Chicken apple blueberry salad & eating clean

Chicken apple blueberry salad

Over the last year or so since discovering Whole30, I’ve rediscovered my love of salads. Whole30 has been good to me, and eating this way became second nature about 70% of the time. When sticking to this eating regime, which is mainly protein, veggies, fruit, healthy fats and cutting out sugar, dairy, gluten and processed foods, I feel great and have tons of energy….and no brain fog. I think I’ve mentioned I feel 10 years younger! Seriously!

Over the last year, we’ve been blessed with the opportunity to take several family trips, and when traveling we pack a cooler and bring food with us. I’ve found that not only do I feel better when traveling to have my own satisfying food, but it also cuts out a lot of bad choices we tend to make when we don’t have the options we crave. I guess part of the reason I travel with my own food is to have control….control over what I eat and when I eat. I must say it keeps you speeding along when your food is already cooked and right there with you.

Now this is not to say I don’t have my fair share of splurges, but because I’m able to eat a good percentage of my food from my own stash, I’m not wasting added calories on foods I don’t really care for. For example, on our recent trip to New York, I had indulged daily on NY bagels, and had NY pizza on 3 occasions that week. It was so worth it! And we were also doing a lot of walking everyday, so that helped offset caloric overload. ūüėČ It also helps with the budget.

I have to admit it’s been hard getting fully back on track since returning home. We’ve found a Brooklyn Water Bagel place, and their bagels are fairly close. So I’ve had bouts of running great with my clean eating, and then have a week we’re all eating bagels. Man, I finally know what New Yorkers mean when they talk about their pizza and bagels! They aren’t necessarily evil, but eating white flour makes me more prone to sugar cravings. It’s hard for me to be moderate with sugar….I tend to be all or nothing. So in coming off a rough 5 days or so of sugar intake (which happened while sick which makes it more of a double whammy on my system because I wasn’t exercising…..which counters some of the irritable effects of sugar), I am now craving these salads again, and higher protein and veggies.

I had fun last week getting into some fall cooking and baking. I made butternut squash apple/pear soup, gluten-free pumpkin muffins, chocolate chip cookies and cherry cheesecake bars which are still in my fridge. Oh and let’s not forget a fellow blogger’s apple fritter¬†cake that I just had to try!¬†The soup is amazing, and helped offset the sugar beast. But the chocolate chip cookies were a bad idea, and because I didn’t make them gluten-free, they sat like a lump in my stomach Friday night (and maybe Saturday too). My cold is finally subsiding….I’m feeling better today, and got back to my strength training routine this morning. I also made a pitcher of green smoothies. It makes 3 pints, and I drink 1 a day. It really helps with the sugar cravings.

This salad is fairly straight forward, and I usually bake¬†my chicken breast with a homemade greek marinade. It’s easy to throw together when I keep the chicken already cooked and in the fridge. Another favorite of mine lately is chicken waldorf type salad which has been another staple of mine this year that I need to share. Hopefully you’ll be seeing a lot of recipe posts coming up along with our travel adventures I can’t wait to share. Stay tuned!

Chicken apple blueberry salad
Recipe type: Salad
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 1
  • Cooked chicken breast
  • Granny smith apple, diced
  • Vidalia onion, minced
  • Fresh blueberries, handful
  • Golden raisins
  • Pecans, chopped
  • Romaine lettuce
  • Dressing of choice
  1. Wash and chop romaine lettuce.
  2. Add salad toppings.
  3. Can use pre-cooked rotisserie chicken, but I used organic chicken breast marinated in a homemade greek marinade.


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Fall….my favorite season & life lately

Fall pumpkinsFall is descending on us once again. Living in South Florida though means we won’t get a real taste of fall weather-wise for probably at least another 2-3 weeks at the earliest. It’s okay, I’m used to it and the good news is that we already had lower humidity this past weekend. It’s coming…it’s coming, and that’s good enough! In the meantime, I’ll enjoy this view……..

Palm trees

At this time, everything is apple this and pumpkin that, and like everyone else in South Florida I’m fighting the urge to bake and pull out my boots and scarves. :) I made a pot of gumbo at the beginning of September, and the following week I made Zuppa Toscana. I also made a batch of gluten-free pumpkin muffins and two batches of gluten-free lemon cranberry biscotti around the same time. Since then I’ve been holding back rather well, instead concentrating on clean eating and shedding a couple pounds before the inevitable holiday blitz. Because once I get into holiday baking mode, there will be no holding me back.

