticman.com/2014/04/24/sweet-and-sour-chicken-paleo-gluten-free/ (leave out the honey)

Having all of these recipes wouldn’t mean a thing if I did not implement my Top 5 Whole30 Tips.

  1. Meal plan, meal plan, meal plan (and meal prep, if you can). I’m terrible at meal prepping but I meal plan like it is nobody’s business. I usually meal plan on Fridays so that when we make it to the store during the weekend I have a list ready. I plan Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinners for the week and create a corresponding grocery list. I try to aim for 3 dinners and 2 breakfast recipes per week so that I’m not cooking every night and I can rely on leftovers to carry me through.
  2. Keep Whole30 compliant snacks handy. The dreaded hangry. There is nothing worse than being hungry without access to compliant food. As such, I always have a few Whole30 compliant foods in my desk, car, purse, and apartment. I would buy individual packs of compliant almond butter or cashew butter, almonds/walnuts, and an apple to have on hand at all times. I have tried RxBars, Epic Bars, and Larabars but for a variety of reasons none of them really worked for me although I know a lot of people love them.
  3. Develop a restaurant strategy. Without fail you will be forced to eat out during your Whole30 and in order to make it a little less painful I created my foolproof restaurant strategy. I would normally order either a burger no bun with toppings of choice (fried egg, avocado, tomato, onion, etc) with a side of veggies or I would order a plain chicken breast with sauteed mushrooms (even if they don’t have it on the menu almost every kitchen can saute up some mushrooms) with a side of veggies. Originally I thought that I would be stuck with salads for 30 days but I actually found it fairly difficult to order salads at restaurants because of the dressing. I am a complete dressing snob and no matter how much I tried to love just oil and vinegar I couldn’t hack it (give me my Thousand Island!) and most pre-made dressings contain sugar.
  4. Tea and Sparkling Water are your friends. I gave up soda and caffeine during my first Whole30 and never looked back. There are so many great varieties of tea, both caffeinated and decaf, that there’s no way you will get bored. I just stock my desk full of different varieties and enjoy them throughout the day. Sparkling water is also a lifesaver both during the day and when you encounter your first “let’s grab drinks” scenario. I would normally buy La Croix and keep them at work to avoid any cravings for soda. Additionally, I would order club soda (not tonic) at bars with a slice of lemon to pretend I’m having a vodka tonic (my Bar Strategy). Most people didn’t know the difference and a lot of times I would get my drinks for free so win-win.
  5. Enjoy the Process and Don’t be so Hard on Yourself. Ok, so this is more of a 2 in 1, but they go hand in hand. The first week, second week, or even third week can be really challenging and it’s ok to admit that. I know the Whole30 mantra “This isn’t hard…” but depending on where you started it really can be and that’s ok. I will never forget during my 4th round, calling up my best friend on day 10 almost in tears about how hard it was and how I just wanted a Reese’s Easter Egg (coincidentally, the food I had  been gorging on right before I started, which made my first few days torture). But also, enjoy the process and recognize all those (maybe tiny and insignificant to other people but seem really big to you) non-scale victories like when you are finally sleeping better, waking up with energy, when fruits start tasting a whole lot sweeter because your tastebuds are changing, or when your pants fit a little looser. These are all signs that the process is working and you are changing your life!

I hope these tips help and that you complete a successful Whole30! If you have any questions that I did not answer, please leave me a comment and I will do my best to answer them (I’m not an expert just a veteran) and don’t forget to keep chasing that Tiger Blood!

– KT

Homemade Matcha Latte Recipe and Week 3 of the Elimination Diet Meal Plan

I’ve been trying to master the art of the perfect matcha latte for over a year. I had been reading about the health benefits of matcha and was desperately looking for something to replace my coffee habit. I purchased a reasonably priced bag of matcha on Amazon and was off to the races. I’ve tried almond milk, cashew milk, coconut milk, maple syrup, honey, truvia, protein powder all with varying success. It was not until recently that I finally landed on a winning combination.

