spring

Pasta with Prosciutto, Snow Peas, Basil, and Cream

This will be the fourth recipe I’ve posted here. So far I’ve shared one stew, one cake, one pasta.

Is it too soon for more pasta?

In our house the answer would be no, so that’s what I’m going to go with here.

I’ve never been much for tomatoes (except in salsa, bruschetta, or ketchup form). Marinara sauce has always made me gag a bit. Just ask my mom who used to roll her eyes at my request for plain noodles and meatballs on spaghetti night.

I’ve come around a little in recent years, though my favorite pasta sauces seem destined to always be cream-based. This one, despite a decent amount of heavy cream still feels light - not filling. Perfect for spring.

I first became aware of the idea of seasonal cooking when we were newlyweds living in Madison. Walking around the Dane County Farmers’ Market on Saturday mornings is still one of the things I miss the most. Especially if we could re-live the Saturdays of our pre-kid days, where we could sleep in, roll out of bed, take a lap around the farmer’s market, and return home to make up an omelette or breakfast hash with whatever fresh goodies we’d found that day. (And all served up with a side of hot spicy cheese bread.)

Spring is still the season that eludes me the most as far as cooking goes. I find it difficult to pinpoint the flavors of the season. Summer tastes like cold watermelon and burgers off the grill, fall is everything pumpkin and apple and cinnamon, winter is heavy with soups and stews. But spring? Usually when the first warm stretch hits I’m ready to crank up the grill and find the juiciest watermelon I can find, even if it is April and only 50 degrees.

Spring is lighter, I’m finding. More nuanced. It’s the flavors of ham and peas you see here. It’s all things asparagus and baby greens. It’s some early strawberries if you’re daring. It’s rhubarb, which I’m still learning to like.

Short of strolling around the farmers’ market like we used to, this is about as spring-y as it gets from our local grocery store.. Though I just discovered by adding the link above that you can now order hot spicy cheese bread by mail. Maybe we can recreate a piece of our farmers’ market glory days this weekend after all. This could be dangerous.

2019 02 28 Dinner 02.jpg

Pasta with Prosciutto, Snow Peas, Basil, and Cream
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Depending on which kid this is in front of, they admittedly don’t eat much of the snow peas or prosciutto. I usually serve it with a salad and a handful of grapes, so at least they’re eating something fresh with their cream-covered pasta topped with “sprinkle cheese”. Adapted from here.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 box orecchiette pasta

  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil

  • 2 shallots (if big) or 4 shallots (if small)

  • 4 cloves garlic, minced

  • 1/4 pound prosciutto shank, sliced thin and cut into narrow strips

  • 1/2 pound snow peas, ends trimmed and chopped if large

  • 1 -1 1/2 cups cream

  • 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan plus more for topping

  • salt and freshly ground pepper

  • 2 Tbsp. dried basil

INSTRUCTIONS

  • Cook pasta according to package directions.

  • Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add shallots and saute for 2-3 minutes until they just begin to soften. Add garlic and saute for a minute more.

  • Add prosciutto to pan. Cook for an additional 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally.

  • Add snow peas and continue to saute for 3-4 more minutes. Stir often so they don’t stick and don’t cook for too long - the peas should still be crunchy.

  • Add cream and just bring to a boil. Add Parmesan and stir until it’s melted and incorporated, then turn the heat to low. Add salt and pepper to taste, and basil. Let the sauce just barely simmer over low heat while you wait for the pasta to finish.

  • Drain pasta and toss with the cream, prosciutto, and snow pea mixture. Top with extra Parmesan cheese and devour. Smile, because surely this is what spring tastes like.

NOTE

  • The original recipe calls for snap peas (which I can’t stand). I much prefer the lighter, thinner, snow peas to their thick, bulky cousins. If you’re less picky than I am, however, feel free to sub snap peas here.

  • I’m not really sure how much basil I use. I never measure it out. This is an educated but conservative guess - I’m pretty positive I use more. Add basil to your own taste, but don’t be shy. And if you’re one of those people who manages to have fresh herbs around please go for the fresh stuff.

