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whole 30 camping ideas {family camping, part 1}

when we decided to give the whole 30 plan our family’s whole-hearted commitment, i wondered if we could do it.  i wondered if my kids would choose to stick with it, and if i would have the self-fortitude to help them.  i felt such a burden to be prepared, to leave them no excuses if i could help it.  (little do they know i’m already considering it our “first” whole 30…)

 

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this week we planned a family camping trip, and determined to do it while honoring our whole 30 commitment (we are right smack dab in the middle!).  i was amazed at how each family member took it in stride.  there were a couple wistful comments about s’mores and their lack, but we planned and we prepared and we ate delicious food (always part of a camping trip in our book), and honestly, i don’t think anyone felt deprived!  here are some of our preparations – i thought others might benefit from our whole 30 camping ideas, too.

 

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leading up to our trip, i asked if anyone had special requests.  because we couldn’t were choosing not to do some of our usual unhealthy treats, i wanted them to feel they really had a choice in making our meals both healthy and delicious!  then i got creative, trying to honor the principles of the whole 30 plan as well as excite our palates.  i made my meal plan and shopping list, and put a copy of the plan in our food container so i wouldn’t forget.  i also grabbed plenty of compliant snacks, most of which we actually didn’t end up eating!

 

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the day before, i got up early and shopped for our produce and any remaining proteins.  the kids helped me peel potatoes, cut up veggies, and label ziploc bags with each meal’s ingredients.  (i have to give credit where it’s due – my daughter is super organized and has a knack for keeping me on track when i get distracted with “big” projects like this.)  we packed each meal together in a labeled plastic shopping bag (which we later used to throw away garbage as we cooked/ate).  finally, we packed the meals into the cooler so that we reached for the first meal on top, and so on.  this worked really well!

 

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while we are at camp, we expect everyone to pitch in.  when there’s fire and dead-wood-collecting to be done, no one really complains.

 

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first night:

dinner: burgers over campfire, grilled zucchini, marinated mushrooms, foil baked apples, coffee/tea

 

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we made our grass-fed beef burgers in advance, seasoned with trader joe’s 21 seasoning salute.  we bought local zucchini and seasoned it with olive oil and salt and pepper before traveling, so all we had to do was throw it on the grill!  our mushrooms were marinated in half/half red wine vinegar and olive oil, with minced garlic, salt and pepper.  we sauteed this in our iron skillet on the camp stove while the burgers and zucchini grilled.

 

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i’m not sure if this would technically be considered a “remake of a dessert,” in which case it wouldn’t be compliant, but we made baked apples over the fire.  at home in preparations, i cored apples and stuffed them with unsweetened dried cranberries, lots of cinnamon, and crushed walnuts.  before we baked them over the fire, we drizzled in some apple cider and ghee and then closed them tightly into little pouches.  (i did notice my tummy hurt after dinner, and i think i probably could have skipped the fruit.)

 

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breakfast the first morning:

 

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breakfast: bacon wrapped sweet potatoes (we made a variation of this recipe from fast paleo; we peeled and quartered our sweet potatoes lengthwise and roasted for 10 minutes with olive oil at home, and wrapped each quarter with one slice of bacon before grilling), sauteed apples and bananas (simply sliced apples and bananas from home along with a few we found on our hike, then cooked in the iron skillet with ghee and tons of cinnamon, sprinkling with almonds at the end).

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lunch: grilled applegate hot dogs, home made refrigerator pickles (try these!), and fruit (clementines, bananas, dried mango)

 

littlest whittled his own stick for grilling his ‘dog.

 

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i’m noticing that participating in a whole 30 challenge has made us all more contemplative, more intentional about our choices, and it’s made the kids more creative, as well!  there are days when i don’t get something made, and i’m noticing they are taking initiative and making themselves something new that honors the healthy eating ideals!  so cool…

 

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on one of our hikes, we found a fresh herb garden and nibbled on mint, chives, and basil.

