As I’ve mentioned Whole30 has completely transformed the way I cook.  In the last month I’ve cooked roasts, briskets, and whole chickens to name a few.  I would have never guessed this to be my way of cooking but it has revolutionized my time in the kitchen.  I use my crockpot which makes things easy and I cook enough animal protein to last numerous meals.  It always seems expensive when I buy the meat but when I break it down to how many meals it lasts it proves to be quite cost effective.  A whole chicken can make chicken salad, Asian chicken stir fry, vegetable soup with added chicken, just to name a few.  When I cook a roast or brisket this offers us a few dinners and a few lunches each.  I love cooking this way.  The crockpot ensures that the meat is tender while I can go about my day.

IMG_7917As I explored new recipes during the Whole30 I was intrigued by the coffee brisket recipes I kept seeing.  So I went ahead and tried one out.  The flavor was delicious but the caffeine went right to my head leaving me buzzing and uncomfortable.  I am extremely sensitive to caffeine.  Despite all of this something kept calling me back to it.  The coffee flavor is delicious!  So I heavily modified the original version using much less coffee, decaf this time, and adding other spices.  I was pretty impressed with the result.  I served it with a cherry and walnut coleslaw.

Spiced Mocha Roast

  • 4lb beef roast
  • 3 tbsp decaf coffee, ground fine (Turkish fine)
  • 4 tbsp cocoa powder, sugar free
  • 1 tbsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tbsp cumin powder
  • 1 tsp sweet paprika
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  1. Mix coffee, cocoa powder, smoked paprika, cumin powder, sweet paprika, ginger, salt, and pepper.  Taste the seasoning and see if you’d like more cumin or anything else.
  2. Coat roast with coconut oil.  Then add spice mix to roast coating all sides.
  3. Pour can of coconut milk into crockpot.  Add roast and top roast with any remaining spice mix.
  4. Cook on low for 8hrs.
  5. Remove roast and break down with two forks- it will be hot so you may need it to cool.
  6. Pour liquid from crockpot in a pan and cook down at a full simmer for 20-30 minutes until thickened.
  7. Top roast with the thickened sauce.

** If you’d like it spicy add a bit of cayenne.  The sauce is not sweet at all which I liked but you can add a tablespoon or two of brown sugar to the spice rub if desired.


Cherry Walnut Coleslaw

  • 3-4 cups sliced cabbage
  • 3-4 cups sliced red cabbage
  • 3 carrots, julienned small
  • 1/2-1 cup mayo (I didn’t measure so start with 1/2 cup, and I used my own homemade)
  • 1 tablespoon dry mustard
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon coconut vinegar (can substitute apple cider)
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup chopped dried bing cherries, unsweetened
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts
  • s&p
  1. Mix mayo, mustard, coconut vinegar, and lemon juice.  Season with s&p and taste.  Add more of anything if necessary.
  2. In a large bowl add the cabbages and carrots.  Massage the mayo mixture into the cabbage with your hands.  Add cherries and walnuts.
  3. Let chill in fridge at least 3 hours before eating.



IMG_7779This was one of my winning Whole30 recipes.  It comes together quickly and is delicious!  This pumpkin sauce is the perfect celebration of fall.  I love the color of it and it’s comforting without being heavy.  It’s dairy free complimented with garlic, sage, and rosemary.  The sauce goes perfectly over spaghetti squash topped with bacon crumbles and langostino- a mini lobster tail.  You can easily substitute shrimp.  The kids loved this too, thinking it was a cheese sauce.

IMG_7788Pumpkin Sauce with Langostino, Bacon, and Spaghetti Squash (serves 4)

  • 1 15oz can pumpkin
  • 1 12oz can coconut milk
  • 1/2 tsp dried rosemary
  • 1/2 tsp dried sage
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • s&p
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 4-6 slices bacon
  • 2 cups frozen cooked langostino (can easily substitute shrimp)
  • 1 spaghetti squash
  1. Cook spaghetti squash – I cook mine whole in a 350º oven for 30-45 minutes, until skin gives a bit when I press down with my fingers.  Set aside.
  2. Cook bacon strips over low heat rendering out the fat.  Once cooked set aside on a paper towel lined plate.
  3. Remove frozen langostino from freezer and thaw.
  4. In a medium pot heat up olive oil over low heat.  Add garlic and cook until fragrant and soft.  Do not brown or burn!  Stir in rosemary and sage.
  5. Mix in the can of pumpkin and coconut milk.  Season with s&p.  Warm through for 5-10 minutes.  Add langostino and turn off heat.  Reserve a few langostino to top bowls.
  6. Half spaghetti squash, scoop out seeds, and scrape into noodles.  Place noodles in bowls.
  7. Top squash with langostino and pumpkin sauce.  Crumble bacon over and garnish with remaining few langostino.



