Whole 30: Week Two

Each January I take full advantage of it as a time to reset. I blame it on my time in retail where January was the time of year we could take vacation freely, work 30-hour weeks if we want, and had very little work. My January reset is kind of a big deal to me and I use it to plan a lot of my upcoming year. The new year means no more holiday excuses when it comes to food, not working out, and just being straight lazy.

Two years ago I did Whole 30 for the first time and it was amazing. I learned a lot about myself like a. I have very little self control and b. it’s a lot harder to teach an old dog new tricks than I thought. But two years ago, I did a lot better than I had expected. Last January I did Whole 30 again but I went on a trip home in the middle of the month and when you only get to eat your Italian mom’s cooking a few times a year, you eat as much pasta and cheese you can.

This December I indulged more than I have in the past. My job was slow, the cookies seemed to be endless and the wine was often. And hello an extra 10 pounds.

I am two weeks into Whole 30 and just like with anything, there are things I am winning at and things I am sucking at.

Biggest changes since the first time I did it

The biggest change that I have made since the first time I did Whole 30 is something that definitely affects me every day, and something that I didn’t really know ever affected me before. I have cut a lot of dairy out of my daily diet. I drank creamer in my coffee and now I like it black. I cut back a lot on ice cream, which is a big difference in my life. (Ice cream was really the only dessert I was allowed growing up and I worked at an ice cream shop while in high school. Ice cream was like a religion before.)

Since cutting back on dairy I’ve switched solely to almond milk for everything I need milk for. My protein shakes and even my Kraft Mac and Cheese gets almond milk. (I said I cut out most dairy… cheese is still in my life.) It makes me feel 100 times better. I never realized the way dairy slows me down and really just makes me feel like crap. Now cheese doesn’t affect me at all, which I am beyond grateful for. (Have you ever had non-dairy cheese? Yuck!)

What I’m buying

I do most of my grocery shopping at Trader Joes which is a great spot to pick up ingredients for quick and easy meals on Whole 30. Most of my lunches are salads with a protein. I love topping TJ’s turkey burger on a salad or chicken. Here are some of my other go tos:

Proteins: chicken sausage, chicken, ground turkey, salmon, shrimp, eggs
Veggies: zoodles, riced cauliflower/broccoli, brussel sprouts, mushrooms, butternut squash, avocado, broccoli slaw
Snacks: dehydrated fruits, almond butter, rice thins, Larabars, salsa verde, apples

Where I’m cheating and where I’m not

Okay, if I am completely honest I would have to say I am 85% complaint on Whole 30. I have cheated a few times when it comes to small ingredients. If I’m out getting dinner with friends or having dinner at my parents I use real salad dressing. I try my hardest to keep the main part of my meal complaint but a restaurant has a oil and vinegar based dressing, I’m going to go for it. I’m not about eating romaine lettuce with some lemon and calling it a day.

I also have cheated with dairy based butters. I was at my mom’s and she only had yogurt butter spread. Girls got to do what a girls got to do. And I figured that’s already better than real butter so it’s only halfway cheating. Right?

But there are some parts of Whole 30 that I am not even walking the line of cheating. My biggest problems, for sure, are cheese, carbs, and alcohol. So far two weeks in I haven’t touched any of them. I mean what I would do for a dish of pasta and a good glass of wine, but I’m halfway done with my 30 days so it’s all up from here.

The key is introducing these back into my diet in moderation. It’s been pretty easy for the alcohol. It has been beyond cold here so instead of a glass of wine, I’ve been opting for some hot tea. And not many people do much in the winter in New England as far as going out to dinners or bars, so meal prepping has been my best friend.

My 3 Favorite Holiday Drinks

I love the change of seasons. Mind you I understand I am saying this at the beginning of the winter, and it so far as only lightly snowed twice. I guess we can revisit this in a few months when I am two feet under snow, can’t leave my house, and haven’t seen the sun in months. But for right now: I love the change of seasons.

