The Birth of André Martin

Here we are, a month after the fact, and I still haven’t quite processed that there is this little human, given to us by God, to keep and love and raise as long as He wills it. Granted, a LOT has happened since his birth (not the least of which being that Kevin had major emergency surgery when AMG was one week old), but I’d like to get this story written down.

In my humble opinion, the birth was AWESOME. I’ve long been a natural birth junkie. It makes sense, given how I live the rest of my life, but the desire for a wonderful birth experience has only intensified with the period of infertility. Was it what I expected it to be? Not at all. But it was beautiful, nonetheless. And I’m super grateful.

Once I hit 38 weeks, I was ready to go (both physically & emotionally). I mistakenly thought this baby would come early, but I was so wrong. I’d have super minor cramping most days and I’d get all excited, but nothing really happened until the morning of Monday, November 20th (40 weeks + 5 days according to the doctor’s dating, 40 weeks + 1 day according to my NFP charting). I woke up with some period-like cramping around 5am and moved out to the living room. When I say “period-like,” I should say that my periods are far worse than the average person. I had been told by my OB (who also performed my laparoscopy the year prior) that much of labor might resemble a bad period for me – at least, that’s what he’s told by his patients with a history of endometriosis. He was super right. And praise God! I’ve had YEARS of learning to cope with that type of pain, so to be honest, most of Monday was pretty chill.

I was scheduled for an appointment at the clinic later that day to start the overdue protocol (biophysical profile ultrasound + some time on the NST machine). During the ultrasound, I was super uncomfortable (who wants to lay on their back and not move at ANY point in late pregnancy, even without the cramping?!). It was while hooked up to the NST machine, though, that the staff realized I was actually in labor. The PA (my OB was at the hospital finishing up in surgery), showed my results to another doctor in the practice, came back in and said, “you’re having MASSIVE contractions, you need to go to the hospital asap.” So I went out, told Kevin, and we both were kinda like, “well, I guess it’s time?”

So we made our way towards the hospital and I let our doula, Emily, know. We got there about 3:45pm, dealt with triage, and went to our room. Honestly, both Kevin and I sat there slightly confused. I said to him, “I feel like an impostor. We shouldn’t be here.” Emily arrived around 4:30pm and I was hooked up to the fetal monitoring machine, 2-3 cm dilated, 90% effaced, with a bulging bag of waters. We just kind of talked casually, discussed the pain/pressure I was feeling. Around 5pm, I hopped onto the birthing ball. I stood up to re-adjust and BOOM. Real labor began. Everything changed instantly. So much pain. Such pressure. Could hardly stand. I got into the shower and began vomiting.

Amidst all of this new intensity, though, was such a great calmness. I was fairly silent, Kevin and Emily were praying over me, and things progressed. I recall at one point them both singing “Jesus, I adore you” and it flooded my soul with peace. The pain got worse and worse and I honestly couldn’t believe the shift that had happened so quickly. I transitioned to hands and knees position on the bed, and began deep moaning through contractions (the ONLY coping mechanism that seemed to help me in labor). Again, super intense but Kevin and Emily were rockstars at keeping me focused. It was a very intentional experience with great direction from my small team. And lots of “Jesus, Mary, and Joseph” mumbling under my breath. And we can’t forget…Coldplay. We had them on spotify and they played continuously in the background and it was awesome.

At 7pm, about 2 hours after the intense labor began, I requested a cervical check. I had said to Emily, “if I have not progressed I am getting an epidural.” In my head and heart, I knew that wasn’t true, but I just really couldn’t imagine this much intensity for several more hours. So the lovely nurse checked and I could hear her and my doula whispering something about “good news.” Apparently I was now at a 9.5 with no more bag of waters (must have broken in the shower). I was praising the good Lord since I was definitely feeling the urge to push at this point.

At some point, I began to get some relief and pause in between “practice pushing” contractions. Somewhere around 8:30-8:45pm, I began pushing (doc had entered the room! I didn’t even see him, I was hands and knees on the bed totally in the zone). Since André ended up being a bit of a larger baby, especially considering my size and the fact that he’s my first live birth, it took a bit to get this boy’s head out. But once that was out, the rest came instantaneously! 9 pounds 8 ounces! Everyone was shocked. I pushed for about 40 minutes and he was born at 9:22pm. When the doc slid him underneath so I could see him, I was in a weird state. It was less of an emotional high and rush of loving feelings as it was, “who the heck is this and how did he come out of me?” That’s normal, right?