Ingredients:

  • 1-2 cups dairy free milk of choice I am a fan of almond milk but when I was eliminating all nuts I used coconut milk and didn’t notice a substantial difference
  • 1-3 teaspoons matcha I definitely started out with less and increased over time, this is all about how much matcha flavoring you want and depending on the brand of matcha you buy it could be bitter so less is more in the beginning.
  • 2 tablespoons 100% pure maple syrup I tried honey and truvia and nothing compared to the taste of pure maple syrup.
  • 1 tablespoon ghee or butter, optional adding ghee/butter gives the latte a creamier texture and flavor and more of a bulletproof feel. If you have a hard time incorporating healthy fat into your breakfast this is a perfect way to do it. However, ghee/butter can easily be omitted if you do not need the added fat.
  • 1-2 tablespoons coconut oil or MCT oil I personally use MCT oil because I do not like the flavor of coconut. Again, MCT oil gives it a more bulletproof feel but it is not essential to the latte.1 – 2 tablespoons collagen I love adding collagen to this drink. It’s a great way to get a little more protein and my joints love it!

Directions:

  1. Heat up the milk and butter (if using)
  2. Add in matcha, maple syrup, MCT oil, and collagen and blend on high for 1 to 2 minutes.

This is a fun recipe to have in the morning for a nice little boost or in the afternoon to help with those 3pm coffee cravings. Additionally, this recipe is incredibly versatile so try it out and make it your own! Right now I cannot have dairy and so I’ve been leaving the ghee/butter out and it is still just as creamy and delicious as before.

Below is the meal plan I followed for the third week of the Elimination Diet. This week I started Phase 3: The Reintroduction. I’m experimenting with a different strategy than last time. I am not following the suggested reintroduction schedule mainly because I was forcing myself to eat certain foods that I wasn’t craving or had any desire to eat, which made me miserable. Instead, this time I’m focusing on those food categories that I really enjoy and that I am 90% sure I can have. This just makes my life a little easier and I’m still only eating those foods that I really want/enjoy. Additionally, I’m throwing out the 3 day reintroduction rule (the book suggests you reintroduce each item for 3 days and then move directly onto the next one if you do not experience any negative side effects). I think overall my reintroduction was really rushed because of the recommended schedule and the desire to reintroduce all foods by Thanksgiving.

This time, I’m slowing it down and taking it at my own pace. When I come to a food that I really want to introduce, I’ll do it on my own time and schedule. Thus far this week I’ve reintroduced: citrus, almonds, peppers, and chili pepper. I plan on reintroducing cashews tonight (hello cashew butter!). I do not currently have any set plans for the reintroduction next week but I have a feeling that potatoes will be making an appearance on my menu eventually. I’m just trying to really focus on how each food affects me taking each day and week as it comes and work the program so that it is more manageable for my lifestyle.

Saturday: Day 15

Breakfast: Black beans and Lemony Kale

Lunch: Chipotle – brown rice, beans, chicken, grilled onion/green peppers and guacamole

Snack: Applesauce with cinnamon

Dinner: ½ a chicken breast with roasted peppers, zucchini, and onions

Sunday: Day 16

Breakfast: Vegan Pancakes

Lunch: Spiralized Sweet Potato, Kale, and White Bean Bake

Snack/Pre-workout: Beanitos Chips

Dinner: Homemade Spring Roll Filling (I was munching as I was cooking)

Monday: Day 17

Breakfast: Vegan Pancakes

Lunch: Spiralized Sweet Potato, Kale, and White Bean Bake and Raisins

Snack/Pre-workout: Banana and Beanitos Chips

Dinner: Chicken and Mushroom with Brown Rice and One Homemade Spring Roll

Tuesday: Day 18

Breakfast: Black beans, Lemony Kale, and Matcha Latte with Almond Milk

Lunch: Chicken and Mushroom with Brown Rice

Snack: 1 rice cake with almond butter

Dinner: Chicken and Mushroom with Brown Rice

Wednesday: Day 19

Breakfast: Black beans, Lemony Kale, and Matcha Latte with Almond Milk

Lunch: 3 Homemade Gluten Free Spring Rolls with Coconut Aminos

Snack/Pre-workout: 1 rice cake with almond butter and Beanitos Chips

Dinner: 2 ½ Homemade Gluten Free Spring Rolls with Coconut Aminos

Thursday Day 20

Breakfast: Black beans, Lemony Kale, and Matcha Latte with Almond Milk

Lunch: ½ cup of black beans and 1 Homemade Gluten Free Spring Rolls with Coconut Aminos

