If you’re looking for a protein option that packs a ton of flavor and is made with all clean ingredients, this is it!
These sweet and spicy grilled pork chops have almost converted my husband into a pork chop fan (which is a big deal, because he has always hated them). The secret is in the sweet and spicy sauce that you baste the chops with while they cook to keep them from drying out. It also packs a ton of flavor, and the ingredients are all great.
4 boneless pork chops (about 1/2 inch thick)
1 tablespoon honey
1/4 cup apple juice
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
Salt and pepper
Avocado oil (to grease the grill)
Season both sides of the chops with salt and pepper and set aside
Heat your grill or griddle to 350 degrees (I use a Presto griddle like this one).
Coat the grill with some avocado oil to prevent sticking (avocado oil has a high smoking point, so it’s great for this).
In a small bowl, mix together the honey, apple juice, cinnamon, and chili powder. Which together until we’ll combined.
Use a silicone basting brush (I love this one) to coat one side of the pork chops with the apple juice and honey mixture.
Place pork chops on the grill with the side you just basted face down. Baste the other side of the pork chops while cooking. Cook for about 5 minutes.
Flip chops and add some more of the apple juice and honey mixture to the side that’s already been grilled. Baste a few times while cooking for another 5 to 6 minutes.
You should have a really good char on the outside of each chop (from the honey).
Make sure chips are done all the way through (they should be white inside, with no pink).
Remove chops from grill and let rest on a cutting board for about 5 minutes.
Slice chops into thin strips and serve with whatever sides you like (we love roasted veggies like broccoli, yellow squash, zucchini, onion, and potatoes).
Jack and I are having a kind of lazy day at home. I’m trying to do a little housework and he’s pulling out toys faster than I can put them up. He’s crawling now, and he’s into everything. Even though he can make a huge mess, this stage is so much fun. I love seeing him crawl around and start to become independent. He’s so determined when he wants something and he squeals and giggles when he finally reaches something that he crawled across the room for.
He played hard this morning and tired himself out around 11, so when he took his nap, I whipped up this bowl of hearty goodness for my brunch. If you love banana nut bread, this is the oatmeal for you. It tastes exactly like my favorite banana bread recipe, and it’s gluten and refined sugar free!
1 cup water
1/2 cup oats (I like Bob’s Red Mill Rolled Oats)
1/2 banana, mashed (slice the other half and reserve for garnish)
1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
Handful of chopped walnuts
Sprinkle of cinnamon
Bring the water to a boil over medium high heat.
Add the oats and stir well. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 3 minutes.
Add the mashed banana, maple syrup, and walnuts.
Reduce heat to medium and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, for about 5-7 minutes until the oats reach your desired consistency.
Top oats with a sprinkle of cinnamon, 1/2 sliced banana, and a few more chopped walnut pieces.
Jeff and I both love sweets, and we were craving something sweet after dinner last night, so I made these turtle brownies. My mom runs a bakery and makes the best turtle brownies with caramel and pecans on top, and I wanted something similar to those, but a little healthier.
When I was little, my grandmother used to go to Weight Watchers meetings and I would go with her sometimes. I remembered one of the ladies at the meeting saying that she made brownies with a chocolate cake mix and a can of pumpkin to make them lower in calories, so I decided to try these using pureed pumpkin as a base. The only thing in these that is not Paleo is the syrup toppings, and that’s just because I used that I had in the fridge, which was Hershey’s ice cream syrup.
These turned out very fudgy. The pumpkin keeps them moist and the pecans and chocolate chips give them a good crunch. I like these best served cold, and suggest refrigerating them overnight before serving, but Jeff dove into them when they were warm last night and said they were good that way, too.
1 can pumpkin puree
2/3 cup almond flour
1/3 cup coconut flour
2/3 cup coconut sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/4 cup chocolate chips (I used the Enjoy Life brand)
1/4 cup chopped pecans
Caramel syrup (for topping)
Chocolate syrup (for topping)
Mix the first 8 ingredients together in a large mixing bowl until combined well. The mixture will be thick.
Spread mixture into a sprayed 8×8 inch baking dish (or a 9-inch pie plate, like I used here).
Top with chopped pecans and chocolate chips.
Bake at 350 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.
Drizzle caramel and chocolate syrup over the top.
These can be eaten warm, but they are best served cold. I recommend refrigerating overnight before serving.
Losing weight and getting healthy is a pretty common resolution for the new year, and there are millions of different programs and diet plans to help people reach those goals. I’ve tried lots of them. I’ve done Weight Watchers, Slim Fast, the 21 Day Sugar Detox, Atkins, the South Beach Diet, and all kinds of other fad diets. My weight is something that I have constantly struggled with since I was a little kid. I got to my biggest and unhealthiest point when I was 25. I finally decided that I had to do something, and I cut down my portions and stopped drinking Cokes and lost a lot of weight. It just so happened that I caught mono in the same year, and lost a good 25 pounds from that, which left me at the smallest weight and size I have ever been in my adult life.
