Meal Plan Monday: finding my groove

This week’s meal plan included some incredibly delicious meals! I focused on easy meals that would create lots of leftovers and they turned out amazing.

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Sunday: Zucchini Lasagna

Monday: Chicken Foil Packets

Tuesday: Potato Salad and Hard Boiled Eggs

Wednesday: Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad

Thursday: Chicken Sausage with Sweet Potatoes and Brussels Sprouts

Friday: Cauliflower Sweet Potato Burgers with roasted broccoli Leftovers

Sunday– this was one of the few meals that took a bit of preparation. Alex was home and helped me slice the zucchini and brown the meat so I could make the tofu ricotta. Once all the components were prepped I assembled this lasagna by layering sliced zucchini, pasta sauce, ground beef and tofu ricotta in layers. This recipe would work, only I used store bought sauce and tofu ricotta instead of cashew ricotta.

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Monday– This was probably one of the easiest meals I have made in a long time. I threw the chicken in the foil packet with artichokes and Italian dressing and prepared brown rice on the side. Let it all cook and voila! Foil Packets for the win.

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Tuesday– I felt like a cheater not making a “main dish” to accompany the potato salad but then I decided I didn’t care and served everyone some of our Perfect Hard Boiled Eggs with the salad. We all loved the pickles in this recipe!

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WednesdayThis recipe took a little work to make the dressing but it was totally worth it. Homemade Caesar dressing > store bought! At the last minute I decided not to toss in the Romaine lettuce and added roasted broccoli instead. Because roasted broccoli is > Romaine! We had tons of leftovers of this meal which is awesome for lunches. And both the girls totally chowed down. Given they haven’t had pasta in months I am not surprised!

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Thursday– Our go to week night meal. I worked an extra shift Thursday night so Alex was on his own to make dinner and feed the girls. Chicken sausage with sweet potatoes and Brussels sprouts is one of our favorite 30 minute or less meals and the girls love it! We use Aidell’s Chicken Sausage in this meal. The apple flavor is especially good with sweet potatoes.

Friday– I really didn’t want to cook at all but resisted the urge to go out to eat. This is why having a meal plan is so key. Having everything I need in the fridge ready to go helps motivate me to stick to the plan. I pulled myself off the couch and tossed in all the veggies to roast in preparation for these veggie burgers and then my oven malfunctioned. I still have no idea what happened although the landlord claims it is fixed. In 10 minutes in the oven my vegetables looked like this. Not burned so much as smoked with toxic gas and fumes. Dinner fail. So instead we ate all the leftovers and carrots and guac and some pickles on the side. I was upset we wasted food, but even more upset that I wasted the energy to wash, peel and chop all the veggies!

Here is my weekly grocery list for the week including everything I needed to make these meals plus all the extras we use for breakfasts, lunches and snacks.

  • 1 lb Organic grass-fed ground beef
  • 2 packages Aidell’s Smoked Apple Chicken Sausage
  • 4 lbs Organic chicken breast (split between two meals)
  • bacon
  • 2 18 pack eggs
  • 2 lbs baby red potatoes
  • 6 lbs sweet potatoes
  • 2 ears of corn
  • basil
  • Brussels sprouts
  • ~4 lbs broccoli
  • 6 lbs bananas (we eat a ton of bananas!)
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • extra light tasting olive oil (for mayo/Caesar dressing)
  • 1 head cauliflower
  • Romaine
  • baby carrots (2 lbs)
  • tomatoes
  • celery
  • red bell pepper
  • cucumber
  • lemons
  • 3 avocado
  • 1 lime
  • bread and butter pickles
  • dill pickle spears
  • anchovies
  • artichoke hearts quartered
  • walnuts
  • Italian dressing
  • gluten free pasta
  • frozen sweet peas
  • frozen fruit (for smoothies)
  • cashew milk
  • dishwasher soap

Our shopping total this week through Walmart online was $144. I am proud to say that we only ventured into Publix once this week and that was for a box of cereal, more milk, and a bottle of wine. I think staying out of the grocery store is going to be my number one way to stick to the budget in the coming weeks! Especially with fall approaching and all the pumpkin flavored everything!

