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Posted on May 16, 2016 in Health | 0 comments

Awesome Whole 30 Recipes

Awesome Whole 30 Recipes

I finished my Whole 30 program at the end of March, but am continuing with the plan because I feel so good about it. I wrote last time that I was surprised by how good clean eating can be. This time I’m going to prove it! Give these “recipes” (I use that word loosely) a try and let me know what you think, if you modified them, and how they turned out.

You’re welcome.

Pork Roast

Pork RoastThis one is so easy, I can’t stand it. The flavor will make everyone think you’re some kind of a genius in the kitchen! I don’t know if I ever had pork roast before The Whole 30. A friend recommended it, or I would’ve never attempted to make it myself. The basic recipe is here and I modified it slightly to suit my pantry.

Basically, get out your crock pot, spray it down with cooking spray (I use Pam Organic Olive Oil), and lay 3 slices of no-sugar bacon (I got mine here and it’s delicious), or prosciutto if you can’t find sugar-free bacon, on the bottom. Put a 3-5 pound pork roast (I use the biggest one I can find because I want lots of leftovers) on top of the bacon. (Make sure your pork doesn’t have MSG in it. I got a natural one from Wal-Mart, but check the label!) Now, make 5 deep slits in the meat and put a peeled garlic clove in each one. (I crush mine a little with the flat side of my big knife so they melt into the meat a little easier.) Lastly, put a couple tablespoons of Pink Himalayan Sea Salt on top of it. Cook it on low for 12 hours (newer crock pots) or 16 hours (older crock pots). Do not baste it or mess with it at all. Trust me.

THIS IS IMPORTANT! When it’s done, remove it from the crock pot and put it in a large bowl or casserole dish. Using two forks, shred it. Do NOT shred it in the crock pot. The juice is way too salty and will ruin it. You really need to shred it (and mix it around pretty good) to distribute the roasted garlic and crispy skin evenly. Roasted garlic is mild and delicious, even if you end up eating a whole bulb of it at once, but it really enhances the flavor of the meat when it’s broken apart in the shredding process.

Just to make it extra-easy (because you do so much prep-work on this diet), I serve this with roasted red potatoes, canned green beans, and store-bought, sugar-free applesauce.  I also take the remaining juices and bacon from the bottom of the crock pot and put them in a container in the fridge. Whenever I need cooking fat, I pull that out and savor the added flavor. YUM. Just note that if you use it, you won’t need nearly as much (if any) salt because it’s already very salty.

Ingredients list: 3-5 pound pork roast, 3 slices sugar-free bacon, 5 cloves of garlic, 2 T Pink Himalayan sea salt (I didn’t grind mine, but if yours is ground, you should probably use less.)

Prep time: 5 minutes before, 5 minutes after

Cook time: 12-16 hours


Roasted Red Potatoes

The Whole 30 is extremely restrictive, but it does allow for all varieties of potatoes. According to my sister (an expert in all these things), if your main goal is weight loss, you’ll want to skip all but the sweet potatoes. But if you’re feeling deprived without bread or pasta and want to splurge a little, this recipe is delicious. I came up with it one day when, on a whim, I decided to invite friends over for lunch after church to share my precious pork roast. I’d planned on making 2 roasted sweet potatoes, but that wasn’t enough for all of us. I came up with this on the fly and it was so quick (compared to baking for an hour) and easy, I made it for guests several time. There were rave reviews every time.

Get one of those small bags of baby red potatoes at the grocery store, spray them with some veggie cleaning spray, wash them, cut them in half (or don’t, to save time), and place them in a glass bowl with a lid. Add a few tablespoons of water to the bowl, put the lid on tightly, and microwave them for 8-10 minutes. You want them soft, but not so mushy they fall apart. That’s not the end of the world, but they’re harder to work with if they get too soft.

