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October 2015

whole 30, part 2 {a christian perspective on the whole 30}

thanks for stopping by as i share our family’s journey with the whole 30.  i have to admit, this week i slipped a little bit in my planning.  actually i had planned fine, and had a list of recipes to make, but i didn’t do as well with follow-up on getting the ingredients lined up to make them.  instead, i did more putting-together of simple meals with good quality vegetables and meats, and it worked just fine.  i’m also noticing that if i don’t beat the kids up and have breakfast made, they’re getting more adventurous themselves, learning what flavors they like that are still advantageous for their health.  my second (a teenage boy) has made himself a venison steak for breakfast, fried eggs with homemade salsa and fresh avocado, and a fruit bowl with cashews on top.


as we i think back to the start of our journey, i realize i was fearful that the kids would feel hungry, and that would translate to deprived.  i’m realizing some connections to my own childhood with food, where a lavish meal meant “love,” and a meal thrown together without care (or a bowl of cereal on the couch) to me translated to lack of care.  i’m finding myself buying tons of “extra” items like nuts and plantain chips and cashew butter because i want them to have plenty of snacks on hand should the urge strike, and realizing that is a history-based act of love for me.  simultaneously, i’m feeling guilty for being privileged enough to joke about journeying afar, and to buy “extras” so my kids won’t feel “deprived.”  personally, i think the idea of spiritual fasting is so deeply tied into this whole 30 challenge, and i long for others to have that same experience.  often i’ve found that saying “no” to a particular food or drink when a craving strikes, opens the opportunity for me to draw closer to God to help me make the wiser choice in the moment.


christian whole 30 a


i’m also learning that this journey has drawn us together in ways i didn’t expect.  because we homeschool and my husband works at a place where there’s nearly always (not so healthy) food available, we’re being super intentional about preparing meals together, and even more so when others are determined to “tempt” us.  it’s a cool side-effect i’m so thankful for.


tomorrow i will begin again with preparing some of our recipes in advance while the kiddos are working on school assignments.  i want to get ahead of the game and not find myself in a panic at the six o’clock witching hour; that’s been key so far.  i feel like my taking responsibility for preparation has helped us stay the course, and really experience the benefits of our journey.  it’s also freed the kids up (and even my husband) to be creative when the urge strikes.


here’s a brief look at some more recipes we’ve enjoyed in our second week:


whole 30 collage b


lunch: charred romaine and chicken lime burgers on the grill, leftover roasted carrot “fries,” and coleslaw made by adding guacamole to lime and olive oil and whisking, then tossing to dress

breakfast: ground turkey sauteed with leftover butternut squash and roasted asparagus

my kale and apple salad – a family favorite!

lunch: grass feed beef burgers with tessamae’s bbq sauce, fresh grape tomatoes, and onions sauteed in red palm oil

taco salad – YUM!  carrots and cabbage and romaine, cilantro, avocado, fresh salsa, sliced radishes, and fresh cilantro

chicken salad with dried unsweetened cranberries and tessamae’s dressing, shredded carrots, black olives, and plantain chips from trader joe’s

baked salmon with lemon and ghee, fresh avocado and blistered tomatoes, roasted delicata squash with ghee, and steamed broccoli with lemon and garlic

more of a favorite salad of romaine spears, roasted garlic, blistered tomatoes and pine nuts


have you tried a whole 30 challenge?  what are your tips for being organized, for staying on track, and for getting kids involved in proactively seeking a healthier lifestyle?





whole 30, part 1 {a christian perspective on the whole 30}

this semester, as part of our health curriculum, the older two at home are going to read It Starts With Food.  (clicking this title will take you to my amazon affiliate link for the book.  purchasing through this link does not cost you extra, but may bring me a small commision.)  we are also, as a family, doing the Whole 30 challenge.  i’m excited, because as i read the book, i’m in awe of how much truth lines up and stands at attention in the authors’ words.  so much is ringing familiar with concepts of idolatry… of “not being mastered by anything,” as paul once said.  and as i read, it occurred to me that it might be interesting to some (especially since there’s even a comment on “creationists welcome,” as it relates to the premises behind the paleo diet) to hear a christian perspective on the whole 30, as well as get an inside look at a whole family’s experience with the challenge.