Gluten-free pumpkin muffinsLemon cranberry biscotti
I do think I’m going to make more muffins this week…not sure which kind. I’ve also been fighting the urge to make gluten-free chocolate chip cookies. While I’m off sugar, I eat a bowl of frozen cherries at night usually with a drizzle of coconut cream and a sprinkle of sea salt. It’s almost close enough to fool me into thinking I’m having ice cream. Okay without the creamy part, but nevertheless it fulfills the requirement of cold, sweet and maybe a tad creamy. You should definitely try it. It’s as simple as I make it sound, but maybe I’ll share it in a recipe post soon.

I’ve been schooling my girls (11th, 7th and 2nd), helping hubby out at the office, and trying to keep up with the whirlwind of social activities of two teen girls. Our oldest daughter got her first job back in August at our local library, and it’s really the perfect job for her…for us. She has great hours, great pay and a great schedule that she can really create for herself (20 hours a week). Carting her to and from work is also part of my day these days.

First day of work

Started up a Five in a Row co-op for my 2nd grader which has exceeded all our expectations and been a longtime dream of mine, and she’s also attending play practice for the annual Christmas play.

Leah's first day 2nd grade

Madeline lapbook

I also researched and ordered new curriculum for her 2nd grade year which she’s very excited about!

2nd grade curriculum

As for me…..we all started back to BSF (Bible Study Fellowship), and this year my hubby is attending with the men. We are studying the book of Revelation this year. SO interesting!


I’ve been weight training at my mom’s fitness studio since last April (finally seeing some pay off!), and just started back to running last week. I’m excited that the heat will soon dissipate, and there will be a coolness in the air when I run.


Surprisingly, I’ve been able to read for fun this summer, and this week alone I just finished 2 books that I started a couple months ago. Finally feel like I’ve done some summer reading.


And also getting out kayaking….one of my very favorite ways to spend my time. Although unfortunately this picture was taken the first week of September before Labor Day. I need to get back out there! On the bright side, I’ve stashed some birthday money and am on the hunt for my very own kayak!


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Fresh pressed beet juice & update

Beet juice
I’m so thrilled to be back in my favorite writing space, and can’t believe the year has escaped me. All my valiant plans for jumping right back into the blogging arena once again were waylaid by real life! It’s been such an amazing year so far though, and my family has had many opportunities for travel. During spring break we were able to take and show our girls my birthplace and home for the first 7 years of my life….Washington D.C. and the Northern Virginia area. We stayed with my husband’s cousin Sheila in Maryland right on the metro line, and were able to metro into the city daily and show the girls all the sites.¬†We also visited family including my 93 year old still independent grandmother on my dad’s side. And I would be remiss if I didn’t mention our Florida born and raised girls played and sledded in snow for the very first time.

We also just came back from a trip to New York City! It was the trip of a lifetime, and I was so excited to share my love of NYC with my husband and girls. Ever since getting a taste of how special it really is on my first trip there in 2012, I’ve been dreaming of traveling there with my family. This time instead of only having a weekend (which was really just a tease), we had an entire week! Wow….pinch me, I’m still in shock!¬†And in between those 2 trips we also journeyed up to North Carolina for our annual 4th of July family reunion (which we missed last year). So¬†many travel posts and pictures to share with you all.

In other news, we’ve had major house renovations due to our hot water heater flooding and ruining my hardwood floors (which has led to many other projects as you can imagine), celebrated my oldest daughter’s sweet 16 with a huge birthday bash in March, sent our two oldest daughters away on mission trips in June¬†(our middle daughter’s first), welcomed my mom into my neighborhood (she bought a house a half mile away), and I ran my first 10k race. Countless kayak adventures, beach time,¬†and oh yeah….my husband completed a 60 day “juice only” juicefast this spring. Kind of a big deal! So many thoughts and experiences to share here, but for now I’ll start with a simple recipe.

Today I’m sharing one of my favorite fresh-pressed vegetable juices….BEET JUICE! Who me? I never really thought I liked beets, let alone the juice of a beet. Even when we started our juicing journey¬†back in 2013, as much as I wanted to try beet juice….I just couldn’t bring myself to do it.¬†I have friends who love beets, and to me I just couldn’t get past that earthy flavor. Turns out there’s a trick. Wash and peel your beet, and it worked! This juice is amazingly refreshing, and so good for you.