Now, the real tragedy is that none of us recalls which Coldplay song he was born to. We all remember the perfect ones that played during the pushing phase (Paradise, Charlie Brown, Message, Speed of Sound), but no clue which was played at the big moment. Oh well :).

Anyway, we did all the standard “skin-to-skin”, let him breastfeed type stuff while doc stitched me up (so.many.stitches), and allowed the utter craziness sink in a bit. We are so grateful to God for granting us a peaceful, healthy, and safe delivery. And I’m so, so thankful for Kevin and Emily – both were simply amazing to have by my side and I couldn’t imagine it any other way. Now he’s here and we’re figuring this parenthood thing out day by day. It all comes down, though, to love. We love him and praise God for this gift.

Autumn without the treats

Just two years ago around this time, you would have found me in the kitchen using up all the flour & sugar making some deeeeelicious treats. Fall has always been my prime time for trying out special recipes and getting into a good grove with baking my favorites (I still have a fall baking magazine from 2012 that I just cannot bear to get rid of because there are so many goodies inside!). But for nearly the past two years, I’ve been eating paleo.

Last year, I pretty much relied on Danielle Walker’s Against All Grain books. They are so good. And it was fun to learn grain-free baking! But in recent months, my restrictions have increased (boooo!) and I am now grain-free, dairy-free, legume-free, egg-free, nut-free (almonds/cashews), garlic-free, and mostly sugar-free. This pretty much puts me in the AIP camp (autoimmune paleo).

I’m usually pretty good at eating as I should (and trying to make it interesting!), but man oh man! the fall goods! the pumpkin! It’s sometimes depressing walking into Trader Joe’s and shielding my eyes from what used to be some of my staples. I know that a more virtuous person than me would accept these limitations and not dwell on them. Me, however – I need to get creative and find ways to keep me satisfied without lusting after Kevin’s english muffin with pumpkin cream cheese (which I still do…).

Some of my saving recipes as of late that still give me that taste of fall (all paleo/AIP):

  • Crockpot Clam & Pumpkin Chowder from the Urban Poser – I haven’t made it with clam yet, but usually incorporate some sort of protein (turkey patties, prosciutto). It is delicious and we’ve had it once a week for the past several weeks.
  • Pumpkin, Bacon, and Chive Biscuits from the Urban Poser – THESE BISCUITS! They are fantastic and totally compliant. Well, they call for eggs, but I instead used flax-eggs with great success.
  • Squash Porridge from the Urban Poser – one week I had this four days in a row – any type of squash works. It’s that good. I did have to remove the chocolate chips (even the dairy/soy/nut free ones!) as well as the honey when my doctor and I decided I should avoid allllllll sugar. But with the strawberries and a bit of coconut manna, it’s still pretty dang wonderful. And what a breakfast to wake up to on a fall morning! I pop the squash in the oven immediately upon waking, do my morning things, and then enjoy this bad boy.

Other things that I’ve daringly incorporated into my diet for the sake of their incredible health benefits are sardines (actually pretty good as long as I do NOT mistakenly get the ones with skin & bones….gross), chicken liver (the first time I cooked these I had to mentally get over what I was eating, but have since enjoyed them!), and more collagen. So it’s been a new type of fall for me, but I’m surviving :). Let’s pray this is all temporary, though, and that full healing will come!

that [delicious] gluten-free, blueberry pastry

Last Sunday was the brunch for The Guiding Star Project here in Duluth. If you haven’t heard of them, you should look them up. They are a phenomenal organization doing ground-breaking work in the world of holistic & life-affirming women’s health. We were invited by some friends to attend at the Graysolon Ballroom (um, stunning). We had a lovely time and were so glad we went.

But I did something that day I don’t normally do.

I ate a gluten-free, blueberry pastry.

Yes. Katie, the self-proclaimed anti-grains queen (who was also on day 15 of her second Whole 30) ate a gluten-free pastry filled with grains, sugar, and dairy. And it was damn good. Now why on EARTH would I do such a thing when I’m trying so hard to improve my health?