Dinner: ½ cup of black beans and ¼ of a fried plantain

Snack: 2 rice cakes with almond butter and ¾ of a banana

Friday: Day 21

Breakfast: Black beans, Lemony Kale, and Matcha Latte with Almond Milk

Lunch: 1 cup black beans with ½ of a fried plantain

Snack/Pre-workout: Applesauce with cinnamon and 1 rice cake with cashew butter

Dinner: Taco Bowl

This week I’ve been more focused on snacking mindfully. I think I relied on snacks a bit too much during Week 2 so this week it was all about making sure I eat a balanced meal for breakfast, lunch, and dinner and limiting snacks to the late afternoon/early evening so that they double as a pre-workout boost. Justin and I got into a really great workout routine this week; spinning twice and lifting four times. Those added workouts mean that I need to make sure I’m fueling properly before and after each day. I’ll post more about our fitness routine soon!

Lentil-Veggie Soup and Week 2 Meal

I’m a little behind on posting for the week but I wanted to make sure to share the Lentil-Veggie Soup recipe that dominated my Week 2 menu. Unfortunately, I cannot take credit for this delicious healthy recipe. I found it on one of my favorite websites www.mindbodygreen.com. I had never had lentils before and was eager to try something new. Plus, I think we were getting a little sick of white/black beans.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon olive or avocado oil
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 medium white onion, diced
  • 4 medium carrots, diced
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • ½ teaspoon coriander
  • ½ teaspoon basil
  • ½ teaspoon oregano
  • 1 cup dry green (French) lentils
  • 4-6 cups veggie broth
  • 1 cup small pasta shape of choice, optional
  • 1 cup fresh chopped kale
  • Salt and pepper to taste

 

 

Directions:

  1. Soak lentils in cold water (optional but it helps the lentils digest easier)
  2. Heat the oil over medium heat in a large pot. Add garlic, onion, carrots, and spices, and saute for 10 to 15 minutes, until softened (warning: your kitchen will smell absolutely amazing and you will become very hungry)
  3. Add lentils and broth, bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer covered for about 45 minutes or until lentils are fully cooked and tender. Add pasta in the last 10 minutes of cooking, if desired.
  4. Add chopped kale and salt and pepper and allow to simmer for another 2 minutes, remove from heat and serve.

I was pleasantly surprised by the taste of this soup. It was pretty hearty and thickened up nicely and even included kale! I never liked kale but I’m starting to think it is a soup staple. It adds extra greens and a nice texture. This soup reminded me a lot of chili, which was amazing since I cannot have chili due to the tomatoes. This recipe will definitely make its way onto my menu again and I look forward to experimenting with different veggies.  I ended up getting 7-8 servings but this recipe could easily be scaled up or down based upon how much you want to make.

Below is the meal plan I followed for the second week of the Elimination Diet. If you would like more information about any of these recipes, just shoot me a message and I would be happy to share!

Saturday: Day 8

Breakfast: 2 rice cakes with sunbutter 1 with maple syrup and 1 with date syrup (p.s. The date syrup was amazing!)

Lunch: Veggie Soup

Snack: 2 rice cakes with sunbutter and date syrup

Dinner: Harvest Squash Soup

Sunday: Day 9

Breakfast: Turkey Kale Hash

Lunch: 2 rice cakes with sunbutter and date syrup

Dinner: Harvest Squash Soup

Monday: Day 10

Breakfast: Turkey Kale Hash with Roasted Sweet Potato

Lunch: Banana Muffin/Beanitos Chips

Snack: 2 rice cakes with sunbutter and a banana

Dinner: Spiralized Roasted Veggies with Beans and Rice

Tuesday: Day 11

Breakfast: Turkey Kale Hash with Roasted Sweet Potato

Lunch: Spiralized Roasted Veggies with Beans and Rice

Snack: Banana Muffin and 2 rice cakes with sunbutter and raisins

Dinner: Lentil Veggie Soup

Wednesday: Day 12

BreakfaSpiralized Roasted Veggies with Beans and Rice

Snack: Banana Muffin

Dinner: Lentil Veggie Soup, Beanitos Chips and 2 rice cakes with sunbutter and raisins