Drain the water and put the potatoes on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Drizzle them with extra-virgin olive oil, garlic powder (or minced garlic, if you have the time), onion powder, Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper. Broil for 5 minutes, stir, then broil another 5 minutes or so. Keep an eye on them so they don’t burn, but let them get a nice caramel crust on them. That’s it. You’re done! YUM.

Ingredients: small bag of baby red potatoes, water, garlic powder, onion powder, Italian seasoning, salt, pepper, extra-virgin olive oil

Prep time: 5 minutes

Cook time: about 20 minutes


Pepper, Onion, Tomato Awesomeness

I’m not sure what to call this mixture. Sauce? Side dish? So, we’ll go with Awesomeness, because that’s exactly what it is. With The Whole 30, you need to eat veggies at every meal and sometimes that gets challenging. This recipe works really well if you can do your prep work in advance. It’s a sweet, flavorful mix that brightens up any plate. It’s so good, I use it on just about everything – eggs, meat, and even by itself. It’s not a fast recipe, so it’s best if you make it when you have plenty of time. Then refrigerate it and warm it up when you’re ready to use it. It’s totally worth the time.

First of all, get one of those 3-packs of multi-colored sweet peppers (red, yellow, orange). Wash, seed, and slice them. In a skillet, melt some of your pork roast fat or other cooking fat, and add the peppers. I like to put a tight lid on them to speed things up. The point of this step is to soften up the fresh peppers.

*I’ve discovered a way to skip this step though. If you pre-slice all the peppers and onions and freeze them, the peppers will be very soft when they thaw out. Then you can put the peppers and onions in the skillet at the same time. I tend to do several batches of peppers at once, which saves time and tears (onions) later.

While the peppers are cooking, slice a yellow sweet onion and peel and mince some garlic. Cut a couple handfuls of cherry tomatoes in half (or use regular tomatoes, whatever you have on hand). When the peppers have softened, add the onions and garlic, stirring to incorporate everything well. Put the lid back on and sit down to read a book. Check on them every few minutes, stirring to be sure they don’t burn. When the onions become translucent, add the tomatoes, stirring everything up again. Add some salt, pepper, and a little basil if you want. (I like to add crushed red pepper too, but I’m the only one in this house who likes things spicy. Do as you wish with yours.)

Cover it back up and go back to your book. When the onions start to caramelize, you’re done. The tomatoes should’ve wilted down and everything should look like it’s soft and wonderful. Stir it up one more time, then put it in a glass dish with a lid.

Add this mix to everything until it’s gone (sigh) and you need to make another batch. If you have company, don’t put it all out on the table or they WILL They won’t even realize all the work that went into making that amazing dish. Keep some back or you’ll be staring wide-eyed and mournful while they eat every last bite.

Ingredients: cooking fat, 3 sweet peppers, 1 yellow onion, tomatoes, garlic, salt, pepper, and basil

Prep time: How fast can you wash, seed, peel, and slice peppers, onions, and garlic?

Cook time: about 15-20 minutes



FritattaIf you’re anything like me, you enjoy making breakfast but don’t always have time for a big production. This basic dish is an excellent solution. I started making it ahead, planning to eat the leftovers on busy mornings. I used to grab a bar or a couple hard boiled eggs on busy mornings, which always left me feeling a little cheated. With this dish, I have a breakfast I can look forward to, needing only a minute or so to reheat it. It tastes just as good the second day as it does the first, so enjoy!

First, figure out what kind of meat you want to use and prepare it in a cast iron skillet (or other oven-safe skillet) over medium heat with some cooking fat so it doesn’t stick. I’ve used ground beef, chicken sausage, bacon, and kielbasa. Use enough for 2 servings. Add in some of your Pepper, Onion, and Tomato Awesomeness and half a bag of raw spinach. Stir it all up. Cook it for a few minutes so it all gets warm and the spinach wilts.

While it’s cooking, turn your oven on Broil and whisk 6-8 eggs really well. The longer you whisk, the more air gets in there and gives you nice, fluffy eggs. You can add a little water to the mix too, if you want.