Let me tell you. Up until the first time we conceived, I had become obsessed with nutrition. While there were reasons that made it necessary for me to look more carefully at what I was consuming, I went full-throttle into the world of “let’s eliminate everything and maybe it’ll work.” Do I still think grains are harmful to most, if not all, people? Yes. But I became so regimented and strict with myself that any mess-up would lead to extreme guilt and shame. (Like when I blamed myself for eating a piece of bread just before we miscarried.)

I love my lifestyle. I genuinely enjoy eating paleo. I am grateful for the Whole 30 and the perspective on food it’s given me (and I’d recommend it to anyone). I’m even inclined to start the Paleo Autoimmune Protocol soon (which is like a few steps beyond the Whole 30 – no eggs/nuts/nightshades).

But just as someone can be a slave to food by over-indulging in unhealthy items, I too can let food rule me to the point of deeply fearing a cupcake. How ridiculous! While there have been good intentions of bettering my physical health, I’ve failed to notice what it was doing to me psychologically.

So I very intentionally ate a gluten-free (blueberry) pastry. And it was delicious. And I felt fine. Maybe it wasn’t the best choice and maybe I’ll regret it. But I had lost the freedom I once had in choosing what I eat, and I am now re-claiming it. It’s important to me that I be happy. That’s not to be confused with gluttonous or over-indulgent. No. I probably won’t dip back into grains anytime soon, for sake of prudence. But I need to know the reasons for which I am doing this, and I need to freely choose this path.

So there. I’m a work in progress and I hope that’s okay. 🙂

my favorite thrive market products

Nearly every month (sometimes twice a month), I make a purchase from Thrive Market. The best way I can describe Thrive Market is like a mini-Amazon, but with wholesale prices (25-50% below retail price) on products I feel confident buying. They offer a wide variety of food, health, and household essentials. The products sold at Thrive are healthy, natural, and free of any of the main-stream harmful ingredients we see so often in most things we’d pick up at a grocery store.

The following are a few of my favorite things from this lovely company:

Thrive Market

1 // Dr. Bronner’s Castile Liquid Soap

This bottle (32 fl. oz.) costs me about $17 at Target (honest & true), but I get it at Thrive for $10.95. It’s the only soap I’m comfortable using on a daily basis, and it lasts me a decent amount of time. And I love the smell – peppermint! Lavender!

2 // Paleo Baking Ingredients

It can be so pricey to get things like almond flour, coconut flour, or arrowroot powder at a grocery store. Like, really expensive. So whenever I’m placing a thrive order, I check my stock of these favorites and purchase when I’m in need. They’re a good 30%+ off what I would pay at a store around here. And I trust the brands on Thrive as well.

3 // Dr. Bronner’s Organic Virgin Coconut Oil

This brand of coconut oil (the 30 oz jar) costs $20 on amazon, but $14.95 at Thrive. We go through a lot of coconut oil at our house, so the bigger the jar I can get the better. As much as I love those inexpensive jars at Trader Joe’s (which we don’t have around here anyway), they’re just so small!

4 // Herbal Tea

I’ve transitioned recently to drinking much more herbal tea, trying to slowly replace my coffee habit (which I don’t think will ever fully happen, but it’s definitely an occasional treat now!). They have brands like Yogi and Traditional Medicinal, which I love. Their teas are over 30% less than standard prices on amazon or in-store. So I stock up. My favorites are honey lavender (yogi), echinacea (traditional medicinal), ginger (traditional medicinal).

5 // Mrs. Meyer’s Cleaning Products

Mrs. Meyer’s is the only brand of cleaning products I have besides those I make myself. I use the dish soap and hand soap, both about 30% less than retail. And once again, those smells. So fresh. I particularly love the geranium & lavender.

6 // Vitamins & Supplements

These are the real steals. Vitamins and other supplements can be an expensive health choice. But I do believe in the power of a few choice products, and these can be up to 50% off. A few of the ones I invest in through Thrive Market are Natural Vitality Magnesium (powder form), Garden of Life Raw brand (zinc, vitamin b-complex – all good), and Vital Proteins Pasture (beef gelatin).

Other notable mentions:

  • Organic Coconut Milk
  • Organic Raw Apple Cider Vinegar
  • Organic Raw Honey
  • Grass-fed Beef Jerkey
  • Tom’s of Maine products (toothpaste, mouthwash)
  • AND SO MUCH MORE!

