Saturday, March 15, 2014

Whole 30 Challenge (Week 2)

I can't believe that I am already half way done with the Whole 30 Challenge!

The second week was definitely much easier than the first. This week I haven't had any cravings for the unhealthy, processed foods I used to consume and I have much more energy and don't feel like I need to take cat naps anymore. Also, several people have told me that I am looking much leaner this week! A few people at my CrossFit box have asked me about the challenge and I really hope that I inspire them to try it out as well. It's hard but it's definitely worth it.

Previous Posts
Whole 30 Challenge Into
Whole 30 Challenge Week 1

Meals Day 10-14 

Days 8 & 9 are listed on Week 1's blog post

Day 10
breakfast: orange; banana
lunch: crockpot chicken with veggies
dinner: baked chicken; roasted asparagus

Day 11
breakfast: banana
lunch: turkey burger topped with guacamole, salsa, and 1 diced hard boiled egg
dinner: Panera Chicken Cobb with Avocado Salad without dressing and cheese

(I forgot to tell them no cheese so I had to pick around it. Jon happily enjoyed eating an extra baguette since I can't eat bread)

Jon and I went to Columbus this day. Traveling while on the Whole 30 is definitely tricky but if you plan where you are going to eat before hand and look at the menu before you go you can be successful!

I only had one fail this day - at Panera I also ordered a green tea, thinking it would be unsweetened. The first sip was absolutely disgusting and tasted like pure sugar. I dumped my cup and ended up getting unsweetened iced tea instead.

Day 12
breakfast: banana; avocado
post-workout: protein shake
lunch: chicken topped with hot sauce; sweet potato fries; brussel sprouts
dinner: chicken veggie soup; cucumbers

Day 13 - This was the day of the CrossFit Open 14.3 Workout
breakfast: 1 hard boiled egg; banana
post-workout: protein shake
lunch: 2 turkey burgers topped with salsa; green olives; carrots; cucumbers; sweet peppers
dinner: garlic lemon chicken; roasted asparagus; mashed cauliflower
dessert: lemon LARABAR

Day 14
breakfast: 1 hard boiled egg, banana
post-workout: protein shake
lunch: scrambled eggs with mushrooms, tomatoes & guac; 3 strips of paleo bacon
dinner: chicken & veggie soup; salad with mushrooms, tomatoes, and paleo avocado ranch dressing
dessert: apple pie LARABAR


I absolutely love that some flavors of LARABARs are paleo-friendly! (Be sure to check the ingredients to make sure as some contain peanuts) These are the perfect fix for a sweet tooth, sugar craving, or if you just want to top the day off with a tasty dessert.

The Best & The Worst

The Worst Parts
Saying "NO" - The worst part of the challenge so far is definitely saying "no" to my friends when they ask if I want to go out with them. Today is St. Patrick's day, many people have returned from spring break, and I am just relaxing with the pups! Don't get me wrong, I really need to relax my body today after some tough workouts earlier this week and prepare for the second round of 14.3 tomorrow!

The Best Parts
No cravings - I have not craved anything all week. I can't believe it. I have also noticed a huge change in my taste buds. The green tea tasted like liquid sugar and I immediately spit it out it was so gross. The sugary, creamy, flavored coffee I used to drink has changed to straight black coffee, and I enjoy it.

It all feels natural - When I first began the challenge I always thought that I was eating healthy because I had to. Now I want to eat a bowl of fresh fruit or snack on veggies just like I used to want to snack on a bowl of pretzels. Now I don't have to think about eating this way, it just happens.

Now go check out Carling's post of the challenge and see how she's doing!

Question of the Day

Have you ever tried the Whole 30 Challenge? How did you feel while on the challenge?

Avocado Ranch Dip & Dressing Recipe

Avocado Ranch Dip & Dressing

This recipe is absolutely delicious and paleo-friendly. It's the perfect dip for veggies and sweet potato fries and is amazing on salads. The following recipe makes the dip version so if you want to make it more of a salad dressing consistency add an extra 1/4 cup of water.


1 egg yolk
1/4 cup olive oil
1 avocado
1/2 c. water
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. dried parsley
1 tsp. dried dill
1/2 tsp. onion powder
1 1/4 tsp. apple cider vinegar
2 tsp. lemon or lime juice
salt & pepper to taste


1. In a blender, beat the egg yolk and olive oil on low speed.
2. Add in all other ingredients and mix until well blended.
3. Enjoy! Keep any leftovers in the fridge for your future dipping pleasure.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Whole 30 Challenge (Week 1)

I have officially been on the Whole 30 Challenge for over a week - 9 days to be exact!

