Category Archives: Nosh

Reflecting on Whole30

I decided to hop on the Whole30 bandwagon last fall after watching one of my best friends and an 1/8th of my instagram feed go through it in the preceding months. I’m all for eating healthily, and thankfully have fairly healthy habits to begin with (thanks mom!). This diet, however, cut out all that extra stuff that is so easy to go overboard on, and I knew more than anything, this would be an excellent exercise in extreme self-control (I L-O-V-E food and get more excited by it than almost anything else in life. I’m one of those annoying people who reads menus for hours before anxiously deciding on “the one” for the evening. And if the choice is good? People around me will notice me doing a completely involuntary happy dance. If it’s bad—well, I need to learn to shut up about order regret!).


I knew before even starting this that cooking for myself would be the easiest part (if I didn’t look in the cheese drawer); it would all come down to others offering me treats at work, pizza at my other late night job, dinner out with friends, halloween candy, birthday celebrations. . . Sure enough, that’s what was so hard. Not only the temptation, but even more so the social pressure and the borderline hurt/confused looks on people’s faces when you turned down their kind offers.

Spiralized Root Veggie Salad

Spiralized Root Veggie Salad

What I wasn’t ready for was the borderline ridicule I got from some people. Unless you’re a hermit, you really have to have a thick skin when you do Whole30. Very few people understood the diet and kept going back to me “not needing to diet” because I’m “already so skinny” (Slender, yes. Skinny, no!! Don’t get me started on that subject.). I couldn’t get through to some people that I was doing it for my health; it had 0% to do with weight. And because those who know me know I tend to eat healthier than the average person, they just blew it off as unnecessary. This is where it gets silly—but true—I was relieved that I have been suffering from eczema for the past 8 years so that I could show them my hands and explain that Whole30 is an elimination diet and that through completing it, I was hoping to find out the cause of my eczema flare ups. While that was certainly part of the reason for me doing this meal plan, I had to emphasize that factor because it was my saving grace. “Ohhh,” they would say, because in their heads, seeing a physical symptom gave them justification for me eating healthier. Right, because being healthy for health’s sake isn’t enough! 😛 Okay, sorry for the tangent. 🙂 Point is, do this for YOU and know clearly in your head why you’re doing and why it’s worth it. Also, side note, try your best to avoid having it fall over a holiday. . . (coughThanksgiving).

Loaded Burger + Grilled Squash

Loaded Burger + Grilled Squash

Since I brought up the eczema, I’ll address that. Turns out I could see signs of it healing within two days. It was completely gone in two weeks. And! I hadn’t noticed until I went back to “regular” eating that my usual red/burning eye thing that happens when I’m tired had completely stopped during those 30 days. I didn’t have to use eyedrops once! Subsequent post-Whole30 experiments have led me to believe that wheat and/or gluten is the culprit. My next step is narrowing it down to the specifics. I hate to be one of those people with a wheat allergy, but it looks like all that hype might be legit. ha. I DO think we have wayyyy too much of it in our diets (along with sugar) and it’s entirely possible our bodies are simply becoming overloaded. I don’t mind skipping out on most wheat products and only splurging when I feel up to a good itching session the next day.

Veggies + Guacamole

Veggies + Guacamole

A big part of Whole30 is trying to kick cravings. While my cravings never went away, they did change. I was able to occasionally give in to the cravings in a healthy way (some dried fruit became my after-lunch dessert at my desk and roasted nuts or a few plantain chips helped curb the salty cravings). I know some people think cravings are the worst thing for you, but as long as you treat them reasonably and don’t get carried away, I don’t have a huge problem with them. It felt surprisingly good to say no to a co-worker’s birthday cake at work and instead eat the berries I brought to contribute.

Alternative to Cake!

Alternative to Cake!

To others who are participating or considering doing Whole30, I’d stress the importance of making a firm game plan for what you eat after the 30 days. Without a conscious plan, you’ll likely cannonball back into your old eating habits. Once you have that first bite of cake, it’s so easy to eat with abandon! Though my habits definitely improved overall, I’d still like to get closer to eating “cleanly” all the time like I was with Whole30. It was fun and rewarding seeing how creative you can get with the limited “allowed” ingredients.


I could go on for quite awhile about other aspects of this experiment, but that would take all night. The 30 days was such a good experience in taking a good look at my eating habits and pushing the boundaries of what is considered “normal” food; I learned you really can live without grains, cheese, and honey for a month. Of course I knew that, but it felt like an accomplishment to actually do it. I now eat way less grains and bread, though the California and Wisconsin blood in me simply can’t live without cheese! I’d recommend Whole30 to anyone looking to reassess their food habits and/or trim the excess out of their diets/bellies/lives. It is more expensive to eat cleanly, but considering you are literally fueling your body, it is simply an investment in your health. I’d rather pay for good food than a hospital stay, any day!