If you like what you see, I encourage you to signup! You will get a 30-day FREE trial pus 15% off your first order! They are super kind over at Thrive, and they personalize everything. If you’re not enjoying the service, you can cancel at anytime. After the first 30 days, you will be enrolled for a one-year membership for $59.95.

Finally, I was not compensated for this post or asked to write this, I just really love Thrive Market! But if you do sign up through my referral link, I’ll get a little bit of credit to shop with. 🙂

 

Whole 30ing all over again

IMG_1537

Last March/Lent was when I committed to my first Whole 30. I had always been someone who believed all diets/cleanses were fads (I thought gluten-free people were just being ridiculous) and were pointless. As long as you ate balanced and lived a healthy lifestyle, you should be fine. But I guess almost two years ago now is when I began really to think hard about the connection between food & health. There are obvious no-no’s when it comes to nutrition, but what if things like my cycle, my period, my skin, or my fatigue could all be improved by changing the way I eat? What if I didn’t have to get a prescription for every little symptom that arose? What if it was, in fact, all connected?

So by this time last year after a great deal of research, I had begun to limit my intake of dairy & grains, but would still eat both casually here and there. The thought of eliminating them entirely was overwhelming – my solutions for quick & cheap meals had consistently been homemade pizza, fruit & yogurt, a sandwich, or a dish with rice/quinoa.  As for the legumes, that’s what I had replaced most of our grains with – so that was kind of a big deal as well. And sugar? I didn’t realize how much sugar I consumed on a regular basis until it was entirely removed. That was difficult (mainly because of the sugar withdrawal headaches).The alcohol portion, not a huge deal as I’m not much of a drinker anyway.

While I didn’t complete the Whole 30 perfectly, I was still pretty dang faithful. And I felt good. But very soon after, I went back to occasional dairy (mainly goat products, but not exclusively), dry/soaked beans, and slowly sugar crept its way back into my life again. And I’ll be honest when I say as much as I avoid grains like the plague, if it “accidentally” shows up in something I’ve ordered out at a restaurant (like breadcrumbs) – I eat it. And then there are corn chips & potato chips…my greatest downfall of all time. With the one exception, perhaps, being those tasty (and expensive) Starbucks lattes.

As of late, I’ve also been indulging like mad in sweet treats – all grain-free and mostly dairy-free – but still sweetened with honey, maple syrup, coconut sugar, and dark chocolate. And while most ingredients may be “compliant” for overall health, temperance Katie! There’s nothing wrong with enjoying these kinds of goods here and there (I’m not the food police!), but I’ve let it become my norm, essentially. While the whole 30 is a challenge with a time frame, it’s also a lifestyle. We are meant to learn from our experience, and apply those guidelines going forward if what we’re seeking is to truly improve our health. There is a reason this diet bans “replacement foods” with compliant ingredients.

So here I am. Ready for another 30 days of no grains, no dairy, no legumes, no sugar, and no alcohol. And while we’re at it, probably no caffeine (which I’ve mostly adapted to recently anyway). Will it be difficult? Yes and no. But mostly no. Last year it was difficult. But one of the greatest fruits of a Whole 30 is changing our perspective on food. A lot of the habits that began last March have now become second nature to me. I try to check myself if I find it becoming an something of an obsession, but I think I really just enjoy the model the Whole 30 lays out, knowing and having confidence in what I put in my body, and the creativity that it urges me towards.

Now that we’ve entered ordinary time and the Christmas season is officially over (wahhh), let us begin. Day one, today!

Essential Oils: Lavender

This is the first of what I hope to be an informative series on essential oils! Just as a preface, I use Young Living Essential Oils for their quality. Not all essential oils are created equal – I know, having spent months and months buying more generic brands on amazon. I would not feel as comfortable using lower quality oils for all the purposes I list out below.

I would venture to assume that lavender is probably the most commonly known essential oil out there. I know it was pretty well-known to me, but the lavender I thought I knew was most definitely not the real thing. We see the label everywhere: lavender scented soap, candles, lotion, shampoo, perfume, bath salts, etc. But way more often than not, these are just an imitation of the real deal.

To be honest, I didn’t think I was going to use lavender for as much as I do. I had heard of its many uses, but wasn’t convinced that this popular fragrance would actually impress me beyond the relaxing factor. But it did!