Whole30: Reintroduction

November 19th, 2014 | Posted by eatingwithsporks in Personal Notes - (0 Comments)

Hello hello.  I’m finally returning.  I’ve been wanting to post for the last few weeks but I haven’t had the time to sit down, formulate my thoughts, and get back into the blogging world.  It’s healthy to check out every now and then, but I’d be lying if I said it’s easy for me to jump back into things when I’m ready.  Especially when I left off with a reintroduction Whole30 post looming in my brain.

After completing the Whole30 I didn’t feel the desire to start eating dairy, gluten, grains, or legumes.  On one level it makes sense to not reintroduce these foods if you are content eating without them, and instead to let them flow back into your diet naturally over time.  But for my first Whole30 I wanted to go ahead and reintroduce these foods right away to understand how they make me feel.  This is the Whole30 reintroduction.  The idea is to ‘reintroduce “less healthy” foods back into your diet one group at a time, while keeping the rest of your diet as Whole30-clean as possible.  Think about it like a scientific trial, where your Whole30 is the control and the one food group you are trying to evaluate is the experimental group.’  I followed this concept except for enjoying beer throughout the process.  What can I say, I missed my beer!  My plan was to start with dairy, then gluten, non-gluten grains, and finish with legumes.  Here’s how it went..

Dairy, days 1-3: Throughout the first 3 days post Whole30 I ate a little cheese, milk, yogurt, and ice cream.  I bought plain greek yogurt and mixed it with raisins, shredded coconut, and sliced almonds.  My plan was to eat this everyday with breakfast.  The reality was I really didn’t enjoy it and I couldn’t convince myself to try it more than once.  For cheese I used cheddar adding it to a pastelon, using very little, and I didn’t notice any effects from this.  I made a quiche using both milk and cheese.  This is where I noticed a difference.  I felt heavy and lethargic after this meal.  No stomach discomfort but I definitely looked bloated.  For future quiches I will use coconut milk instead of cow’s milk.  I never felt heavy after any of my Whole30 approved quiche recipes.  For the ice cream, we ate vanilla gelato two nights.  I would be lying if I didn’t say it was good but it didn’t hit the spot like it used to.  The psychological satisfaction/addiction was completely gone.  And the taste wasn’t nearly as satisfying.  If it’s in my freezer I’m probably going to consume it, but I have the self control to not buy it since I don’t really want it.  Other forms of dairy I didn’t feel the need to try.  Ghee seems like a much better choice than butter and I will stay on this path.  Heavy cream and cream cheese are not something I use much, so I didn’t bother trying them.  I know heavy cream would have upset my stomach and left me bloated.  Why bring this on if I don’t have to?  My energy levels never felt depleted during these three days and my emotional state stayed positive and happy.  I continued to sleep thoroughly each night and kept up with my normal exercise routine.  This being said eating a bit of dairy over time I’m sure will accumulate to have it’s negative effects on my body.

Gluten, days 4-6:  Gluten is reintroduced separate from other non-gluten containing grains.  This is because gluten can be harsh and deserves to be evaluated on its own.  During these days I ate ramen noodles, bread, and ravioli.  The ramen noodles came with soup, take out from a place we used to frequent often.  This was the first real time my stomach wondered what in the hell I was doing.  I was extremely weighed down and bloated from this meal.  This lasted a good 24 hours plus.  I slept horribly that night too.  No headache came and no cramping either, but I my stomach felt like a large gas bubble that wouldn’t disappear.  I think it’s fair to say I won’t be eating this soup again!  I’ll spare you the details but Josh’s reaction was much much worse.  For bread I ate German sunflower seed bread and focaccia.  Due to the residual feelings from the ramen soup I’m not sure I noticed anything.  I didn’t feel better or worse.  I almost passed on trying another form of wheat noodle but decided to go ahead with it.  The ramen noodles were low quality and I wanted to try a better sourced wheat pasta.  I opted for local made ravioli.  I was sure not to overeat and this meal left me feeling comfortable.  The bottom line is to consume gluten in moderation and definitely choose a higher quality wheat source.  My energy levels were significantly lessened during this time.  The ramen noodle soup was eaten on day 4 and by the end of day 6 I was finally feeling back to my self.  All I could think was wow there is some serious power behind gluten!