when we first told the kids we were going to embark on this journey (ONE MONTH of eating no grains, sugar, dairy, legumes or, ahem, alcohol), you’d have thought we threatened them with starvation.  which broke my heart, because clearly, no one here is suffering.  “we caaaaaan’t go without milk for a MONTH, mom!” moaned my second.  and with that, i knew the trouble was real.


christian whole 30 a


at the time of writing, we are halfway into the book, and halfway through the challenge.  so far, i’m enjoying the science in the book, minus the evolutionary hogwash.  (on that note, i’m always amazed that people can study the human body and come to believe it was a happy accident, magically evolved from some other “stuff…”) the more i read wisdom in the whole 30 teaching, the more i wonder how they come so close but don’t see the amazing, mind-blowing, impossible-to-imagine wonders of the human body and become drawn to know its Maker!


but the concepts of craving, as associated with both our actual physical needs and our psychological reactions, are so familiar to me.  i’ve always known that food is tied to emotion and to memory, and seeing its hold on us, because it is also necessarily connected to true need, is so intriguing.  the idea of abstaining from particular foods for a full thirty days, in order to discover what really works well for our bodies, is not new.  but the writers of the book, dallas and melissa hartwig, use a combination of scientific evidence, personal and client-related feedback, and a good dose of humor to make this somewhat daunting (in modern america’s food-rich but nutrient-poor climate, that is) journey seem not just doable, but necessary.  (note: caution with sharing the info with your kids directly through the website.  there are some tongue-in-cheek phrases that quite accurately describe the concepts to grasp in the program, but inappropriate for a rated-g audience.)


so many moments during the afternoon as she’s reading, my daughter will come grab me to read some section of the book and share what concept she’s discovering.  she’s said more than once, “mom, they’re so close to getting to the heart of the truth, if they just understood how we are created!”  and she’s right.  they just miss the mark when it comes to the need, i believe, to connect our spiritual habits, desires, and true need for fulfillment, to our tendency to try to fill those needs with physical food.  having said that, we are finding that the psychological connection is so close, and if we read the concepts in conjunction to what we know to be true (sacrifice is sometimes for our good, God made us to need emotional fulfillment as well as to discover who we are in Him, when we don’t find who we are in the Truth of Him, we’ll seek fulfillment, usually in things that will ultimately damage us, body, soul, or mind, etc…), we get such a fuller understanding about the connections with this body of ours!


whole 30 meal plan


as we enter our first half of the journey, i’ve spent a ton of time researching recipes.  (refer to the original book, the newer book the whole 30, and a google or pinterest search for “whole 30 recipes” or “whole 30 meal planning” for a plethora of recipes!!)  i created a pretty plan and stationed the clipboard in a prominent place in the kitchen so the whole family could refer to it.  next i printed selected recipes from the oodles of recipes i’d pinned, and made my shopping list.  i’m not going to lie, we’ve spent a TON of money on food this month.  i journaled that i really felt like the proverbs 31 woman who traveled afar for her goods, as i searched high and low for special sauces, ghee, and snack-able items so no one would feel “deprived” on this journey.  and to be honest?  i would do less of that the next time around.  i feel like i’m getting smarter about what we really need to be nourished, and what is a splurge that we can do without, and am focusing instead on real-life matters, and simple, clean food, well-seasoned and well-prepared.


whole 30 collage a


above are some of my favorite meals we’ve cooked.  i did notice that at the beginning i needed to stick closely to our plan.  as we’ve progressed, we’ve all gotten more creative, remembering to check ingredients (it is SHOCKING that there is sugar in nearly everything we purchase), and remembering the concepts of eating to live, not living to eat.


in order, the meals above are:

fried eggs with blistered tomatoes (seasoned with salt and pepper and italian herbs), avocado halves drizzled with trader joe’s hatch chili salsa

kale salad with leftover roasted sweet potatoes and garlic, venison carnitas, fresh salsa, and tessamae’s lemon chesapeake dressing.

layered salad in a jar: tessamae’s dressing, chicken and apple sausage, shredded carrots, yellow peppers, arugula, slivered almonds and poppyseeds.

favorite snack/side of all month: home made refrigerator pickles.  try this recipe; we left out the additional veggies this time and just used fresh garlic cloves and baby cucumbers.

