Grain-Free Lasagna

 

grainfreelasagna

I went to the local farmers market last Sunday to buy the last of the summer veggies (sniff, sniff) to make a lasagna. I was hoping to make something paleo/whole 30 approved, but I just couldn’t leave out the cheese! It just wouldn’t be right! I have seen a recipe that uses Greek yogurt in lieu of cheese, which I might try one day. For now, sorry guys, I didn’t want to disrespect Italians everywhere by leaving out an essential ingredient. Although, I’m probably already doing that by leaving out the pasta now that I’m actually thinking this through (sigh) Oh well, here’s how I made my pseudo-lasagna.

Ingredients:

1 small zucchinigrainfreelasagna4
1 small squash
1 medium eggplant
2 roma tomatoes
1 jar all natural marinara
1 cup ricotta cheese
2 cups mozzarella cheese
1 lb. ground beef
1 tb garlic powder

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Wash and thinly slice the vegetables length-wise and let them dry on a paper towel for a few minutes. While the vegetables are drying, brown the ground beef. After draining, add ¾ of the marinara sauce and the garlic powder to the ground beef. Add a bit of marinara sauce to the bottom of your casserole dish and then lay down the first layer of squash and zucchini. Add a couple spoonfuls of ricotta and evenly spread. Add a few tomato slices on top. Add 1 cup of the mozzarella on top. Next add the eggplant layer (I personally don’t use the 2 end slices that are primarily skin.) Add the remaining marinara sauce on top of the eggplant. Next, add the remaining tomatoes. Then add the remaining ricotta cheese. On top of the ricotta, you will add the meat/marinara mixture. Top with the remaining cup of mozzarella and place in the oven, covered, to bake for 1 hour. After 1 hour, remove the lid and let it bake for another 15-20 minutes or until the cheese starts to brown on the top.

Enjoy!

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Conflict Resolution

 

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Conflicts happen to the best of us all the time and everywhere. How we respond to them is a true testament of our character. It’s easy to emotionally react, but a thoughtful and considerate response will yield much better results. Below is a list of steps to take into consideration when confronted with a conflict. Although written with a teenage audience in mind, these steps are applicable at any age.

Step 1: Face the problem
Pretending it’s not there won’t help the conflict go away. Bottling up your emotions will cause more harm when you eventually burst.

Step 2: Communicate directly
Don’t send another friend to do your dirty work. You need to speak face-to-face with the person you have a conflict with—no texts, and NO social media!

Step 3: See the other perspective
Before getting defensive and arguing, try to put yourself in the other person’s shoes and see how they view the conflict.

Step 4: Be respectful and listen
Allow the other person to talk and actively listen to them when they are talking instead of just thinking about how you are going to respond.

Step 5: Stop and breathe
Before reacting emotionally to the other person, take a second to take a deep breath and think about how to respond appropriately.

Step 6: Be assertive
Assertiveness involves speaking calmly and confidently. It is thoughtful. It is not passive, aggressive or passive-aggressive.

Step 7: Use “I” statements
If you start a sentence with “you” the other person will immediately feel criticized and get defensive. Starting with “I” keeps the conversation open. Ex. “I felt upset when _______.”

Step 8: Learn to negotiate
Give a little, take a little. Try to come to a resolution that you both can live with. This includes the option of “agreeing to disagree.”

Step 9: Remain in the present
Don’t drag in old issues that have already been resolved. Leave the past in the past. This will only add fuel to the fire and will not get you very far.

Step 10: Learn to say you’re sorry
Mature, well-respected people are able to apologize and admit their mistakes. We all make them but those that can own them will go much further in life.

Let me know if you have any questions about these steps or how to exactly implement them in your specific situation. I’d love to help!

 

Whole 30 Recipes: Salmon

 

Whole30salmon

Salmon is one of mine and Patrick’s favorite meals. It’s full of antioxidants, vitamins and omega 3. It’s a fish that doesn’t have to be all dolled-up to be tasty, so it’s perfect for the Whole 30 diet!

Ingredients:
12 oz. salmon filet
1 tsp. olive oil
1/2 lemon
2 garlic cloves minced
3 sprigs of rosemary
salt and pepper to taste

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheet with foil for easy cleanup and place salmon skin side down on foil. Drizzle olive oil on the fish and add remaining ingredients placing rosemary sprigs directly on top of salmon. Bake in oven for 18 min or until fish is flaky when pierced with a fork.

Side dishes:
Potatoes: Cut up 2 medium sized potatoes and boil until soft. Add 1/4 C of coconut milk, 1 T of Ghee, 1 T parsley, and salt and pepper and mash with fork.