Life Lately

It’s officially spring. Spring feels like the new year to me. The bright sun (out past 5 pm!), melting snow, birds chirping. Forget all that “new year new you” stuff on January 1st. That’s the deepest, darkest part of the middle of winter, for crying out loud. Forget adding workouts or salads to the routine. The only thing I’m ready to do come January 1 is sleep a little more (because it’s dark all the time), bulk up with more creamy soups and all the carbs (I mean, fresh, local produce is basically nonexistant so clearly this is what the good Lord intended), and increase my caffeine intake (because I tried to sleep more but then remembered at 6 am that I still have children). No, whoever invented the calendar made a real mistake; January doesn’t feel like the new year at all. But spring sure does.

2019 03 17 All Outside 01.jpg

Tyson gave me a 10-class pass to a new yoga studio just down the road from us. For Christmas. And “new yoga studio” meaning well over a year old. Every time I drive by I think, “I really need to check that place out.” I’ve started to make use of it just this past week, killing myself in barre class and powering through vinyasas. It feels good. It’s still sunny in the early evening and the threat of walking from a 92-degree yoga class into temperatures literally 100 degrees colder outside has passed. I’ve been continuing at home; for the past five days I’ve either done a class or some Yoga with Adriene in the living room. That’s damn near a record for me.

I’m emerging from my winter hibernation. And it feels good. Also sore. But mostly good.

+++++

2019 03 18 All Swimming 01.jpg

+++++

I noticed Caden made friends with another boy at basketball practice the other night. “Friends” meaning I saw Caden suddenly walk over to him and start retrieving his ball everytime he shot and missed the basket (which was...every time). Caden would run after the ball and dribble it back to him; he must’ve done it a couple dozen times.

I wondered at this show of kindness, and asked him about it on the way home, “Why did you start playing with that boy and getting his ball for him?”

“Oh,” Caden answered, matter-of-fact, “I noticed that he wasn’t very good at catching the ball or dribbling. So I made a deal with him that I would get it and give it back to him so he could shoot again.”

Well then. Not exactly selfless but maybe he’s onto something?

+++++

2019 03 19 All Playtime 02.jpg

The other morning they spent time playing together at the table after breakfast. Brooklyn painted with a set of watercolors while the boys put PJ Masks puzzles together. We don’t have many slow mornings, we’re usually either off to preschool, a playdate, the library, or the store. And often when we do, I regret it around 9:30, which is about the time we all seem ready to kill each other. But this time, it was nice. It’s often been nice, lately. I think they’re learning how to play with each other a bit more and feel the need to kill each other a little less. It made me think of just how few lazy mornings we’ll have next year.

+++++

Which reminds me: these arrived in the mail the other day. Come mid-April, we will have not one but two kindergarteners officially registered for the 2019-20 school year. What in the actual world.

2019 03 22 Kindergarten 01.jpg

+++++

Reading this piece on the beauty and hardship and life-giving that is women’s work.

Also this beautiful essay about mom anger. And not the “I told my kids to stop touching each other and spoke harsher than I should have” kind of anger that many (Christian) pieces talk about and make the rest of us feel bad. This is the real stuff.

+++++

Cooking these egg roll bowls. I up the spices and serve topped with wonton strips and sweet Thai chili sauce for some egg roll realness. I keep meaning to add chopped water chestnuts but can never seem to remember. (Bonus: the leftovers are quick and easy for lunch!)

I’m also back on the iced coffee train. As soon as that temperature kept climbing above freezing I took this bad boy out. It will now remain in permanent residence in our refrigerator until about September. Or maybe October.

+++++

We’ve officially entered the dramatic hyperbole stage as Brooklyn has begun to drawl, “Oh. my. gosh” and “Are you serious?” Also heard her exclaim, “I think I’m in heaven!” (over a piece of generously buttered popcorn) and “How embarrassing” (out of context, but points for trying). And those were just the ones I heard over the weekend!

2019 03 23 Brooklyn Outside 01.jpg

+++++

I’ve been obsessed with this fabric shaver. Yes, a de-fuzzer. Hello, life in my 30s.

There’s an old cardigan I love: the fit is perfect, the weight is just right, and the color goes with everything. Except it was covered with those annoying little fuzz balls. It looked sloppy. I wondered if I needed to give it up, find a new cardigan to adore.