Here are several ways we’ve used lavender in our home:

  1. Better sleep. Yes, cliche, but true. I have had good success with rubbing lavender on the soles of my feet for better sleep. I am not the best sleeper and I tend to wake up several times in the night. Whenever I remember the lavender, I am pleasantly surprised that it works!
  2. Bug Repellent. This is not a lie. Lavender repels bugs. Upon moving into our house recently, I was horrified to see hundreds of little flies by the windows in our bedroom and bathroom. After getting rid of all the ones we could see, I made a spray bottle of vinegar + water, with 10-15 drops each of both lavender and rosemary. I sprayed the curtains as well as the screens (and re-applied every 1-2 days for a week) and we have had very few, if any, flies since that first spray.
  3. Rashes/Cuts. Kevin had a bit of a rash/unknown skin thing on the back of his neck a few months ago, and at that point, he wasn’t sold on the oils yet. I told him to put lavender on it, and he did as he was told (maybe just to appease me). He was so excited to tell me that it went away and he gave credit to the lavender. He is no longer a skeptic.
  4. Scalp/dandruff. Lavender, I hear, is great for scalp health, along with a number of other specific oils. I’ve had some problems with my hair over the past couple years, and I can say there has been a remarked improvement since I’ve been applying the oils over the past several months. I do include lavender in a recipe for a pre-conditioner I use in the shower, but I also occasionally massage a few drops onto my scalp for a more direct application.
  5. Good smell. Well, obviously this one. Lavender is one of my choice oils for adding a nice smell to the laundry, storage (particularly bins of clothing & closets), and soaps. Just a couple of drops to a cotton ball or a cotton cloth will do!
  6. Make-up. Since lavender is quite the antiseptic, antifungal, and anti-everything-bad, I like to add a drop to my make-up, whether it’s homemade or not. Mascara, particularly, is the big one. I always have such a fear of what I’m putting so close to my eyes, but I am much more at ease with a drop of lavender shaken up in the tube.
  7. PMS/Female things. Lavender, along with a few others, are a crucial part to my womanly routine each month. Added to a carrier oil (I use coconut usually), I make sure to apply a couple drops of lavender to my lower abdomen to ease the cramps.
  8. Skin help. For the longest time, I never thought to use lavender in my facial skincare routine. But it works so well for so much else, I decided to give it a try. Now, I unfortunately have seasons of bad skin, and then once it gets better, I still have issues with scarring. I’ve recently been moisturizing with argan oil and a drop of lavender after washing my face each night, and I am literally amazed. It has done wonders. Now, my face is certainly nowhere near perfection, but it’s improved dramatically given the past few months of stress & hormonal craziness.

I know there are about a million other uses for lavender and I’ve only scratched the surface. What are some of your favorites?

Whole 30: Day 27

How I made it to day 27, I’ll never know. I literally thought about doing a whole 30 for MONTHS and could not bear the thought of a week without cheese, chocolate, lattes, and chips. Truly. But I was driven to do it for reasons that I could not ignore. And here I am almost done! And Imma be real with you – it’s not that hard! I mean, it is but it isn’t. I honestly haven’t even thought much about being on it in the past two weeks. We buy the food we can eat, and we prepare that food. We don’t eat out much anyway, and the times we have gone out, it’s been fine. I may have occasionally bent the rules by not being a stickler for hidden sugar in a few things (particularly at a restaurant), but other than that – golden.

How do I feel? Great. I mean, once I got over the nasty cold, things improved tremendously. I am not craving grains. I am not craving dairy. I don’t really get hungry between meals. I haven’t gotten sick of eggs & sweet potatoes. I’ve made some delicious meals that are twists on grainy/dairy-filled classics. It’s challenged me a bit in the realm of meal planning, but as long as we have enough food on hand, things go well.

Now typically when I tell people what I’m doing, their response is “so do you just not eat?” NOOOOOO! Everyone wants an explanation of what exactly I can eat (expecting it to be a list of 2 things). So what has filled my fridge & pantry this month?

Meats & Protein

  • Pastured, grass-fed beef
  • Organic, free-range chicken (of all types)
  • Wild caught fish (salmon, cod, tilapia, shrimp)
  • Canned tuna fish (in water)
  • Organic, free-range eggs (so many eggs!)

