Spicy Deviled Eggs

Just in time for Easter: deviled eggs. But with a twist! Made even more “devilish” (why are they actually called “deviled”???) with pickled jalapenos and cayenne pepper. Use some of my homemade aioli or store bought avocado oil mayonnaise for healthier mayo options. The ingredients in those dips are simply vinegar (or lemon juice), egg, and a healthy oil – nothing to be afraid of! The only thing you should be afraid of is how devilish these are *insert evil laugh*!!! No, but really, these are pretty spicy and my two-year-old couldn’t handle them, so scale back if you wish, but they are the perfect spicy appetizer to bring to the Easter potluck!

Spicy Deviled Eggs

Makes 12 deviled egg halves. 

Ingredients:

  • Perfect Boiled Eggs, peeled
  • 3 tsp mayo (healthy options linked above)
  • 2 tsp yellow mustard
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp salt (I made them with about a 1/2 tsp and found them too salty, but my husband didn’t think so; adjust to your taste)
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp paprika
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (to taste)
  • 8-10 pickled jalapeno slices, diced
  • Optional toppings:
    • sliced fresh jalapeno
    • sliced pickled jalapeno
    • a sprinkling of paprika
    • chopped cilantro

Directions:

  • With a sharp knife, cut boiled eggs in half length-wise
  • Scoop out yolks and place in a small mixing bowl
  • Add remaining ingredients (besides toppings) to the bowl
  • Mix/mash until combined
  • Evenly scoop filling back into egg whites
  • Refrigerate for a few hours or overnight until ready to serve
  • Top with desired toppings just before serving
  • Keep leftover eggs covered in the fridge for 3-5 days

For other Easter/spring time meal ideas, check out my Mustard Potato SaladCrispy Brussels Sprouts, and Roasted Potatoes for sides dishes, and my Ghee, Garlic, and Herb Turkey with Gravy or Celebration Steaks with Pan Sauce for main dishes. For spring-y desserts, check out my No Bake Cheesecake with Chocolate Crust or No Bake Chocolate Date Cake. I know you’ll find something you and your family will love! Bring these Spicy Deviled Eggs to the Easter potluck, spice it up…and enjoy your pinch of crazy!

This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase using the link, it is of no extra cost to you – just a small commission for me. Thank you for supporting A Pinch of Crazy!

 

Perfect Boiled Eggs

Breakfast is important, but hard to make time for, so every Sunday night I do breakfast “prep”, which usually includes boiled eggs, overnight oats, and some form of breakfast casserole. It helps us get our days off on the right start nutritionally, without making us run late! I’ll admit it – I used to hate hard boiled eggs. The chalky texture, the gray ring around the yolk, the smell… yuck! Turns out, that was the wrong way to boil eggs! Well, unless you are trying to boil them to death… then that would be the correct method. So here it is, just in time for Easter, the perfect (in my opinion) way to boil eggs!

Perfect Boiled Eggs

Use as many eggs as desired. I usually do 6-8 for weekly meal prep.

Ingredients:

  • Eggs – as many as you need
  • Water – enough to cover all your eggs
  • A bowl of iced water

Directions:

  • In a large pot, bring water to a gentle boil
  • Just as it starts bubbling, gently add your eggs
  • Cover and let the eggs boil for 8 minutes
  • After 8 minutes, immediately submerge your eggs in the iced water to prevent them cooking further
  • Store eggs in fridge until ready to use

There you have it; a simple way to make tasty eggs with jammy yolks, not that chalky gray stuff. These are easy to peel, too! Eat them with a sprinkling of salt and pepper – perfect for breakfast meal prep or a quick snack on-the-go. For more breakfast prep ideas, check out my Peanut Butter and Chocolate Overnight OatsTurkey Sausage Breakfast Bake, or Fruit and Nut Granola. You can eat your most important meal of the day and still get out the door on time! Drink some coffee, get a nutritious breakfast, slay that morning carpool or meeting…and enjoy your pinch of crazy!

Spicy Garlic Chicken Nachos

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My husband and I used to eat out fairly often, and it made me so sick. (You can read more about my journey with IBS and food here) I would have unexplained (well, what I thought was unexplained) vomiting and diarrhea about two or three times a month, yet kept going back to the convenience of fast food and staying sick. Now that I avoid processed foods and eat cleaner, I hardly ever have any IBS symptoms! Feeling (and staying!) healthy and having plentiful energy is well worth the time I spend in the kitchen!

