What I Gather About Whole 30

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If you had asked me a year ago if I would ever drastically change my eating habits, I would have laughed.  I probably would have laughed the way I do now when people ask me if I plan to start exercising.

I love food.  I savor every bite of quality food.  Restaurants are my happy place, especially if we are talking Indian restaurants, authentic Italian, or hole-in-the-wall heavens.  If you ever find me sitting at Mediterrano Cafe during a weekday lunch buffet, you will find a glowing Rachael.  Don’t even get me started on desserts and chocolate.

But when my husband came home with news of pre-diabetes and a warning to lose belly weight, I knew something had to change.  Just because I was never overweight did not mean I didn’t have a problem with food…. more specifically, an addiction to sugar.

So we began Our Wheat-Free, Almost Paleo Diet.  Our friends joined in with us and the results were immediately noticeable.  As we progressed in the changes in our eating habits, I began researching The Whole 30 program.  It looked like something that would be beneficial to our families, especially right before the holidays, so we jumped on board and are now on day 24.

I don’t like to focus on weight, but to give you an idea of the transformation, I will tell you that I have lost 25 pounds since July (13 since we started Whole 30), Jimmie has lost about 30 pounds, and even Ava has lost 10.  I find myself with a substantial increase of energy that typically lasts throughout my entire day.  I have noticed a difference in mental clarity… I don’t feel like I am ever walking around in a fog anymore.  I also think I have fought off illnesses in a shorter time frame than typical of this time of year.  Jimmie is also completely off of his medicine for diabetes.  The crazy thing?  I don';t miss the foods I used to eat.  Occasionally I will have an emotional desire to eat ice cream or pizza, but physically I am satisfied with the foods we are eating.  And the recipes are GOOD!

I never want to push a lifestyle onto anyone.  If you want more information about the Whole 30, see the link above.  I am frequently asked, however, about why we are doing it.  More than that, I am asked…

What do you EAT??

So I want to give you our actual meal plans from our first four weeks.  I have provided links where available.  Anything with an * next to it refers to a recipe from the NomNom Paleo app for iPad.  I highly recommend this app, whether you are a Paleo enthusiast or not.  Every single one of her recipes has been fantastic.  We aren’t so scheduled with our breakfasts, either, so first I will give you some ideas for healthy, Whole 30 approved breakfasts.

Breakfasts:

Bacon and eggs

Lara Bars (apple pie, cherry pie, or cashew cookie)

Coffee with Paleo creamer

Egg muffins

Deviled eggs*

Hardboiled eggs

Avocado baked eggs

Egg and veggie scramble

Coconut balls

Sweet potato and chorizo hash

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Week 1:

Lunch 1: Tuna salad salad, nuts and sliced peppers

Dinner 1: Garbage stir fry*

Lunch 2:  Tuna salad salad, deviled eggs

Dinner 2:  Mahi Mahi, sweet potato fries, salad

Lunch 3: Pastrami and pepper roll-ups, guacamole and pepper slices, fruit

Dinner 3: Bacon burger with sautéed onion, mushroom and green pepper, salad

Lunch 4: Chicken salad salad, Paleo trail mix*

Dinner 4: Beef and tomato stew*

Lunch 5: Leftover stew

Dinner 5: Cobb salad (hb eggs, grilled chicken, bacon, avocado, cucumber, tomato)

Lunch 6: Pastrami and pepper roll-up, cucumber salad, trail mix

Dinner 6: Asian meatballs*, mashed cauliflower*, salad

Lunch 7: Leftover meatballs

Dinner 7: Grilled chicken, roasted broccoli

Week 2:

Lunch 1: Crab BLT salad*

Dinner 1: Chocolate chili, sliced avocados

Lunch 2:  Leftover chili

Dinner 2: Pork burgers on greens*, sweet potato fries, roasted zucchini

Lunch 3: Spicy tuna cakes*

Dinner 3: Grilled chicken, salad

Lunch 4: Pastrami and pepper wrap

Dinner 4:  Pork roast* tacos

Lunch 5: Leftover pork, cucumber salad

Dinner 5:  Broiled salmon, roasted broccoli, sautéed greens

Lunch 6: Bacon and guacamole “sandwiches*”, slices peppers, fruit

Dinner 6: Frittata muffins, sweet potato hash, bacon

Lunch 7: Leftover frittata muffins

Dinner 7: ?

