Archive | Eating Habits

Whole30 Round 2 – Recap + Recipes

Whole30 Round 2 - Recap + Recipes |

Unless commitment is made, there are only promises and hopes; but no plans.
(Peter F. Drucker)

Happy Tuesday, lovelies. How was your weekend? We stayed close to home and opted-out of the whole Halloween thing. Instead, we went for a long run on Saturday morning, visited our friends who just had a baby (so many tiny snuggles!), completed the first draft of our ceremony, and crossed a few more things off our wedding to-do list!

Today I am finishing my Whole30 Round 2. That means, over the course of this summer/fall I have followed these rules for 30 days straight, twice:

  • Do not consume added sugar of any kind, real or artificial
  • Do not consume alcohol in any form, not even for cooking
  • Do not eat grains
  • Do not eat legumes
  • Do not eat dairy
  • Do not consume carrageenan, MSG or sulfites
  • Do not try to re-create baked goods, junk foods, or treats with “approved” ingredients
  • Do not step on the scale or take body measurements during the program

In some ways, my Whole30 Round 2 was more difficult than the first. There were several occasions, especially during the last two weeks, when I wanted to give up. The second round felt less “special” and more like everyday life. The newness wore off and sticking to the rules felt more rigorous. That said, I am incredibly happy that I did not give up.

My original inspiration for starting Whole30 was to slim down for my wedding, but I also wanted to investigate this way of eating for the long-term. In my dream scenario, I hoped to discover a set of rules that I could follow every day that would help make my body feel good without squandering my love for food. And that’s what I found!

Will I stick with this 100% everyday moving forward? No, not totally. But, I do want to remain primarily grain-free, sugar-free, dairy-free, legume-free, and processed-foods-free. I have naturally settled into a preference for eating paleo (here’s what that means).

Two rounds of Whole30 have helped me build an arsenal of delicious recipes. I no longer feel like a dinner with just veggies and meat is incomplete. Here are some favorites:

In terms of alcohol, I learned that I’m perfectly fine with going out and not drinking, even to a three-day music festival. I will go back to enjoying wine and cocktails here and there, but I doubt I’ll ever be much of a beer drinker. My Whole30 weekend mornings have been a lot more pleasant without that fuzzy feeling of an almost-hangover!

Now would be the time to establish a new daily routine, but that’s not going to happen… after my first Whole30, I dove into indulgence with a 3-week trip to Europe. It was an incredible adventure, but tough on my body after eating so clean for the previous month.

This time, I am facing another uncommon situation: there’s just 18 days until our wedding! The next few weeks are going to be a far cry from ordinary, but they will be wonderful. In the midst of all the celebrations, I hope to follow this advice to myself:

  • Plan ahead. When eating out, review the menu in advance and commit to your food selection before sitting down at the restaurant. When going out for drinks, hydrate with water and switch to club soda after a few.
  • Stay active. When you exercise, it helps you maintain the motivation to make healthy choices. Remember that practicing yoga always makes you feel strong and happy, and running makes you feel accomplished. You have the time to work out every day, even if it’s just for 20 minutes.
  • Be kind. Part of this is doing what feels good. That will be staying “compliant” sometimes and “indulging” other times.  Either way, being kind means not judging yourself harshly. And on judging, watch your negativity. Wrap your gremlins and nasty thoughts with a warm blanket of love and kindness.

If you would like to learn more about my Whole30 journey, check out my recaps from round 1 day 12, round 1 day 26, and round 2 day 11. You can also follow me on Instagram where I’ve been posting a lot of food pics: @kaileenelise.

Are you thinking this might be something you want to try? I say, go for it! You can do anything for 30 days, especially if it makes you feel good. I highly recommend visiting the Whole30 website and reading It Starts With Food for more information.


Whole30 Round 2 – Day 11

Whole30 Round 2 - Day 11 |

Stay close to any sounds that make you glad you are alive.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve had a complicated relationship with food. I love it, I hate it, I feel like I deserve it. Completing the first round of Whole30 helped me embrace a more simple, less fussy approach. I ate real food, stopped counting calories, stopped weighing myself. (Here are my recaps from day 12 and day 26.)