But let’s be honest…sometimes you just need a junk food fix. When we used to eat out, we would often go get chicken wings, and my favorite flavor was Spicy Garlic. Yum! One of my favorite things to do is re-make junk food classics into a healthier version – eating healthy doesn’t have to be tasteless and boring! So I created a spicy garlic chicken, decided to top some crispy potato rounds with it, and there you have it – Spicy Garlic Chicken Nachos! Serve these as an appetizer, or a big plate full for a delicious, albeit messy, dinner. Enjoy!

Spicy Garlic Chicken Nachos

Serves 6.

Ingredients:

For the chicken:

  • 2 lbs of dark meat chicken, boneless and skinless
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper, or to taste
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
  • 1/2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 2 bulbs of garlic, roasted
  • 1/3 cup mayonnaise (get my homemade version here)

For the nachos:

  • 4 medium potatoes (sweet, russet, or a combo) sliced into rounds
  • 1/2 tsp of salt

Toppings:

  • Salsa or hot sauce
  • Guacamole
  • Pickled banana peppers or jalapenos
  • A drizzle of ranch (get my homemade version here)
  • Chopped scallions or cilantro

Directions:

  • Place chicken, seasonings, and apple cider vinegar in your slow cooker
  • Cook on low for 8 hours, or high for 4 hours
  • While chicken is cooking, roast your garlic
    • Slice the end off of the garlic bulb, drizzle with olive oil
    • Wrap in foil, then roast in a 425 F oven for 45 minutes
  • During the last hour your chicken is cooking, bake your potato rounds
    • Simply lay the rounds out evenly on a parchment lined baking sheet
    • Season with salt
    • Bake for 30 minutes in a 425 F oven
    • Broil for 1 to 2 minutes to get more crispiness
  • Once chicken is done, shred the meat
  • Add garlic (just squeeze it out) and mayonnaise
  • Stir to combine
  • Let the chicken mixture cook for about another 30 minutes on low
  • Place “nachos” on a plate or tray, top with meat mixture, then desired toppings
  • Store leftovers separate, covered, in the fridge
    • The leftover meat is also delicious stuffed in a baked potato, or with brown rice!

For more made-over junk food recipes, check out my Oven Baked FriesBBQ Chicken, Bacon, Ranch Potatoes, or Slow Cooker Potato and Kale Soup. Pretty much all of my dessert recipes are healthier versions of classics – mama needs sweets – but my current favorites are my Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter CupsWholesome Chocolate Chunk Cookies (my most viewed recipe!), and No Bake Cheesecake with Chocolate Crust. I also recently posted Flax and Oat Pancakes; a made-over breakfast staple. I am sure you can find something to help you get your junk food fix – whether it is sweet or savory! Eat healthy foods that taste good…and enjoy your pinch of crazy!

This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase using the links, it is of no cost to you, just a small commission for me to help me stock my pantry and keep the recipes coming. Thank you for supporting A Pinch of Crazy!

BBQ Chicken, Bacon, Ranch Potatoes

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Indulgent Flavors with a Healthy Twist

If you have been reading along with me (either this post or this post), then you know that I love BBQ sauce! I pretty much have to since I was born and raised in Texas, and because of that, baked or grilled BBQ chicken is a staple. A delicious staple. And even more delicious when you combine sweet and tangy BBQ chicken with crispy, salty bacon and cool, creamy ranch. Did I mention it was all dairy free and refined sugar free? Oh, and made in one pan, then stuffed inside a hot baked potato for minimal mess?! It just gets better and better! Flavors so delicious and indulgent, you wouldn’t know it was paleo and Whole30 compliant. Let’s get to the recipe, shall we?