Okra: Always gotta have some okra! Add 1 T of either avocado oil or Ghee to pan over medium heat until melted. Cut okra and add to the pan. Sauté over medium heat with salt and pepper to taste until soft. The longer you cook, the less slimy it will become.

Bon appétit!

Whole 30 Recipes: Carnitas and Guac

 

whole30carnitas

This crock pot meal was a go-to for me! Whether it was with pork or chicken, it was easy to throw in the pot in the morning before work.  All I had to do when I got home was shred the meat and make the guacamole-easy peasy! (Side note: I kinda became obsessed with okra on this diet. I’ve always loved okra but for some reason, I craved it constantly during Whole 30! I always chopped it and threw it in the pan with some avocado oil.)

Ingredients:
Carnitas:
2 lb. pork shoulder (I chose bone-in with fat for extra flavor)
1 package taco seasoning (make your own w/ ground chili peppers, salt, onion)
1 tsp. cinnamon
3 garlic cloves; minced
1 ½ C water
1 tsp. oil of your choice (I recommend avocado oil)

Guac:
1 Avocado
1/3 C Pico de Gallo (equal parts diced onion, tomato, green pepper & jalapeno)
½ Lime
Pinch of salt
Pinch of pepper

Directions:
Brown your pork shoulder in oil on all sides before putting it in the crockpot. Put all ingredients in crockpot and cook on low for 8 hours. Once thoroughly cooked, take a fork and pull apart the meat. Take out and throw away any bones and/or fat.

I like to mix the pork and guac together, and maybe throw them on some homemade sweet potato fries, but feel free to eat it however you like!

Photo below with chicken…and yes…okra :)

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Whole 30 Recipes: Blackened Shrimp and Brussels

 

blackenedshrimp

One of my favorite meals of the Whole 30 diet and super easy to make, you will love these blackened shrimp and brussels sprouts!

Ingredients:
1 lb large gulf shrimp (peeled and deveined)
½ lb brussels sprouts
1 T ghee
1-2 T blackening seasoning depending on spice level (I used Central Market blackened spice as it is all natural with no added sugars. It contains paprika, garlic, onion, salt, cayenne pepper, white pepper, black pepper, thyme and oregano)
2 garlic cloves (minced)
2 tsp Olive oil
Salt
Pepper

Brussels Sprouts:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Wash Brussels and drain. Cut them in half and remove any old leaves from the outside. Place in bowl and add olive oil. Mix so olive oil coats the Brussels sprouts. Spread out in pan cut side down. Season with salt and pepper. Place in oven and cook for about 20 min. Brussels should be brown on flat side when finished.

Shrimp:
Melt the ghee in a pan over medium heat. Once melted, add the garlic and blackening seasoning and sauté for about 30 seconds before adding the shrimp. Reduce heat to low and continue to stir to coat shrimp well and cook for about 8 minutes or until shrimp are thoroughly cooked. Do not over cook because shrimp will become tough. Once they turn white throughout, they are cooked.

I tossed the Brussels and shrimp in a bowl to mix them up and seasoned with salt and pepper as desired. Enjoy!

My Whole 30 Experience

 

whole30 pic

Wow-what a journey! I’ve been wanting to do the Whole 30 diet for awhile now, like over a year, but it was never the right time. Finally, I decided that it was never going to be the perfect time. There will always be parties, happy hours, holidays and work. It’s inevitable. So if I was ever going to do it, I had to just DO IT!

People asked me why I chose Whole 30, and while I normally don’t like to talk about my health issues, those are the main reasons I chose to do Whole 30. So, here are my very personal reasons:

  • I’ve had digestive issues for as long as I can remember. Since I was a little girl, my tummy always hurt after eating. Luckily, I found out about 6 years ago that I had Celiac Disease after having an upper endoscopy. Life without gluten made my digestive issues better, but I still had problems. I’ve always kinda thought that dairy was another problematic food for me but was too lazy to cut it out for a significant amount of time. So, Whole 30 was going to take care of that.
  • I was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome several years ago and while luckily I have been blessed to not have many side effects associated with PCOS, I do have to watch my sugars since diabetes is commonly associated with it—another thing Whole 30 would help. I can say that (sorry to all the guys reading) my cycle was more normal than ever during the diet!
  • I read that the Whole 30 diet can help strengthen and support the immune system as well as reduce inflammation. About 3 years ago, I was diagnosed with Sjogren’s Disease, an autoimmune disorder where your white blood cells attack the moisture glands in your body. It causes saliva dysfunction, extreme fatigue, inflammation and digestive issues for me, so why not try a diet that could possibly help all that?!
  • I get emotionally attached to many things in life including food and drinks, and I believe in fasting for spiritual and emotional reasons. It’s a great way to step back and reprioritize. I did it as a way for me to distance myself from getting overly dependent on what I put in my stomach. All it takes is fasting from certain things (latte’s, oatmeal, glass of wine) to see how much I rely on those things to make me happy. True joy and contentment comes intrinsically from the Father, not external pleasures.
  • Because I know so many people that it has helped—people that wanted to lose weight, help allergies or illnesses, or gain energy!! And since I wanted all three of those, I thought, “Why not?!”