Thursday Day 13

Breakfast: Lentil Veggie Soup

Lunch: Salad – romaine, chickpeas, onions, green beans with balsamic vinaigrette

Snack: Homemade Bone Broth

Dinner: Spiralized Roasted Veggies with Beans and Rice, Beanitos Chips, and 2 rice cakes with sunbutter and raisins

Friday: Day 14

Breakfast: Lentil Veggie Soup

Lunch: Salad – romaine, spinach, carrots, alfalfa sprouts, grilled chicken, mushrooms and balsamic vinaigrette

Snack: Radishes and Homemade Bone Broth

Dinner: Spiralized Roasted Veggies with Beans and Rice and Raisins

This week wasn’t as clean as Week 1 and I certainly felt it.  I relied upon a lot of my own recipes and found out I really like sunbutter and rice cakes. During Week 3 I’m going to focus on limiting my snacks and I start Phase 3: The Reintroduction. First up is Citrus so Lemony Kale here I come!

Homemade Veggie Soup and Week 1 of the Elimination Diet Meal Plan

 

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As promised, I am sharing my fool-proof homemade veggie soup recipe. What I love most about this recipe is that it is so versatile. I have made it numerous times and no two times have been the same. Plus this is the perfect way to get rid of some veggies that have been hanging out in your refrigerator and since it is has been so cold here in the Midwest; a simple warming soup has been much needed!

There are two ways to make this soup and which one you make really depends on whether you include uncooked rice. I will give you both the longer and the shorter versions so that you can do what works best for you!

Ingredients:

    • 12 cups Broth (I like to use Vegetable Broth or Chicken Stock but this recipe would also be amazing with homemade bone broth)
    • 1 cup uncooked wild rice
    • 2 cans cooked beans of choice (I usually use white beans or kidney beans) or cooked protein of choice. I’ve used ground turkey before and it was delicious
    • 2-4 cups chopped veggies of choice (some of my favorites are carrots, mushrooms, celery, onion, leeks, broccoli, potato or squash) [I like to make my soups fairly hearty so I include lots of extra veggies, if you like more brothy soups decrease the amount of veggies]
    • 4 cups chopped kale (this is a must! You will barely realize you are even eating kale in this recipe and it’s so good)
    • ½ cup chopped parsley (or other fresh herb)
    • Salt and Pepper to Taste

 

 

 

 

Directions Long Version:

  1. Bring the stock to a gentle boil. Add the rice and veggies that take longer to cook like onion or leeks. Cover and simmer for about 40 minutes.
  2. Add the remaining veggies and beans, simmer for 15 to 20 minutes or until the veggies are cooked through.
  3. Add the kale, fresh herbs and salt and pepper. Simmer for about 5 minutes. (If using cooked ground turkey, chicken, or beef I would add it here)
  4. Taste and adjust the salt and seasonings, if desired.

That’s it! In about an hour you will have an entire pot of warming healing soup! But if you don’t have an hour to make soup then here’s a shorter version.

Directions Short Version:

  1. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive, avocado, or coconut oil in a pot over medium heat. Add the leeks, onion, and garlic and saute for 3 to 5 minutes.
  2. Add the mixed veggies and stock as well as any option additions (if you want to include rice it will have to already be cooked as uncooked rice will not cook fully in this shorter version). Cover and simmer for 10-15 minutes or until vegetables are cooked through.
  3. Add the kale, fresh herbs, salt and pepper and simmer for 4 to 5 minutes (if using cooked ground turkey, chicken, or beef, I would had it here).
  4. Taste and adjust the salt and seasonings, if desired.

