"You are What Happened When I Wished on a Star" [Baby Shower]

I was honored to throw a baby shower for a dear friend this week.  Let me just tell you - being a crafter, throwing a party for a crafter, with a crafter has to be the best combination ever.  I had so much fun putting this shower together with these ladies.  Congratulations Erin!  We are so excited for you and your little boy, who will be arriving next month!

Theme: "You are What Happened When We Wished on a Star"
Color scheme: yellow, grey, blue

Food: Sandwich bar, fruit, salad, and desserts.  Erin loves cheesecake and cookie dough, so we made sure to serve something resembling each (I couldn't very well make a cheesecake - she's the pro!).  We had my favorite Creamy Lemon Cheesecake bars and cookie dough truffles.  

Games: Nursery Rhyme guessing game found here
Writing "wishes" for mom and baby for starlight diaper changes

And lastly, my new favorite element: a guest book.  Going along with our stars and nighttime theme, we had everyone sign "Goodnight Moon."  Now she has a commemorative book (with an actual purpose) to remember her shower by and all the women who love her and were there to support her at the time of her baby's arrival!

Cloud mobile decor:

Gift bags for winners of games and others who helped provide food:

My talented co-host designed this beautiful sentiment!  Feel free to save and use for your own star themed baby shower.  

Happy 4th of July

Happy four day weekend 4th of July!!!  I hope you have plans to BBQ, lay by the pool, eat watermelon, stay up way to late watching fireworks and dress in red white and blue.  

The 4th is by far my favorite holiday.  


If you need a few ideas of how to easily add some "holiday" into your decor or food check out our favorite 4th of July posts below.  

Happy 4th y'all.

-- Robyn 

Whole 30 Part 2 – All About the Food

All About the Food

Plan Your Food
You will think about food and think about preparing food more than you did before Whole30.  Spend time finding recipes, planning your weekly meal plan, and making shopping lists.  This will require some effort and time.  However, this is where you will find success.  Planning on the front-end has a causal effect to success on the back-end – your ability to follow the program when it comes to meal time.  My wife and I like the app Paprika for meal and grocery planning as well as recipe management.

Hooray for bloggers and super-moms who share their Whole30 recipes! You do not have to start from scratch.  (start here and here) Do some Googling and you’ll find thousands of recipes that are Whole30 compliant.  Try new recipes and find a few staples (I list mine below).  I find myself returning to my recipe search almost weekly.  I find that I need to “keep it fresh” since you’ll be repeating the same ingredients in many of your meals.

My “Go-To” Recipes
Kale Salad with Sauteed Apples from Brooklyn Supper
BLT Salad from So…Let’s Hang Out
Zesty Chicken Bites from Lexi’s Clean Kitchen
Kung Pao Chicken Zoodles from Elephant & Chick
Sausage Egg McMuffin from Nom Nom Paleo
Chipotle Pork with Pineapple Slaw from Primally Inspired
Rustic Stew from So…Let’s Hang Out

Favorite Blogs and Sites
In addition to the sites shared above, these are a few other favorites.

My Staple Recipes and Foods
These are my “must have” and “can’t live without” foods on Whole30.  You’ll find a few that you couldn’t survive without, too.
Potato Wedges and Fries – No need to follow a recipe, you can Google and find your own style.  Cut your potatoes, coat in oil and seasoning, and bake.
Smoothies – I have a smoothie for breakfast every morning.  Ingredients: bananas, orange juice, carrots, kale or spinach, frozen berries or another frozen fruit, coconut oil, and ice.  I blend it in my Vitamix and chow down.
Whole30 Breakfast – The new staple in our house.  Bake potatoes then shred or cut.  Cook on a frying pan with Ghee, salt, pepper, and other spices such as onion powder.  Fry a few eggs.  Warm some ham or sausage.  Serve with lots of salsa.
Zoodles – Eat spaghetti and meatballs, beef and broccoli, and many other dishes by using zoodles.  “Z” is for zucchini and “oodles” is for noodles.  You can also use sweet potatoes or other vegetables in place of noodles.  I use this Spiralizer on the KitchenAid.  It is incredible easy to make and almost no mess to clean up.
Ghee – You can make your own Ghee (clarified butter).  I buy mine from Trader Joe’s.
Sauces – Take the time and money to get Whole30 approved sauces.  I get coconut aminos from Whole Foods to replace the soy sauce.  Make or buy some ketchup.  I like this Whole30 site for mayo and other sauce ideas.  I did not invest in sauces during my first Whole30.  I enjoyed the food options during my next Whole30s much more once I invested in sauces.
Tuna – I’m a sucker for a can of tuna with salt and pepper.  It’s a quick and easy meal or snack.