Go back to your meat and veggie mix. Make sure it’s all warm and evenly distributed. If you’re using a cast iron skillet, you may want to push everything to one side and spray it again with Pam, then do the same on the other side. If I don’t do that, my eggs really stick, but I don’t have a non-stick skillet that’s oven-safe over 350 degrees F. Fuss with your ingredients a bit here, making sure you don’t have a bunch of meat in one spot and a big hole somewhere else. Once everything is spread out nicely, pour the eggs over it. Now, let it sit for a few minutes until the sides begin to set. Not too long or it’ll burn on the bottom! 3-4 minutes is typically enough. If you want to be really fancy, you can add sliced tomatoes, diced avocados, or crumbled bacon to the top. It makes it look extra nice, but isn’t necessary.

Now, take the skillet and put it under the broiler. I like to put it on the top rack so it cooks quickly. 2 1/2 to 3 minutes later, your fritatta is golden on top and delicious!  Cut it in half, pour a cup of hot coffee, and find a comfortable spot to savor your delicious meal!

*Note, I like to do as much prep-work ahead of time as possible. During the kids’ naps, I’ll often brown the ground beef with some onion and garlic for a later recipe, or slice up the kielbasa, or cook the bacon til it’s almost done. The only thing I wouldn’t recommend doing ahead of time is whisking the eggs. That didn’t turn out so well for me. :-/

Ingredients: cooking fat; 6-8 eggs; Pepper, Onion, Tomato Awesomeness; Baby Spinach; Meat of your choice


Grill Day!

This isn’t a recipe, just a tip. It’s really helpful to do The Whole 30 during the summer when fresh fruits and vegetables are widely available and you can fire up the grill easily.

When you get the grill going, this is the time to do as much prep-work as you possibly can for the week to come. I like to cover every inch of my grill with something (twice)! I also like to use a charcoal grill for the taste, so I don’t want all that work setting up the grill to go to waste.

To prepare, put your meat on the counter for about an hour so it gets to room temperature. Pound the chicken so the thickness is even. Coat your steak and chicken well with sea salt and pepper. Spray the grill with Pam and get it as hot as you can (500-600 degrees, yay!). Gather your supplies: oven-mitts to protect your hands and wrists from the heat, plates, utensils, sauces, baskets, meat, veggies, and anything else you plan to grill.

Grill everything you can get your hands on and have a feast! Then, take all the leftover meat and store it in individual 4-5 ounce servings. Grilled chicken and steak can be sliced or diced. I use snack size zipper bags and freeze them. Use the leftovers in salads, your fritatta, or other recipes.

Note: Living in a rural, farming community, I don’t have easy access to awesome stores like Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods. I buy almost all my groceries at the local grocer. I’ve found my store to be very responsive to the smallest request, upping their supply of anything I happen to mention. Anything I can’t find there, I typically order from Amazon Prime because it comes so quickly. I did recently travel 90 minutes away so I can leisurely stroll around Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods. I filled my car with all kinds goodies I can’t find locally.

Lastly, if you’re interested in doing The Whole 30 yourself, I’m starting a Facebook group to offer support and encouragement. We’re starting on Monday, June 13th. Let me know if you’d like to join. And if you’d to get daily updates, follow me on Instagram. My handle is kimberly.wyse. 🙂

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Posted on Apr 18, 2016 in Health | 3 comments

Be Awesome: Update

Be Awesome: Update

Be Awesome

This year my resolution is to Be Awesome.

My fabulous sister-in-law gave me a little “Be Awesome” plaque that now sits in my kitchen. I love it. Putting it in the kitchen gave me an added boost in March (2016), reminding me as I spent hour after hour in there, of my promise to myself. In March, I completed a 30-day health reset (following the program The Whole30 by Dallas and Melissa Hartwig). It’s a pretty extreme diet to help reduce inflammation, sugar cravings, and set your body back on track. It’s very intense, but I studied the program, followed it nearly 100% (never intentionally going off-plan), and feel awesome about it.