Then I researched and purchased sweater shavers. One pass with the defuzzer and my cardigan was like new again. I’ve been using it on everything from sweaters to t-shirts to leggings (seriously saved a favorite and expensive pair of mine from Athleta).

It’s been especially worthwhile because I gave up buying things for Lent. Or at least, buying non-essential things. I’ve been trying to think of how to phrase this exactly. I couldn’t just give up online shopping because that’s how I order my groceries. Also, one crazy trip to Target could completely blow the intent of that fast. So I gave up buying things I just don’t need. No new clothes, nail polish, $6 lattes, etc. My foundation is about to run dry, so I’ll purchase a fresh one sometime in the next couple of weeks: it’s an essential I use just about every day. But eye shadow? Yeah. I have enough. I still order coffee if I go to a coffee shop to write (the way I see it, that’s just me paying my dues to be able to use their space). But no runs through the Caribou drive-thru just because. Clothes and accessories? Nope.

(Though ask me if I panic-ordered my way through a couple of web sites the Monday and Tuesday before Lent began. The answer to that is YES.)

(Also I completely forgot and bought a shirt when we went to see Michelle Obama on her book tour a couple weeks ago. We walked in, saw the merchandise tables, and my mom said, “I think we should all get matching shirts!” That was all it took for me to say, “Yes obviously!” and I proudly handed over my $35. Forgot about my fast literally until I walked into the house that night. Wore my shirt proudly the next day anyway.)

I’ve been keeping a list in my phone of things that keep running through my head, things that really would be nice for the new season. A pair of Birkenstocks. New sunglasses because mine have been through two seasons and sit kind of crooked. A new tumbler for smoothies or all that iced coffee I’m drinking since I recently dropped mine and shattered half the lid. (It still works for now...kinda.)

This is as much about checking myself before making impulse purchases as it is about saving myself time. I’ve begun to realize how often I would scroll through the Madewell website just to see what was new or on sale, how many shops I follow on Instagram, the number of times I would waste 10 minutes on a retail site with no intent of ever buying.

Anyway, all that to say, my de-fuzzer has come in especially handy at refreshing some of my “old” clothes and helping them look new again. $10 well spent. Even if you’re in the middle of a “don’t buy things” fast.

Life Lately

2018 04 23 All Outside 03.jpg

Important Update:

IT'S WARM! 

The last time I posted a Life Lately update, we were literally days away from a blizzard to end all blizzards, one that buried us under (almost) two feet of snow. IN FREAKING APRIL. I'm happy to report that the sun is out, the birds are singing, and the only thing we're digging ourselves out of right now is the sandbox. 

+++++

And not a moment too soon since preschool officially ended last week. As far as I'm concerned it's the first of two Terrible Awful Times of Year until the summer activities begin. (The other being the month of August, after all the summer activities end but before the school year ones begin.) Our calendar is a lot emptier now that preschool, dance, and swimming lessons are all coming to a close. I'm not going to argue with a bit more flexibility but the end of all that structure always feels a bit abrupt. 

2018 05 17 Both Last Day Preschool 01.jpg

These two look like they grew about a foot since September. It's like I sent babies off to preschool and they returned as Big Kids. I'm sure next year will leave me an emotional puddle on the floor what with Kindergarten looming over us and all, but for now we're looking forward to the summer ahead of us before returning in the fall to the same building, the same classroom, and the same teachers, the only change being three mornings each week instead of two.

+++++

In other News I'm Not Quite As Excited About, Nolan leveled up to a toddler bed.

2018 04 21 Nolan Bed 03.jpg

If you can't tell from the grin, he's a lot more excited about this new development than either Tyson and I are. 

People have told me I'm "brave" for making the switch and I'm here to set the record straight: NOPE. No bravery here. As IF this were my choice. I would have kept this over-active boy stay in a crib until he graduated high school if it were possible, but he up and went and figured out how to climb out of the dang thing. At the age of two plus a few months he lasted longer than Caden and Brooklyn did, though still not long enough for my taste.