Non-Gluten Grains, days 7-9:  No adverse reactions to report.  A nice feeling after days 4-6!  I tried white rice, corn tortilla chips, and brown rice noodles.  On the typical, I don’t eat many non-gluten grains and couldn’t bring myself to eat large amounts to discover any ill-effects.  Rice is something I tend to pass on when it’s served with a meal and chips I also try to keep to a minimum.  My reintroduction portions were small and I felt fine afterwards.  But, rice noodles are one food I eat throughout the winter season in soups so I did try them a few times.  Thankfully I didn’t have any adverse reaction after eating them.  Bring on the Asian soups!  I opted to skip trying other non-gluten grains.  I am by no means denying myself these foods, they just don’t appeal to me at this time.  As the reintroduction went on I found little desire to stray from the Whole30 diet other than some beer and some dark chocolate (70% and up).  I rarely snacked, maybe even less than I did while on the Whole30!  I felt so great energetically during the month I don’t want to lose it!  I had no idea how powerful these 30 days would be.  Now that it’s over I’m really starting to see the true benefits, mainly in the area of food addiction issues.  It’s amazing what food can do to us psychologically.

Legumes, day 10-12:  After day 9 I fell off the reintroduction path.  I didn’t like what happened to me during the gluten phase and decided to cut eating potentially not-so-great-feeling foods out of my diet.  Originally I thought it was worth it to try these foods and learn how my body handled them.  But who wants to willingly make them-self ‘sick’ from the foods they eat?  I have tried a few different forms of legumes.. eating a few handfuls of peanuts and tablespoons of peanut butter both with no noticeable reaction.  Beans (which are included in the legume reintroduction phase) I tried once, without any reaction.  It’s crazy to think how much my diet has evolved.  I used to eat lots of beans, grains, and soy products.  And speaking of soy products I have had tofu a few times but now that I’m consuming more animal protein I’ve lost my taste for it.  I don’t feel ‘off’ after consuming tofu, but I feel better when I consume animal protein.

When I write about my current food intake it sounds like my diet has closed in.  But in reality I feel just the opposite.  It’s hard to explain, but when you eat in a way that makes you feel great and is stress free when it comes to meal planning/cooking you’re definitely on a good path!  I loved sleeping heavy, waking up feeling refreshed, and having endless energy throughout the day.  These days I still feel pretty great but I do enjoy my beer and chocolate.  Yes over time the sugars and gluten will start to creep in and diminish my overall well being.  But to me all this means is I’ll be doing another Whole30.

So what did I take away from this experience?  Plenty!  I am content with my body.  I’m happy to report I don’t bother much with the scale.  Yes I had to check and yes I did lose some pounds.  But now that it’s through I realize how small this matters in the grand scheme of things.  Society leads us to always wonder what the scale says but once you find your happy place you realize the number really doesn’t matter.  I continue to exercise 6 days/week, fit comfortably in my clothes, and experience minimal bloating from the foods I consume.  My digestive system is normal, I sleep soundly, feel energized, and I stay pretty happy.  The kids stress me out at times but this is natural with who I am and I find I can let most things go pretty quickly.

As for food.. We ate more animal protein during the Whole30 than I have in years.  I wasn’t sure how I would proceed once the month was done but we are still eating animal protein with most if not all meals.  Breakfasts are always Whole30 compliant.  I have fully embraced the concept of eating a large breakfast which satiates me for hours.  I use very few condiments, and those that I do use have minimal to no sugar.  I have really embraced coconut products – coconut aminos have replaced soy sauce and tamari, and coconut vinegar instead of ume,rice, or apple cider vinegar.  I cook with olive oil, coconut oil, and walnut oil.  I make my own dressings or buy TessaMae’s, a Whole30 approved brand.  Almost everything in a jar or bottle has sugar in it.  No more ketchup, limited brands of mustard, bouillon, and store bought sauces.  Read your labels people!  It is common knowledge how detrimental sugar is to our health.  I personally know I’m not going to live a sugar free diet, but I am going to avoid it where it’s unnecessary.  Also as I mentioned I rarely snack.  This I love.  Food is not the center focus of my life and yet I still love to cook and make creative meals.  It’s the season of crock potting and I cook with it 2-3 times a week.  Soups, roasts, chicken, etc..  I’m cooking in ways I never used to but I find it simple and easy.  We can spend so much of our energy and time overthinking food, using food for emotional support/balance, and creating unhealthy habits.  I am very impressed how easy it is to untangle myself from all of this.  All you need is 30 days!




October 3rd, 2014 | Posted by eatingwithsporks in Mexican | Poultry - (0 Comments)



I came across pastelón a few months ago through a friends social media page.  It immediately spoke to me.  How have I not heard of this dish sooner?  A combination of sweet plantains, meat, sauce, and cheese all layered up like a lasagna.  Yum!  As we are in the reintroduction phase of the Whole30 I figured this would be a great meal for trying out dairy.  I did go very light on the cheese and was completely satisfied with my results.