Whole30 worked for me. More than any other diet, approach, or way of thinking about food has. Even as a collegiate athlete, I didn’t fuel my body like this. The results from my first round were nice too! My before and after pictures surprised me. (I really didn’t want to take before pics, but I’m glad I did).

With that said, my reintroduction was challenging. I added everything back into my diet all at once, while traveling through Europe for 3 weeks. My Mister and I had an incredible trip, and we ate and drank with abandon!

Intellectually, I wanted to enjoy every facet of the trip, especially the food! Emotionally, I felt like each unhealthy choice erased the progress I made in the past 30 days. It was a struggle to “just enjoy” the unique food, drink, and experiences at our fingertips. But, since my relationship with food is complicated and we went to a bunch of amazing restaurants, I ate it all anyways.

I haven’t uncovered the lesson in that experience yet. One thing I have come to realize is that it’s impossible to erase the past. Maybe the “fix” then is to focus on being fully present in this moment… rather than worrying about what was or will be. That thought is much bigger than food, but I think it applies.

When we arrived home, I was eager to start a new Whole30! This time I’m doing it for 6 weeks, which leads right up to the week before my wedding. Today is day #11 of my round 2.

I am feeling… much better! Cutting out grains, dairy, added sugar, and alcohol is a magical reset for me. The first few days were rough, especially because we went to a music festival this past weekend. I was ok without drinking alcohol, but my food options were limited. However, my anxiety about what it would be like turned out to be much worse than the actual experience. Once the music was playing, I was dancing and having fun like everyone else. With 10 days behind me, I am humming along and feeling good. It’s so nice!

I have been eating… simple breakfasts with blended coffees, followed by easy salads for lunch. For two nights, we devoured a spicy version of this Mexican Chicken Chili. And for other dinners, I have been pairing a protein with two veggies. I have a few favorite go-to “recipes” for cooking up the basics. My top three are: baked sweet potato, roasted butternut squash, and sautéed kale. I’m excited to cook up some slow cooker chicken curry for tonight and plan to serve it over spicy roasted cauliflower.

I have been loving… the kind and supportive Instagram community that I’ve fallen into. Seriously, the best! It’s so fun to get new ideas from others eating this way. I have also enjoyed connecting with some people who are curious or interested in Whole30.

I am thinking about… adding a few more things to the mix, like: giving up caffeine for awhile, working out more often, and increasing my water intake. I am also thinking about how I can integrate this way of eating with my normal life. What does that look like? How can I make choices I feel good about when I’m at restaurants, eating with friends, etc?

So, tell me, would you experiment with a Whole30? If you have tried it or are doing it now, let me know. I would love to connect about what has worked or not worked for you, and share some more of my experience with you!


Day 26 Whole30 Check-In

Whole30 Check-In | - image via Death to the Stock Photo

Focus on the journey, not the destination.
Joy is found not in finishing an activity but in doing it.
(Greg Anderson)

I’ve reached the home stretch of my first Whole30. I am feeling happy and healthy, plus a little relieved and nervous.

Happy because I am doing it – no slip-ups, no excuses, no cheats, no major meltdowns. I am establishing new thought-patterns and letting go of habits that haven’t worked in the past. Happy because my clothes fit better. Happy because I feel good. Happy because I’ve had fun discovering recipes that will be great for meal plans even after the Whole30.

Healthy because I am fueling my body with whole foods. I’ve been drinking tons of water and no alcohol. I’m tired when it’s time for bed and up in the mornings when it’s time to wake up. Healthy because working out has felt like a natural extension of this new eating routine. Healthy because I am listening to my body and taking great care of myself.

Relieved because the end is near. It will feel luxurious to have a glass of wine with dinner, and it will feel nice to have a nibble of chocolate after. It Starts With Food (the book companion to Whole30) offers a full re-introduction to normal foods plan… that I will follow another time. My last day of Whole30 coincides with our departure for a 3-week trip to Europe. I’ll be navigating my re-entry carefully and swiftly.

Nervous because I’ll be diving from this extremely restrictive diet to dinners out and meals on the road. Nervous (and excited) to weigh myself — my reflection in the mirror looks stronger, more lean and toned. I am not going to tie any measure of success to my weight, but a girl gets curious after 26 days of hard work!