roast chicken.  slather with ghee and fresh rosemary under the skin.  roast on top of carrots, celery, onion, and potatoes with whole cloves of garlic.  this is perfect for dinner and leftovers get used for chicken salad, chicken soup, and chicken on top of a quick veggie stir fry.

chopped apples and mandarin segments with flax meal, coconut flakes, coconut milk (the thick cream from a full-fat can), and clean bacon.

fish fillets topped with macadamia nuts, roasted green beans with sun dried tomatoes, and a simple carrot salad of shredded carrots stirred into coconut oil and sprinkled with sea salt.  side of, of course, a pickle!

romaine spears with roasted garlic, blistered tomatoes, and toasted pine nuts.  a quick dressing made by stirring lemon juice and olive oil in to deglaze the pan after cooking tomatoes and garlic.


there you have it – our take on the first half of our first whole 30.  what are your thoughts?  have you tried the plan?  would you like to?  have you made the connection between your heart, your mind, and your body, and how it relates to food?



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date night! {paper mill play house, millburn, nj}

although people usually laugh when we tell them (because he can seem like such a serious guy at times), my husband once had a job performing on a show-boat.  he also served as co-president of the high school show choir (alongside his also-musical sister), and he can still slide across a stage and hit a spine-tingling bass note while singing a favorite southern gospel number from his growing-up years.  and me, well i was a proud theatre-turned-communication major in college myself, and i still get teary-eyed at live performances of almost any kind.  there’s something so amazing about watching people onstage connect with their audience, as they do what they’ve been so amazingly gifted to do in the world of theatre.  so when i was offered the opportunity to attend a broadway-style show at the paper mill play house in millburn, nj, i jumped on it, and we made a date night of the event!  dressed to-the-nines in my cute date-night-boots, my still-got-it-hubby and i headed this weekend to see the bandstand at paper mill playhouse.


selfie-ing it up.  😉

nj_theatre_date_c  nj_theatre_date_b


we’ve still got it.  but speaking of having it




since we moved to new jersey, we’ve fallen in love with the combination of sea-shore and pine-forest, and the proximity to such beloved, culture-rich cities as nyc and philly.  how fun, then, to discover a small-town theatre with high-quality, fun performances, without having to head into the bright lights of the big cities.  millburn is such a cute little town, too, with wonderful restaurants to explore, and – gasp! – an allergy-friendly, paleo-friendly, bakery!  (note to self: must return when whole 30 is complete.)




our take?  we adored this show.  it was funny and surprisingly emotional – the deep-felt struggles of those who served our country at war were woven in beautifully.   corey cott, as band-leader donny, delivers an all-in performance that at moments took my breath away with its intensity.




the sets were outstanding and  the cast was such a delight!  the band-members portrayed actually played their instruments live onstage;  this combined with the live orchestra made for a goosebump-moment, more than once.  we gladly joined in giving a standing ovation with the audience.  (and i’m wishing we lived a bit closer – the not-for-profit theatre also offers classes – i think there are a few in our family who might sign up!)




here’s what paper mill has to say about the show:

A world premiere! Paper Mill produces this sizzling new big-band swing musical with an amazing original score and a plot that is full of surprising twists and turns. Emotionally charged and beautifully crafted‚ this is the story of a mismatched band of WWII veterans. Battle-scarred and broke‚ dreaming of a better life‚ they join together to compete in a national radio contest with a prize that will guarantee instant stardom to the winners. Directed and Choreographed by Tony Award winner Andy Blankenbuehler (Hamilton).


a little bit of romance, a little bit of tenderness, and a whole lot of laughter and fun, this show was a great pick for us for a date night.



click here to get a preview of the show!

* note from the producers: Contains strong language and adult themes. Recommended for ages 13 and up.

as a christian parent, i would have taken our thirteen year old; there was some adult humor and mild language.

no photography is allowed during performances; all performance photos were used with permission of Paper Mill Playhouse.  their upcoming season, including such hits as Pump Boys and Dinettes, A Christmas Story, and Westside Story, can be seen here.




more than once i looked over to see my man enjoying the show just as much as i was.  there’s something romantic about that.  (before we left, the kids lined up to take a pic of us, too, like it was prom and they were proud parents.  it’s cool how our romancing each other gives them joy, too…)  what’s your favorite date night?


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