It's actually going pretty well, and in fact much smoother than the twins' transition did, but of course it's not as convenient as dumping him in a crib knowing that he's unable to get out or bother us and would eventually fall asleep. Instead of being miserable about it, I've been claiming the time as my own, sitting in the hallway outside his bedroom with my phone, a book, or my laptop, catching up on messages, reading, writing, or some good old-fashioned online shopping for the hour or so it takes him to settle down and fall asleep.

+++++

In other Nolan news, you may see him around wearing an eye patch. Nothing major, just a little lazy eye we're working to fix. He's only wearing it for an hour a day right now and we'll re-evaluate with the optometrist in September. I should say he's SUPPOSED to be wearing it an hour a day, and while we've had a few good days we've also had some terrible ones. He's not super fond of the thing and waits for the moment I walk or look away to rip it off. I'm thinking of getting some fun patches like these but I don't think even that's going to make him care very much. I've tried decorating his eye patch with stickers and all he wants to do is rip the patch off to see them, and besides sitting in front of a mirror for an hour I'm running out of ideas. 

It WOULD all be good if just kept your freaking eye patch on.

It WOULD all be good if just kept your freaking eye patch on.

+++++

In house news: I stained our deck! With my own two hands! By myself! Somehow it was really important for me to tackle this project on my own. Partly because this is our third summer in the house and we have yet to buy adult-sized patio furniture. (Of course the kids are taken care of.) Staining our desperately beat-up deck was motivation for that purchase. I guess what works to motivate my kids is also what works to motivate me right now, "If you do X then you get candy!" Except instead of candy it's a set of patio furniture. And I totally rewarded myself with candy, anyway.

+++++

Caden and Brooklyn not only celebrated the end of preschool, but also had their first dance recital this past weekend.

2018 05 19 Both Dance 04.jpg

Preschool didn't do it to me this year, but dance sure did. Being backstage and then watching their show, with their little costumes and the makeup and that HAIR and those grins and all those little attempts at dancing DID ME IN. ALL the feels, that's for sure.

I'm not sure how to explain it exactly, besides this that I jotted down as part of a writing exercise yesterday:

It's strange to be the one behind the curtain. Tears spring to my eyes. They're equal parts sad and happy; both mourning that my time is over (does that sound selfish?) while also feeling so full that my proud mama heart could burst. Wasn't I the one out there just yesterday? And yet look at them, these babies, in their tutus and their bowties and their makeup. It's the beginning of the story for them. They're ready for the magic and the beauty of it all.

I take out my phone from my back pocket as they watch the dancers before them, captivated. I take a few photos and pray one turns out in the dim light. A behind-the-scenes photo of the next generation. Maybe they'll be the ones backstage with tears in their eyes someday.

As of now, Caden isn't sure he wants to continue next year. He loved the costumes and the stage but hasn't been too fond of the actual classes the past few months. He's thrown out trying everything from hockey to gymnastics to focusing on swimming next year. Then he caught my attention yesterday morning when he said that maybe he does want to dance next year, after all.

Of course, I kind of hope he does. If nothing else, Brooklyn will continue on, and I'm so glad we had at least one recital with them together.

2018 05 20 Both Me Dance 01.jpg

Read, Watched, Listened

I love reading just about everything (okay, you won't see any mystery or sci-fi picks on here), watching things that make me think and especially if they make me laugh, and wholeheartedly embrace the podcast. I also enjoy hearing about what other people are reading, watching, and listening. Here's my two cents worth.

2018 05 07 Book 01.jpg

READ

Other People's Houses
I LOVED this book. It was funny and irreverent, serious and observational. It made me laugh out loud several times - which books don't usually make me do. This book was a somewhat satirical take on modern suburban life, parenting, and marriage focused on the friendship dynamics of a group of neighborhood friends. I'd call it a perfect "beach read": easy to read, funny as hell, and with a bit of a bite.

On Writing
If you're a writer, you need to read this book. Part memoir, part writing manifesto, Stephen King describes both his path and success as a writer and offers writing tips. He touches on everything from grammar to the editing process all interwoven with personal anecdotes. While I found some of his approaches basically impossible in my current season of life (I believe six hours is the number he suggests for reading and writing each day), I understand the purpose behind them. I borrowed this from the library but will be purchasing my own copy to read and re-read each and every year.