A few things that have made this Whole30 easier on me:

  • Working from home. I was talking to my Mister about how this hasn’t been that hard. He gently reminded me that working from home has helped me avoid break-room candy, office happy hours, and monthly birthday cake. If I were doing Whole30 from my old job, my resolve might have been tested more.
  • Empathetic friends. Last Friday, our friends invited us over for dinner. They prepared a Whole30 approved meal… including mock piña coladas that were sugar free. We stayed out way later than planned because it was such an amazing night!
  • Being a former vegetarian. These days I have no qualms about eating organic and pastured meats. My past life as a vegetarian helped me feel comfortable with being the weird one at a table, and it gave me a fondness for most veggies.

This experience has taught me that I don’t need to eat everything. I can decline, pick and choose, and eat based on my hunger.

I am hoping to remember this feeling: I will not “lose out” if I don’t eat every macaroon in Paris. All I need is one (or two!) for the experience. This realization is freeing… but scary. The thought that usually plays over and over in my mind is “I deserve that.” Now I know that I deserve to feel good, happy, and heathy… and no sweet treat can give that to me.

Don’t get me wrong, I will indulge again. I just plan to be more intentional and honest with myself about what I’m eating. In It Starts with Food, the authors say that food is either good for you or bad for you. There is no middle, gray part where food is neutral. This black and white explanation has been helpful. When I eat “bad for me” foods, I plan to acknowledge it as such and savor the treat… instead of dreaming about eating ten more!

I am already planning my next Whole30 for when we’re back from Europe. For now, I’m enjoying these last days of the program before we take off on our adventure.

If you are interested in Whole30, check out their website and pick up a copy of It Starts With Food — it’s a great read for anyone who is looking for a fresh perspective on heathy eating.

Image via Death to the Stock Photo

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Day 12 Whole30 Check-In

Whole30 Check-In | - image via Death to the Stock Photo

The art of being happy lies in the power of extracting happiness from common things.
(Henry Ward Beecher)

Today is day #12 of my Whole30, which means that I am nearly halfway there. I started this on the heels of our visit to North Carolina, which was perfect timing. By the end of the trip, I was ready to eat healthy and take a break from indulgences.

What is Whole30? It’s a 30-day healthy eating program with simple, but impactful rules. Participants eat real foods and omit a list of unhealthy things from their diets, including: alcohol, added sugar, dairy, legumes, and grains. Their website is great, and I am really enjoying the book that corresponds with the program — It Starts with Food.

I did something similar back in 2012 with the Whole Living Action Plan (you can read my weekly summaries here). It was in January, so the post-holiday and New Year’s resolution season was extra motivating. I learned how to cook new recipes, lost some weight, and enjoyed it overall.

Thinking back on that experience gave me the confidence to try the Whole30. Cutting things out of my diet is not an issue, but going 4 weeks without alcohol or any added sugar is a challenge in the summer. There are plenty of occasions to grab a drink and celebrate the season with friends!

Now that a few days are behind me, I wanted to share some reflections and strategies for Whole30. My first week went by quickly and with very few cravings or frustrations. I planned our meals for the week so we could avoid eating out. When our friends asked us to drinks on Saturday night, I ordered soda water with lime and ended up having a blast.

Things took a turn for the cranky by Sunday (day #8) and the beginning of this week was rough. I noticed that it was less about what I couldn’t eat and more about losing some of my food coping mechanisms. When I wanted to chill out at the end of a long day, a glass of sparkling water was all I had to drink (red wine would have tasted so much better). When my Mister and I wanted to treat ourselves with something sweet, we settled on organic cashews instead.

In addition to changes in diet, there is one more rule for Whole30: you’re not allowed to weigh yourself during the program. This one has been hard for me because I typically use my weight as a baseline and check-in. Not having this measurement has pushed me to consider how I’m feeling, rather than relying on a number on the scale to tell me if I’m “ok.”

A few things I’m loving while on Whole30:

  • Chamelon Cold-Brew + black coffee – so simple, so tasty.
  • Harmless Harvest coconut water – a delicious 8oz break from water.
  • Burning candles, listening to an awesome audio book, and laying by the pool – a girl can find moments of bliss without wine, cheese, or chocolate.
  • Yoga – it’s been so hot here in Austin, so I haven’t felt like running lately. Going to yoga helps me refocus and refresh.

