Almost Thanksgiving! Plus last-minute side-dish ideas

Thanksgiving is only a few days away and I still have to figure out what I will be bringing to family dinner. Homemade bread (the no-knead, no-fail kind) has been requested, but I also need to figure out a side dish and maybe a dessert.

If we weren’t already having several potato dishes, I would definitely make our favorite side dish: Sweet potato, brussel sprouts, and bacon. It is really easy to make and all the flavors taste great. There is a nice balance of sweet and salty and the brussel sprouts pair nicely with both the sweet potatoes and bacon.

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I have also compiled a list of 15 healthified traditional Thanksgiving sides, which you can find HERE.

I’m looking forward to enjoying great food and company and kick-off the start of the holiday season! This year I am also even more Thankful for the blessings in my life; my son, my husband, our home, and my new job working at an elementary school library ๐Ÿ™‚

What are you making this week? What are you thankful for this year?

 

You may also enjoy:

recipes and meal plans

 

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Labor Day deals

Lots of sales going on this weekend, especially from our Affiliates. Why Affiliates? I have hand-picked several companies that I enjoy and shop at to promote, and in turn, if you purchase something because of the link I shared, they share a small amount (usually about 2-5%) of that amount with me. It helps keep this blog up and running. My first priority is not to blog about Affiliates every day, but here and there when appropriate. So if you were planning on purchasing something from one of these businesses, then I appreciate you going there because of a link I shared ๐Ÿ˜‰

 
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Life happens!

I can’t believe it is already June! Time sure does fly by.

I have been taking a little bit of a break from blogging to spend time with my family and work on projects around the house. After Gabriel goes down for bed, I hang out and decompress with my husband and I haven’t been worrying about blogging! I’m slowly improving the front yard; I’ve planted lots of new plants and flowers and the rock is almost completely gone. I have a raised bed (came attached to the house) that I am growing tomatoes, green beans, peppers, carrots, and cilantro in. I am also attempting to grow squash, pumpkins, and watermelon out of containers because or soil is currently crap; so far so good!

The days have been warm and full of birthday parties and graduations and bridal showers… and yard work. We were even able to pull up the concrete a couple weeks ago and planted an apricot tree. Soon we will have a cherry tree and grass!

In April, I had instituted a “real food challenge” upon myself and I decided to ease up and just live life and not be so strict and crazy about things. I still believe that eating clean and whole foods is important, but I was getting a little neurotic about my diet and it wasn’t healthy.

Our little guy also just turned one and is becoming a pro at walking. It’s never dull with a toddler running about.

My to-do list is ever growing, I might have gained a couple pounds back, my little boy is getting bigger and crazier, my house isn’t always the cleanest, but life is good and my heart is full.

Whole Food Challenge update

How is everyone’s eating going? This week I got a stomach bug, then our refrigerator went out (they don’t make things like they use to, if you buy new, buy the extended warranty!), so I had some set backs. I’m back in the game, though, and will post more recipes and meal plans soon.

I have a couple toddler muffin recipes coming soon, too.

 

Crustless pesto mini-quiches with spinach and sun-dried tomatoes

I’ve never been a huge egg fan, but they are pretty much the perfect food, so I am learning to like them, especially since we eat them pretty much every day. For our household of 3 adults, we usually go through about 4 dozen eggs a week! In my quest to cook some things out of our normal routine, I thought that making mini pesto quiches would be a good idea. And you all know I love pesto. Making these quiches was also a good way to use the leftover goat cheese/pesto/spinach mixture from the stuffed chicken breasts I posted yesterday.