I was asked a lot of questions during and after the diet, so I’ve tried to include all of them here. If I forgot to address your question, feel free to comment below!

What was the most difficult part?

Planning! I’m a terrible planner in general—especially if it’s something I’m not thrilled about. This is a diet that really does take planning for it to be successful. I will admit, I probably did the least amount of planning possible, but I also ate a lot of the same foods. I’m a big leftovers girl anyway, so it didn’t bother me to eat many of the same foods. I found what I loved (okra, sweet potatoes, shredded chicken and guac, boiled eggs, salmon, brussels sprouts and salad) and stuck to it.

What did you miss most?

Social events! This diet definitely takes the happy out of happy hour :)! I’m a pretty social person, so not being able to go to dinners or happy hours was a bummer. I did go to a few and even threw a couple parties and I enjoyed the company, but I’d be lying if I didn’t say it put a damper on the events. If you live in Dallas, I can tell you that I found HG Supply and Company Cafe were able to make Whole 30 compliant meals.

Any advice?

  1. Plan out your food for the week on the weekend and shop for everything you will need to cook it. If you’re like me, it’s hard to cook much after work, which leads to number two…
  2. The crockpot is your best friend! No really…it is! I used my crockpot more in the last 30 days than I have in the last 10 years! Yes, I know what you’re thinking…it’s time for a new crockpot. Shredded chicken and carnitas were my go to meals.
  3. Drink a lot of water! Make sure you are drinking more water than you are used to drinking. It will help your digestion during the diet, and I will bet money that your skin will look better than ever!
  4. Have an accountability partner. This diet is not easy and I can’t tell you the amount of people that told me to try just a bite or sip of something that wasn’t on my diet—frustrating! I personally have that all or nothing personality, so if I say I’m going to do something, you better believe I’m going to do it 110%! I guess in this case, stubbornness is a really great trait. I put my experience on social media because I knew it would hold me accountable.

How did you feel?

The first few days were the hardest. Withdrawing from sugar is crazy hard and not fun. I was pretty devoid of energy for the first 10 days. Thank goodness I work out in the mornings because there would have been no way I would have gone to my classes in the evening! By about 2:00 in the afternoon during those first 10 days, I hit a wall and just wanted to crawl in bed. However, once week 3 started, my energy levels really picked up! I can honestly say, that the last couple of weeks I had more energy that I’ve ever had and I slept really well at night.

How much weight did you lose?

Overall, I lost around 7-8 pounds. I believe the majority of that was lost in the first couple of weeks. I did not weigh myself during the 30 days except, after week one, I had a doctor appointment and the nurse annoyingly announced my weight out loud (Why do they do that???) I was 4 pounds down at that point so I know half of the weight was lost in the first part of the diet.

Any other positive changes?

I could tell a huge difference in the way my body looked at the end of the day. I guess I thought it was normal for my stomach to look and feel quite a bit bigger by the end of the day. Guess what? That’s not normal and what I didn’t realize is how bloated I was! So, less bloating meant a flatter tummy and a happier me! I felt so much better and didn’t feel sick in the evening-which I often tend to do.

If you are interested in more information about Whole 30 or have further questions, let me know! I’d love to help in any way I can and encourage you if you choose to try it! Cheers!

whole30selfie3

*These are my personal thoughts and experiences. No one person is exactly alike, so you might have different results and a different experience. Always consult your physician before making diet changes.

 

Blueberry Balsamic Vinaigrette

 

blueberryvinaigrette

Ingredients:
1/4 C blueberries
1/4 C EVOO
1/4 C balsamic vinaigre (I used a chocolate balsamic vinaigre for a twist)
1/2 TB honey
1/2 TB Dijon mustard
1 small clove minced garlic

Directions:
Put all ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth. I put mine on a bed of spinach and kale with sliced strawberries, chèvre, sesame seeds, pepitas and cracked sea salt and pepper. It was amazing! Enjoy!

blueberryvinaigrettesalad

 

Comforting Scripture

 

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Here are some of my go-to Bible verses that bring me peace and comfort:

“Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”
~John 14:27

“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”
~John 16:33

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”
~Philippians 4:6-7

“Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,” says the LORD, who has compassion on you.”
~Isaiah 54:10

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
~Matthew 11:28-30

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”
~Romans 15:13

“LORD, you establish peace for us; all that we have accomplished you have done for us.”
~Isaiah 26:12

“The LORD gives strength to his people; the LORD blesses his people with peace.”
~Psalm 29:11

The Armor of God-One of the coolest things my mom did for my sister and I when we were little, was to teach us the armor of God. We put on the armor each morning in the car on the way to school or wherever we were going. We even had hand motions for it that I use and remember to this day! Putting on the armor meant preparing myself for the day and anything that would come my way. I will always remember it and plan on teaching it to my kids.