This is How it Always Is
The mother in this book was everything to me. Fierce, intelligent, and protective, this novel is all about secrets, family, and the lengths we go to protect those we love. Both Rosie (the mother) and her husband Penn have an intense love for their family of boys, and this novel details their story when the youngest defines himself as transgender. It was a beautiful look at the support a family offers their LGBT child without ending in complete tragedy. 

Britt-Marie Was Here
After Beartown, I put my name on the list for every one of Fredric Bachman's books at the library. This one didn't quite do it for me. What kept me turning (er-swiping) each page was my desire for Britt-Marie to succeed. I found the ending a bit disappointing and the characters fell flat for me. I also had a hard time getting into the setting. Maybe I sound crazy, but I could never quite picture it in my head so I had a hard time really getting into the book. 

Americanah
I wanted to love this book. Ifemelu moves from the chaos of Nigeria to the United States, away from her home and her boyfriend, Obinze, where she starts a successful blog with observations on race in America. I was left wanting...more. I wanted more of Ifemelu, more about her blog. I felt like much of her personal journey and work was glossed completely over. A lot of the book was filled with diatribes on race disguised as dinner party conversation. The dialogue was bizarre to me. While I agreed with many of the points and appreciated the observations and opinions on race in America (and elsewhere), I'm not sure a novel was the best place to do so. To me it felt like an lengthy op-ed disguised as a novel for much of the book.

Everybody, Always
Bob Goff fangirl over here! *raises hand* This book is filled with joy and wisdom and basically charges us to love everyone. What if we spent our lives loving people, even (especially) the difficult ones? His personal stories range from hilarious to unbelievable to flat-out difficult. I find myself thinking about how I can "become love" to specific people or in specific moments, as he so often does in the book. I will come back to this book again and again.

WATCHED

Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee
The comedians in this show are just as hilarious as the title itself. Jerry Seinfeld drives around with famous comedians and they, well, get coffee. Most of the episodes are a quick watch (20 minutes or less) that Tyson and I find ourselves reaching for on the evenings we're plain old tired. A couple of our favorite episodes have been with Stephen Colbert and Trevor Noah.

The Big Sick
So good! We're not big movie people but I'd heard friends rave about this one and I loved it. Funny and touching, it details comedian Kumail Nanjiani's real-life meeting and courtship of his wife Emily. There's disapproving family (Kumail is Muslim, Emily is white), a mysterious illness resulting in a medically induced coma, and comedy throughout. Do it like we did: order take-out, cue it up on Netflix, and make it a date night in.

LISTENED

It's been a struggle for me to keep up with my regular podcasts lately, but I enjoyed this episode from Coffee + Crumbs on meal planning, this one from Jen Hatmaker on a mom spreading love and hugs to the LGBTQ community, and giving more love to Jen for her interview with the Pantsuit Politics ladies in this episode.

Note: any links to Amazon in this post are affiliate links.

Whole 30 Recap

Whole 30 is OVER! O-V-E-R over!

Yeesh, don’t cheer too loudly, Shannon.

Really, though, I'm glad it’s done. I survived. One of the most famous tough-love lines from Whole 30 is “Beating cancer is hard. Drinking your coffee black. Is. Not. Hard.”

Umm...I have to say I found drinking my coffee black to be pretty damn (mentally) hard.

So wait, back up. Why did you do Whole 30 in the first place?

Plain old curiosity, honestly. While I feel like we generally eat pretty healthy (I cook most nights, make things from scratch, don’t drink soda or eat fast food, etc.), lots of my recipes still utilize things like grains, pasta, and dairy. I also love to bake and the real heavy cream and sugar in my coffee each day is definitely a bright spot. Plus: beer. Wine. Cocktails. What happens if I take all that away?

So while I did not and do not have any underlying health concerns to address through a program like Whole 30, I was just genuinely curious about what would happen by taking out a good chunk of things in my diet. Would my skin be clearer? Would I sleep better? Would my energy levels spike through the roof? What’s all the hype about, anyway?

Well, what did you find out?

Honestly, I felt mostly the same. I never got to the “tiger’s blood” stage or crazy energy levels some people talk about. I also have three young kids AND Nolan transitioned to a toddler bed during the month which took a toll on my sleep, so maybe hyped-up energy levels were an unrealistic expectation in the first place.