I have spent so much time running away from that girl on the left and trying to get back to the size of the one on the right. I was making some good progress before I got pregnant with Jack. I did my first round of Whole 30 in October of 2016. By the end of the month, I was looking and feeling so much better. I had lost weight, but that was just one of the benefits of the program. My skin was clear, I was sleeping better, I was in a better overall mood most of the time. Basically, the Whole 30 showed me just how great I could feel if I fueled my body the right way.
I snapped that selfie at the end of my first Whole 30. I was feeling awesome and was only about 10 pounds from my ultimate goal weight. Then, two weeks later, I found out that I was pregnant (Did you know that sometimes the Whole 30 can actually help with fertility problems? That’s not a reason that I was trying it, but I found that fact pretty interesting.) I think that doing a Whole 30 right before I found out I was pregnant helped me maintain a healthy pregnancy. I didn’t continue to eat like I do on the Whole 30 plan while I was pregnant (because, hello, cravings!), but I did make better choices than I think I would have if I hadn’t done the program prior to my pregnancy.
My pregnancy was great. Other than morning sickness (which should really just be called sickness, because it happens ALL THE TIME and not just in the mornings), it was a perfect pregnancy. I gained about 30 pounds, which was exactly what my doctor wanted me to gain, and I felt pretty good. My doctor still encouraged me to eat healthy and avoid any drinks with sugar, but I did indulge in a Chick-fil-A sandwich and sweet tea at least once a week.
After Jack was born, Jeff and I attempted a Whole 30 in September of last year, which turned into a Whole 14 (if we even made it that far…I can’t remember). We were sleep deprived, trying to figure out how to keep this tiny human we’d made alive, and very ill-prepared for a the challenge of eating clean for 30 days.
This January reset is coming at a good time for us. Jeff’s not doing the Whole 30 with me this month, but he’s very supportive and usually just eats whatever I’m eating for dinner and he’s very good to not bring anything home to tempt me. Now that Jack is (almost always) sleeping through the night and we have gotten the hang of this parenting thing (as much as one can ever get the hang of it, anyway), I’m in a much better frame of mind to complete this challenge. While I do still have some pregnancy weight to lose, the Whole 30 is NOT about losing weight. Losing weight is a happy side-effect of the Whole 30, but that is not its true purpose. The real purpose of the Whole 30 is to reset your system and kill your cravings for sugar and junk so that you are in charge of your choices instead of letting your cravings rule your food decision making (which sounds a lot like how that girl in the first picture used to live her life). It’s about learning what foods make you feel good and what foods you need to avoid to be your best you.
That’s why I’m doing the January Whole 30 reset. That’s why I chose this program over all the weight loss fads out there. That’s why I am Whole 30.
On paper, the Whole 30 is really simple. Eat lean proteins, vegetables, some fruit and healthy fats. Avoid processed foods and added sugar in any form. It sounds easy, but putting those rules into practice is hard. By day two of this round, I was already dealing with some serious cravings for sugar and feeling pretty grumpy, but I stuck with it. This program is hard, but it is worth it, and I have to keep reminding myself of that fact when I’m tempted.
The most important thing to do to ensure success on the Whole 30 is to create a plan. I always make sure to plan regular meals and to plan for emergencies (like if I don’t feel good and want to skip cooking one night or get stuck at work late). I have made sure to cook extra food to have leftovers and I’ve always got some kind of emergency snack with me just in case.
I shared my meal plan on the blog before I started my program (you can find that here). Here are some of the meals I’ve had so far this month:
Hamburger Hash with spinach, avocado, and fruit
Chopped salad with kale and brussel sprouts, grilled chicken, bacon, and berries
Grilled pork chops with apple and walnut hash and green beans
Leftover pork chop with a chopped salad and berries
Mason jar chopped salad for an easy lunch at work
Spicy pulled pork with kale and broccoli salad and veggies
Pulled pork stuffed baked potato (I also had steamed broccoli with this, but forgot to get a picture)
Jeff absolutely loves eggs, and our typical weekend brunch usually consists of my bacon, egg, and cheese crescents, or scrambled eggs with bacon, or (my favorite) pancakes with a side of eggs for Jeff. Since we’re doing Whole30, the crescents and pancakes are not allowed and we’ve had bacon and eggs the last two weekends, so I wanted to try something new.
I made this turkey sausage and spinach egg bake for Jeff and reserved some of the sausage for me (because I’m not a big egg fan). I served it up with a quick salad and it was the perfect start to a lazy weekend. Check out the recipes below!
Turkey Sausage and Spinach Egg Bake
1 lb ground turkey sausage
1/4 yellow onion, diced
1 cup spinach
6 large eggs
In a skillet, sauté the diced onions in about a tablespoon of avacado oil for about 3 minutes over medium high heat (until they begin to become transparent).
Add the turkey sausage to the onions and cook until browned (5 to 7 minutes).
Drain sausage and onion mixture on paper towels to remove excess oil.