 

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what choices are you making as a family to take better care of your bodies?  do you have any helpful tips to share?

 

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thanksgiving tips {planning a stress-free holiday}

sometimes the holidays bring stress to a family.  always, they bring opportunities to make magical memories that get passed down to the generations.  as we are gearing up for the holidays in a new home, away from old family and friends, i’ve been thinking about some of our best holiday memories, and what made them so.  i thought maybe you, too, could use some thanksgiving tips to help you in planning a stress-free holiday.

laugh.  a lot.

no words needed.  (it helps if you are married to the funniest guy on the planet.  or at least the funniest guy in your family.)

 

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take advantage of memory-making.

holidays often mean the opportunity to share space with generations and friends and family we don’t often see.  being in a new place this year means we won’t be with family or old friends.  we’ve been graciously invited to join new ones, and that makes past memories, as well as the new ones we will make, all the more dear.  challenge your kiddos, and yourself, to be intentional about conversation during the time you share.  does nana have a favorite potato recipe or tip for the most moist turkey?  let the kids learn it, and make sure to write it down!

 

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 have goodies on hand for snacking during prep time.

nobody likes a grumpy chef/host.  put out some yummy snacks that you and your guests can enjoy while waiting for the main event.  (click here if you would like tips on creating this pretty cheese platter!)

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have something for little hands.

last year, we printed this adorable activity book for the youngest of the crew, but we discovered even the big kids enjoyed it.  this year we might print this one to take to join new friends!

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our a-girl likes to look up, and create, pretty folds for napkins.

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make it pretty.  but keep it simple (and a gift doesn’t hurt).

our dishes were dwindling and our budget was small last year.  we picked up some simple white plates from a big-box store and added small details like tea lights and pretty paper straws.  then we used pretty cupcake liners to tie up new tealights with twine, and those were favors for the guests.  the table runner was inexpensive burlap that we didn’t even hem.  i love the rustic look we got for very little effort, don’t you?

 

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 welcome guests into the kitchen.  (aka: all hands on deck!)

i remember a few holidays growing up where the host felt she bore all the weight of making everything.  this led to stress for her and guilt for others.  even if it makes for a bit of crazy, welcome help in your kitchen!  i read once that true hospitality says, “come in.  help out.  enjoy the fruit of our labor with me.”  i love this mindset, and it helps the work get done faster, too!

 

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roll with the punches.

with two sets of hands in the kitchen, sometimes things get a bit scattered.  when my sweet mom-in-law joined me in making some yeasty rolls, we got a bit carried away, and ended up with giant-hamburger-bun-sized “rolls.”  do you think anyone complained?  nope.  more surface area for warm melty butter.

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sit down.  eat.  enjoy.

am i the only one who’s tempted to keep working to make things perfect?  the only one who’s ever dined with a host who couldn’t settle in and enjoy?  don’t be afraid to relax and soak in the bounty.  you deserve it, and your guests will relax even more!

 

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what are your best tips for hospitable hostessing?  i’m always looking to get better at the craft, so i’d love to hear from you!

 

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strawberry buttercream macarons {strawberry macaron recipe}

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my kitchen may be a mess, but our hearts are full from the laughter that rings through the house.  sweetest of friends, enjoying the age-old art of baking – in this case, strawberry buttercream macarons.

 

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most often i find my a-girl is more suited to baking than me; she loves numbers and formulas and order, and finds rest in the following of precise measurements.  some nights, the evening grows late, and batch after batch is required for perfection, as the focus is more on the time together than the equations.  and that is just fine.

 

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baking reminds us that life is, indeed, sweet.  it connects hearts as it pleases palates.  enjoy this recipe, inspired by martha stewart’s recipe for parisian macarons.

 

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as my dearest girl prepares for the leave-taking of her heart-friend, headed off to college, and our own leave-taking toward a new stage in our family’s journey, we are so thankful for sweetnesses, and time together with kindred spirits.  do you have a favorite kindred-spirit memory making activity?  please share…

 

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