I did feel more clear-headed. It’s hard to say for sure, but I truly feel as though my head was less fuzzy than it’s been the past few months, especially during the typical slump of the mid-afternoon/early evening hours. However, I have to say I also attribute that to spring finally arriving in these parts. A mid-April blizzard did nothing to improve my mood, (I was, in fact, MORE crabby than usual since all I wanted to do while we were trapped in the house was bake and eat all the bread and cream-based soups), but the sunshine has been a total game-changer. I have to say I always feel perkier at this time of year, regardless of diet.

The best surprise has been the absence of bloating. As in: gone. I didn’t even know I was bloated before; I just thought it was how my stomach looked after having three kids. But my stomach has definitely been flatter and my pants have been fitting looser. I was surprised at how soon I noticed (or didn't notice) the bloat, too, really only four or five days in.

What about the kids?

The kids did not do Whole 30 with us, besides at dinner. I only make one dinner each night, so they eat what we eat. However I wasn’t going to make this any more difficult (or expensive) than it already was, so we still had cereal and milk on hand for their breakfast, grilled cheese for lunch, and Goldfish for snack time. Also, since we started the day after Easter, I wasn’t going to forbid two four-year olds and a two-year old from eating their Easter candy because I’m not a monster.

What will you do moving forward?

There are some things we’re committed to. No more buns for our burgers, for example. Lettuce works just fine and even the kids loved wrapping their juicy hamburgers up with the crunchy green stuff. I found a few recipes we loved, so I’ll keep those in the rotation. And I'm going to keep an eye on the labels of things we're consuming (so. much. sugar). Those are some small changes, but ones that will still make a difference.

Really, though? We’ll go back to eating a lot like we did before. Neither Tyson or I felt that much different on Whole 30 or found any glaring sensitivities to any foods we omitted. I often found myself feeling like my food was missing something: a piece of bread with my soup, some naan with our curry, cream in my coffee. I missed these things as much for the change of flavor, texture, and variety as much as anything.

I am going to be more intentional with my snacking moving forward. I found myself actually snacking more on Whole 30, which, while technically “forbidden” I found it's a better way for my body to process food than with three large meals. I do much better with smaller portions and a couple small snacks during the day. I simply can’t eat very much at one time. Bananas with cinnamon and cashew butter were a favorite afternoon snack of mine, though moving forward I may also add a sprinkling of chocolate chips. :)

I also realized just how much I missed baking. I often bake myself or with the kids and it was pure torture to not bake for a whole month, especially during the snowstorms we had not once but twice (aka prime baking weather). I love baking for the creative outlet, as another activity during the day, and, yes, I plain old enjoy eating the results, too. Bring on the brownies!

Anything else?

I was amazed at the community surrounding the Whole 30 program. Not the forums (talk about crazy die-hards) but just the regular people in my life. I had several people message me the very first day I posted something in my Instagram stories: some were beginning Whole 30 for the first time like me, others were offering their help and support. Literally many of them said, “Let me know how I can support you.” Who does that? Some of these friends were people I hadn’t talked to in years or had never even met! I was truly amazed and encouraged by the support these people offered and provided...all because of a Whole 30 hashtag!

I also realized just how privileged I am to do a program like this in the first place. First of all, it’s expensive. It stretched our budget this month and we spent way more on food than I am comfortable with going forward. I also found it tricky to get some of the more specialty items. Even though we live in a large urban area, the nearest Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods are 20-25 minutes away from our house, in a direction we don’t typically travel. They’re also nearly impossible to navigate with three kids since there’s only room for one in the cart. Then there’s the whole time aspect. It plain old takes a lot more time to cook when you’re chopping, cutting, and making so many things from scratch. I often started dinner much earlier in the afternoon or found myself preparing food over naptime when I would have preferred completing other household tasks or basking in the one quiet hour of my day. I can only imagine how much more difficult it would be to be a working or single parent and stay on top of all the food prep.

Also: condiments. Condiments, condiments, condiments are life on Whole 30. Primal Kitchen’s Chipotle Lime Mayo was a Godsend this past month. Mustards, mayos, dressings, etc. were essential to keep the food interesting for me.