I’ll sign off with a bunch of cell phone pics that I snapped during the month as a way to document favorite combos and to inspire me on days I lacked motivation.

Seeing these pictures makes me want to eat it all again! Mmm. If you’re on the journey, good luck! It will very likely be worth it.



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Spice It Up for Your Love

After yet another brief (ha) hiatus, I’m happy to be back! Without further ado. . .

My family and friends aren’t big on gifts, so when it comes time for them, I’m the kind of gal who would much prefer to think creatively and put together a less expensive gift that comes from the heart. Going to the store and buying something is so risky (as far as the person liking it as well as it being a possible waste of money on your part). I’d much rather risk a “. . . Thankkkkks” from something I made than something I bought, because I think with the love that goes into it, the odds are better they will like it even if it’s a little quirky.

My boyfriend loves dousing his food with hot sauce, so I thought making him his own blend from scratch would be something he’d enjoy. My talented mother has made her own using this method several times, so I knew what kind of results to expect. It’s so simple. Ready?

Pick out whatever chilies you like at your local produce market. There’s a range of heat and flavors and the wonderful Google can help you narrow down your choices. You might want to consider color, as well. A mix of green and red will yield a brownish sauce, so I opted for all green. I wanted options for flavor, so I chose thai peppers, jalapeños, and serranos.

Chop off the tops and toss them into a blender with a healthy dose of salt. I did each variety in its own batch so I could custom blend after they fermented.

Chilies to Blender

I added two cloves of garlic for a little flavor boost.

garlic, blended, chilis

This next step is key to expediting the fermentation process. My mom is super into this immune-boosting process, so I’ve had some time to get used to the idea. It’s a weird concept at first, but it’s how people have been preserving and eating food for thousands of years. In fact, even Tabasco is aged three years before being cooked, blended, and bottled. Back to the next step, which is to add a small amount of starter to the pepper blend. There are quite a few options, like whey, liquid from kefir, or in my case sauerkraut brine. I added about 1 tablespoon to each batch.

sauerkraut juice fermentation

I labeled my jars to keep track of flavors for future sauces, and it was interesting to see how they fermented differently.

hot sauce ferment raw

I added loose plastic wrap and lightly put on the lids (maybe 1/4 turn) to allow any excess gasses to escape.  The below picture is how they looked after about seven days. It’s not very pretty, but all the stuff you see in stores is filtered and filled with coloring/preservatives to look appetizing to the masses.

fermented chili pepper, jalepenos

The jalapeños actually ended up being my favorite, flavor-wise. I used all of that mixture and then a little of the other two (which were somewhat bitter) for their heat. I blended it all to a fine consistency and added a small amount of homemade vinegar to lighten it up and add some tang.


This is the point where store-bought sauces would be cooked, but I chose not to do that to leave all the good bacteria in there. Your gut will thank you for it! Just make sure to store your sauce in the fridge; the cold temperature will slow the fermentation to a tiny crawl and it will keep for a long time.

diy hot sauce label

My final step was to bottle it up and add a silly label. Don’t judge my design skills; it was 3 a.m. and I had to get up three hours later. 🙂 Obviously, I was hamming it up. I found this adorable bottle at Marshalls.

hot sauce bottle custom

See? Made with love. (And a little bit of orange nail polish.)

Homemade hot sauce diy heartI was pressed for time, so I only fermented the peppers for a week before blending and bottling them. I plan on doing it again with other kinds of peppers and letting them ferment for a few weeks to yield a better flavor. S has already requested a spicier version using ghost peppers (ouch). More fun ahead!


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Quinoa Oat “Cookies-Ish”

Last week , we had truly little in our fridge and pantry. “What can I POSSIBLY make to eat?!” was always my first thought every time I entered the kitchen. The options were extremely limited, but the upside was I became creative out of necessity. I was even a little impressed with some of the things I seemingly made appear out of thin air. haha.


This was our last day before shopping, and truly the only substantial things I could find were oats (homemade muesli, actually) in the freezer, leftover cooked quinoa, and  an egg from our chickens. After some Googling and additional deep-fridge excavating, I ended up making what only people on truly deprived diets would call “cookies” (“patties” doesn’t seem quite as appetizing). Knowing it had basically NOTHING bad for you made them a little more satisfying than they should be. I actually polished them all off by the end of the day. Without further ado, here’s what I made, adapted from this recipe:


Insanely Healthy Oatmeal Quinoa Cookies-Ish 

{Potentially Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Sugar Free}

Makes approximately 9 “cookies”


2 cups uncooked oats (I used muesli, which is just oats with a little dried fruit and nuts mixed in)

1 cup cooked quinoa

1 egg

1 tsp – 1 tbsp maple syrup (to preference)

1.5 tsp – 1 tbsp cinnamon (I like a healthy dose of cinnamon!)