If you think you don’t like beets, I’m going to try to persuade you to give this juice a try. I was scared at first too…yes literally. Beets can be very intimidating. I had heard they stain your hands, but that really didn’t last long. I don’t know why I was so worried about the earthy taste, but the peeling and washing trick really worked. I have to give credit to my friend and cousin-in-law Sheila for helping inspire me to give juice beets a try. We experimented together and this recipe is what we came up with.

Do you like beets? Have you ever juiced them? Let me know what you think if you try this recipe.

Fresh pressed beet juice
Recipe type: Beverage
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 1
This refreshing beet juice is tart and sweet and definitely healthy.
  • 1 beet, peeled and scrubbed
  • 1 granny smith apple
  • 1 lemon, peeled
  1. Using your juicer (we own the Breville juice fountain multi-speed juicer):
  2. Place 1 beet, 1 granny smith apple and 1 peeled lemon into juicer and juice.
  3. Stir juice and pour. I like mine over ice.
  4. Can be refrigerated for approximately 24 hours. Can also be frozen.
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Whole30, the holidays & a brand new year!


Happy New Year! I’m a bit late, but it’s still the new year and I’ve haven’t stopped by in awhile, and I miss you guys!So much going on (of course) with Thanksgiving and a trip to Asheville and to see family, and the whole Christmas season is always a whirlwind, but seemed to go especially fast this year. Right? I hope your new year is starting to come together nicely. It’s seriously nice to get back into a routine, don’t you think?

I’ve been just bursting to share my Whole30 experience with you guys. I started in mid-September as a birthday present to myself, and felt so amazing that I went straight into a second Whole30. Somewhere after that I stopped counting, and kept to all my Whole30 meals for Thanksgiving. The day after I decided to indulge in a few gluten, dairy or sugar items because I’d reached my goal and decided I could maintain control. One of my splurges was Mellow Mushroom pizza….it was my first time there, and we had a nice lunch out with my brother’s family. I have to say….totally worth it! Happy to say I was able to maintain control, and came back after Thanksgiving and didn’t jump right into eating everything I wanted just because it was the holiday season. Yay me!

Throughout December I definitely planned for certain items that weren’t Whole30, but most of my meals day in/day out were Whole30 compliant. I just feel so much better when I eat this way! Some of my traditional holiday treats I made gluten-free, but others just wouldn’t be the same with the tinkering. I realized my beloved egg nog was now too sweet for me. Then again on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, I splurged a bit, and off and on that weekend, but only during that week did I start to feel the effects of eating too much sugar and gluten. Christmas Day and the few days that followed I felt more tired and generally sluggish, which motivated me to get back to Whole30 again.

Now since New Years Day, I’ve been following a Paleo/Whole30 hybrid about 80-90% of the time. Thankfully I feel great! It’s amazing how well our bodies feel when we eat clean, and how we quickly feel bad when not eating the right foods. I would definitely say that Whole30 at least one time through is enough to break bad eating habits. By the second week, it became second nature for me and the energy I started to feel made me want to continue eating this way for the rest of my life.

If you haven’t tried Whole30 (which is very similar to paleo and the Daniel Plan), I encourage you to commit to just 30 days. Any sacrifice you might feel you’re making by giving up certain foods, is totally made up in by how good you feel! I want to hear from you…..have you tried Whole30? Are gluten-free or follow a paleo lifestyle?

I can’t wait to share with you guys more details like my weight loss, Whole30 meals and recipes and tips to make it easier on you. In the meantime, be sure to check out and follow my Whole30 board on Pinterest which is full of great Whole30 recipes. Let me know if you want to pin to it, and I’ll add you. I’m really excited about Whole30, clean eating, healthy living and being the best you that you can be in this new year, and I’d like to create a community where we can support each other in this lifestyle!

I’m making it a goal of mine to just share from my heart and life whatever I want when I want without constantly second guessing myself what to post, or wondering if I have the perfect picture to use or if I’ve gotten it “Pinterest Perfect” by adding text on it. I love my blog, and I want to get back to the creativity and spontaneity of it from years ago when I first started. Everyone seems to be blogging now, and blogging has changed a lot….so I’m just going to get back to my blog roots and roll with what feels natural to me. Hope you’ll join me!