Done! These recipes can easily be scaled up or down depending on how many servings you would like to make. The above recipes make between 10-12 servings. Having this soup handy has been a lifesaver this first week of the Elimination Diet. I personally love eating it for breakfast, lunch, or dinner and will routinely have it for a few meals a day. It is stocked full of healthy veggies but also keeps me full with the addition of beans or ground turkey, chicken, or beef. Below is the meal plan I followed for the first week of the Elimination Diet. If you would like more information about any of these recipes, just shoot me a message and I would be happy to share!

Saturday: Day 1

Breakfast: Very Berry Chia Smoothie and Herbal Tea

Snack: Applesauce

Lunch: Creamy Broccoli Mushroom Soup

Dinner: Creamy Broccoli Mushroom Soup and a Banana

Sunday: Day 2

Breakfast: Very Berry Chia Smoothie and Herbal Tea

Lunch: Creamy Broccoli Mushroom Soup

Snack: Applesauce

Dinner: Creamy Broccoli Mushroom Soup and a Banana

Monday: Day 3

Breakfast: Very Berry Chia Smoothie and Herbal Tea

Lunch: Creamy Broccoli Mushroom Soup

Snack: Homemade Bone Broth

Dinner: Veggie Soup and 2 rice cakes with sunbutter and raisins

Tuesday: Day 4

Breakfast: Veggie Soup

Lunch: Veggie Soup

Snack: Applesauce

Dinner: Black bean, sweet potato tacos

Wednesday: Day 5

Breakfast: Very Berry Chia Smoothie and Herbal Tea

Lunch: Black bean, sweet potato tacos

Snack: 2 rice cakes with sunbutter and raisins

Dinner: Italian Herb Salad with Rotisserie Chicken

Thursday: Day 6

Breakfast: Veggie Soup with ½ banana, and a cup of bone broth

Lunch: Black bean, sweet potato tacos

Snack: Applesauce

Dinner: 2 rice cakes with sunbutter and raisins

Friday: Day 7

Breakfast: Veggie Soup

Lunch: Black bean, sweet potato tacos

Snack: Bone Broth

Dinner: Veggie Soup

As you can see, I stick to a similar menu throughout the week. I have very little time to make dinners so I always double my recipes so that we can have plenty of leftovers. When you are making a major change in your diet the key is to always have healthy food ready to eat and to keep it simple! I didn’t try any new recipes this week and only had to cook 2 nights this week. Plus I have extra leftovers to help me start the weekend off right. I’ll be doing some meal prepping this weekend and hopefully this time I will remember to take pictures while I do it!

New Year, New Me… or is it?

I have mentioned before that I will be embarking on my second (and hopefully final) Elimination Diet. There is nothing special about starting the Elimination Diet in January. I simply have a slower social month and knew that I would have time to devote to the program without being tempted with Christmas cookies and champagne.

I briefly discussed my journey with the Elimination Diet before and as promised I’m going to talk a little bit more about it, which will help explain why you will be seeing more food posts than normal. I’m hoping that in the coming weeks I will be able to share some of my favorite healthy recipes with you and if you are embarking on a Whole30 or other similar elimination diet hopefully these recipes will give you some inspiration to keep going.

Unlike the Whole30, I think the title of the “Elimination Diet” is misleading. After reading the book and completing the program, I can testify that this is not a diet in the traditional sense of the word. When I hear “diet” I immediately think of weird juice cleanses, calorie restriction, arbitrary rules and unhealthy weight loss. The purpose of the Elimination Diet is not to lose weight; in fact, you can successfully complete the program and not lose a single pound. Although most individuals report losing weight while completing the program, weight loss is simply a by-product. The purpose of the Elimination Diet is to identify those foods that are causing you adverse reactions such as nausea (a big one for me), headaches, bloating, and digestive issues. By finding and identifying your intolerant foods and eliminating them from your diet, you are healing your body from the inside out. It may be the case that you actually gain weight while completing the program, if keeping weight on has been an issue for you. The Elimination Diet’s goal is to help identify the perfect diet for you. It was created by the husband and wife duo Tom Maltere and Alissa Segersten; Tom  an Advanced Functional Medicine Nutritionist and Ali a chef. Together they used their expertise to create a program that helps individuals find the foods that are making them feel sick, tired, bloated, etc. and created simple delicious recipes to get you through the program. I rely upon the Elimination Diet recipes fairly heavily in the first two phases of the program and each one has not disappointed. Some of the recipes have even become staples in our menu whether or not I am completing the program.