Carling and I began this challenge "just because" and I'm so thankful for the experience so far. It's been such an eye opener reading nutrition labels (focusing on the ingredients), learning more about where food comes from, how to prepare it, and how it can properly fuel your body.

Meals Day 1 - 9 

Day 1 - rest day (I slept in late so breakfast and lunch were combined)
brunch: buffalo chicken lettuce boats topped with avocado; cherry tomatoes
dinner: steak; broccoli; sweet potato

Day 2 - rest day (slept in again, it was the weekend!)
brunch: 2 hard boiled eggs
dinner: steak; asparagus

Day 3
breakfast: 2 hard boiled eggs
post workout: protein shake; handful of strawberries
lunch: sweet potato nachos (sweet potato chips topped with ground beef, guac & salsa); olives
dinner: chicken & veggie crockpot soup

During my workout this day I was really light headed and decided I needed to add more carbs to my breakfast.

Day 4
breakfast: banana
post workout: protein shake - click to see what protein I'm using during the challenge
lunch: turkey burger topped with guac; salad topped with tomatoes, mushrooms & olive oil
dinner: sweet potato topped with chicken & veggie crockpot soup

Day 5
breakfast: 1 hard boiled egg, banana
post workout: protein shake, 1/2 avocado
lunch: ground beef flavored with taco seasonings, guac & tomatoes; strawberries on the side
dinner: same as lunch but hot sauce was added; cauliflower, carrots, & cucumbers on the side

I found that day 4 or 5's breakfasts are key for feeling good and having enough energy throughout my entire workout.

Day 6 - Day of the CrossFit Open 14.2 Workout

breakfast: banana
late lunch: turkey burger topped with guac & tomato; sweet potato fries; sautéed mushrooms & peppers; berries
post workout: protein shake
dinner: chicken fajitas topped with guac & salsa

Day 7 - rest day
breakfast: banana
lunch: ground beef mixed with avocado, tomato and baby spinach
dinner: turkey burger topped with guac & tomato; spicy sweet potato fries; caulirice with mushrooms

This is when I started craving pretty much anything sugary, fatty, or greasy

Day 8
breakfast: banana
post workout: protein shake
lunch: ground beef stir fry (asparagus, onion, tomato, mushrooms, carrots); berries; avocado
dinner: kofta (a middle eastern meatball); tabouleh; chicken; olives & pickles; strawberries

This day was when the real challenge set in. I went to my cousin's birthday party and had to turn away some of my favorite foods. Shopping and cooking for myself at home allows me to control what kinds of food are available so it was a challenge having to pass up some of the delicious dips and desserts at the party.

Day 9
breakfast: banana
lunch: salad loaded with veggies topped with olive oil & vinegar; cafe americano coffee
snack: 1 square Ghirardelli 100% dark cocoa (disgusting!); spoonful of cashew butter
dinner: crockpot chicken & veggies; green beans

This was my first day ordering something from a coffee shop. I told the cashier about the Paleo diet and that I couldn't have anything with dairy or sugar in it. She was really cooperative, wasn't annoyed by my requests, and gave me a few different suggestions.

Today we also hit up some of the local health food stores. I was so shocked by the size of the organic sweet potatoes! They were huge! I bought 3 and they each weighed almost 2 pounds.

The Best & the Worst

The Worst Parts:
Cravings - At my cousin's party I really wanted to give in and have one bite of cake but I knew I would feel guilty afterwards and the satisfaction of finishing this challenge without cheating is going to feel so much more rewarding. But doesn't this cake look so good?

Explaining myself - (This can also be considered one of the best parts when people are actually interested and want to learn more about the challenge) While I love talking about healthy living, eating, and this challenge, I absolutely hate having to explain why I"m doing it. Some people think that the only reason you should change your eating habits are to either lose weight or because of allergies and don't understand why anyone would want to eat this way. It's hard convincing people this is a good change when they don't believe in giving up things like pasta and sweets.

Reading labels in the grocery store - Shopping takes so much longer when you actually stop and look at the ingredients in different products. However, it's easier when sugar is the first ingredient listed and you can just set the product back down on the shelf! Soon I will be able to just know what is paleo and what isn't and won't have to study the ingredients so much. (I was so shocked when I saw that the precooked frozen chicken I have been buying for awhile has sugar in it!)

The Best Parts:
All of the support I have - between Carling, Jon, family, and friends I have a ton of support. I am so grateful that the people I nanny for eat a paleo diet and always make sure that there are several meal options available for me.

How I feel - I ate healthy most of the time before the challenge but I definitely would have my days where I would scarf anything down without thinking. I can tell a difference in my sleep, my energy levels, and my performance during CrossFit.

Cooking - I have found a new love for cooking and creating new recipes. I purchased two paleo cookbooks today and am loving all of the recipes in them. The ones I have are Paleo Happy Hour and Make It Paleo.

