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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.


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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:


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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.


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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.


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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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slow cooker heaven {paleo butternut squash chili}

paleo butternut squash chili

this evening two ran track, one of those swam, one traveled for basketball, one played baseball in the chilly winter evening, and one cheered for them all.

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we’re not avid fans of mad-sports-schedules, and frankly, we don’t even really encourage organized sports participation when our kids are little.  don’t get me wrong; nearly every afternoon and some mornings, before and after school-time, our littles will be tossing balls and running fast and shooting hoops – we want them building muscles and skills even young.  but for the “on-someone-else’s-schedule,” pay-for-it team sports, we wait till they really want it, enough to work for it, and to contribute financially even, if they’re able.  we want to know it’s really something that matters to them, and is worth the family calendar havoc it can wreak.

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i’ll be the first to say, though, as a mama who grew up sans sports (i danced ballet for eons and loved it, and was a theater girl thereafter), i delight in screaming for them cheering them on, and i delight ‘most more in their privilege to work under the authority of other trusted adults, to do more than they thought they could, to work for the good of a whole team of “others.”

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but it does create some foodish chaos, what with running here and there, trying to eat healthy and not dump our funds into concession-stand-junk.  tonight, however, i conquered the sports-schedule-chaos-monster, and i made this.

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it is delicious.  it is divine.  it is meaty and saucy and deeply, darkly, spice-sweet but still savory.  it is filling even for a six-foot-plus runner-swimmer-baller, and it is better than dessert.  especially with oatmeal stout.  which, by the way, in case you’re wondering, is so-not-paleo.  but that’s okay, because i ate a lot of this chili.  enough, i’m sure, to make my dinner time consumption still “80 percent clean.”  heehee.

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here’s the recipe!

slow cooker heaven {paleo butternut squash chili}


  • 1 large butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 2 pounds lean ground beef
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 jalapeno, finely minced, seeds removed
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground chipotle pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 28 ounces crushed tomatoes
  • 6 ounces tomato paste
  • 15 ounces diced tomatoes (fresh or canned)
  • 1 bunch fresh cilantro


  1. Brown and drain ground beef.
  2. Add onion and cook just till soft. (You can skip this step.)
  3. Add squash, beef and onion, jalapeno, garlic, spices, and tomatoes to slow cooker in order listed.
  4. Cook high for one hour, then reduce heat to low.
  5. Cook on low heat for 3-5 hours.
  6. Serve with chopped cilantro.


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