Sprinkling of sea salt

Optional: chocolate chips, dried fruit, coconut, vanilla extract, whatever you want!


Preheat the oven to 350°. Mix together all ingredients in a medium-sized bowl until well-incorporated. (The mixture won’t be like a batter, but should still hold together when formed on a cookie sheet. )

With oats, quinoa, and egg as a  base, you can add whatever you desire for flavor. We were out of honey, so I added some maple syrup along with cinnamon for some sweetness and flavor. The little bit of fruit and nuts with the oats added a nice texture contrast, as well.


Line a cookie sheet with a piece of parchment paper, then use a heaping tablespoon to scoop the mixture onto the lined cookie sheet. Pat down and form 3 inch round patties with the spoon (you may find a second spoon helpful). I used all the mixture to make 3 rows of 3 patties, which fit quite nicely on one cookie sheet. (Okay, I admit. I used my scrumptious Trader Joe’s Cinnamon & Sugar Grinder over the top off all my formed “cookies” for some extra flavor and sugar crunch! It was a decision I don’t regret.)


Place the cookie sheet in the oven and bake for 20 minutes, rotating the sheet halfway through. After the 20 minutes is up and they look just lightly browned, IMMEDIATELY remove the cookies carefully using a metal spatula. (I didn’t remove mine right away and when I came back 5 minutes later, they had stuck firmly to the paper. If this happens to you, stop your removal attempts ((unless you like eating paper)) and put the sheet back in the warm oven for 5 minutes. Try again once they’ve warmed back up.) The cookies will be delicate when hot but will cool nicely into firm and chewy, satisfying “cookies” you’ll have no mental issue devouring.

For “health food”, these aren’t bad. And, hey, why not spread a little peanut butter or Nutella between two for an awesome breakfast sandwichI don’t eat actual oatmeal, but I’ll eat oats in any cookie form!


Let me know if you find an amazing combo I must try. I might make these again next time groceries run low!  

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Savory French Toast

Wow. I think 3 months is a significant enough blogging break, yes? Time to get back at it! Since I last blogged, I’ve gone on two trips, have become slightly obsessed with Instagram, explored two new job ventures, turned 25 on my roof while watching fireworks with someone special, lost a petand successfully co-planned and orchestrated one of my best friend’s wedding along with another best friend who was also a fellow bridesmaid (phew!). I also ate. As I love to do. Here’s a dish I documented just for you guys!

Savory French Toast

We had some formerly delicious jalapeño bread from a local organic bakery that was pretty tough and stale, but I didn’t want to give it to the dogs just yet. Since normal bread in the same condition usually gets turned into french toast, I decided I’d give this savory bread the same fate.

First, I mixed eggs with some milk and my favorite smoked seasoning salts from Trader Joes.



After blending well, I dipped each side of bread into the egg and milk mixture and dropped the bread into a pan sizzling with butter.


I cooked each side until golden brown and then set aside on a plate and repeated the process with the rest of the bread.


In the meantime, while the bread was cooking, I started a basic white or cream sauce to top the french toast (somehow I didn’t think maple syrup would cut it).


I decided a cheese sauce would be even better, so I shredded some cheddar and whisked it into the sauce.


Ooh la la! I seasoned the sauce with a dash of worcestershire, some Franks, freshly cracked black pepper and sea salt.


I knew a certain boy would be enjoying it with me, and like many other boys, this one appreciates the addition of meat. I crisped up some diced summer sausage in a small cast iron pan while everything else cooked (it draws out all the fat while bringing out the flavor of the sausage).


I knew this dish would be incredibly rich, so I diced up some tomatoes to cut through the fat and add some nice contrast in temperature and texture.


I plated it up and we dove in moments after.



It was a hit and didn’t last long. 🙂


I had fun experimenting in the kitchen and was thrilled it turned out well! I much prefer this to sweet french toast and wouldn’t hesitate to play with savory flavors again. What is your favorite savory breakfast food?

Happy eating!


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Grilled Lettuce

Hey guys!

I just wanted to get a quick post in, and thought tonight’s dinner was worth a mention. Inspired by this pin from a few days ago, I decided to grab a few heads of romaine lettuce from the fridge and grill ’em up. I was surprised at how tasty they were!