Some Whole30 approved dinners on our meal plan:

  • Spicy Oven Baked Salmon from A Spicy Perspective – this is a new household favorite! So quick, easy, and tasty!
  • Hatch Chile Casserole from Fed and Fit – my Mister was shocked at how creamy and rich this was without any dairy. I might tweak it next time, but I’m definitely adding it to the regular rotation.
  • Creole Chicken & Sausage from Pinch of Yum – we served this over baked sweet potatoes. It was a nice and hearty meal.

Looking ahead:

I am a little excited that we don’t have much planned for Labor Day weekend. We have already traveled a lot this summer and are leaving for Europe in a few weeks. It will be nice to stick around here and finish some projects. I’m looking for a few new recipes to try and am planning on keeping myself occupied with blogging and other fun things (instead of wishing for a bite of chocolate)!

Have you done a Whole30? If so, please share your advice in the comments below. If not, let me know if you’d ever want to give it a try?

Image via Death to the Stock Photo

This post contains affiliate links, which means if you click + purchase I will receive a small commission. Thank you for reading & supporting An Extraordinary Adventure!


Weeknight Recipes

Weeknight Recipes Kaileen Elise

The quality of life is in proportion to the capacity for delight.
(Julia Cameron)

Hello, lovelies! We are in Ohio for my Mister’s little sister’s wedding tonight. This will be the first wedding we’ve attended since getting engaged. It’s great to be here with family to celebrate such an exciting occasion!

As a follow-up to my posts on food and meal planning, I thought it’d be nice to share a handful of recipes that are great for weeknights. I highly recommend incorporating one, two, or a few in your meal plan for next week!

Spicy Black Bean Enchiladas – The Realistic Nutritionist

This is a great vegetarian dish, especially if you like spicy food. We love it! I used canned black beans the first time I made it, which is of course a very convenient option.

The second time, I planned ahead and made a batch of Spicy Black Beans & Tomatoes in my slow cooker. Another tasty variation is to toss some shredded chicken inside the tortillas, I recommend this recipe.

Fried Quinoa – Annie’s Hungry

My Mister would be happy if I made this every day. It’s a good “fridge clean out” recipe because I typically use whatever veggies we have on hand.

Cheesy Spinach Stuffed Shells – Eat, Live, Run

This is definitely comfort food, and I find it’s best on Sunday nights when calories don’t count. (Oh I wish such a thing existed!) I like to make a big batch, then freeze the shells using a technique I found in the comments of this post from The Pioneer Woman. That turns a somewhat messy and labor-intensive cooking session into 3 easy meals. If you’re looking for a way to kick things up a notch, this marinara sauce is simple to make and way tastier than jarred pasta sauce.

Crock Pot Honey Ginger Chicken – The Skinny Fork

This chicken is tasty when served over rice with spicy garlic broccoli on the side. It’s easy to put together and great for those nights when you’re craving something healthy (broccoli) and something savory (chicken and rice).

Multi-Purpose Shredded Beef – Budget Bytes

I recently discovered the Budget Bytes blog and have incorporated a lot of her recipes into our weekly routine. They are both delicious and cost effective, which is a winning combo in my book! I’ve made this shredded beef twice now – it’s great to prepare a big batch and freeze some for later.

These BBQ Beef Stuffed Potatoes are an easy, tasty meal. So are a weeknight favorite, burrito bowls. Another great use for the shredded beef, chicken, or grilled veggies, is to make freezer burritos. Stock your freezer with a batch of those beauties, and you’ll be ready for a great alternative to ordering out.

For all things of burrito variety, I like to make this Just like Chipotle’s Corn Salsa and the Spicy Black Beans & Tomatoes. To further replicate Chipotle’s genius, I’ll make some quinoa or rice with a squeeze of lime and chopped cilantro mixed in. Being a copy cat never tasted so good!