I spent about two weeks studying the book to make sure I understood the program, preparing my mind for the changes I was about to make, and planning how I would eat and not eat. During the program, I spent a lot of time chopping vegetables, lining baking sheets with parchment paper, making meal plans, and shopping for approved foods.

The result has been great! I didn’t realize that a change in my eating could help eliminate anxiety, but it did. Some of the health issues I had have been seriously diminished or are completely gone. I lost a few pounds, and I learned a great new way to cook and feed my family. I discovered that my kids actually like healthy food better than most processed foods, and I stopped spending some much money at the grocery store. (Full disclosure, we purchased beef [grass-fed and local] and pork [free from sugar, MSG, and other junk] from other sources.)

During the time I was doing this extreme diet, we had three sets of out-of-town guests. We had two birthday parties (Charlie and Rick), a wedding in which Eliana was the flower girl, Easter, and all of our regular responsibilities. During all of these events, I was able to stay on the plan – no grains, no sugar or sweeteners, no milk products, no legumes, and no alcohol. What you eat is simple, whole food: meat, vegetables, and a little fruit. It’s designed to help you renegotiate your relationship with food, set up healthy eating habits, and allow your body to heal by removing any foods that might stir up allergies or inflammation. I set up a text message group and sent out regular texts to those who were interested, letting them know how I was doing with the diet, and inviting their responses.

I was surprised to find that the text message group became a source of fun and ministry for me. The things I shared triggered others to share personal things with me, and I was able to pray with several group members and offer encouragement beyond healthy eating. It was a great way to get my mind off myself and to reach out to others. I reconnected with a few people I’d lost touch with, and enjoyed the challenges they presented to me too.

I felt so awesome, in fact, that I decided to stick to the plan moving forward. I won’t be quite so strict, but I will make it a priority to feed myself and my family whole, healthy meals that allow our bodies to function well, rather than constantly fight off problems. If I do go off the plan, I will ask myself if it’s worth it. If it is, I’ll eat as little as possible to feel satisfied.

I did get discouraged because I’d hoped for big weight loss numbers. It wasn’t all about weight for me, but I was hopeful that it would be a side effect. I did lose weight, but it was about half of what I’d hoped to achieve. I’ve been reminding myself of how awesome I feel on it, trying hard not to let that derail me again. The longer I eat in a healthy way, the more my body has a chance to heal from the poor choices I made, and the better I can feel overall. The better I feel, the more I can do positive things like exercise, and the easier it will be to lose weight. (My goal is not to be a particular weight, but just to be healthy and fit, which for me requires some weight loss.)

In order to help keep myself on track, I’ve jumped into another program that sends reminders to my phone every day, letting me know one new thing I can do each week to be as healthy as possible. For Mother’s Day, I plan to ask for a fitness tracker. I know if I keep moving in the right direction, I can truly learn to prioritize health for myself and my family. (And not turn into a crazy mommy, obsessed with being skinny. Lord, help me find the balance!)

Beyond the physical health changes I’ve made, I’ve also made some decisions to care more for myself emotionally. (It’s amazing to me how I never seem to do enough of this, no matter how much of a priority I make it, and how selfish I feel in spite of all the knowledge I have about how important it is to take care of yourself so you can take care of others.) I’ve made a point to stop knocking on doors that haven’t yet opened. Moving to a rural, farming community has been a big change for this city girl, in spite of my childhood in the area. I thought I could change some of the basic things about myself to fit in better here, but it turns out that trying to do so only makes me unhappy and doesn’t work anyway. I’m enjoying life on the farm, and I even had Rick expand my garden for this summer! I’m looking forward to growing fresh vegetables and fruit, spending time outdoors tending my garden, and feeding my family from the harvest.

I also need some semblance of my old life, though. In the last four months, I’ve made some changes that might seem silly at first glance, but are important to me. In order to get me back into the city on a semi-regular basis, I’ve changed some of the people I work with so I have a good reason to get into the city. I’m not just out shopping, but I’m seeing the eye doctor, getting my hair done, and so forth. It helps me feel like I can breathe.