BBQ Chicken, Bacon, Ranch Potatoes

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 4 large russet or sweet potatoes
  • 2 lbs of chicken (if you have leftover meat from my Roasted Chicken with Carrots this would be the perfect use for it!)
  • 3/4 cup of compliant BBQ sauce (here is mine, and here is my favorite store bought brand)
  • 4 slices of compliant bacon
  • 1/2 of a red onion, thinly sliced
  • Six to eight mushrooms, sliced
  • Ranch dressing (here is mine , and here is my favorite store bought brand)
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp salt, divided
  • 1 tsp pepper, divided
  • 2 tbsp of avocado oil
  • Optional toppings:
    • sliced avocado
    • chopped scallions
    • an extra drizzle of BBQ sauce

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 425 F
  • Pierce potatoes several times with a fork
  • Place in oven to bake for about 45-60 minutes, until easily pierced with a fork
  • Meanwhile, season the chicken with salt and pepper (skip the next few steps if using leftover chicken meat)
  • Cook the chicken in avocado oil in a large pan, over medium-low heat
  • Once cooked through, shred or cube the chicken
  • Set aside
  • In the same pan, cook bacon until desired crispness
  • Set aside on paper towels to drain
  • Crumble bacon once cooled
  • In the same pan, place the sliced onions and mushrooms, season with remaining salt and pepper
  • Cover and cook over low heat until desired tenderness
  • Place cubed or shredded chicken back into the pan with the vegetables
  • Cover with BBQ sauce, stirring to make sure it’s evenly distributed, and cook until warm
  • By now, the potatoes should be done
  • Slice them open and fill with BBQ chicken/veggie mixture
  • Top with crumbled bacon, a generous helping of ranch, and any other desired toppings
  • Leftovers will keep, covered, in the refrigerator for up to a week

For more potato recipes, check out my Taco Stuffed Potatoes with Avocado Chipotle RanchOven Baked FriesCreamy Whole30 Mashed PotatoesMustard Potato Salad, and Roasted Potatoes.

I hope you enjoy this cozy and comforting, healthy, minimal-mess meal! It’s a win-win; happy family with satisfied taste buds and full bellies, and less time cleaning up after dinner! Get out of the kitchen and go relax…and enjoy your pinch of crazy!

This post contains affiliate links; if you purchase using the links it is of no extra cost to you, just a small commission for me. Thank you for supporting A Pinch of Crazy!

Oven Baked Fries

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Delicious AND Nutritious

It’s not often that the words “fries” and “nutritious” are used in the same sentence, but in this case, they are! These fries are baked, not fried (should I call them French Bakes?), and only have one tablespoon of olive oil used, so they aren’t dripping unhealthy grease everywhere. I have said before (here and here) that potatoes aren’t the villains they’re made out to be. No, in fact, they are the hero’s (the hero being vegetables, of course) side kick, a little quiet and plain, but with the right amount of healthy attention, flourishes and compliments the hero quite nicely!

Okay, weird super hero analogies aside, potatoes actually are good for you! They contain plenty of fiber and protein, and sweet potatoes have lots of vitamins A and C in them, which you can read about here. And, I mean, who wouldn’t want to eat a hot, salty, crispy-on-the-outside, soft-on-the-inside french fry?! Dunk it in some homemade or store bought ranch or ketchup and you’ve got the perfect side dish or snack. Let me just wipe the drool off my keyboard and get to the recipe now…

Oven Baked Fries

Serves about 5, but could easily be doubled.

Ingredients:

  • Two large potatoes, russet or sweet, or a combo, cut into fry shaped strips (quick tutorial on my Instagram)
  • 1 tbsp of olive oil or avocado oil
  • 1 tsp of salt
  • 1 tsp of dried parsley
  • 1 tsp of nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 tsp of garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp of black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp of paprika

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 425 F
  • Prepare a large, rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper
  • Place sliced potatoes on prepared baking sheet
  • Drizzle with oil of choice
  • Evenly sprinkle seasonings
  • Using your hands, mix potato slices so they are all evenly coated with oil and seasonings
  • Arrange the potatoes in an even layer, so that each slice is on the tray
  • Bake in preheated oven for 20-25 minutes
  • Remove from oven and flip each fry
  • Return to oven and bake for another 15-25 minutes, depending on your desired crispy-ness
  • Eat hot with sauces
  • Leftovers will keep covered in fridge for 5-7 days, I suggest reheating in the oven or in a hot skillet

For other potato sides, be sure to check out my Creamy Whole30 Mashed Potatoes, Mustard Potato Salad, or Roasted Potatoes, and for main dish potato recipes, I have Taco Stuffed Potatoes with Avocado Chipotle Ranch or Slow Cooker Potato and Kale Soup; all of which I’m sure you will love! After all, who doesn’t love a super hero sidekick?!