 

Thoughts on the Whole 30 with kids

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We just wrapped up a round of Whole 30 in the Kummerow house and the results are in…

Alex lost all of the weight he put on in the past year since he added meat back to his diet and he looks and feels healthier than ever! I am so proud of him because to my knowledge he didn’t cheat at all! My hero!

I on the other hand cheated a ton! I know, I know…technically with the Whole 30 you should start over at day 1 if you cheat at all so I am not quite a success story. However, it jump started better eating habits and I feel much better after completing this round. I lost the “vacation pounds” I put on in Chicago and I am at a very comfortable, for me, weight. All my clothes fit. I feel great. I am in wonderful shape. And I know that if I would just stick with it a few more months I could get these last pesky 5 pounds off. But right now I’m just trying to balance all things and because I’m healthy and my clothes fit, I’m really not that worried. I’m even sporting a bikini at the pool this summer!

Just for fun…

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cred: huffingtonpost.com

The kids were obviously not in this to lose any weight, however we actually started this round for them. While in Chicago we were dealing with some pretty bad digestion issues with Eleanor and Ruthie. I wanted to clear their diets of dairy and gluten and a few other things to try to resolve the issues. The Whole 30 seemed like a straight forward way to get many of the high-allergen and inflammatory foods out of their diets. While we haven’t entirely figured out the source of their issues I will share with you some of the benefits we have found putting our kids on the Whole 30.

After the initial shock of “you can’t have all of these things anymore” they actually received it very well. Not once has Eleanor complained or whined for food she couldn’t have. We make sure to pack snacks that the girls are allowed to eat if we know we will be somewhere that is offering food, but I was shocked to find that the girls didn’t beg for foods that were off limits.

And now they now eat ANYTHING we offer! We do not fight dinner time anymore. Anything I put on their plate is gobbled up in a second. Removing most snacking has also helped this issue. They still have favorites and foods that they will eat first. Our rule is you don’t get seconds of anything until you have eaten everything on your plate. Most of the time they follow the rule without any complaint and then quickly ask for seconds of whatever they liked best on their plate at that meal.

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Deconstructed Honey Mustard Chicken Salads

It was so much easier to say no to all the processed junk food since the answer was always no. We taught Eleanor early on to ask before eating anything while we were out. We actually didn’t want to make her fully aware of what we were doing although she quickly caught on to the “no dairy” and “no gluten” from just hearing us talk to others about the Whole 30. But by teaching her to just ask before eating anything and also that we only eat what we bring, we hoped it could be a long term solution for controlling more of what the girls eat at this stage of life.

Many people claim that when children eat healthier they have better attitudes and less mood swings, but honestly we did not experience this. Eleanor can throw a mean three year old tantrum, and really Ruthie has the tantrums down as well. We did not notice any difference in their behavior before and after except during meal times. We used to fight them to eat dinner and to eat what was given to them. Now they just eat without complaint.


Doing the Whole 30 with kids isn’t easy. It took a ton of prep work, cooking, planning, and executing to make it all happen. The girls were always hungry and it was difficult to keep up with their appetites. We didn’t see an absolute change in their digestion issues so for now we are relaxing the diet a little while keeping them off dairy and gluten. We have a pediatrician appointment this week. I hope to gain a little guidance for next steps. Regardless of health issues, I believe this to be a very healthy and sustainable way of feeding toddlers. We have reset our family’s eating habits and I hope to maintain our healthy eating ways.

Whole 30 Day 30

Good morning! It’s over, it’s over, it’s over! My 30 day experiment is done.