Chicken & Lime Soup – Budget Bytes

This soup is warm and comforting without being too heavy. The recipe makes more than 1 meal for us, so I freeze half for nights when I don’t feel like cooking. It’s good served over rice or quinoa, and goes great with corn, avocado, cheese, and/or greek yogurt served on top.

Rosemary & Garlic Roasted Salmon – In Sock Monkey Slippers

I love eating fish, but my Mister is less of a fan. I’m slowly bringing him around with tasty dishes like this one. Rosemary and garlic are a winning combo. That spicy garlic broccoli mentioned earlier is a slam dunk side dish.

I hope this list inspires you to get cooking! If you have any old favorites or new recipes you think I should try, please share in the comments below.


My Approach to Weekly Meal Planning

Meal Planning Kaileen Elise

A year from now you’ll wish you’d started today.
(Karen Lamb)

A perfect Saturday morning begins on the couch, dressed in cozy clothes, with a hot cup of coffee. Armed with my iPad + MacBook, good tunes or a show on TV for background noise, I’m ready to put together a new meal plan for the coming week. Pinterest is a great place to hunt for new ideas and gather inspiration. I enjoy scrolling through the endless photographs, and I also pin recipes to my Delish Delights board for future use.

Once I have some recipes in mind, I open Evernote on my laptop and start with an outline of the week. Then I check our calendars for any post-work activities that might overlap with dinnertime, and add those in. Next I build out the remainder of the week with tasty dinners. I try to keep a good mix of cuisines, with a balance of new recipes and all-time favorites. Chicken is a default protein in our house, but I prefer to keep our tastebuds guessing. For example, I try to avoid two “noodle nights” in a row. We could eat my modified version of Chipotle’s burrito bowls every night, but I’d prefer not to for the sake of my hips!

Here’s how a typical week might look –

Monday: Spicy Jambalaya
Tuesday: Thai Beef Tacos
Wednesday: Apartment Building Happy Hour
Thursday: Leftover Spicy Jambalaya
Friday: Slow Cooker Chicken Tikka Masala
Saturday: Date Night
Sunday: Dragon Noodles

Once I’m satisfied with the week’s plan, I get busy making a grocery list. I open a new Evernote and add items to the categories which correlate with where we’ll find them in the store:

[X] bunch of cilantro
[X] mini carrots
[X] 1 lemon
[X] 5 limes
[X] 3 jalapeños

[X] 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
[X] 4 oz can tomato sauce
[X] 1 lb (2 cups) dry black beans
[X] 6 cups chicken broth
[X] cereal

Meat & Dairy
[X] 12 eggs
[X] 3 yogurts
[X] large carton of almond milk
[X] cottage cheese

[X] 1 bag rice
[X] frozen peas
[X] frozen corn

There are some weekly standbys for breakfast and lunch, so I often use the past week’s grocery list as a template. Once I get everything down, I do one last check through our freezer, fridge, and pantry to make sure I haven’t added something we already have. Then I make sure to sync the list to my iPhone, grab some grocery bags, and head out the door.

Because of our work schedules, my Mister and I are happiest when we grocery shop on Saturday or Sunday mornings. It’s quieter and easier to get around, plus I find the weekends are more enjoyable when I have time to prep food and really cook. We’re competitive folk, so we sometimes set a timer to see how quickly we can make it through our list. I’m not always in the mood for racing (a girl’s gotta examine every basket of strawberries to pick the right one!) but it’s a fun to way keep us from wasting time amongst the endless aisles of Whole Foods.

This approach to meal planning has been working for me, but I’d love to hear your thoughts. Are there  holes in my strategy? Do you think you would give this a try? Share in the comments, I’d love to hear from you!


Delish Delights

Delish Delights Kaileen Elise

We ate well and
cheaply and drank
well and cheaply
and slept well and
warm together and
loved each other.
(Ernest Hemingway)

Hello, lovelies. How was your weekend? I had a great trip to Arizona. There’s nothing like a quick visit with family. It feels good to be back at home with my Mister, but we can’t get too comfortable… we’re heading to Ohio tomorrow for his sister’s wedding. Can’t wait to do a little celebrating!

Before we moved to Austin, my Mister and I usually cooked our own meals. I was a pretty strict vegetarian for a few years, and our schedules didn’t always allow us to eat together. We grocery shopped with separate lists, but I would sometimes make a Sunday night meal for us to share.