Part of being awesome this year has also included taking a week-long family vacation, with our nanny, to a cabin in Gatlinburg, TN. She watched our children at night, so Rick and I slept without interruption for eight nights straight. We haven’t done that in about four years, so just being well-rested was a hugely awesome thing! During that week, I stayed off social media and just spent time with my family. I read a book. The whole week was good for me, so good that I really wanted to stay another week. I’m usually ready to get home from vacation, but this time was different. It probably had a little to do with sleeping all night! From that well-rested place, I embarked on this health reset and found the end of a deep sadness that had come on me toward the end of 2015.

How are YOU doing on your new year’s resolutions? Is there anything YOU feel awesome about and would like to share? I’d love to hear about it!

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Posted on Apr 16, 2012 in Marriage | 2 comments

On Feeding My Husband

On Feeding My Husband

I’m not much of a baker.  I really like to cook – fresh, gourmet, fancy food with lots of veggies and spices.  My husband likes to eat – regular, plain, country cooking with lots of meat and no discernible spice.  He also loves baked goods.  Shoot.  What is a wife to do?  I either cook food that doesn’t excite him or I have to learn a new way of doing things.  So far, my philosophy has been to cook slightly healthier versions of things I think he’ll like about 75% of the time and introduce him to my idea of good food 25% of the time.  He’s very tolerant of whatever I make and eats it with a smile and thanks, and maybe a question of “Is this a little spicy?”, but I want to delight him the way he delights me.  For that reason, I decided it was time to to bake some cookies.  From scratch.

The last time I attempted to bake cookies from scratch was probably fifteen years ago.  I stopped because I got tired of hard, flat cookies.  Whatever the secret to making soft, delicious cookies didn’t get passed on to me!  On second thought, there’s one exception to that.  I love to bake peanut butter cookies with Hershey kiss centers.  Of course, my husband doesn’t like peanut butter cookies!  I really, really liked Monster Cookies as a child.  Our family friend, Peg, made them faithfully and it was always such a treat to get those huge mounds of oatmeal and M&Ms.  Monster Cookies have no flour in them, only oatmeal, and so I’ve decided they’re healthier than regular cookies.  So I choose them for my “first” attempt.  If you know anything about Monster Cookies, you know they call for a dozen eggs – a monstrous recipe!  Holy moly.  I cut the recipe down to 1/4 of the normal amount, so I’m using 3 eggs…

I assembled my ingredients, figured out which attachment I’m supposed to use on my Kitchen Aid Mixer, preheated the oven, and started mixing my ingredients.  With my new mixer, it was actually really easy.  I followed the recipe (with the minor adjustment of using 1/4 cup less sugar than it called for) and soon had cookie dough just waiting to be baked.  I scooped out the cookies and started baking, watching carefully to be sure I didn’t burn them.  I’m learning a new oven, new pans, and new timers.  It takes a little while to figure out if the oven needs more or less or the same amount of time as the recipe calls for.  THEN I found out the pans matter as well.  The stoneware pans I have require more cooking time and the non-stick ones require much less time, however things don’t burn easily on stoneware pans.

A little heavy on the candy...

One problem popped up as I got to the last few batches.  I added the M&Ms to the mixer and many of them were broken and had fallen to the bottom of the bowl.  Therefore, my first few batches had a lot fewer candies than the last batches.  I’ve baked them again since then and hand mixed in the candy at the end, which worked great.  I also used less candy than it called for and that was PLENTY.

So what was the decision of the judge (my husband)?  Thumbs up.  He liked the second batch even better because I added cinnamon to the recipe.  They were soft and chewy.  (I’m not sure he even realizes there’s peanut butter in them.)  YAY!

Hot coffee, fresh granola, and organic milk = YUMMY breakfast!