I looked up a million different quiche recipes, all different, yet all very similar, so I just winged it. One recipe said to add Parmesan cheese at the bottom of the cups, as it acts like a little crust, but I was all out. I meant to add a little heavy cream, but I totally forgot about it and they turned out fine. So fine I actually ate two out of the oven the night I made them instead of waiting until the morning. My favorite were the ones with the sun-dried tomatoes. These were great to make ahead. I wish I would have made a few different kinds for Lenten Fridays. The next morning I popped a few in the toaster oven and they were just as good as they were fresh! I really loved the ones with the sun-dried tomatoes, so I think I will make another batch and put in the freezer for weekends we don’t feel like making breakfast… or if we don’t feel like cooking dinner, either.

mini quiches

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Pesto, spinach, and goat cheese stuffed chicken and garlic asparagus recipe

I am working on growing an herb garden in our new house, but birds keep eating my herb sprouts. I put out a bird feeder, so hopefully that will deter them. Along with fresh cilantro and chives, I am really looking forward to fresh basil! I love making pesto and I enjoy eating it even more. This week I was craving some pesto goodness so I decided to pick some up and use it for a stuffed chicken recipe (and maybe a quiche recipe too).

I haven’t made stuffed chicken in a while, and it did not disappoint! This pesto and cheese and spinach stuffed chicken is a yummy and rich meal. Whoever said you can’t eat delicious food while still eating healthy doesn’t know what they are talking about! My husband was happy that it was grain-free and had goat cheese, and I was happy merely because it had pesto.ย  It may seem like too much work, but it’s all in the preparation. After you put it together, you can stick it in the oven and forget about it for a while!

I paired the chicken with a garlic asparagus side, recipe below as well.
stuffed chicken

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April’s Whole Food Challenge

I hope everyone had a lovely Easter weekend! And lucky to all you non-USAers who have Easter Monday off! We enjoyed great weather for most of the day, family, fresh food and desserts, and then some Spring storms!

It’s now Monday, April 1st, and the start of my eat clean month long challenge. I learned a lot about myself and eating habits this last month and I’m hoping to continue to grow and learn this month as well.

A few people I know are challenging themselves this month to eat better, and while our eating changes may differ for each individual, we are all doing this to improve our health and create or reinforce healthy habits.

whole food challenge

What does my particular Whole Food Challenge look like?

  • No counting calories (counting calories these last couple weeks have made me neurotic!)
  • Eat non-processed, natural, foods
  • No refined sugar or starches
  • No hydrogenated oils or soy
  • Limited “healthy” desserts, such as paleo treats
  • Non-cured linguica and bacon are exceptions

What does your Whole Foods Challenge look like?

My fat-loss journey with the Paleo diet

How are those health and fitness resolutions coming along?

I’m going to share my fat-loss journey with you. I haven’t worked up the courage for “before” pictures just yet, but I’m getting there.

I’ve actually just started a Tumblr (or a Fitblr some might call it…). Find me at Mama Looking for Health for fitness and health motivations and my fat-loss/get fit journey.

Marc and I have been committed to eating clean and cut-out sugary treats and too many “cheats.” We have been eating very clean and 90% of it being Paleo foods. We have had great success with weight-loss and an overall feeling of well-being. We have been followers of the Paleo/Primal lifestyle (with a little Weston A Price in there) for some time now (about 2 years) but this is the first time we really cut-out a lot of “cheating.”

The last two weeks I have only had a few non-primal foods (we do eat some dairy) and I’ve dropped 4 pounds. I haven’t been counting calories, just eating good foods when I’m hungry and not over-indulging. I went from 131 pounds to 127 and size 4 pants are getting too big.

I exclusively breast-feed my baby (who eats some food but has been sick and teething so only wants to nurse lately), and my milk supply is still going strong. I haven’t had issues with supply (probably due to eating plenty and nursing on demandย  and every hour those first few weeks).

I don’t want to be stick-thin, just lose body fat and gain muscle. I have a sad, almost non-existent butt I want to grow, too. We bought a bunch of weights for a fantastic deal on Craigslist, so I’ve started lifting weights and doing body weight exercises (push-ups, lunges, squats, etc).

We are exploring a few different schools of fitness, so I will share my journey with you as I go.

But here’s the quick stats:

August 2011: 133 pounds, 25 years old
Always being a bit chubby (I’m only 5’3) this was my lowest weight since middle school!
Lost the weight following a paleo/primal lifestyle and got pregnant during the middle of doing the Whole30 program after having fertility issues.