Week 3:

Lunch 1: BLT egg salad

Dinner 1: Garbage stir-fry*

Lunch 2: Spicy tuna cakes*, sliced peppers

Dinner 2: Chicken sausage skillet meal

Lunch 3: Leftover chicken sausage skillet, trail mix

Dinner 3:  Shredded chicken taco salad

Lunch 4: Pastrami and pepper wrap

Dinner 4: Spicy Tunisian shrimp*, roasted broccoli

Lunch 5: Bacon-wrapped chicken tenders, sliced avocado

Dinner 5: Chipotle chicken soup, sliced avocado

Lunch 6: Leftover soup

Dinner 6: Pork chops, roasted zucchini, roasted mushrooms

Lunch 7: Brunch, bacon and fried eggs

Dinner 7: QDoba,( meat, lettuce, guacamole)

Week 4:

Lunch 1: (Brunch) Chicken sausage and peppers, fried egg

Dinner 1: Crispy smashed chicken with salsa*, bacon topped Brussel sprouts*

Lunch 2: Leftover chicken, cucumber salad

Dinner 2: Big O Burgers*, cabbage steaks

Lunch 3: Cobb salad

Dinner 3: Chipotle chicken soup, salad

Lunch 4: Pastrami wraps, tomato salad

Dinner 4:  Crock pot Italian beef over spaghetti squash

Lunch 5: Leftover Italian beef

Dinner 5:  Chocolate chili, sliced avocados

Lunch 6: Leftover chili

Dinner 6: Tilapia, baked sweet potatoes, salad

Lunch 7: Prosciutto muffins

Dinner 7: ?

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Whew!  If you are counting, that is 28 days.  We haven’t decided on our last two yet.  This is just a glimpse into how we eat.  We have eaten at QDoba a couple of times, but otherwise haven’t eaten out at all.  For snacks, we eat nuts, fruit (I especially like dates), veggie slices, fried eggs, or avocados.  We are also able to drink coffee and tea, as long as there are no added sweeteners.

What do you think?  Could you ever do this?  Have you ever tried The Whole 30?  I would love to hear your thoughts.  If you have any questions about recipes or about my experience, please contact me or ask in the comment section!

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A Gathering of Links XIV

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First of all, I want to say thank you to all of my new readers and subscribers!  Welcome to Rachael Gathers.  I am so grateful for those of you who take time out of your week to visit my little corner of the Internet.  My goal is to gather ideas and experiences for our journey in the Kingdom of God.  I hope that will include spiritual inspiration, parenting and marriage encouragement, and fun ideas for making a house a home!

Each week or two I feature my Gathering of Links post.  I am an avid blog reader, so I take my favorite links from the recent week or two and feature them conveniently listed in one blog post.  It is my little gift to those of you who don’t have time to sift through the blogosphere daily like I do and link you up to my favorite posts.  I also include a little glimpse into what’s happening in the Rennard house.

Summer is in full swing at the Rennard house!  We have spent a couple of glorious days at the pool at my mom’s house.  Isabel isn’t a big fan of the pool yet, but we are working on it!  We celebrated Jimmie’s birthday and Father’s Day within one week!  Ava just left for a 10 day trip with my mom and stepfather.  The house is already eerily quiet.

This is my favorite photo from the last couple of weeks.  It captures Isabel, mid-spin.

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Ah, to be three again!

My most popular link lately was Gathering for a Shabby Chic Baby Shower.  Thanks for all of the likes and shares!  I had more hits on the day I posted this than any post in RG history!