On my last day…

Breakfast: Bulletproof coffee and a banana

Lunch: 1/2 apple with almond butter, salad of romaine lettuce, carrots and tuna mixed with avocado

Dinner: salad with salsa, peppers, tomatoes, guacamole, and shrimp

Snack: bananas, blueberries, almond butter and coconut cream

I was 100% successful in the Whole 30. To my knowledge I didn’t have a single slip-up or cheat. Maybe there was hidden sugar in one or two items throughout the last month, but I avoided all grains, gluten, dairy, sugar and alcohol for 30 days. And the results…

I love eating this way! I really think it has helped to balance out a bit of emotional eating and the feeling of “hangry” as we joke around here. Before, if I got hungry I couldn’t focus at all until I had food. I was emotional, mad, sad, angry even. I really think that this type of eating helps to sustain energy longer. Now, I may feel hungry, but there is no emotion involved. Just hunger. I have the ability to wait it out until I am home or meal time. This is all new for me and a really cool side effect to the Whole 30 challenge.

Also in 30 days I have lost a total of four pounds. Initially typing out that number seemed sort of lame. I really wanted to lose more. I really wanted double digit numbers. Committing to the Whole 30 is hard work and I wanted to see BIG results. However, I am realistic. I understand that losing on average a pound a week is a very healthy goal. Especially because I am breastfeeding and do not want to lose my milk supply. I am comfortably under my pre-pregnancy weight. At my usual Monday morning weigh-in yesterday I read the numbers 139 on the scale. While I’d still prefer to be on the lower end of the 130s, I am still excited and proud that I made it under 140.  I still have work to do, but it feels good to kick those four pounds to the curb. Before I began the Whole 30 I was really struggling to get those last few pregnancy pounds off and now they are gone. And hopefully gone for good.

Speaking of…what’s the plan now? I certainly want to continue losing. And we all know how easy it is to slip and plow the weight right back on. I don’t want to start in the opposite direction. I also don’t want to continue on the Whole 30 100%, truth be told. I want to enjoy a little dark chocolate today. And when I’m home in Missouri next week I’d like to have a glass of wine with my dad. So where does that leave me?

I mentioned yesterday that I like boundaries. I am a terrible decision maker as it is, making food choices is really the hardest. I enjoy eating Whole 30, and I enjoy the limitations it sets and the freedom I have within those limits. And I also like seeing results. But I enjoy wine and dark chocolate…and occasionally sinking my teeth into a rich, fudgy brownie.

Anybody else feel lost after completing a challenge similar to the Whole 30? Any suggestions?

Fences

Our go-to weekend activity seems to be hiking. It’s a great way to combine exercise with quality family time. We sing, make up silly songs, chat, and sweat. This weekend I opted to carry the heavy pack for a total of 5.2 miles of rolling hills along gorgeous Lake Norman. We were beat by the end!

Smoothies were in order. And then naps. Have I mentioned lately how we get no sleep in this house? Yeah, yeah, I know, broken record.

Guess what today is? Day 30! You’d think I’d be all jumping for joy and excited for the end of the challenge, right? In many ways I am. I know I am craving something and I plan to break away tomorrow, but I’m not sure just what yet. I bought a dark chocolate bar yesterday while grocery shopping. I’m planning to eat it tomorrow after the girls go to bed…but if it’s my breakfast instead, well, no judgement.

As we are drawing nearer to the end, I am also realizing just how much I like having boundaries in my diet. It may be why I was so attracted to the vegan diet for so many years. There is freedom within boundaries. My mind feels free. Within the guidelines of Whole 30 I can eat anything I want. It eliminates the constant “should I’s.” “Should I have that slice of birthday cake?” “Should I have pasta for dinner?” “Should I drink another glass of wine?” I am not plagued with these decisions all day long.

There is a theory about this. They tested preschool children in a fenced in playground and then in a playground without a fence. In the first, the children played in every part of the playground. In the second, they stayed huddled together in one space. The idea is having proper limitations allows children to feel safer and explore and play within every part of the space.