Prepare You Food
My first Whole30 taught me that I need to prepare food in advance.  I also learned that preparing and eating healthier food takes more time, energy, and planning.  I chopped fruits and vegetables once a week and place them in the refrigerator to make them easy and quick to eat.  Marinating meat was important because I craved the flavor and spices.  Put your snacks, nuts, and other non-meal food in convenient and important places (keep reading).

My biggest challenge on Whole30 is snacking.  I’m used to eating something before I go to bed – not because I am hungry, but because it is what I do.  It’s in my head; it’s a habit.  My workplace has candy and mints and other food around almost daily.  I’m surrounded by it.  To be successful, I have to deliberately purchase healthy snacks and place them in places where I find myself eating unhealthy snacks.  These places are: my house, my desk at work, my car, and my briefcase.  If I have a healthy, Whole30 snack in each of these places, I can grab that snack when the temptation to eat a Mini Snickers bar comes my way.

My Favorite Snacks
Lara Bars – I survive on Lara Bars during Whole30.  I also eat them when I’m not on Whole30.  This site shows which bars are compliant.  I get mine at HEB, Walmart, or REI.  You can find them anywhere and they are inexpensive compared to other health bars.
Almonds and Cashews – I get the big tubs from Costco.
Dried Fruit – I enjoy a handful of dried apples or pineapple anytime I have a hunger craving.  Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, and most any grocery store will have an assortment of dried fruit.
Coconut Milk Ice Cream – I put half a can of coconut milk in the Vitamix with frozen mango and frozen pineapple.  I have to work hard to get it to blend, but it makes smooth and delicious ice cream that is better than anything you can buy at the store.  This is my treat when my wife or friends are having Blue Bell.
Fruit – I pre-cut fruit so it is easy to grab and eat.  I prefer pineapple and mango over most other fruits.  I also have bananas and apples in the house at all times.

One of my biggest struggles that has now translated into a big success is eating at restaurants while doing Whole30.  My wife and I like to eat at a restaurant about once a week.  I also travel for business about every 4 weeks, sometimes internationally.  Below are my ideas for how to eat at restaurants while on Whole30.
Do your research – Do some online research. Browse menus and see what Google has to say about restaurants in your area.
Ask questions – Ask your waiter lots of questions.  If you’re nice, you can even ask the chef to come over to answer a few questions.  “What kind of oil do you use” or “could you make it without cream” are common questions.  I’ve never had a negative experience asking these kind of questions.  Most restaurants – even chains – will do their best to help you find something or adapt something on their menu.
Stick to basics – Salads can usually be adjusted to meet Whole30 standards.  So can fish and most other meat dishes.

My Favorite Restaurants
Chipotle – Order a burrito bowl with no rice and no bean but lots of lettuce.  Order the carnitas (I get double meat) with guacamole and salsa.  I’m also obsessed with the Chipotle Tabasco sauce.
Five Guys – Order you burger and ask for a lettuce bun.  They will even chop up your burger and toss it with lettuce and veggies in a bowl if you ask.
Steakhouse – Any steakhouse will cook you a delicious steak and replace the potato or fries with a salad and veggies.
Costco – Confession….we eat at Costco frequently for dinner or date night.  They have a Chicken Caesar Salad I order and instead of using the Caesar dressing I bring my own olive oil and balsamic dressing.
Thai – Most Thai restaurants have a curry dish that is Whole30 compliant.  My favorite Thai restaurant will serve me steamed veggies in place of the rice.  There’s also usually meat appetizers that you can try that are flavored with spices and coconut milk.