This dish is the perfect balance of sweet and salty.  You use ripe plantains, lightly browned and soft, which adds the sweetness.  The salty comes from the meat and sauce.  I used cumin, cilantro, and olives to flavor meat and sauce, a sort of picadillo style.  You can always add sofrito into your sauce for flavor but I chose to leave this out and instead added in zucchini for extra vegetable.  This did not disappoint and will definitely be made again.  And soon!



  • 1 lb ground chicken
  • olive oil
  • 1 onion, roughly chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • s&p
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1/4 cup cilantro
  • 1/3 cup chopped green olives
  • 1/2 cup tomato sauce
  • 3 medium zucchini, julienned (or chopped)
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 3 large ripe plantains (yellow)
  • coconut oil
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 3 tbsp milk
  • 1/4-1/3 cup mexican shredded cheese
  1. Heat up olive oil over medium heat.  Add onion and garlic.  Once onion starts to soften add chicken and brown.  Season with s&p and cumin.  Stir in green olives and 1/3 cup of the tomato sauce.  Simmer 5 minutes.  Remove from pan and stir in cilantro.
  2. Add a bit more olive oil to the pan and sauté the zucchini until it starts to soften.  Season with s&p and garlic powder.  Add the rest of the tomato sauce and simmer a few more minutes.  Remove from pan and set aside.
  3. Slice plantain lengthwise as thin as possible.  Thinly coat pan with coconut oil and fry plantain slices in batches a few minutes each side until lightly browned.  Set aside.
  4. Preheat oven to 350.
  5. In a bowl scramble eggs and milk.
  6. Coat 9×9 baking dish with coconut oil.
  7. Assemble pastelon.. use 1/3 of the plantain to layer the bottom of the dish, top with 1/2 the chicken, 1/2 the zucchini, and a thin layer of cheese.  Continue with 1/3 of the plantain, the remaining 1/2 of chicken, remaining 1/2 of zucchini, and a thin layer of cheese.  Top with the rest of the plantain slices.  Pour egg mixture over everything and sprinkle on the last bit of cheese.  Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes.  Let sit a few minutes before serving.

Whole30: Week 4

October 2nd, 2014 | Posted by eatingwithsporks in Personal Notes - (0 Comments)

Overall I have stayed pretty amped throughout my first Whole30 experience.  It took a lot of time and energy to keep myself organized.  I cooked every meal except one lunch for the entire 30 days.  Josh helped with breakfast but I still organized/put my time in with these meals so he knew what to prepare.  In normal, non-Whole30 life, I typically cook 5 nights a week and make 5 lunches a week.  This is a lot but I can handle it.  The few meals off keep me sane so I’m not living in the kitchen.  This being said this month I lived in the kitchen!  The time and energy I put into my Whole30 is worth it to me, but as week 3 ended and week 4 started I was feeling a little burnt out on it all.  I plugged ahead anyway and by the end of week four I was once again excited about what I was doing for my body.  After day 30 there’s a recommended reintroduction program that goes on another 12 days.  With all the time and dedication put in so far of course I’m going to do it.  I’ve already organized myself for most of this so it’s smooth sailing until the official end.

I’m really curious to see how I balance out after we are done.. what changes we will make and what becomes our new normal.  I’ll keep you posted.  I did buy beer on day 27 so my love of this beverage did not disappear.  Of course this is no surprise!  But I’m happy to report I was content looking at it in the fridge until day 31.  We even had a can in the fridge leftover from before the Whole30 that never caused us any upset or desire to cheat.

As I mentioned I was lacking in inspiration during week 4.  A few meals were great and a few were just ok.  Curry is always delicious so no issue there and I made a pumpkin coconut sauce which was better than I could have expected.  I’ll make it again to blog.  Those were definitely the highlights.  During the week I made a crockpot marinara with chicken thighs.  It was tasty but this tomato sauce really upset my stomach.  I felt heavy and bloated the following two days.  I also realized eating almonds on an empty stomach, which I did one day for a snack, also upset my stomach and left me uncomfortable for a few hours.  Following these two issues I made a crockpot cocoa coffee brisket to be eaten with coleslaw.  The brisket was delicious but the coffee made my head buzz and the coleslaw was not the right choice after having stomach bloating.  So there was a handful of days of not feeling so great.  Coming off of all this I woke up Saturday morning feeling like crap.  It’s the first day I woke up not ‘happy’, I was edgy and impatient.  Later that day I did some strength training and this pulled me out of my funk taking me back to my normal self.  Food eating is definitely a journey.  There is a good and bad to all of this.  For the good, the more you tune in and become aware of what effects you the better you treat your body.  The bad is if you choose to respect your body you have to stop or really limit certain foods, some that you wish you didn’t have to.  I don’t want to be picky, and I’m glad my sensitivities don’t overtake my ability to eat at restaurants, cook a large variety of foods, and go with the flow in group settings.  Of course I haven’t completed the reintroduction yet so I may be speaking to soon on some of this.