May 2012: Gave birth. Gained 45 lbs during pregnancy and my diet was definitely lacking due to food and smell aversions.

December 2012: Back down to 133 through diet improvements and breast-feeding.

February 14: 127 pounds. Less food cheats, and adding a little bit of exercise. My scale says I have a high body fat % though, so I’m working on losing fat and gaining muscle

Two-week, grain-free meal plan and cost breakdown Feb 11-24

This post is a couple days late, but I’ve had a sick baby on my hands and an over-worked husband!

I’ve been following a pretty strict primal/paleo diet these last few week and it’s going great. I’ve lost a few pounds without trying very hard and I’m feeling pretty good. We aren’t doing a diet as strict as the Whole30 program, but trying to do about 90/10.

Usually I post meal plans for the week coming up, but I’ve decided to start posting meals, shopping lists, and cost breakdown for two weeks at a time, since a lot of what we buy is in 1 or 2 week cycles.

The Lenten season has begun and I will admit, the start of Lent was not very self-sacrificing. I thought Lent was the following week and did not plan very well. I am breast-feeding my baby, so I am not fasting, but I am replacing breakfast with a shake that has lower calories than my typical cooked breakfast.

My husband eats dinner leftovers for lunch, but I have started enjoying protein shakes as meal replacements because it is quick and easy (which is necessary with my 9 month old!) and it ensures I get plenty of protein. We try and order the cleanest protein we can. We aren’t perfect, we aren’t nutritionists, we are just trying to figure out what works best for us.

two week meal plan 1

We eat a little cheese here and there, so I guess you can say we eat more primal than paleo. There are places to get paleo-friendly protein powder so if you are more strict in your diet, you can certainly find it. We could use more veggies in our diet (especially for breakfast), but we are a work in progress ๐Ÿ˜‰

Meal plan, grocery list, and price breakdown after the jump.

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Easy Paleo treats and healthier sweets

We usually have a ton of candy around during the holidays, but all that has changed! My husband and I are really working to keeping our foods clean and healthy and not keeping junk around. Not to say that we can’t have a treat, but I would rather splurge on something truly delicious than eat 12 crappy heart-shaped candies.

My husband also has no desire to be tempted with store-bought candy that has an ingredient list long and hard to pronounce. So this year I am not loading up his gift basket with high-fructose corn syrup; I’m making my own sweets!

Most Paleo (and GAPS, Primal, and other healthier grain-free/sugar-free options) usually contain the following ingredients: coconut, coconut oil, coconut butter, dark chocolate, cocoa, honey or pure maple syrup, almond flour, almond butter, and coconut flour. There are a lot of healthier options out there that taste just as good.

Here are a few simple treats you can make for your sweet heart or yourself!

mounds truffles

Homemade Mounds (or Almond Joy) from Detoxinista: I’ve made these before and they taste like the real thing! I had to use a bit more coconut oil then the recipe called for, but maybe my coconut was stale. I might also try and put the filling in cute molds before freezing and coating in chocolate.

fudge

Paleo Fudge from Practical Paleo: I have a friend who loves this stuff, and it is super easy to make!

Paleo-Chocolate-Cupcakes-5875

Paleo Chocolate Cupacakes from Elana’s Pantry: And chocolate frosting! I want to make these!

coconut klondite bites

Coconut Klondike Bites from PaleOMG: I really need to get some coconut butter so I can try these out. I love mint.

white fudge

Coconut Orange White Fudge from The Nourishing Gourmet: This looks so good. Like I said, I really need some coconut butter.

Chocolate-Covered-Cookie-Dough-Bites

Chocolate Covered Cookie Dough Bites from The Unrefined Kitchen – These seem easy to make and a nice chewy treat.

reeses hearts

Almost Reeses’ Candy from Whole New Mom: My husband loves Reeses, so I really want to try these.

Don’t forget about chocolate covered strawberries! Melt some dark chocolate with a little coconut oil and dip the berries, drizzle the chocolate on top, or look for other creative ways. Chocolate fondue and mixed berries is a fun dessert, too!

 

You can find more Paleo treats on my Pinterest Board “Healthified Sweets”

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