I hope your family, kiddos included, love these fries as much as mine does, and that they can become a weeknight staple for you. Fries that don’t leave you feeling greasy and regretful – woo! Go on, dunk away…and enjoy your pinch of crazy!

This post contains affiliate links; if you purchase using the links, it is of no extra cost to you, just a small commission for me. Thank you for supporting A Pinch of Crazy!

Kale Chips Two Ways

Cheap, Clean Snacking

My husband and I were just talking the other day about how drastically our snacking habits have changed. It’s embarrassing to admit, but I kid you not, between the two of us, we could sit down to watch a movie and eat an entire bag of salt and vinegar chips… and then because we were basically human salt licks, would follow that *light* snack with something sweet. So, yeah, we were the icons of health. (read more about our food journey here) After doing Whole30, we pretty much stopped snacking altogether because when you fill your body up on nutritious food you’re not hungry 30 minutes later! I know…shocker!

Sometimes, though, the munchie monster comes around, usually with my dreaded Aunt Flo, and I have to have something salty and crunchy. I was perusing the health aisle at the store for something healthier to munch on, and picked up a bag of kale chips… then promptly put them back down when I saw the price! Convenience isn’t worth my daughter’s college fund. Slightly hyperbolic, obviously, but if you buy a $6 bag of kale chips every week, that will add up! You can get one big bunch of kale at almost any grocery store for around $1, and you likely already have a bottle of olive oil and some salt in your pantry, right? If so, you can make your own kale chips!

My whole family loves crispy, salty kale chips for snacking, but they are also delicious atop a taco salad or to add texture to a creamy soup. Kale is high in vitamins A and C, and has been called a “super food”; so why not eat your super food in chip form?!

Kale Chips Two Ways

Makes about 3 loose cups.

Ingredients:

  • Four cups (about 2 small bunches, or one large bunch) of fresh kale, de-stemmed, and roughly chopped
  • 1 tbsp light olive oil (any other light oil would be fine, too, like grapeseed or avocado, a more robust oil will change the flavor)
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • For Chili Garlic Kale Chips:
    • all ingredients listed above plus
    • 2 tsp of garlic powder
    • 2 tsp of chili powder
    • 1/4-1/2 tsp cayenne

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 400 F
  • Grease a large, rimmed baking sheet
  • Lay kale out on prepared baking sheet
  • Drizzle with oil
  • Sprinkle with kosher salt
  • Massage kale until slightly wilted and softened
  • Add remaining seasonings if you’re doing Chili Garlic Kale Chips, ensuring all the greens are evenly coated in seasoning
  • Lay kale out in an even layer on baking sheet
  • Bake in preheated oven for 10-12 minutes, until dark green and crisp
  • Keep an eye on them – they burn quickly!
  • Once completely cooled, kale chips will keep in a sealed container or bag at room temperature for 3-5 days

For delicious dips to combine with your newfound love of veggie chips, check out my Spicy Garlic SalsaDairy free Garlic Herb Ranch, and Classic Garlic Hummus. And if you need a little something sweet to follow your salty snack, I’ve got you covered with my Wholesome Chocolate Chunk CookiesBanana Bread with Granola CrumbleChocolate Chip Peanut Butter Cookie Bars, and Dark Chocolate Paleo Brownies to name a few. See what other sweets I have by using the drop down arrow on my “desserts” menu. Don’t forget to pin all your favorites by using the “Pinterest” button at the bottom of the post!

I hope your family enjoys these kale chips as much as my family does. Don’t let the munchie monster get you down! Happy snacking…and enjoy your pinch of crazy!

Slow Cooker Meatballs

App Attack!

For Christmas Eve, I made meatballs in the Crock-Pot, and thought it would be the perfect appetizer to serve at a New Year’s Eve party! Growing up, we always would eat tons of appetizers and finger foods on New Year’s Eve. It was so fun getting to stay up until midnight eating snacks, drinking sparkling cider, and waiting for the ball to drop! Our most common appetizer we would have on New Year’s Eve would be spicy cheese dip…made with a block of soft maybe-not-real cheese. Always a delicious crowd pleaser, but not the most healthy. And now that I know how my body reacts to copious amounts of dairy, I generally steer clear.

So I went a little healthier (and dairy free!) this year. These meatballs are tender, cooked in a flavorful tomato sauce, and so easy to make! Simply make the meat mixture, and toss it all in the slow cooker! I hope your 2019 is a wonderfully blessed year…and I hope you ring in the new year with these Slow Cooker Meatballs!