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Taco salad & childhood friends

Taco Salad
Friends add such a layer of joy to life! Not only is it fun to have girlfriend time with our friends, but it’s also fun to have shared mom time. You know….times where you hang out with your kids for play dates, or outings together. If you’re lucky, once in a blue moon the stars align and your hubbies both work late on the same night….and you serve your kids dinner together. And maybe eat cookie dough out of a bowl for your dinner. ūüėČ And if you’re really blessed, at times you even share vacations together.

I’m blessed to have several childhood friends still in my life. And one of my very best childhood friends, Donna, I’ve known since we were 11 and I moved into the house next door to hers. It was the summer of 1980, and we were both about to start 6th grade. Back in our day, 6th grade was the highest you could go up in elementary school…and junior high was 7th and 8th grade. Nowadays, we have middle schools that are from 6-8th grade, at least around here. My middle daughter is in 6th grade, and the age I was when I met my good friend Donna.

Donna’s family was like my second family growing up. Her house was my second home. Most days after school you could find me and Donna hanging out at her house, making afternoon snacks (sometimes even full on breakfast for snack…bacon and eggs!) and watching General Hospital together. Had to have our Rick Springfield fix! Over the years as we’ve grown up, we haven’t grown apart. I was in her wedding, she threw me my first baby shower. I have 3 girls, she has 2 girls. We both even had¬†premature infants….for both of us it was our first daughters…both born early at¬†33 weeks, small and by emergency c-section. And our girls have even become friends. So neat to see our girls play together over the years.

And even though we live miles away (me in Florida, her in North Carolina), we still always pick up right where we left off. Donna still lives on our old street, next door to her parents…and when I come home, her mom runs our to greet me, tears streaming and hugs my babies as if they are her own grand babies. Most say you can never “go home” again, but in my case….it feels like I can, and I do! We’ve gone up to visit almost every summer these past 5 years, and when I peek out of Donna’s windows I can see my bedroom window from my childhood home. Donna is like a sister to me, and we’ve also been blessed to vacation together. We’ve spent time at her beach house, and a couple magical vacations at our happy place….DISNEY!!

And it was one of these Disney vacations where this taco salad happened. We were staying with Donna’s family in their town home, and one night it was taco night. We prepared all the fixin’s for tacos, and Donna shared with me one of her many secrets for easy meal time. Instead of putting tacos together, you crumble up tortilla chips or chop lettuce for your base, and then layer up your very own taco salad. Easy, simple and definitely fast. And I didn’t miss the taco one bit!

Donna is an amazing cook, and whips up meals for her family all the time in the blink of an eye almost effortlessly. She and her home (and family) are the very definition of southern hospitality. When you stay with Donna, you not only feel like family….but somehow she makes it seem like you are no trouble at all. Like you….and your 3 kids and hubby…..have always been¬†there, and aren’t¬†in the way one bit. Every time I stay with Donna, I pick up new tricks to help make things run smoother at my house. One time we were going on a picnic after checking out the NC Transportation center, and Donna packed a picnic in record time. Lunchmeat and condiments into the cooler. Loaf of bread, plates, snacks etc. in a bag. And novel idea….we made the sandwiches at the picnic!! Why had I never thought of that?

So though this is more of a food idea than a recipe, I would be remiss not to share it. The taco salad has become a regular in my meal rotation, and I’m sure it will in yours too. Easy variations can be made….grain-free? Just use lettuce as your base. Dairy-free? Just leave out cheese and sour cream. Vegetarian? Just leave out the meat. I happen to like my taco salad with ground beef that I make with my own taco seasoning. Making your own taco seasoning is definitely less expensive, but the main reason I make my own is to control the ingredients. No MSG, no sugar, no ingredients I can’t pronounce.

Taco salad & childhood friends
Recipe type: Mexican
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6
  • Tortilla chips
  • Ground beef
  • Taco seasoning (preferable homemade)
  • Lettuce, chopped
  • Cheese, shredded
  • Olives, sliced
  • Tomatoes, diced
  • Onion, minced
  • Salsa
  • Sour cream, optional
  • Hot sauce, optional
  • black beans, optional
  1. Not really an exact recipe. Make ingredients as you would for taco, except taco shells
  2. Brown ground beef and add taco seasoning (homemade is better for you and less expensive)
  3. Prepare all other ingredients and set aside
  4. Everyone assembles their own taco salads
  5. For grain-free, leave out the tortilla chips
  6. For dairy-free, leave out the cheese and sour cream
  7. For vegetarian, leave out the beef


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