Whole 30 Part 1 – Get Ready

My husband has recently completed his third Whole 30 and I though it might be beneficial for our readers to hear what it was like. He gives advice if you've decided to do Whole 30 for the first time, tips on what to buy and his favorite recipes etc.   If you want to see other Whole 30 posts check here, here & here.  - Robyn

Andrew & Robyn's Family Easter Sunday 2016 -- our youngest was 6 days old.  

Why I Did Whole 30
Instead of leaving my health and happiness to chance, I’ve decided to take control.

My genetics have been on my mind lately.  Diabetes, heart disease, high cholesterol, weight issues, and cancer are all over my family tree.  As I approach 30, I’m realizing that I am not bullet-proof.  I’ve put on a few pounds and don’t have the energy I once had.  I’m 6 feet tall and weigh about 170 but I don’t feel like I am as healthy as I could be.

The realization and reality that I can’t out-exercise a normal or bad diet finally hit me about a year ago.  I’ve always considered myself to be fairly healthy.  I played sports in high school have tried to eat semi-healthy in my 20’s.  Out of interest and a liking of exercise I’ve done CrossFit, P90X, ran a marathon, circuit training, and other normal exercise programs.  However, I never really felt like I was in good shape. 

My sister has had great success in eating a healthier diet that is close to Whole30 and gave me encouragement to adjust my diet.  A good friend had success on Whole30 and gave me some recipes and some encouragement to get started.  Over the past two years I’ve started to experience migraines that I think are diet related.  As I’ve made small diet changes, I’ve seen big results.  I’m experiencing many benefits from changing my diet.  I’m also seeing food as medicine and life-altering.

Just as the Whole30 program explains, food is either making you less healthy or more healthy.  With a family and devoted wife, demanding employment, church service, and many other priorities, I can’t afford hours of exercise a week to remain in shape or to be sick and slothful due to poor eating habits.  I’d rather prevent instead of repair and repent.

In short, adding all these reasons together I dove in and started my first Whole30 in the fall of 2015.  Since then I recently completed my third Whole30.

Recommendations Before You Start

Whole 30 Website
All of the information you need to start is available for free on www.whole30.com.  Start with the Program Rules and familiarize yourself with the rules, program, and rules versus recommendations.  Spend some time browsing this site to get comfortable with the program.  A little bit of Googling will also give you a good overview and ideas from others.

The Book
I did read the book, It Starts With Food, but not until my second Whole30.  I recommend reading or listening to the book before or during your first Whole30.  You’ll get the science-y, geeky details about the program that help you understand why you don’t eat legumes and corn and how to explain the program to friends or family.  I enjoyed the book – it wasn’t hard to get through.  I actually listened to it on Audible and the authors read the book themselves.  Their passion comes through in the audiobook.  The book pumped me up and was a catalyst to continue to eat healthy while not “on program.”

Prepare Yourself Mentally
I was not prepared for the mental and psychological struggle I experience during Whole30.  I realized how psychological my connection to food is.  I don’t eat at 9:00pm because I’m actually hungry but because my wife is having a snack or because I’m used to having popcorn while we watch Netflix.  Get ready to mentally detach yourself from food.  This was and still is the most difficult part for me.  This also makes it the most satisfying part of Whole30 – the self-control and willpower you gain from conquering these mental connections is liberating and freeing.

Browse the Internet
A few Google searches will lead you to blogs and websites full of ideas, recipes, and recommendations.  Find a few blogs and sites that you like and use their ideas.  If you are like me, you’ll return these frequently for ideas and motivation.  I found myself returning to Google to look for new snack and recipe ideas frequently.

Find Motivation
When times get tough and all you want to do is eat a Krispy Kreme or a piece of toast or a glass of milk (just wait…) you will want to return to your “why” (favorite TED Talk here).  Find your motivation for doing your Whole30 and write it down.  Or tell your spouse.  Make sure you can come back to your why when times get tough.