The program is broken up into three phases: (1) detox – 2 days, (2) eliminate – 2 weeks, (3) reintroduce – ~ 60 days. As you can see this is not a quick and easy program. It requires a lot of organization, preparation, and as I found out, a lot of willpower. You should actually be able to complete only one Elimination Diet (with periodic check-ins every 6 months) and never have to do it again, which makes what I’m about to do a bit out of the ordinary.

I originally started the Elimination Diet in June of 2016 and at the same time started taking vitamins recommended by my doctor. I made it through the detox and elimination portions of the program fine but I was only able to make it through a few reintroductions (citrus and nightshades) before I started having a severe reaction to what seemed like everything. I continued on with the program for about four weeks thinking that everything I was eating was making me sick. Through a process of trial and error, I finally discovered that my magnesium pills were the source of my constant nausea. By the time I made this discovery I was completely exhausted and frustrated. I had just spent the last four weeks eating what I thought was healthy food and still getting sick on a daily basis. I was utterly defeated.

I ended up limping along through the rest of the program but knew that my results were not accurate. Before the start of the reintroduction, I felt better than I have ever felt but through the process I had lost that amazing feeling and I couldn’t get it back no matter how hard I tried.  Somewhere in the final weeks, I resolved myself to the fact that I would indeed have to start over. Put simply, I had received so many false positives due to the magnesium pills that my results were not credible.

This discovery occurred within a few weeks of Thanksgiving and I decided to take the holidays as a break and as soon as my schedule cleared up and I had the time to devote the program I would make my second (and hopefully final) attempt and figuring out all of my intolerant foods.

The first attempt was not a complete failure. I did discover that tomatoes, quinoa, pecans, and cayenne are not my friends and have been feeling better since removing them from my diet. However, I feel my old symptoms creeping up (fatigue, headaches, aches, pains) and know that some things were missed. So on Saturday, January 7, 2017, I started the Detox. It was not as bad as the first go around (thankfully) but still not a walk in the park.

Luckily, I had spent the previous week prepping. I would be lying if I didn’t say that I was also trying to eat a few of my unhealthy favorites (I’m looking at you tuna noodle casserole) before the Detox began but I did cut back on animal protein and sugar. I also planned my meals for the first four days and picked up everything I needed in preparation of the weekend since there is nothing worse than having to go to the grocery store when you cannot eat 90% of what’s there.

One of the keys to the first few days was keeping everything as simple as possible. I chose recipes that I have made before and that require few ingredients. I ended up making the Very Berry Chia Smoothie (slightly modified) and the Creamy Broccoli-Mushroom Soup both from the Elimination Diet.

However, as I entered the Elimination portion of the program, I knew that I would be craving something with more substance, especially since Justin and I tried to keep our workout schedule the same. I ended up making a huge pot of homemade veggie soup and chicken bone broth and it has been hitting the spot! On Friday, I’ll give a rundown of this weeks meals as well as my fool-proof veggie soup recipe.

For those of you who have completed an elimination diet or are thinking about doing so, I would love to hear from you!

– KT       

Busyness is not a Badge of Honor

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I cannot tell you how many times I have had this exact conversation over the last few years. Nine times out of ten, I answer with a vague “busyness” followed up with,  “and I don’t even know what we’ve been doing”, which is mostly true. One of the reasons I started this blog was to take back my 62 (free hours) and in doing so, I have had to evaluate exactly where these 62 hours have been going for the last few months, or even years. I don not have to look any further than my own calendar, which is filled with charity events, work obligations, family obligations, working out, grocery shopping, cooking, erranding and that’s just within the last few months.