I know I will do the Whole30 again sometime next year.  I also know each time will be different in the foods I cook and what I get out of the 30 days.  The meals I cooked for this Whole30 were a bit heavier than my typical cooking.  The main reason for this was Josh.  His body requires protein and a lot of food.  It’s who he is.  I on the other hand can sustain on more vegetables than protein.  We all know every body is different.  In the future I can imagine I’ll cook more for me and he can add in extra protein as he sees fit.

Energy: Up and down this week.  I do know it was directly related to certain foods, which I will now limit.

Symptoms: Bloating from a few meals.. tomato sauce, almonds, cabbage.  None of these surprise me as tomatoes have been known to do this to me before, plain almond butter I avoid, and cabbage well we all know about cabbage.

Emotional State: Besides my one day of feeling like crap I’m my usual self.

Sleep: Sleeping like I always do.

Knee Pain: I realized I haven’t thought about it much for the last few days.  I do get moments where it crosses my mind but obviously it’s much better than it was before this month.

Body Shape: I feel like I thinned out during the first two weeks and then my shape changed during the last two weeks.  I lost 4-5 pounds.  I did before and after pictures.  In comparing them my thighs slimmed, my waist thinned, and my stomach flattened.  Yay!  I feel like I’ve taken on a more athletic build.  No complaints.

Exercise: 3 days a week Barre3 and 3 days a week strength training.  I love the balance of pushing myself during my strength training days while using the Barre3 to calm my mind.  But don’t be fooled Barre3 is a low intensity ass kicking workout.

And here’s my meal plan..


Day 21

  • breakfast sausage patties with a fried egg, spinach, tomato, olives, cucumber, and salsa fresca
  • mango chicken salad and raspberries
  • crockpot sweet potato and beef curry – with plantains, carrots, broccoli, onion, and garlic.  served with avocado


Day 22

  • breakfast sausage patties with a fried egg, spinach, tomato, olives, cucumber, and salsa fresca
  • crockpot curry sweet potato and beef stew
  • spaghetti squash with pumpkin coconut milk sauce, topped with bacon and langostinos.  side of roasted broccoli


Day 23

  • breakfast sausage patties with a fried egg, spinach, tomato, olives, cucumber, avocado, and salsa fresca
  • pumpkin coconut milk spaghetti squash with bacon and langostinos
  • crockpot chicken marinara with zucchini and summer squash


Day 24

  • turkey sausage, spinach, fried egg, tomato, olives, cucumber, avocado, and salsa fresca
  • crockpot chicken marinara with eggplant, summer squash, and zucchini
  • cocoa coffee brisket and coleslaw with walnuts and cranberries


Day 25

  • leftover curry with a fried egg on top
  • cocoa coffee brisket with slaw, almonds
  • asian chicken and vegetable stir fry with pumpkin seeds and coconut flakes


Day 26

  • egg scramble with zucchini, onion, lox, and salsa fresca
  • fresh salad with rotisserie chicken
  • roasted vegetables and chicken sausage – sweet potato, fennel, red onion, apple.  topped with bacon and a side of turnip and radish greens.


Day 27

  • egg scramble with zucchini, onion, and rotisserie chicken, topped with cucumber and tomato
  • roasted vegetables and sausage
  • greens topped with tomato, plantain guacamole, and mexican ground beef cooked with onion, zucchini, carrots, celery, olives, and green chilies


Day 28

  • turkey sausage patties with 2 fried eggs and sautéed radish/turnip greens
  • mexican ground beef, raspberries, almond butter
  • crockpot moroccan chicken lettuce wraps

Day 29

  • turkey sausage patties with 2 fried eggs, spinach, tomato, and cucumber
  • crockpot moroccan chicken
  • beef burgers with bacon sweet potato salad, avocado, steamed swiss chard, and sprouts


Day 30

  • turkey sausage patties with 2 fried eggs, spinach, tomato, and cucumber
  • burger, sweet potato bacon salad, and avocado
  • korean short ribs with bean sprouts, snap peas, carrot, celery, and jicama