One of my favorite parts of the beginning of each season is reintroducing myself to the season flavors that I haven’t had in the past nine months. Fresh fruits and veggies have always been a big part of the way I eat, cook, and drink thanks to my super all-natural mother who loves herself a farmers market. This year I have a lot of get togethers that I am hosting and attending and the Italian in me needs to bring something new to each one.

Today I put together my three favorite winter drinks that I am sure you will love. A Blackberry Whiskey Ginger, a Christmas Cran-Vodka, and a Hot Toddy for those snow days that you need a little pick me up.

Blackberry Whiskey Ginger


Last summer I became obsessed with Irish Mules. I love me some whiskey and ginger, but I just can’t do ginger beer anymore. Most of them are just too sweet for me and that means instant head ache. Here I made homemade rosemary simple syrup, used ginger ale and fresh blackberries and the drink is just so much fresher and lighter.

Rosemary Simple Syrup
½ cup sugar
½ cup water
5 springs of fresh rosemary

Place everything in a small sauce pan and bring to a boil. Let boil for one minute while constantly whisking to ensure all of the sugar is dissolved. Allow to cool for about 5 minutes. Remove rosemary and strain into a glass container. Allow to cool to room temperature and chill.

6 blackberries to muddle, 4 blackberries for garnish
ice
1 ½ oz Paddy Irish Whiskey
1 oz rosemary simple syrup
½ lime, juiced
6 oz Seagram’s ginger ale

1. Muddle six blackberries into the bottom of a copper cup or glass.
2. Fill cup halfway with ice.
3. Add Paddy’s Irish Whiskey, rosemary simple syrup.
4. Squeeze in juice from half of a lime.
5. Fill Seagram’s ginger ale to the top of cup.
6. Lightly stir with cocktail spoon, top with blackberry garnish.

Christmas Cran-Vodka


I’m not going to lie, I don’t enjoy cranberry or vodka too much but when you are hosting a dinner or a party, you got to have what the people want and for most people, you can’t really go wrong with a cran-vodka. This is just a little twist on a college cran-vodka.

Ice
1 ½ oz vodka
2 oz cranberry juice
Seagram’s ginger ale
½ lime, juiced
Cranberries for garnish

1. Fill 6 oz glass with a few ice cubes.
2. Add vodka and cranberry juice over ice.
3. Fill cup with ginger ale.
4. Mix lightly with cocktail spoon and top with juice from half a lime.
5. Top with cranberries and a lime sphere.

Hot Toddy


For as long as I can remember, as soon as anyone in my house started feeling sick, my mom would make you a hot toddy. It didn’t matter how old you were, you were having some tea with a shot of whiskey in it. Most cultures have some of this. While I was living in Los Angeles a lot of my friends would say their parents would give them a shot a tequilla when they started not feeling well. It’s a very old school way of self-medicating, (wow that sounds terrible) but I still make myself a hot toddy as soon as I feel a cold coming on.

English breakfast tea
1 oz whiskey or scotch
1 tsp local honey
Lemon wedge
Cinnamon stick

1. Steep English breakfast tea 5 minutes.
2. Add one ounce whiskey or scotch and 1-2 tsp of local honey.
3. Squeeze in one lemon wedge.
4. Top with cinnamon or add in a cinnamon stick.

 

Hot Sausage Pasta

There are a few staples that are at all of my family’s gatherings. One thing is stuffed hot cherry peppers. I just can’t do it! I don’t know, maybe I’m being too hard on my self but my cousin makes them perfect every time and mine just don’t taste the same.

Well one part of making stuffed hot cherry peppers is marinating the peppers in olive oil. Well now that I have tried to make the peppers a few times, I have a pretty good amount of olive oil that has been soaking in hot peppers for a few months. YUM!

So because I hate to waste anything, especially food, I have been finding recipes that I could use the hot oil. Pizza is a big one. Amazing! But then I thought it would be just as good in pasta with hot sausage. So yep, the hot oil at least has been good for something.