Spray a cast iron skillet with avacado oil and toss in the spinach. Spoon the turkey sausage mixture over the spinach.
In a small mixing bowl, whisk the eggs, salt, and pepper together. Make sure to break up all the yolks.
Pour the egg mixture over the sausage and spinach.
Bake at 400 degrees for 12-15 minutes, until the eggs are cooked through and set up.
Spinach, Walnut, and Apple Salad
1 cup spinach
1 gala apple, cubed
1 snack sized box of raisins
1 tablespoon police oil
Handful of toasted walnuts
In a large bowl, combine the spinach, apples, raisins, red onion, and walnuts.
Squeeze the juice of 1/2 a lemon over the salad. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil.
Toss greens to coat in the olive oil and lemon juice mixture.
I made zucchini noodles today and now I am wondering why it took me so long to try them. They were amazing! I could replace spaghetti with zucchini noodles forever and not miss it one bit. Also, they were incredibly easy and cooked super fast. This meal came together so quickly that I barely felt like I had cooked, but it was really tasty and Jeff gave it his stamp of approval. That’s always a win. Check out the recipes below:
Simply the Best Baked Chicken
I used boneless, skinless chicken breasts for this, but you could absolutely use bone-in chicken. You’d just need to adjust your cooking time. Usually bone-in chicken tends to take a little longer to cook. Just make sure that the juices are running clear when you puncture the chicken to be sure it is done.
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 Tbsp avacado oil
In a skillet, heat the avacado oil over medium high heat until warm. Make sure to swirl it around to coat the entire skillet.
Season chicken breasts with salt and pepper. Place in the skillet seasoned side down. Season the other side with salt and pepper.
Cook for about 3-4 minutes, until browned. Flip the chicken and cook on the other side for an additional 3-4 minutes.
Transfer to a 400 degree oven and bake for 25 minutes.
Browning the chicken in the skillet first makes such a huge difference in how flavorful this chicken is! Having that crispy, browned crust makes it so savory!
Spinach and Walnut Pesto
1 1/2 cups finely packed spinach
1/2 cup fresh basil
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 cup toasted walnuts, chopped
Juice of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup olive oil
Combine the spinach, basil, walnuts, garlic, lemon juice, salt, and pepper in a blender or food processor. Drizzle in olive oil until you reach the desired consistency.
Put It All Together
Spiralize 3-4 large zucchini using a vegetable spirializer like this one. Sauté the noodles on medium high heat in avacado oil with a little salt and pepper for about 3-4 minutes or until tender. Add two tablespoons of pesto to the noodles and toss until coated.
Serve with sliced chicken breasts and toasted walnuts for garnish.
I have almost made it to the halfway mark in my Whole 30 challenge! Today is day 14.
This morning, Jeff and I went for a little drive to Payne Lake to take advantage of the beautiful weather and the fall colors.
When we got home, Jeff grilled some amazing burgers and I made rosemary and garlic roasted potatoes for lunch. I wish I had a picture of the burgers he made, but I was so hungry that I dove in before I remembered to take a picture.
For the potatoes, I scrubbed and diced some potatoes and sprinkled them with garlic salt, paprika, rosemary, and parsley flakes and baked them at 400 degrees for about 45 minutes. I took them out and turned them every 15 minutes to keep them from sticking.
After lunch, it was time to shop and meal prep. I decided to go to Target this week because they had some good sales. Our usual budget for groceries and household items is around $100 to $150 a week. I use coupons.com, Target Cartwheel, Walmart Savings Catcher, Savings Star, and the Ibotta apps on my phone to try to save as much as I can. I printed my list from the Whole 30 website and filled in what I needed, then headed to town.
I mainly stick to fresh fruits and vegetables and lean meats, but I also love Larabars and Naked fruit drinks for quick and easy breakfast options.
When I got home, I spent about 30 minutes doing some meal prep – mainly cutting up fruit and veggies so they’ll be ready to use when I cook later this week.
Here’s what my fridge looks like after meal prep for the week:
Top Shelf: eggs and condiments (yes, I know most of those condiments are not Whole 30 approved, but Jeff is not doing the Whole 30 program, so those are for him)
Second Shelf: Pickles, random stuff
Third Shelf: Deli turkey, snack bags of grapes, chopped pineapple, single servings of grilled chicken
Drawer: cheese, cream cheese, sausage and hot dogs (for Jeff)
Fourth Shelf: Prepped fruit, lettuce and spinach
Veggie Drawer: cauliflower, carrots, bell pepper, chopped onions, squash, zucchini, pecans, and walnuts
Bottom Drawer: meat thawing drawer – pot roast for tomorrow
My meal plans for this week are pretty simple. I’m going to be super busy at school, so I’m keeping food as easy as possible. Hopefully I’ll have some new recipes for you soon.
Breakfast and lunch for tomorrow are prepped and ready. I’ll be sharing my Whole 30 approved pot roast recipe tomorrow! It’s the perfect crock pot meal for cozy fall nights!