The sad part is, I often hear the same “busyness” excuse just as much as I, myself, use it. It seems as if we all wear this “busyness” as a badge of honor, or as a status symbol. We associate being “busy” with being important or fulfilled. I know that at times I feel that way. When I first started at Hinshaw, I did not have much work to do and it took a good nine months before I was fully integrated into the firm. Those nine months were painful! I would hear all about the cool things my friends were doing and how busy they were and I felt lazy and unimportant in comparison. To compensate for my lack of fulfillment at work, I ended up filling my weekends and nights with extracurricular activities so that I could achieve that same busyness lifestyle and in reality all I was doing was wearing myself out. I should have been taking advantage of the slower pace at work to adjust to a new job and new city and to get to know my co-workers, instead I was too focused on being “busy” that I burned out. I quickly had to scale back my weekend trips out of town and force myself to relax a little bit.

I would bet that if we all just stopped for a second, we would realize that being “busy” isn’t bringing us joy or making us happy. I know this is certainly true for me. I am currently working my way through Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown to combat this exact problem. Essentialism is exactly what it sounds like; focusing on only those things that are essential to you and letting everything else go. By doing this, you are able to focus on those things that bring you joy and happiness and are essential to your well being and discard those things that get in the way of more meaningful activities. The important thing is that everyone’s view of what is essential is unique and it takes time and self reflection to figure it out. 

I am not saying that everyone has to read a book or embark on a journey of being less busy, however, I am advocating that you evaluate your own “busyness” and if you find (like I have) that your life is filled with activities that do not bring you joy or happiness, 2017 is the perfect time for you to let it go, fill your life with those things that bring you joy, and see how your life is transformed.

And the next time someone asks you how you are, instead of automatically replying with “ugh…busy”, wouldn’t it be great if you had something meaningful to say? I encourage you to try it and let me know how it goes!

                                                       – KT

Is it Paleo? Is it Vegan? Does it even matter?

This week, I thought I would take the opportunity to discuss my Food Philosophy and explain, in advance, why you will see Paleo, Vegan, Vegetarian, and sometimes not so healthy dishes featured on my blog  and Instagram (@theother62). I have been developing my Food Philosophy over the past two years into what it is today. In order to understand my Food Philosophy, you must know a little bit about the journey that got me here.

My foodie journey began in the Fall of 2014. While I attended law school from 2010-2013, I was surviving mostly on Sarapino’s pizza and mac and cheese bites. I suffered from daily headaches, never felt great and would feel nauseous constantly, but I contributed my symptoms to too much stress, coffee, alcohol, etc. It was only after graduating from law school and taking the bar exam in July of 2013 that I started focusing more on my diet and symptoms. After about a year of frustration, including a humiliating trip to the doctor, I decided to take matters into my own hands and embark on my first Whole30. I will not go into detail on the nuts and bolts of this program but it is essentially an elimination diet that pulls from the Paleo lifestyle. I was first introduced to this program by a good friend and loved that all the information needed to complete a Whole30 is available free on their website. However, given the fact that I like to know/research pretty much everything, I dove head first into their first book “It Starts with Food” by Dallas and Melissa Hartwig. I loved that they addressed each food group separately and talked about how different food really impacts your body.

It turns out that I was pretty uneducated about what food I was consuming and there was a very steep learning curve to climb. Not only that but prior to my first Whole30, my definition of cooking involved a TV dinner and a microwave. Needless to say, the first 30 days were tough and I ended up actually staying on the Whole30 program for 45 days because I was scared. I knew that I was feeling better than I ever have, which meant that something I had been eating was causing some serious damage to my body. Honestly, I did not really want to find out what that was because I knew it would change how I eat for the rest of my life, and the idea of giving up bread, cheese, wine, etc was more than I could handle. But, eventually I decided it was time to do the reintroduction, and to my surprise I found out that I have a severe gluten intolerance. So, I get to keep cheese and wine but I had to give up (normal) bread. I was in denial for a while and would sneak the occasional donut, but pretty soon my symptoms were back and completely undeniable.