After washing, drying, and cutting each head in half lengthwise, coat each half with olive oil, salt and pepper . . .

Grill each side for around 3 minutes . . .

Top with freshly grated pecorino romano or parmesan, a squeeze of fresh lemon, a sprinkling of smoked salt, and serve immediately.

I was expecting the lettuce to get bitter, it was really sweet! It was so quick and easy and will be amazing this summer as an alternative to salad. I can’t wait to host an alfresco get-together and serve this as a side!

What are you looking forward to grilling this summer?


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BBQ Chicken Quinoa

Just before I got sick and started this diet, I had a craving for something gooey and BBQ saucy. My answer was to throw together a bowl of BBQ Chicken Quinoa. I must say, it really hit the spot. This is one of the healthier comfort foods I can think of—bonus!

Here’s how I made it, with approximate measurements. I’m all about cooking to taste/using what’s on hand, so eyeball and taste as you go. 🙂 It’s not an exact science.

1 cup uncooked quinoa
1 can (12.5oz) cooked chicken, packed in water or broth
1/2 red bell pepper diced
1/4 white onion diced
1/2 can black beans
2-3 tbsp BBQ sauce
1-2 tbsp greek yogurt (or crème fraiche)

Additionally, as to your taste:
squeeze fresh lemon
smoked sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
chopped fresh cilantro

Drain chicken broth/water from can into a measuring cup. Add additional water to reach specified liquid measurement, according to package directions, and proceed to cook the quinoa.

Once the quinoa is cooked, combine the remaining ingredients into the pot and stir to combine. Use less BBQ sauce and yogurt for a dryer texture.

The lemon juice, salt, pepper, and cilantro can be catered to your preference. Add more as you see fit. Garnish with a sprig of cilantro or dollop of yogurt, if you’d like. Time to enjoy!

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Cat Scratch Fever (The Kosher Kind)

Ugh!! The last couple of weeks I’ve been fighting a nasty infection that has left me sad, droopy, hungry, and blog-post-less!

I’m not completely sure, but most of my symptoms line up with Cat Scratch Fever, or Cat Scratch Disease (NOT the gross one referred to in the song; side-note: keep your pants on!!!). A week after our cat nicked my finger, I got an on/off fever for about a week and since then and my poor lymph nodes in my neck started going crazy. I had ZERO energy and felt extremely bleh. Whether or not that’s what I have, it’s been funny to call it cat scratch fever (and ironic, as I’m already completely not a fan of cats.)

The worst part of this sickness (aside from how longggg it’s lasting) is mentally I’ve been a nutcase. Like half functioning, lethargic, and surprisingly sad. And I’ve been walking into things and such. haha.  No bueno. I’m sooo much better than I was a week ago, but I’m still not 100%. I sleep for hours and am still kind of zombie-like at times. Bottom line, for sure, is that my immune system needs a re-boot.

I’m pretty confident that my diet over the last few months made me susceptible to this. I’ve always eaten a pretty balanced diet, but along with my veggies, I went nuts with carbs, cake, junk, etc., as lately I’ve had more access to it than normal.

My mom, who is super into nutrition, has suggested I try out a new way of eating at least for a week, or until I get better. Basically, I’m eating no carbs (bread, pasta, crackers, rice), no sugar, and nothing that will turn into sugar in my body (beans, grain, potatoes, etc.). THIS IS EXTREMELY HARD. I LOVE food more than anyone I know, and I’ve always been a carbivore.

When I think positively about this diet, there’s tons of good food I can eat, it’s just dwelling on what I can’t that’s hard. Especially when your work has cheese pizza and french fries offered to you every day this week (!!). Self-control is really something this little experiment has caused me to face head-on.

Anyway, while avoiding the bread, uncooked tortillas (my love!), beans (my other love!), and pasta (my super love!) in my kitchen, I’m being encouraged to drink tons of raw milk, eat various fermented “goodies”, and drink homemade chicken broth (ugh). I’ve also been going to town on fruits, veggies, nuts, and cheese. I’ve been SO thankful I can eat cheese on this diet, as it’s been one of the only ways  I can feel somewhat satisfied without my lovely carbs.

The one good thing about this diet so far is that, in less than a week (with no exercise, since I’ve been absolutely not feeling up to it), I’ve definitely felt my stomach squish  begin to dissipate. This is encouraging! I was at my squishiest and I knew it was time for a change. It was getting a little nuts, so this came at a good time. I’ll post an update soon with some foods I’ve been relying on to get me through.

Cheers (I’m drinking raw milk with a chai tea bag sitting in it) to anyone who got to the bottom of this post! 🙂 Hope you’re finishing your week strong.


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