I also attempted homemade granola.  One of my new friends here makes it and her house smells so wonderful when it’s baking that it makes my mouth water.  Then my Aunt Karen served me her homemade granola when we visited my dad’s family in Iowa last month, and she gave me her recipe and talked me through it.  Again, I was amazed at how easy it was.  We got our groceries at the Amish grocery store where they sell a lot of things in bulk, making them much less expensive.  I modified the recipe to use about 1/4 less sugar than it called for because her recipe is really sweet.  In this case, I wish I hadn’t cut it quite so much, but I just add a little honey to it when I eat it and it’s perfect.  The best news about homemade granola is it’s a delicious way to load up on super-foods and totally whole, unrefined grains.

The decision of the judge?  Eh, he wouldn’t even try it.  He prefers Lucky Charms!  Oh well.  I love it and have found something other than eggs to eat for breakfast.

One thing I’ve found that we both like equally well is Deviled Egg Salad.  I use the same ingredients as making regular deviled eggs, but instead of mushing up the yolks and squeezing them back into the whole egg whites, I just chop up the whole eggs and mix them with the other ingredients.  Then I line two slices of bread with lettuce (to keep the bread from getting soggy) and stuff the middle with the egg salad.  YUM.  And it’s so easy.  If you make too much, you can top a lettuce salad with the leftovers and you don’t have to worry about salad dressing that way.

Before you go thinking I’m a fabulous cook though, I should warn you that it doesn’t always go as planned.  A few weeks ago we had some friends over for dinner and decided to try out a new recipe I’d seen on Rachel Ray.  It looked so delicious, I just couldn’t help myself.  I followed the recipe exactly and the outcome was a flop.  The flavors just weren’t that good together and I completely ruined a perfectly good salad by trying to make homemade dressing as she recommends.  I used half the lemon juice and still had so much lemon juice that I grimaced every time I ate a bite of lettuce!  My guests were kind enough to eat it and report that it was “edible”, but I was disappointed.  I do plan to try that recipe again, with different spices that I think will taste a lot better, but I won’t try it on friends until I’ve figured out exactly what it needs!

Here are the recipes mentioned above.

Monster Cookies (with my modifications)
*Some ingredients were hard to break into 4ths, so I’ve used the designation < or > to indicate slightly less or more than.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

3 eggs
1 c. brown sugar
3/4 c. sugar
1/4 t. cinnamon
<1 t. vanilla
2 t. baking soda
1 t. maple syrup
1 stick butter, softened
1 1/2 c. peanut butter
4 1/2 c. old-fashioned rolled oats
1/8 lb. milk chocolate chips
1/4 lb. m&m candies

Mix all ingredients together in the order given.  If using a mixer, hand mix in the candies for even distribution.  Using a small scoop, drop on cookie sheet and flatten.  Cookies do not spread much during cooking.  I use stoneware pans, so they do not need greasing.  Bake for 12 minutes on dark, non-stick pans or 15 minutes on stoneware pans.


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large roasting pan, mix the following:
1/2 c. melted butter
1/2 c. extra-virgin olive oil
2 T. sorghum molasses
1 T. vanilla
1/2 c. brown sugar
<1 c. honey
1/2 t. sea salt
1/2 t. cinnamon

When mixed, add:
2 lb. old-fashioned rolled oats
1/4 c. sesame seeds
1 c. chopped almonds
2 c. grape nuts
1 c. wheat germ
1 c. sunflower seeds

Bake for 20-25 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes.  After it cools, add dried fruit if desired.  Stir while cooling to keep it from clumping.

Deviled Egg Salad

hard-boiled eggs, peeled and chopped
mayo – a lot
mustard – just a little
sea salt
pinch of sugar

I just add the ingredients until I get the consistency and flavor I like.  The tarragon gives it a mild, smooth flavor.  The pinch of sugar seems to bring out the flavors more.  I’ve never measured it out.  It just depends on how many eggs you use and how creamy you like it.

If you decide to try any of these recipes, I’d love to hear how they turn out and any modifications you make to make them even better!  🙂 

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