After my first Whole30, I embraced the Paleo lifestyle; filling my shelves with (almost) every Paleo cookbook I could find. However, after being Paleo-ish/gluten free for about two years, I realized that some of those pesky symptoms that were relieved when I quit eating gluten had returned. I was back to the days of headaches, nausea, and fatigue. In between, I had completed five more Whole30s but felt like it was not addressing the issue. So back to the doctor I went, and almost exactly two years after completing my first Whole30 I was now completing my first Elimination Diet. The Elimination Diet is Whole30 on steroids. You cut out dairy, sugar, nightshades, beef, pork, citrus, nuts, eggs and corn but you are allowed to have brown rice and beans, both of which are not Paleo and have never been a staple in my kitchen. The Elimination Diet starts with two days of Detox (liquids only) followed by two weeks of elimination and then a lengthy 60 day reintroduction period. I will talk about my Elimination Diet, and why I have to do a second one, in more detail in a subsequent post but there were a few key takeaways, which are now a part of my Food Philosophy.

The elimination portion of the diet reflects a more vegan lifestyle. Turkey and chicken are allowed but let’s be honest, there are only so many different ways to eat a chicken breast. I learned fairly quickly that I had been consuming too much animal protein while trying to adhere to the Paleo diet. I rarely consumed beans or rice, since they are not Paleo, but found that my body actually responded well to both. Additionally, I found out that I cannot tolerate tomatoes, pecans, and cayenne, which were all allowed on the Paleo diet. But after reintroducing pork, I found that I love bacon (who doesn’t?) and thus bacon once again became a morning staple. I could go on and on about the lessons learned during my Whole30s and the Elimination Diet but with only 62 hours who has time for that?

So I will get to the point, my Food Philosophy is that everyone is different and there is no one size fits all to nutrition. You have to experiment with a diet like the Whole30 or maybe even with an Elimination Diet to determine the proper nutrition plan for your body. I had been avoiding beans and rice just because they were not Paleo, but once I added them into my diet my health actually improved. I had also been consuming tomatoes and cayenne because they were considered Paleo when in reality they were making me feel awful. If I had stuck to the Paleo diet I never would have been healthy. Likewise, if I had labelled myself a vegan, I would not get to enjoy the occasional bacon, and what is life without bacon? I don’t know and frankly I don’t want to find out, which is why you will see Paleo, Vegan, Vegetarian, and some not so healthy foods on this blog and on my Instagram, and why you will never hear me say that I am Paleo, Vegan, Vegetarian, etc because I’m not. I am trying to eat the healthiest food for MY body. I personally believe that everyone should develop their own Food Philosophy and I hope that I have encouraged you to do so.

If you have any questions about anything I mentioned in this post, please reach out to me!

– KT

If you don’t prioritize your life…

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How many times do you arrive at work and feel like you never truly left? Or maybe you feel like you did not get anything accomplished in your time away. I have felt this feeling more times than I would like to admit, putting in a 10+ day at the office, only to collapse on my couch as soon as I get home. These evenings are inevitably filled with Netflix and a quick (most likely unhealthy) meal. But what happened? How did I get here?

Every morning I wake up with the goals to do yoga, drink more tea, meditate, cook a healthy meal for my fiance and I and complete an elaborate nightly routine that sets me up for the best sleep of my life. The times that I have actually done one or more of those things in a day are few and far between and, quite simply, I hate it.

Don’t get me wrong. I do not hate my job or my life. In fact, I feel fortunate to be able to practice law. However, being an attorney is an almost unavoidably stressful job leaving me with little to no time to pursue other interests or hobbies.

Which brings me to this, a blog! I have thought about starting this blog since February 2015 and I’m finally doing it. So, welcome! I hope you find what you are looking for and if you don’t then I at least hope you enjoyed your time here.

This blog is being started to help me take back my Other 62 (more information in the About Section) and I hope it inspires you to do so as well because “if you do not prioritize your life, someone else will” and wouldn’t that be a shame.

If you like what you find on this page, please follow me on Instagram at @theother62 and if you have any comments, questions, or concerns, please contact me. I would love to hear from you. 

– KT