The first time I heard about this study, a pastor was discussing it in context to the Ten Commandments. Many people balk at Christianity and all the rules. But the idea is that there is freedom within boundaries. If we follow God’s law then we will feel safe to live joyfully and freely. It is in sin that we are bound.

Well today, I am stretching this theory into my food choices as well. I told my girlfriend yesterday that I wasn’t ready to quit the Whole 30. I sort of feel lost. So as today comes and goes and the Whole 30 is in my past, I may just continue forward with 31, and 32, and 33, and so on. After my chocolate bar of course! I mean, when you are eating delicious meals like this…

Why would you want to stop?

Another spring day {Whole 30 Day 28}

I started this thing four weeks ago today. I was tired of eating crappy without any direction for improvement. I was ready for change, and I was ready to lose the last few lingering pounds from Ruthie’s pregnancy. Suffice it to say, it worked. My diet is on track. I enjoy eating this way for the most part. I jump-started my weight loss and am now at or below my pre-pregnancy weight. However it hasn’t been the magic pill I was hoping for. I am still craving sugar like whoa! I have an increased dependence on almond butter. Combined with breastfeeding I was hoping to lose a ton of weight and that hasn’t been the case. And in general meal planning has been difficult with the diverse eating choices in my family. With all that said, as we draw near to the end, I am very happy I did this. And will likely be incorporating Whole 30 into my life in general.

Friday eats:

Breakfast: (7:00am) bulletproof coffee

Breakfast 2: (10:30am) applesauce with almond butter, cinnamon and cashews

Lunch: (12:30pm) the last of the roast beef, kale chips and steamed beets with sundried tomatoes and bacon

Snack: (2:00pm) banana with almond butter and cinnamon

Dinner: (8:00pm) Tuna Zoodle Casserole followed immediately by this Apple Coconut Fruit Bar from Trader Joe’s. It was delightful.

I also followed this bar with a Strawberry Shortcake Larabar. Mmm dessert. It was a hard night. I’m telling you day 3 (of Alex working late) is always the hardest for me.

I spent the one short hour he was home making these hair bows for the girls. I’m pretty proud of my craftiness!

After Alex left for work we occupied ourselves by sitting in traffic. Literally it took 45 minutes to get to the park. I questioned my sanity, but alas we made it and then enjoyed another glorious 45 minutes playing in the sun. It was gorgeous yesterday. Breezy and beautiful! And Eleanor took her first turn ever on a tire swing. She loved it!

And now we are on to the weekend. Alex is home, the sun is shining and it is time to get after it. My workouts were lacking this week so I’m hoping to go for another family hike or squeeze in a bike ride this afternoon. Have a great one!

Non-scale Victories {Whole 30 Day 24}

I broke the Whole 30 rule and weighed myself again at the gym today. Womp womp. Not a pound lost. What a let down. I guess that’s why I really shouldn’t weigh myself. Aside from the number on the scale I am feeling victorious about my accomplishments over the last few weeks. I have really turned my diet around and am focused on getting healthy, whole foods into my body. For 24 days I have eliminated all grains, gluten, dairy, alcohol and sugar! And I feel more energized (despite the sleepless nights) than I have in months. I feel stronger. My back pain that I had been experiencing since pregnancy is nearly gone. I’m smiling more. I’m fitting into my clothes. My muffin top is gone from every pair of my jeans (huge victory!). And yet my weight is the same.

After I weighed myself at the gym I nearly turned right around and walked out the door. I was feeling pretty low and disappointed. I forced myself through the door with a pep-talk. Clearly I needed the sweat-sesh. I was down on myself and cursing all those spoonfuls of almond butter (I guess I wasn’t wrong after all). By the time I was done with Insanity I had perked up a bit. Those awesome workout endorphins! I even decided to stay for Piyo…the promise of long and lean muscles stuck with me. It was a hard workout today. And I needed it. Not to lose the weight, but to realize how far I have come. I am making less modifications. I am sticking it out through the whole class. I am working harder and my cardio ability has increased. The point is, I’m feeling great. I feel great when I get dressed, when I look in the mirror. I can see so many positive changes despite what the scale says.

