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whole 30 camping {whole 30 family camping, part 2}

we had way too many photos to share in part 1 of our whole 30 camping with kids post, so here’s what we cooked on the second half of our trip!  (i encourage you to get the book it starts with food; we’re having our older kids read it as part of a health and wellness study, and it is so eye-opening!)



{**affiliate links:  there are a few links in this post that allow you to purchase an item at no additional cost to you, but will provide us with a small commission on your purchase!  many links are not affiliate links at all, but simply sites offering products and information we love and companies support for our own family!  all affiliate links are products we use ourselves and we would only recommend such products.}


(one parenting note: another observation about our family’s whole 30 adventure is that even though i thought my kids already took initiative when it came to meal prep, they’ve stepped up to the plate even more when it comes to choosing options that they are learning are good for them and delicious.  bonus!)






dinner, day 2: sausage and potato pouches, green bean salad, warmed spiced apple cider from trader joe’s




for our sausage pouches, we cut up potatoes and onions at home and tossed them with salt and pepper, garlic and olive oil in ziploc bags.  we brought aidell’s chicken-and-apple sausages (why don’t more companies make a “clean” sausage like this?!) and threw them into a foil pouch for each person with a handful of potatoes and onions.




this meal was a favorite, and we plan to repeat it at home on the grill!




our green bean salad was just fresh raw green beans and halved heirloom cherry tomatoes tossed at home with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, spicy mustard, garlic and salt and pepper, stored in a ziploc bag.  my girl and i really enjoyed the warm sausage dish topped with the cold green beans – the contrast of soft with crunchy, warm & buttery with tart and cold, was a perfect mix!




and of course, nighttime campfires.  we warmed up hot cider for the kids and tea/coffee for the “big kids.”




and because we’re a photography-loving family, some play-time with burning twigs and long exposures.  with great attention to safety, i might add.






and cards, always cards by lantern-light.




breakfast, day 3:

leftover egg cups and homemade turkey sausage patties (frozen after little’s birthday party), warmed over the campfire, fresh fruit (grapes and clementine oranges)




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enjoying the fruit of her labor…




long morning hikes and geocaching, a camping tradition.






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for our last meal, we wanted to not have to cook.  i made chicken salad in advance with leftover roasted chicken, dried, unsweetened cranberries, some annie’s naturals dijon mustard (be sure to check labels; a surprising number of their ingredient lists are not compliant!), chopped celery and pecans, and some tessamae’s ranch dressing, of course with salt and pepper.  this was packed in ziploc along with shredded carrots, washed romaine leaves, and served with a side of trader joe’s plantain chips.  everyone nibbled on this as we packed up camp.  yum!



and of course, more hiking and exploring.  we’ve been so happy to discover a wealth of gorgeous state parks in our new home in new jersey!




i hope you got some great ideas from our family’s whole 30 camping adventure.  what ideas can you share for camping with kids, and for camping while maintaining a “real food” lifestyle?


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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…)






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.




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!




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.




first night:

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




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.




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.)




breakfast the first morning:




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).



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.






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…




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




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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whole 30 kids birthday celebration!

it’s funny how when you decide to do something “crazy” like spend 30 days eating no common “problem” foods like dairy, sugar, grains, and legumes, all kinds of life events seem to pop up and get in the way of that decision.  we were determined, though, not to let it stop us from what seems like an amazing opportunity to get in touch with these awesome bodies we’ve been given and learn how to really take care of them.  so, when our littlest’s birthday landed in the early days of our adventure, we determined to let this be a real-life experience for our whole 30 kids to learn and grow!






it’s a tradition in our house to serve breakfast in bed for the birthday person.  in order to help him make “compliant” choices, we made a little “room service” menu for him to fill out the day before, and then littlest had a say in his special treat!  (he chose “coffee cake” with the “help” of his big brother; we walked him through a better choice…)  click here to get your own printable copy of our “room service” menu!




now here was an interesting parenting moment: the day before his birthday, little got teary-eyed.  were we REALLY going to withhold birthday cake from him?  and potentially ruin his day?  (side note: doesn’t the enemy of our souls always try to make us believe we’re lacking something that’s “good” for us, when we try to give up what isn’t-so-good?!!)




we had the most tender conversation where i assured him again how much we love him, and how “cake” doesn’t really translate to love, and that we wanted him to learn how to treat himself with what’s good for his body.  and whew, did that conversation speak truth to my own heart!!!


but next came the real test… could we throw a birthday party for some of our favorite kiddos and stay true to the whole 30 plan… without them thinking it was super-weird or lacking in food-fun??!!




(these boys have been the biggest blessing to our family.  moving into a neighborhood with friends who spend hours exploring the outdoors together was a gift better than we could’ve asked for!)


i decided that a breakfast birthday party would give us the chance to serve some fun foods that were healthy, too.  so we invited the gang over for breakfast and board games.  one of the mamas even joined me for coffee and goodies.





for this “apple crisp” (for whole 30 purists, i  wasn’t trying to recreate a dessert for our sweet tooth, but rather give a healthy breakfast item a familiar name the kids would appreciate…), i sauteed apples and bananas with lots of cinnamon and orange-almond flavored coconut oil, sprinkled them with almond meal and then crisped in the oven in our iron skillet.  we recreated this dish later while camping, it was so good!




fruit salad sprinkled with lime juice and fresh mint from the backyard herb garden was a bright pop of color and flavor, and a vehicle for the birthday candle… which no one seemed to think was too weird at all!  😉  my favorite was when one of the boys excitedly asked, “is that MINT?  CAN I PLEASE EAT THE MINT??!!”  i said, “of course you can, gardener’s son.”  (his dad gardens and has been an inspiration to our whole neighborhood with his passion and green thumb!)




we also served home made turkey sausage and seafood/veggie egg cups, and “splurged” with all-juice boxes for the boys.  here’s a recipe i used before the whole 30 – i simply replaced the butter with ghee, and replaced the sausage with chopped frozen seafood from trader joe’s, or all veggies.




the boys spent time playing board games while mom sipped coffee, and then played this game i remembered from childhood.  since the big siblings couldn’t be there (oh, i mourn the days when “real life,” in the form of jobs, interferes with real life, in the form of memory-making…), they participated by making up fun tasks the boys had to do when they popped balloons.  this was a huge hit; afterwards they played balloon volleyball with a makeshift “net” we set up in the living room.  (clear the breakables!!)





we had a blast and we learned that we can honor what we’re learning about being healthier, while being hosts to some rollicking fun times!  i think the birthday boy was pleased.




**when you read the book it starts with food, the instructions are very clear: no cheating. doing so, even with “healthy versions of unhealthy foods,” can disrupt the body and mind’s journey to re-learning what is really nourishing to us as individuals. i will say up front that we decided for our family, we were going to allow one “cheat,” on the night of blue’s birthday, in the form of a paleo dessert. we encouraged him to sort through a book of gorgeous recipes and pick out one to try. he settled on meringues from the amazing book my paleo patisserie, and i modified them by leaving out the chocolate chips and sprinkling with cocoa. we told the other kids they could make the decision, and to be honest, i worried about their decision. our son whom i know struggles with a sugar addiction, opted to abstain, having read that it could make his struggle harder. and do you know what? he gave me the courage to do it, too!

have you made hard choices for your kids’ best interest?  have they ever given you the courage to do something hard?


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