So what you have to do to make the hot oil is buy a jar of hot cherry peppers and drain the marinade that comes with them. Then you fill the jar up with olive oil, salt and pepper and I add a few hot pepper flakes because I like spice. Then you let it sit in the refrigerator. For a long time. Like a month a long time. The olive oil will coagulate, but I think it’s fine. (I mean I don’t actually know if that’s ok, but hey, I’m not dead.)

Then you eat the peppers (obvi) or just toss them if they are too spicy for your liking. I put the actual peppers on homemade pizza and that was amazing. Spicy peppers with spicy oil, a little bit of cheese and pizza dough! Perfection.

Check out the recipe below for what I did with the hot oil to make this perfect pasta.

4-6 Tablespoons of hot oil (see above for directions)
1 lb linguine
2 hot Italian sausage links
2 cups of arugula
Red pepper, black pepper and salt to taste

  1. Boil pasta per directions on the box.
  2. Heat saucepan to medium high temperature. While pan is heating up, remove the sausage from the casing and discard the casing. Add the sausage to the hot pan and cook thoroughly, chopping sausage into small sizes.
  3. Once sausage is cooked all the way through add hot oil and red pepper flakes to taste.
  4. Drain pasta and add to sauce pan, lowering the heat to medium. Mix pasta in with oil.
  5. Allow flavors to cook together for 5 minutes.
  6. Add arugula, mix and enjoy. 

Favorite Spring Recipes

Happy second day of spring! All I have been thinking about is flowers, hiking, kayaking and yummy summer food. These past few weeks have been super busy but I finally see a light at the end of the long tunnel. I feel like we have been going non stop since before the Christmas season and spring is going to be a time to veg and relax… well a little bit.

This past weekend we finally got to get out of the house and be outdoors. Saturday night we spent at Disneyland where they are right in the middle of featuring the Main Street Electrical Parade. If you live local, go check it out before it’s gone this June. It was a big throw back to my childhood. I remember seeing it in Disney World when I was a kid, and seeing the same parade, and floats as an adult was really cool and definitely gave me a whole other appreciation for this piece of Disney magic.

Sunday morning we woke up early and headed down to Newport Beach to do a little whale watching. More on that later but the being out on the water was definitely what the doctor ordered. And we even got to hang out with some grey whales and dolphins.

Now that spring is here, I’ve been craving lighter meals. There’s something about the nice weather that makes me want to eat lighter and healthier. So today I put together a list of my favorite food I have featured on my blog that remind me of summer. Enjoy! 

Cabbage, Spinach, Mozzarella Salad  Chicken Picatta

Grilled Beet & Goat Cheese Salad

Mediterranean Spaghetti

Homemade Bruschetta 

This weekend I’m working both days, but Sunday morning we are doing something that I have been looking forward to for a long time. Hints: we will be on the water and it involves an extremely oversized animal. Keep an eye out on Instastory to see what we are up to.

 

Superbowl Party Prep

dsc01560
Well football season came to a screeching halt two weeks ago when the Patriots killed the Steelers in the AFL Championship for us over here. Chris’s family are huge Steelers fans, and loosing to the Pats pretty much ruined the entire season for Chris. With that being said: #letsgoFALCONS! I’ve never wanted Atlanta to win a sport so bad than I do right now.

So what do bitter sports fans do? We are throwing an anti-Patriots party on Sunday. Because work has been so crazy, and Saturday I have a bachelorette party to go to, I made sure to prep the house last night for our Superbowl Party.

Last week I grabbed a few decorations from our local party store, and prepped to decorate everything black and red for the Falcons. But besides the decorations, I made sure to pick up some easy football food to prep for Sunday.

Sunday we are going to have mini-meatballs, wings, Falcon’s themed trail mix, and my favorite: a sandwich bar. Um hello, is there anything better for a girl from Connecticut than a sandwich bar? Nope. Give me some good Boars Head and even better bread and I can be happy for a lifetime.

So besides festive decorations, good food and even better competition, all that we are waiting for are our guests. We are excited for Sunday, and defiantly check out my Instagram and Insta Stories to see how all of the food comes out.

dsc01548

dsc01564

dsc01551

dsc01563

dsc01562