Produce

  • ALL THE SWEET POTATOES
  • Spaghetti squash
  • Butternut squash
  • Avocadoes
  • Organic kale
  • Organic arugula
  • Red cabbage
  • Carrots
  • Organic apples (honey crisp!)
  • Plantains (a newfound love!)
  • Oranges & clementines
  • Kiwi!
  • Bananananas

Extras

  • Organic coconut (milk and oil)
  • Dijon mustard (yummmmm!)
  • Almonds & pecans
  • Lara bars (because I can’t help myself)
  • Beef & chicken broth (organic, no added sugar)
  • Canned tomatoes & tomato paste (crucial!!)
  • Jars of roasted bell peppers
  • My unbelievable, homemade almond butter! (will share soon!)

There you have it. It’s a lot of foods. Not gonna lie, though…it’s pricey. I’ve gone all in and worked on buying more organic too. Why? If the goal of this is to seriously improve my health, and I continue eating meats with loaded hormones and produce with pesticides…then I won’t accomplish what I wanted. So while it’s more expensive in some ways, it’s worth it if I’m clearing out my system of anything harmful. There are still ways to save money and be smart about it, though. To be fair as well – I’m not buying junk like chips and salsa, I’m not buying expensive cheeses, I don’t really pick up any “treats” – and once I’ve eliminated all of that stuff, there’s more wiggle room than you’d think.

Would I recommend this? YES. SO MUCH YES. And I’d recommend it to anyone. Even if you’re the vision of health, you don’t have any obvious issues, and love your body. Why? It requires discipline, which I think is a virtue most of us could always strive to have more of. Think of all the times we indulge without realizing it – that mocha latte, cupcakes for a co-worker’s birthday, out to dinner with friends and family, an evening sweet on a snowy day, a treat for Sunday…I am the queen at finding all sorts of “reasons” to give in. And I don’t foresee myself giving up all tasty treats here on out, but just knowing that I can say no as much as I have…that’s a good feeling.

The Whole 30 has also changed the way I look at food and nutrition. Well, it’s actually been a long road and this cleanse is more so just confirming things I’ve already been thinking. But I am truly so much more aware at what goes into my body – the meats that most grocery stores sell, the 50,000 extra ingredients in so many products, the amount of sugar one could consume in a day without realizing it at all. Being aware and understanding that quality matters. And whether we have a food allergy/sensitivity or not, the government and food industries have certainly steered us wrong as to what we should be putting in our bodies.

So I plan on continuing a more paleo diet, with some added organic or raw dairy in certain forms (and maybe a bit of natural sugar here and there). I’m sure I’ll have slip-ups (April does bring with it Easter and my birthday, sooooo), but I’m so grateful I had the push to do this. Just a few more days!

Kombucha what?!

My new favorite beverage…



I’ve been wanting to add more probiotics into my life without yogurt or additional supplements. And I’d heard of Kombucha and its benefits extensively, but the name really deterred me into thinking it was some ancient pagan herb. I’ve read so many people, though, of a similar school of thought when it comes to nutrition and health, who swear by this stuff. 

So I bought it…for $3.49 a bottle! At Whole Foods, of course. Which is just outrageous. But I did it. Because I was curious. 

I’m pretty sure it’s not whole 30 compliant, though, because there’s a bit of alcohol and its made with a bunch of sugar at the start of the brewing process. Eh. Can’t win ’em all. 

I brought it home to Kevin, who loved it as well (mind you we had the ginger flavor and I LOVE ginger). I think we’d like to brew our own! So we’ll add it to our list of DIY to-do’s, but if I can get all those benefits for the fraction of the cost – I’m all in!

Also, does anyone know of a cheaper brand in the meantime? :)

Super Foods on a Small Budget

The world of food and nutrition is such an expansive one. I’ve been learning so much over the past couple of years, and it still seems like I’m only just scratching the surface. After Kevin and I had been dating for a bit, I decided to start cooking without grains, in an effort to accommodate him. That first step opened up an entirely new arena for me. Removing grains from meals initially gave me this great void – how was I supposed to fill it? Bread, pasta, rice, chips, oats, flour, cereal – everything! I’ve come a very long way since then, and while it’s not always easy, I find it much more rewarding.