Ephesians 6:10-18
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities,against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith,with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.”

Psalm 91-This chapter always gives me peace as I know and trust that God is my protector and defender. He goes before me to defeat my enemies.

“He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” Surely he will save you from the fowler’s snare and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday. A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you. You will only observe with your eyes and see the punishment of the wicked. If you make the Most High your dwelling– even the LORD, who is my refuge– then no harm will befall you, no disaster will come near your tent. For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone. You will tread upon the lion and the cobra; you will trample the great lion and the serpent. “Because he loves me,” says the LORD, “I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. He will call upon me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him. With long life will I satisfy him and show him my salvation.”

Spicy Mexican Casserole

 

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I’ve shared my Mexican casserole recipe before on the blog, but this is a different, spicier variation that uses ground beef instead of chicken. It does have a kick, but if you prefer it to not be as spicy, you don’t have to add jalapeños.

Ingredients
1 lb. ground beef
1 package taco seasoning
1 cup diced Jalapeños
2 cups Mexican blend shredded cheese
1 dozen corn tortillas
3 peppers chopped (I get one orange, one red, and one yellow for color)
1 medium onion chopped
1 large can of black beans
1/2 cup of sour cream
1 can Rotel
1 T butter

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Put your black beans in a pot on medium low to cook. While those are cooking, brown your ground beef in a skillet and drain. Add seasoning packet, jalapeños and Rotel to ground beef. Put one layer of corn tortillas down in the casserole dish and layer the beef mix on top. Sauté your peppers and onions in butter and add that on top of the ground beef mix. Add 1 cup of cheese on top of peppers and onions. Put another layer of tortillas on top. Mash the black beans and sour cream together and layer that mixture on top of the tortillas. Add the remaining cup of cheese and put in oven for 20 minutes. Enjoy!

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Positive Thinking

 

positive thinking

Make positivity a priority! There truly is power behind positive thinking. How many times have you caught yourself in a negative self talk cycle that leaves you feeling stressed, self conscious, and overall icky? We tend to let our thoughts take the reins and control us when, really, we can and should be in control of our thoughts.

Here are some journal activities to help bring more positivity into your life and help you regain control:

  1. Cognitions journal—Keep this on your phone or in a small notebook that you can carry with you easily. The idea is that you catch yourself as soon as you start thinking negatively and you replace it with a positive truth immediately. An example would be, “I can’t believe I screwed up that presentation like that. I’m such a failure.” You could replace this with, “I know I can succeed and I have succeeded many times in previous presentations.” It is a tough practice at first, but as you continue it daily, it will become routine and you will, overall, think more positively and start to regain cognitive control, which in turn will lead to better emotional control.
  1. Positivity journal—Take note of all the positive things that happen to you during the day. It can be something small such as, “I caught all green lights on my way to work “ to something large like, “My boss told me how well I’ve been performing.” It’s a time to reflect on the goodness of your day—a time to take notice and celebrate the big and small joys of your daily life.
  1. Blessings journal—I started using this journal in my practice after being inspired by the book, “One Thousand Gifts” by Ann Voskamp. If you haven’t read it, go to the store right now and buy it! It really changed my outlook on life. All you do is write a few things down each day that were a blessing to you and that you’re thankful for. Voskamp notices the smallest things such as the beautiful colors that the light reflecting off the bubbles makes when she is doing dishes. She is truly thankful and looking for ways to remain thankful. It’s hard to be negative and down when you’re busy being grateful. This practice will help you start to find the blessing in your ordinary activities.
  1. Personal qualities journal—Remind yourself of all the positive qualities that make you the incredible person you are today. It’s just one word a day that states a positive characteristic about yourself such as strong, imaginative, empathetic or God’s beloved. Instead of recalling your weaknesses, reflect on your strengths.
  1. Triumph journal—Record all the times you have succeeded in something big or small. When we come up against a hurdle, which is inevitable in life, it’s nice to have personal encouragement from a previous obstacle that you have overcome. When troubles come and we find ourselves in the middle of the storm, it’s easy to feel like we are drowning and we can’t get through it. But wait…you have been through many storms before and you’ve come out alive and probably stronger and better because of it. So write those times down so you can have encouragement for later. You have the evidence to support your newfound “I can do this” attitude.

What is one thing you are thankful for today? Share it below and continue to seek out the positive!

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