I am still anxious to see a different number on the scale, but today I am choosing to focus on the #nonscalevictories and move forward. I need to make a few adjustments still in my diet. Namely the almond butter on a spoon straight to the face countless times a day. I need to plan out my snacks better so I am not grazing all afternoon. And I really need to stop staying up late and eating at 10 or 11pm. So for my last week of Whole 30 I am going to put these practices to work, and hopefully on day 30 next Monday I will see a better number on the scale! Wish me luck.

and here’s some baby cuteness…


Mother’s Day {Whole 30 Day 23}

My girls aren’t yet old enough to plan out Mother’s Day for me, so the job falls to Alex and he exceeded all my expectations this year! I don’t remember needing Mother’s Day in the past, but this year it felt incredibly good to have a day devoted to exactly what I wanted. Topping my wish list was a delicious breakfast and strawberry picking. What I really wanted this year was just recognition for all I do. Motherhood has felt hard this year and I appreciated Alex’s show of gratitude. He lets me know he appreciates me all the time, but having undivided attention to the subject felt really good.

Our day began with runny eggs over rutabaga hash and bacon. Mmmm. We discussed going out to breakfast but I didn’t want to rush so he whipped this up for us instead. Honestly, since beginning the Whole 30 I’m a little disenchanted with eating out. My options are limited and typically expensive. If we can create it at home I prefer to save the money (for more fun things like shopping!)

Other meals yesterday included a silly little salad I threw together and then ate while rushing to get out the door for strawberry picking. It included romaine, mango, avocado, bacon (why not) and cashews. I also ate a ton of strawberries while picking. And for dinner we had a simple meal at Jason’s Deli. I topped my salad with all the Whole 30 ingredients on the bar.

We had a blast picking strawberries. Eleanor got really into it, Alex said it was his favorite moment of the day, and I just ran around like a crazy mom trying to get one good photo of my sweet girl.

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The weather was a little overcast which was quite perfect. We stayed in the field until our gallon was full (and bellies). These are truly the sweetest strawberries I’ve ever tasted. Picked straight from the vine, they are warm, juicy and so incredibly tasty!
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They also had farm animals and of course Eleanor was excited to check them out. There were all sorts of babies! Baby goats, ducks, turkeys, cows, pigs. Spring is in the air! Eleanor didn’t want to feed them or even get close so we just walked through admiring all the mommies with their babies.

In the evening we drove to Winston-Salem to visit Alex’s mom and have dinner together. In all it was such a wonderful day spent with the three people I love most in this world. And as a Mother’s Day treat, Ruthie started to laugh this weekend. I’ve only heard it two or three times but it is amazing.

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Farm Day {Whole 30 Day 21}

I know I keep saying it, but we woke up way too early on Friday! Why, oh why?! So we watched a full Care Bears movie and it was still only 7:30am. What to do? I prompted my two year old with this question and she announced she would like to go to the farm. (I’ve never taken her to a farm before) I did some quick googling and texted friends for recommendations and we settled on Historic Latta Plantation in Huntersville. It was just the escape we needed to get through a tiresome morning. The sun was shining and a breeze was floating in the air. I can’t describe how perfect it was!

So we took a million photos to document it:

We saw a donkey, a mule, a cow, sheep, turkeys, chicken and a rooster. We meandered along while practicing all the sounds and taking in the gorgeous scenery. Of course I didn’t capture many photos of scenery…just these amazing girls:

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I mean it with all seriousness…we may not have survived the day if it weren’t for this wonderful escape. We just sat in the shade and hung out for hours. And when it was time to leave we were distracted by a nature trail and Eleanor led us along while we hiked and searched (out loud mind you) for Snow White and all the dwarves. “Snow White!”

It was mid-afternoon before we left. I’m happy I packed plenty of snacks for our little day.