On A Different Note

I have to share this picture of Ethel with you all. I was laying on the ground playing with her and as soon as I whipped out my phone to snap a picture of her, she turned her head. She absolutely hates the camera! She's such a precious girl though :)

Question of the Day

What's your favorite paleo meal?

Be sure to follow me on Instagram to stay up to date with all of my eats!

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Delicious Dips (Pretzel Crisps® Review)

A few weeks ago Pretzel Crisps® sent me a huge package stuffed with 9 different flavors including: Original, Sesame, Garlic Parmesan  Buffalo Wing, Everything, Chipotle Cheddar, Jalapeño Jack, Honey Mustard & Onion, and Sea Salt & Black Pepper.  

I have been a fan of Pretzel Crisps® for a long time but until recently had only ever tried a handful of flavors as some are not available in stores near me. I can now say that every single flavor is delicious, making it very hard for me to choose my favorite.

I can also say that I have found a way to make them even better with a few delicious recipes I have whipped up.

Tuna Avocado Dip

This may sound and look weird but it was actually quite tasty. I came up with this recipe because I needed a quick way to pack in healthy fats and lots of protein.

1 5oz can tuna
1 Wholly Guacamole individual serving cup

1. Drain tuna
2. Mix in guacamole
3. Spread on your favorite Pretzel Crisps® flavor. I tried it on Original, Sea Salt & Cracked Pepper, and the Everything flavors.

Avocado Hummus Dip

Carling shared this recipe with me and it is absolutely delicious. I added lemon juice and salt and pepper for an extra kick.

3 tbsp olive oil
2 garlic cloves
1 15.5 oz can Garbanzo Beans or Chickpeas
1 avocado
1-2 tbsp lemon juice
Salt & pepper to taste

1. In a food processor pulse the olive oil, garlic cloves, and beans until mixed well.
2. Peel and pit the avocado. Add to the food processor and pulse with the bean mixture until mixed well.
3. Pour in lemon juice and add salt & pepper.
4. Once the ingredients form a hummus-like consistency, you are ready to spread it on your favorite Pretzel Crisps® flavor. I tried it on Sea Salt & Cracked Pepper, Garlic Parmesan, Original, and Sesame.

Chocolate Dipped Crisps

I made these for Valentine's Day treats but you can dress them up for any holiday or occasion

1 bag of Original Pretzel Crisps®
1 11oz bag of Milk Chocolate Chips

1. Melt chocolate chips using your preferred method - either on the stove or in the microwave. (I did it in the microwave in 30 second increments and stirred between each one)
2. Cover a cookie sheet with parchment paper
3. Dip half of the Pretzel Crisp® in the chocolate and set on the cookie sheet.
4. Sprinkle the dipped crisps. You can do 4-5 at a time and then add sprinkles. Just make sure to do it before the chocolate sets up.

Cheese & Tomato Appetizer Bites

These Pretzel Crisps® bites are super simple, delicious, and dressed to impress. 

Sea Salt & Cracked Pepper Pretzel Crisps®
Laughing Cow Swiss Cheese
Cherry tomatoes, halved

1. Cut cheese into small slivers and top on your crisps.
2. Top with tomato halves
3. Enjoy!

Disclaimer: I was sent this product free of charge however all opinions are my own.

Question of the Day

What's your favorite Pretzel Crisp® flavor? Do you have any favorite dips?

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Whole 30 Challenge

I can't believe it's already March, can you? 

My good friend Carling and I have been looking into healthy eating a little bit more and I recently started nannying for a family that eats Paleo a majority of the time. I was telling her about it, we began researching, and we came across the Whole 30 Challenge.

Basically the Whole 30 Challenge is 30 days of eating super clean - how we are supposed to eat. 

The challenge is strictly meats, vegetables, some fruit, nuts and seeds. No sugars, grains, dairy, processed foods, or beans. We have found that some people who eat Paleo tend to paleo-fy their desserts and we both decided against that. If we think that after 30 days the Paleo lifestyle is for us, then maybe we will use some of the dessert recipes to satisfy our sweet tooth. Until then, we are strictly, 100% Paleo, even if our bread-loving, dessert-eating, boyfriends are not. 

Once a week we are both going to blog about some of our eats from the previous week. You can also follow us on Instagram if you want to see our food on a daily basis. 

My Instagram handle: danielle_abou
Carling's Instagram handle: carlingbarrett

Here's a look at yesterday's eats!

If you have any advice about how to cure our sweet tooth while on the challenge, want to share any delicious Paleo recipes, or have done the challenge before, please comment below and share with us!

You can also read Carling's post about the challenge here.

Question of the Day

Have you ever done the Whole 30 Challenge? What did you think? 


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