So aside from the fact that I’m doing a Whole 30 right now and have eliminated much more than just grains, there are certain foods that we almost always stock up on. In order for a food to make itself into my regular routine, it must be nutrient dense, somewhat palatable, and cost effective. I will also only be mentioning products that are year round, for convenience sake. I do encourage everyone to eat seasonally, though! It’s healthier and cheaper!

Super foods on a small budget

Spaghetti Squash // this delightful piece of produce is one of my absolute favorite foods. Kevin and I have no need or desire to ever eat pasta after eating this. It’s relatively inexpensive and is a food that you can base an entire meal around. Examples of how I’ve cooked it up: a universal pasta replacement, as a large casserole, as a pizza crust replacement. It’s versatile, filling, and has good forms of carbohydrates and fiber (which many people do not get enough of!).

Avocadoes // this all year round treat has served me well. With only eating a few food groups, I need to make sure I’m filling myself with healthy fats. This is sort of my go to. To be honest, I can avoid a dairy craving (like cheese or sour cream) if I have an avocado with my eggs, chili, burger, etc. It’s nutrition stats are off the charts too – Vitamin K, Potassium, Folate, Vitamin C. The benefits of this “fruit” are just incomparable.

Grass-fed Beef // this is a relatively new one for me, but I am all on board. While sometimes a bit more pricey than I’d like, the benefits over regular beef are too many to ignore. Instead of filling us with loads of bad fats, this beef provides those special Omega-3’s. Grass-fed meat is naturally much leaner than other cuts as well. I’m still learning to incorporate this into my budget, so we probably consume 1-2 pounds of this a week, spread out over multiple meals.

Pastured & Organic Eggs // First things first: eggs are so much a part of my diet. Protein, Omega-3’s, Vitamins A-B-D-E-K. I include eggs in as many meals as possible. I switch it up in the mornings: poached, baked, scrambled, over easy. I add them to soups for extra protein. I cook them with spaghetti squash as a type of “sauce.” They are and have been for years one of my primary staples for a good day.

Sweet Potatoes // I have to have at least five sweet potatoes on hand at a time or else I feel like our kitchen is empty. Every week I peel and cut up several of these vegetables to have ready to go for various meals. Not only is this perhaps my favorite tasting health food that goes with everything, but it’s just got so much good stuff packed in it that a lot of our diets seem to lack. Beta-carotene, Vitamin C, fiber, and so much more.

This is just a very short list of what I consider to be essential. There are a number of other great fruits and vegetables, some that are season-dependent. But the further along in my Whole 30 I get, the more of a firm believer I become that nutrient dense is the way to go. While there are so many foods I love and crave often, I really only need a handful of powerful proteins, carbs, and fats to get me through the day feeling great.

What are your staples for staying full and keeping healthy? 🙂

Whole 30: Day 9

Here I am. Day 9 of my Whole 30. The first week had it’s ups and it’s downs. The meals I’ve been making haven’t been radically different from how I normally eat, but I’ve missed the cheese, the occasional afternoon sweet treat, and of course my greatest guilty pleasure: chips in any and all forms.

Also, my parents were in town this weekend and we ate out a few times and THAT was a challenge. When I’m out, I throw all nutrition guidelines to the wind and eat whatever I’m interested in having…but alas, I could not do that. It actually turned out okay and I had some delicious meals thanks to some very accommodating restaurants. But I still so badly wanted the bread that was at the table.

A big flop in my first week included getting sick. I still don’t know if it was my body reacting to the no sugar-grains-dairy mixture, but it came. I lost my voice completely to a painful soar throat followed by a miserable head cold. BUT. BUT BUT BUT…I still kept to the whole 30. Minus some honey for my throat (it was painful).

I’m still a bit sick, but pushing through. Still no real benefits that I’m seeing, and I’m bummed that I’m still so tired (fatigue is one of those things I’m trying to cure in my life), but it could also just be that I’m still sick and recovering. And it’s early on. I have no plans of quitting, though. And I figure I’ll just keep going until Easter…so a whole 34ish.

One notable fact from today: I am not craving grains or dairy. Which is pretty crazy. I mean, if you were to put a slice of pizza in front of me…I’d want it. Badly. But just don’t do that, and I’ll be fine. So that’s exciting!