Gain Support
Don’t try Whole30 without support.  That doesn’t mean your spouse or friend must do it with you.  My wife did not do any of my Whole30’s with me, but she supported me 100%.  She knew why I was doing it and she knew the rules.  She was my biggest supporter and advocate.  Tell your co-workers and friends.  Don’t proselyte and try to convert others, but tell others what you are doing so they can support you.  I never had anyone try to sway me to eat anything that wasn’t Whole30 approved.

Prepare yourself for a slightly bigger grocery bill.  Eating avocados, eggs, spinach, and cashews is more expensive than frosted flakes, milk, mac and cheese, and potato chips.  You can manage your costs by shopping smart, planning, and using suggestions I offer in my next post which is all about the food.  Our grocery bill grew by about 10-15%.

Prepare for Results
Mentally prepare yourself to see some serious results.  You’re going to realize mental, spiritual, psychological, and of course physical benefits.  Don’t approach this as just a weight loss program.  That’s not the goal.  The goal is a healthier approach to food and eating that becomes more sustainable and habitual.  In my next post I’ll share my results and why I have done Whole30 more than once.


How I Felt
Overall, I felt healthy, alert, and happy while on Whole30.  I did feel a lack of energy at times, which helped me to know that I needed to eat more based on how much energy I was expending.  I did have a few aches in my back and knees during my first two Whole30’s.  As all the gunk and junk was leaving my body I could feel it.  I did experience some headaches and body aches during the first two weeks of each Whole30 as my body was adjusting to no sugar and no processed foods.  This timeline is funny and pretty accurate.  Pardon the candor, but I also used the bathroom more consistently while on Whole30.

My energy levels were very surprising.  I had the same amount of energy at 6:00am, Noon, and 6:00pm.  My energy level was consistent.  I didn’t have the mid-morning lull and the 2:00pm drag that made me want a nap.  My energy level never felt super high (no fake sugar rushes on Whole30) which helped me to realize that lasting, consistent energy is more powerful and more preferred that the highs and lows of sugar rushes throughout the day.

During my first two Whole30’s I did not exercise.  I didn’t feel like it and I didn’t feel like I needed it.  I had more energy while on Whole30 than I did when I consistently exercise.  I did exercise on my third Whole30 – I figured out I need to eat more potatoes and more veggies when I exercise consistently.  If you do exercise regularly before you commence Whole30, I would recommend to continue to exercise while on Whole30.  Take it slow the first week or two as your body adjusts.  Listen to your body and rest.  I wish I would have continued to exercise during all my Whole30s.

Sleep and Rest
I sleep like a baby while on Whole30.  At about 10:00pm my body starts to shut down and I wake up around 6:00am feeling refreshed.  This is one of my favorite benefits of the program.  I found that my body needs 7 to 8 hours of sleep consistently, if not more.  Without processed sugars and other junk in my body, sleep is a pleasure.

What Was Hard
Whole30 is not easy, but it also isn’t difficult.  Preparing and finding food takes time and effort.  Mental strength is needed to avoid eating those potato chips or Twizzlers.  It is also difficult when most everyone around you doesn’t take a thought about the food they are eating.  It’s easy to mentally judge everyone else and their eating habits.  But don’t…because those are still your eating habits…you are just trying to change yours.

Food boredom is something other complain about, but this never bothered me.  You consistently eat the same foods, just prepared in various ways. You may feel this food boredom.  If you do, switch up your recipes or go find a whole 30 compliant restaurant.

How I View Food and Whole30 Now
In It Start With Food, the Hartwig’s explain far better than I can all the benefits and reasons to try Whole30.  The best part about Whole30 for me is my new attitude towards food.  I still enjoy food, but I’m learning to enjoy more healthful foods.  Don’t worry, I enjoy a donut or a Coke or a granola bar with the best of them.  But I don’t feel the need to eat them all the time.  I don’t have the desires I used to have.  When I do have a slice of cake or a bowl of pasta, I do so mindfully and intentionally, and in much smaller portions and far less frequently. 

I continue to do Whole30 not because I have self-control and great command of my mental and physical attitude towards food.  I do it because I don’t have a lot of self-control and my attitude towards food is still unhealthy.  Whole30 helps me develop and learn habits that are not easy and that are not natural for me.  I am repeating Whole30 to engrain better habits and psychological behaviors into my life.