Slow Cooker Meatballs

Makes about 30-35 meatballs.

Ingredients:

For the meatballs:

  • 2 lbs of ground beef
  • 1/2 cup of almond flour 
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 5 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp of Italian seasoning
  • 1 tsp of dried basil
  • 2 tbsp of chopped fresh parsley
  • Optional toppings:
    • Parmesan
    • fresh basil

For the sauce:

  • 28 oz crushed tomatoes (no salt or sugar added)
  • 28 oz diced tomatoes (no salt or sugar added)
  • 15 oz tomato sauce (no salt or sugar added)
  • 10 oz tomato paste (no salt or sugar added)
  • 2 tbsp of balsamic vinegar
  • 8 oz of sliced mushrooms
  • 2 tsp of salt
  • 1 tsp of Italian seasoning
  • 1 tsp of dried basil

Directions:

  • Combine all sauce ingredients in a large slow cooker (lined with these for easy cleanup!)
  • Combine all meatball ingredients in a large mixing bowl
  • Using your hands, make sure all ingredients are well incorporated
  • Shape about 2 tbsp worth of meat mixture into balls
  • Place meatballs into sauce, making sure they’re covered by sauce
  • Cover and cook on high for 3 hours
  • Serve warm, with sauce and optional toppings
  • Keep leftovers covered in the fridge for a week

For other appetizers, check out my Spicy Garlic Salsa, which is delicious with plantain chips, or my Classic Garlic Hummus…do you think I like garlic? 😛

For a beautiful centerpiece for your New Year’s Day dinner, take a look at my Ghee, Garlic, and Herb Turkey with GravySheet Pan SalmonCelebration Steaks with Pan Sauce, or my Roasted Chicken with Carrots; all are simple and delicious!

And for sides or desserts, there are so many options, including my ABC Brussels SproutsRoasted PotatoesTwo Layer Paleo FudgeDark Chocolate Paleo Brownies, or Wholesome Chocolate Chunk Cookies to name a few!

Let me know what your New Year’s Eve/Day traditions are! Whatever you may be doing, I pray for blessings on your new year, with lots of healthy and good food. Celebrate the new year…and enjoy your pinch of crazy!

This post contains affiliate links; if you purchase using the links, it is of no cost to you, just a small pantry fund for me. Thank you for supporting A Pinch of Crazy!

Ghee, Garlic, and Herb Turkey with Gravy

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Golly Ghee!

Before my first round of Whole30, I had never heard of ghee, and wasn’t even sure how to pronounce it. I’m nearly 100% certain that it rhymes with “key”, but my mom, because of her Armenian heritage, adds a guttural sound to it. Either way, I have now learned of the many health benefits of ghee! Ghee is butter that is heated to separate the milk solids; it aids in digestion while reducing inflammation, has plenty of healthy fats, and helps with weight loss. All while giving a buttery, yet nutty and toasty flavor!

So for the centerpiece of your Christmas dinner, I have a delicious turkey recipe for you, starring ghee! It is rubbed with plenty of ghee; it’s higher smoke point helps keep the bird moist without burning the skin, garlic and rosemary for a delicious herbaceous flavor, and lemon, and *surprise!* grapefruit for a citrus-y punch. It seems complicated written down, but I will include some helpful pictures of what it looked like before it went in the oven, and it honestly isn’t complicated at all; no need to be scared of a little turkey! I was babysitting my nephew on the day I made this turkey; both babes were napping at the same time, and I had this turkey cleaned, seasoned, stuffed, in the oven, and dishes washed in about an hour! It is a simple recipe that produces such a flavorful, buttery, moist turkey with perfectly crispy skin…and the gravy it makes is out of this world! Is your mouth watering, or is it just me? Let’s get to the recipe!

Ghee, Garlic, and Herb Turkey with Gravy

Recipe is for a 12-14 pound turkey; if your bird is larger or smaller, adjust accordingly.