But tell me, did you cheat? Even a little bit?

Okay, okay. Yes. I did. The most glaring example was when we were at a birthday party with tacos when the infamous mid-April blizzard went through a couple weeks ago. Tyson and I looked at each other and realized what the drive home was going to entail, which would land us smack into bedtime. We realized the effort it would be to put the kids to bed after the excitement of a party, then make dinner, and then eat at a somewhat unreasonable hour was going to be a lot. Also assuming we didn’t get stuck in the snow on the way home. (A legitimate concern, we got 22 inches of snow in less than 48 hours.) Tyson and I looked at each other and decided to just eat the dang tacos. And y’know what? They were delicious. Neither of us felt that different after eating them. (Tyson’s honest-to-God biggest complaint was that his lips felt raw from eating some salty tortilla chips. Hang in there, hon.)

There were a couple other times where I fried my egg in butter because it stuck to the pan when I used ghee or coconut oil and once I used ¼ cup of regular flour because I didn’t feel like buying a $15 bag of almond flour for a recipe. I’m over it.

I also made a smoothie once or twice, whipped up “pancakes” out of a banana and an egg a few mornings to switch up my breakfast routine, and once I even licked the peanut butter off my finger when making the kids’ sandwiches, so clearly I’m going to Whole 30 hell.

Bottom line.

I am not a Whole 30 convert or fanatic. It was an interesting experiment but one I’m ultimately glad to be done with. I'm happy to go back to less chopping and convenience on nights that we're short on time. I’ll also be glad to grab a bowl of yogurt, fruit, and granola in the morning. However, the bloating find was a major one for me. It’s nice to know that if I’m ever feeling "off" I can do a quick reset for a week or so to get back on track.

Overall I think the biggest reason Whole 30 didn't work for my personality as much as it might for others is that I can have a little bit of something and call it a day. I am the person that can eat just two cookies from the batch, one piece of Easter candy without demolishing the whole basket, or drink a single glass of wine because that's more than enough for me. Melissa Hartwig, the founder of Whole 30, wrote about this in terms of Gretchen Rubin's concept of being a Moderator or an Abstainer. I'm a Moderator all. the. freaking. way. It didn't feel like "food freedom" to me to say that I couldn't have certain things. I did not enjoy just how much I thought about what I was putting in my mouth. Was it compliant? Was it not? If not? Too bad, so sad, walk away. It felt too black and white to me. In some ways it made me want certain foods even more, even things I don't typically eat, and I found it wasn't very healthy for my brain.

I'm going to toast with a beer tonight (another thing I missed, though honestly not as much as I thought I would) and enjoy moving forward.

In case you're curious, (and still reading!) here's an assortment of some of my favorite recipes and things I ate on a typical day. These are the things foods you'll find on our table moving forward...along with a jar of Chipotle Lime Mayo in our fridge!

  1. Dinner: Chicken fajita bowls.
  2. Breakfast: Garlic roasted potato and red pepper hash. Fried egg. Coffee.
  3. Lunch: Applegate hot dogs with mustard. Mixed-greens salad with shredded carrots, diced onion, sunflower seeds and balsamic vinaigrette. Pamplemousse La Croix.
  4. Breakfast: Compliant bacon. Fried egg. Sliced strawberries and banana with cinnamon. Coffee.
  5. Dinner (with leftovers for lunch): Barbacoa beef bowls with butter lettuce, pico de gallo, and fresh guacamole.
  6. Snack: Sliced banana with cinnamon and cashew butter.
  7. Breakfast: Fried egg. Compliant bacon. Garlic roasted potato and red pepper hash. Cold brew coffee.
  8. Snack: A handful of medjool dates with roasted, salted cashews.
  9. Dinner: MY FAVORITE. Tikka misala meatballs (made with 1 lb. ground pork and 1/2 lb. ground beef). Coconut cauliflower rice.
  10. Dinner: Sheet pan sausage and roasted veggies (based on this recipe, though I used Brussels sprouts, broccoli, and red pepper). Dijon mustard. Watermelon spears.
  11. Mocktail: Coconut La Croix with a lime.
  12. Dinner: Hawaiian steak kabobs. Coconut cauliflower rice.