In the last few months we’ve talked about our health and how we want to eat as a family. I started eating meat again, have been cooking tons, and am more conscious about what I order when I eat out. It’s been fun to explore new restaurants here in Austin, and even better to have access to the most amazing Whole Foods I’ve ever seen.

Looking for new recipes and planning a week’s worth of menus has become a definite hobby. Pinterest is one of my favorite sources of inspiration, along with blogs and cookbooks.

Tomorrow, I’ll outline my approach to meal planning. I think it’s simple enough, so hopefully you will find something useful in what I share. I’d also love to hear about your strategy if you have one!


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Delish Delights

Photo - Delish Delights on Pinterest

Eating is not merely a material pleasure.
Eating well gives a spectacular joy to life and contributes immensely
to goodwill and happy companionship.
It is of great importance to the morale.
(Elsa Schiaparelli)

I have a new love.

A series of food blogs caught my eye weeks ago and now I’m nursing a full-blown crush. It isn’t just the delicious pictures and mouth-watering descriptions of tasty dishes. There is something about collecting recipes that has me inspired. I keep emailing the good ones to myself, reminders for a day when I have time to experiment in the kitchen.

Here are some I’ve gathered recently. What delish delights have you been craving lately? Please share your yum-inspired links below!

mediterranean quinoa salad

shrimp and artichoke pasta

butter beans, olives & roasted tomatoes

shrimp and goat cheese quesadillas

(chicken) tortilla soup

vegetarian chili

homemade chips & bean dip

Image Credit: via Pinterst


Eating Habits

paris kitchen

It is all right letting yourself go, as long as you can get yourself back.
(Mick Jagger)

Food and diet are two things I don’t blog about much. This is in part due to the confusion and unease I have around my personal eating habits. There’s also a bit of worry that bringing up the topic will create a sort of accountability that doesn’t currently exist in my day to day.

Some of you may know that growing up I was a nationally competitive athlete, and even received a scholarship to a Division I school. Working out for 2.5 – 4 hours, six days a week meant that I could eat anything I desired and rarely felt the consequences. Since I invested so much time into my body, I normally chose foods that were nutrient-rich. Portion control was something I never learned, and in fact I often worried about getting enough calories to sustain my toughest practices.

Fast forward to 2010. I’ve been out of the game for 6 years—and have struggled to create healthy habits in my life after sports. I’ve maintained an on-again-off-again relationship with yoga and have tried various strategies for more suitable portions. I still have a natural inclination to worry about if I’m getting enough food, even though I’m not burning anywhere near the number of calories that I once did on a daily basis.

Earlier this year, I embraced pescetarianism and haven’t looked back since. The decision came naturally, and it felt like the right thing to do. The transition wasn’t what I expected. I never felt like I was giving up something up. I’ve been quite pleased with the change.

Since eliminating meat from my diet, I’ve craved more time in the kitchen. I’m curious about everything I eat now, and realize there is a lot of responsibility in healthy eating (if you decide to accept it). With a busy summer now behind me, I have more time to test out new recipes for delicious veggie meals. I tweeted a plea for suggestions after spending a few minutes on Amazon in search of helpful cookbooks. I can’t begin to tell you how grateful I am to have such loving & helpful people in my midst.

Here’s a list of the books I’ve ordered to help kickstart a healthier finish to 2010. I might have went a little overboard, but I love having extra inspiration around! (Plus, I have a slight addiction to buying books. That’s fodder for another blogpost I’m sure.)

The Kind Diet
The Vegan Table
Vegan Yum Yum
Viva Vegan!
The Urban Vegan
New Moon*

Now that I’ve spilled the beans on my struggles with healthy eating habits, I’d love to know if you’ve ever felt the same way. If there are resources that have helped you along the way, please share! My goal is to embrace changes that improve my daily life—that make living this extraordinary adventure fuller, brighter and more satisfying.

Image Credit: kitchen & dining room by audinou

*Did I mention that I read Twilight last month and fell in love? I never caught the craze when everyone else did, but I found it to be an entertainingly fast read! Looking forward to cracking open New Moon soon…


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