Ingredients:

  • One 12-14 pound turkey
  • 1.5 cups of ghee, at room temperature
  • 5 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 4 sprigs of fresh rosemary, leaves chopped finely, plus 4 additional sprigs for stuffing
  • 2 tsp of dried thyme leaves (ours froze in the garden, but I would say about 4 tsp of chopped fresh if you have it)
  • One lemon, halved, for stuffing and for zest
  • 1/2 of one large grapefruit, halved and peeled
  • About 1 tbsp of salt
  • About 1 tbsp of black pepper
  • For the gravy:
    • 1/2-1 cup of water
    • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 325 F
  • In a small mixing bowl, combine ghee, garlic, chopped rosemary, chopped or dry thyme leaves, and lemon zest
  • Clean out turkey cavity by removing the neck and giblets, trimming off any excess fat, and drying inside and out with a paper towel
  • Season liberally inside and out with salt and pepper
  • Rub about 2/3 of the ghee mixture under the skin as you can
    • you will need to slightly (and gently!) separate the skin from the meat
    • be sure to rub the ghee mixture on the breast, but also down on the legs
  • With remaining ghee mixture, rub all over the top of the turkey
  • Stuff the cavity with lemon, grapefruit, and remaining sprigs of rosemary
  • Position turkey on roasting rack with wing tips facing up
  • Tie the ends of the legs together with twine
  • Bake for 2.5 to 3 hours, until the internal temperature reaches 165 F
  • Move turkey to platter to rest and make gravy
  • Pour turkey drippings into a deep pan
  • On medium heat, heat the drippings until just starting to bubble
  • Lower heat, and add water and potato flour
  • Whisk until thick and well combined, season to taste with salt and pepper
  • Add more water for a thinner gravy and more flour for a thicker gravy
  • Slice turkey and serve with gravy
  • Store leftovers covered in the fridge for 5-7 days

I have a beautiful red and green Christmas-y side dish coming in a few days, but if you are dying to try this recipe out (I won’t complain about that!), I have my Roasted Potatoes or Creamy Whole30 Mashed Potatoes, as well as Crispy Brussels Sprouts for side dish ideas! My Creamy Tomato Basil Soup would make a great appetizer, and my Classic Garlic Hummus with veggie sticks would be a great hors d’oeuvre…just sayin’ 😉 I also have many desserts to choose from, including some Christmas-y classics, like Two Layer Paleo FudgeMolasses Cookies, and Death by Hot Chocolate or Slow Cooker Apple Cider to go with dessert. I’d love to hear what your menu looks like for Christmas Day; let me know! No matter what you end up making, I hope you enjoy celebrating with loved ones. Remember the Reason for the season…and enjoy your pinch of crazy!

This post contains affiliate links; if you purchase using the links, it is of no extra cost to you, just a small pantry fund for me. Thank you for supporting A Pinch of Crazy!

23 Pounds and Other Non-Scale Victories

This post contains an affiliate link. If you purchase using the link, it is of no extra cost to you; just a small pantry fund for me. Thank you for supporting A Pinch of Crazy!

I didn’t know if I would ever write a post like this because I don’t want this to be a “weight loss” blog, but here I go. I have shared a little bit about my food journey in my first post, here, and how the Whole30, as cliche as it may sound, truly changed my life and my relationship with food. If you want to learn more about Whole30, I highly suggest reading The Whole30: The 30-Day Guide to Total Health and Food Freedom by Melissa Hartwig, the co-founder of Whole30. And for you mamas out there, I have found such encouragement about raising healthy eaters in the Whole Mamas Club podcast; I hope you check out these resources!

As far back as I can remember, even back to first or second grade, I wanted to lose weight; I was a chubby, but happy, girl with crazy, curly hair (in fifth grade, I was nick-named Tornado thanks to my ‘do) who just wanted to fit in like other kids. I recently went through some old journals where I was in 7th grade and documenting everything I ate while berating myself for eating Oreos…a 12-year-old should be out having fun with friends, not worrying about calorie consumption. It was the same all throughout high school, but add in some mean boys commenting about how “you aren’t as hot as your big sisters”, or “you’re prettier when your hair is straight”, so I kept trying to fit in and meet their beauty standards.

Then in college, I gained the classic “freshman 15”, but tried not to worry about it; however, anytime I would go out for late night fast food with my friends, I would feel guilt to the point of wanting to vomit up everything I just ate; that was “bad” food only contributing to my weight gain. I eventually cut out sodas and started running my sophomore year; I also started experiencing symptoms of IBS, so I lost weight fairly quickly. I was, and still am, so proud of myself for running a half marathon that spring semester, but my relationship with food was still off, and my anxiety was high.