On the way home Eleanor snoozed. She was snoring so loudly in the backseat. However, it was completely drowned out by Ruthie’s cries and screams. She could not be consoled. I had just nursed her, just changed her diaper, and yet she yelled out the whole way home. Of course we hit traffic. Of course the pacifier did nothing to soothe her. And by the time we reached home I was physically ill. Surely somewhere there is research about the effects of a baby’s cries on a person. I was shaken, miserable, and nearly in tears myself. Almost nauseous even. I was relieved to reach home. Even more relieved when Eleanor transferred right to her bed asleep. And then I quickly scooped up my tiny one and held her so close. She was just tired and quickly fell asleep in my arms. Man if I learned something about Ruthie today it is that she is persistent. Do not underestimate this one.

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The rest of the afternoon went much better. But I had lost all will to do anything productive. Between sleep deprivation and literally being knocked over by Ruthie’s screams, I was ready to just sit and relax. I couldn’t even muster the energy to cook dinner. It has been a day full of ups and downs. Highs and lows. I’m ready to hit my pillow and reset for another weekend!

IMG_3714Breakfast: bulletproof coffee and two eggs with avocado

Snack: LARABAR (best flavor ever!)

Lunch: Salad topped with Chile Lime Chicken Burger from Trader Joe’s

Snack/Dinner: teeny apple with almond butter

must eat more now…

Happy weekend friends!

Spring Evenings {Whole 30 Day 20}

We had one more birthday party celebration on the books for last night. This was a Mexican potluck dinner with some of our closest friends to celebrate all the spring birthdays that we were too busy to celebrate as they came. One big dinner for all!

Ashley brought this amazing shredded chicken (much better than my salsa chicken) made with Wildtree seasonings and we all filled in the toppings. I made a giant Mexican salad and forgot to take a photo. But it looked pretty much like every other salad I have eaten this week.  Mexican was the theme this week. Cinco de Mayo!!

One last Happy Birthday to this guy!

We chatted the evening away, Eleanor played with her best friends and eventually the guitars came out for a little jam session/dance party.

Alex and his groupies: 

It was such a relaxing evening and just what we needed to celebrate the end of Alex’s grad semester. He is done until June and I am enjoying having his full attention when he is around!

Other eats:

IMG_3572Breakfast: (7:00am) bulletproof coffee

Breakfast 2: (10:30am) two runny eggs and cajun chicken sausage

Lunch: (12:30pm) kale chips and mashed sweet potatoes topped with almond butter and an apple

Snack: (2:30pm) I mixed together a mashed banana, a cup of light coconut milk and a few tablespoons chia seeds and poured into the empty almond butter jar, waited a few hours and gobbled it up.

Work out: bike ~12 miles (45 minutes)

Snack 2: (5:30pm) hard boiled egg

Dinner: (7:00pm) Mexican salad

Snack: (10:00pm) several spoonfuls almond butter

Sunshine {Whole 30 Day 19}

 If I don’t lose anymore weight on the Whole 30 we can place all blame on almond butter. I can’t get enough. I likely eat 5 or 6 spoonfuls straight from the jar each day. The culprit is this delicious cinnamon-vanilla almond hazelnut butter I have been making. It alone is keeping my sweet tooth alive. 

Meals yesterday:

 

Breakfast: bulletproof coffee and banana

Work out: P90X and a little kickboxing

Lunch: salad with salsa chicken, avocado, salsa

Snack: mashed coconut sweet potatoes with (you guessed it) almond butter and several spoonfuls straight to the face

Dinner: turkey burger topped with sun-dried tomatoes and mayo on a bed of lettuce with more sweet potatoes. 

Dessert: larabar new flavor pineapple coconut. So yumm! 

I meant to make sweet potato salad but over cooked the potatoes while nursing Ruthie. So instead I made mashed potatoes with coconut oil and coconut milk. Still good. 

  
In between work outs and house chores the girls and I took two trips to the park to take advantage of the gorgeous weather. I’m hoping to get some more sunshine into our day today!