Throughout college and into my first year of marriage, my IBS got so bad that if we went out to eat, I would be sick all night. My darling husband saw me throwing up while sitting on the toilet so many times during our first year of marriage that I’m sure he wondered what he had gotten himself in to! On top of being sick so often, I was also an anxious mess, and had gained about 12-15 pounds in our first year and a half of marriage. I had just decided to start working out more regularly when we found out *surprise!* that I was pregnant. So of course from there, I just kept gaining and getting more and more anxious; despite my efforts to have a healthy pregnancy, I gained 40 pounds.

After our sweet Zemirah was born, things took a turn for the worse in a battle of postpartum depression and anxiety (which I will write about at another time), and I not only “hated myself” (actual words I said to David), I couldn’t sleep despite my exhaustion, had zero energy, and felt absolutely out of control with everything: life, weight gain, motherhood, and fear. I tried the best *I* could (never truly handing my burdens to God), to deal with my anxiety, and cooked us healthy-ish meals, but because I was nursing, ate so many carbs, and not the healthy ones like fruit, whole grains, or potatoes. The carbs I consumed were more along the lines of bread with refined sugar and flour, brownies, cookies, ice cream, doughnuts…you know. Carbs, dairy, and sugar are the staple comfort foods when you’re feeling depressed and anxious…but in reality, only make things worse.

Fast forward to the beginning of 2018, Zemirah and I were living with my parents while David was deployed, and I wanted to lose the rest of the baby weight before he came home. I found this “diet” called Whole30, and knew a few friends who had done it. It seemed hard, but I love a challenge, so with nearly all my family joining me, we tackled our first round of Whole30! I was discouraged to learn that I had only lost 5 pounds at the end of it (others in my family all lost 10-15!), but felt so much better about myself that I kept it up, not a strict Whole30, but very clean eating. When I moved back to California, I was surprised to learn that I had lost a few more pounds, now totaling 12 pounds lost! I kept exercising to tone up for David’s return; he was so surprised to see how different I looked! He had just come from a steady diet of pizza, ramen, and soda, and I really wanted him to experience how wonderful the Whole30 was, so we tackled a round together: his first, my second. It was during this round of Whole30, that I really began to notice my non scale victories.

I noticed that my anxiety was greatly reduced; even though we were starting to prepare for a huge career change, I felt down in my spirit that everything really would be okay.  I also no longer struggled with insomnia! I used to take a Melatonin every night before bed just so I could fall asleep, and hardly slept through the night even when Zemirah did, but that was all changing. During my second round of Whole30, I stopped taking Melatonin, and would fall asleep peacefully without help and sleep hard all night, and even if I only got 6 hours of sleep (because, let’s face it, babies wake up early), I would feel so rejuvenated in the morning.

(Just a side note: we are currently a mere four days away from a cross country move, and, though I have my freak out moments, I still generally feel calm, with no chest pain and no insomnia. That is huge for me!)

After that second round of Whole30, I was beginning to notice how much I truly enjoyed working out; I started going to Stroller Strides and doing those hour long work outs twice a week, and on the off days, walking and/or running. I hadn’t run in a while, but I noticed a dramatic increase in my energy levels, and even ran my personal fastest mile! (Once we get moved, I am going to try and break that record again 😉 ) Exercise is much more fun now than it used to be, and I appreciate seeing all that my body can do!

In addition to the changes in exercise, sleep, and anxiety, my IBS is all but gone, and I now know with certainty which foods trigger it. And emotionally speaking, my relationship with food has changed entirely; I don’t view foods as “bad” anymore, but just as something to have very sparingly, and I choose to focus instead on which foods make my body feel good! I’ve found that going through life focusing on the good things (whether food, people, circumstances) as opposed to the bad is a much better way to live.

So, counting from around December of 2017, I have lost a total of 23 pounds. That doesn’t really seem like much; you hear the stories of those pills/shakes/wraps and how you can lose 30+ pounds instantly, but I love seeing the slow change of my body. I have been learning which foods fuel me, which make me feel yucky and anxious (hello, refined sugar), and have been slowly enjoying the process of a true lifestyle change. Weight will fluctuate, and that is simply a fact, so the number on the scale is not as important as the non scale victories! Because, yes, I lost fat, but I’ve also lost anxiety, depression, insomnia, headaches, mood swings, and low self-confidence!

I am working on, with the help of God, losing the desire for other people’s approval, and finding my true worth in Him! It is my prayer that you can do the same. Celebrate your non-scale victories…and enjoy your pinch of crazy!

Celebration Steaks with Pan Sauce

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Celebrate Good Times! Come on!

If you’re like me, you just sang/read that title while having flashbacks to roller blade dancing with all your friends under the disco ball, most likely at the skating rink for a friend’s birthday party. Obviously, a small child celebrating a birthday shouldn’t be cooking over an open flame, but apparently once you’re an adult, celebration means cooking an expensive and delicious cut of meat and having a glass of wine. I’m okay with that 😉

I’m calling these “Celebration Steaks” because I first cooked these while on a second honeymoon, of sorts, with my husband. He had just gotten back from a six month deployment two weeks prior, and I surprised him with a trip to a little cabin in the woods while my parents kept Zemirah. It was my first time away from her overnight, and, while I missed her, honestly, it was great! No mom shaming here! It was a wonderful trip with my darling husband whom I had missed so terribly.

It was glorious being able to sleep all night without a care in the world, but it was also nice to just enjoy cooking *calmly* for my husband instead of a hungry baby clamoring at my heels and tugging on my clothes. We danced in the kitchen, drank wine, and I just enjoyed the process of making these delicious steaks. We didn’t have to worry about eating dinner early because there were neither bedtimes nor the threat of an early morning alarm, so we just leisurely enjoyed our delicious meal.

Since then, I’ve made these pan steaks to celebrate Father’s Day and our anniversary; each time with a different cut of beef, but each time it was equally delicious! I think I’ve used rib eyes twice and filet mignon once. This last time I made them, it was really just for a photo op, so I bought a cheap cut of beef at the store (I think it was a round steak?), and, though leaner, still had so much amazing flavor.

No matter what cut of beef you choose, the flavor will be scrumptious, but do take note of the thickness of your steak. The times I am giving are for a steak cooked medium; if you want more rare: do not put them in the oven, sear them only, and if you want more well done, keep them in the oven longer. I would suggest using a meat thermometer to make sure you achieve your desired temperature. Rare to well done, however you like your steak, I hope these can help you celebrate those good times with the ones you love.

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Celebration Steaks with Pan Sauce

Serves 2 or 3.

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 lbs of steak (as mentioned above, any cut will do!)
  • 2 tsp kosher salt (for a better crust)
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 4 cloves of garlic, peeled but left whole
  • 4 sprigs of fresh rosemary
  • 8-10 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 1/3 cup of ghee
  • For the sauce:
    • 2 tsp of red wine vinegar
    • 2 tsp of coconut aminos
    • 1 tsp of raw honey

Directions:

  • Heat cast iron skillet over medium heat and preheat oven to 400 F
  • Dry steaks with a paper towel and rub with salt and pepper
  • Once skillet is hot (flick some water to make sure, it will sizzle when it’s ready), add ghee, garlic, and herbs
  • Add steaks to pan
  • Sear for 2-3 minutes, basting with the ghee mixture twice
  • Flip and sear for another two minutes, basting twice with ghee mixture
  • For a medium steak, pop in the preheated oven for 2 minutes (longer for more well done)
  • Remove from pan and let the steaks rest for 6-8 minutes, uncovered
  • While meat is resting, add the red wine vinegar, coconut aminos, and honey to the pan
  • Let simmer on medium-low heat while meat rests, the sauce should reduce down a little bit
  • Serve steaks warm covered with sauce, and don’t neglect the garlic cloves, they are delicious eaten right along with the steak!

If you make some Celebration Steaks for your family, I would love to hear what you thought; you can tag me on Instagram (mrsmollymills). If you are wanting to make the perfect simple yet romantic meal, I would *highly* suggest serving these steaks with my Crispy Brussels Sprouts and some Roasted Potatoes or Creamy Whole30 Mashed Potatoes; they all go together well! If you wanted to get fancy and make a three course meal, my Creamy Tomato Basil Soup makes a great appetizer, and my No Bake Chocolate Date Cake is a pretty classy treat 😉 No matter what you serve your steaks with, I know you’ll enjoy them! Celebrate with your family…and enjoy your pinch of crazy!