Now, let’s get to it!  This may be my favorite gathering of links yet!  There is SO MUCH great material here.  I hope you grab a cup of coffee or glass of iced tea, sit back, relax and enjoy some of these awesome links.

Spiritual Inspiration:

From A Deeper Church, Watching Our Language.  Discipleship is important…. so is friendship.

From A Deeper Story, Everything Must Go.  Yes and AMEN!  This rings to true in my life.  I am learning to let go of stuff….

Sex and the Path of Holiness at Rachel Held Evans.

From A Holy Experience, Why You Are Where You Are:  For Such a Time as Now.  Also, her post A Letter to the North American Church: Because It Is Time is so powerful.

The Perfect Shade of Greige from Jamie the very worst missionary.  This spoke to me.

From A Deeper Story, When It’s Time to Throw Out All of the Good Answers.

Parenting:

From A Holy Experience, a powerful look into what it means to show grace to our children.  What All Mamas (and us) Need to Thrive This Summer.

From Narrow Paths to Higher Places, A Mother’s Faith.  An all too familiar account of miscarriage, mourning and the questions that come along the way.  Moved me to tears, remembering my own pain.  Also, check out her series on Empowering Parents to Prevent Abuse.  All of it is great.  This link is to part 3.

From Lisa-Jo Baker, When Your Temper Scares You – some suggestions for defusing.

A hilarious look at Surviving Summer from Jen Hatmaker.

At A Deeper Family, I Don’t Want My Daughter to Hate Me.

Love and Marriage:

Over at Sarah Bessey, In Which [Love Looks Like] Spinning Our Own Yarn.  My dear goodness, this is beautiful, beautiful, beautiful.

Food Love:

Red Pepper Shrimp Scampi from A Beautiful Mess.  I love all of these things.. how could I not love this recipe?

Watermelon Pico de Gallo from Pioneer Woman.  Yum.

House Love:

Part of Design Mom’s series, Living With Kids.  I love this home so much, I could move in  tomorrow.

Book Love:

From A Modern Mrs. Darcy, Reading is better when it’s done wine tasting style.  I love this concept.

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Whew.  That’s a lot of links!  Please let me know what your favorites are from my list, or point me in the direction of some of your favorite blogs and/or posts from the past few weeks!  Maybe I will feature one next week!

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Missed any posts?  Here are some of the latest:

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A Gathering of Recipes for Crowds

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Things have been a bit serious here at Rachael Gathers for a few weeks now.  I thought for a change of pace, I would share some of my favorite recipes when cooking for a crowd.

Almost two years ago, we started hosting a small group in our home.  One of the first weeks, I offered to serve dinner.  There was something really sacred about inviting people to my home and serving them a meal.  I never looked back, and have been cooking for anywhere from 8-25 people nearly every week for two years.

When I first began, I had NO IDEA what I was doing.  I could barely pull off meals for my own small family, much less a group of 15-20.  Thankfully, my crock pot and Pinterest came to the rescue!  I’m honestly not sure I could have pulled off so many meals without my two crock pots.  I have learned so much about not only cooking for large groups, but also about hospitality.  God has opened my heart as I have opened my home.  There’s simply no other way to put it.

So without further delay, I present my favorite recipes for a crowd.

1.  Shredded chicken tacos

This is my go-to meal when I’m in a hurry or out of inspiration.  I’m a little embarrassed to admit just how easy and foolproof this recipe is (and I must credit my friend Tasha for sharing it with me!).  Ready?

6-8 chicken breasts

1-2 jars of salsa (I prefer Herdez)

Yes, that’s it.  This makes the juiciest, most flavorful meat for tacos.  I dump the chicken and salsa in the crock pot and cook it on low for 8 hours or so.  Before I serve, I simply shred it with a fork.  You can drain the liquid if you prefer, but I like how juicy it is.  I typically plan on one chicken breast per two people.

2.  I LOVE this Crock Pot Minestrone soup from Skinny Taste.  I typically double the recipe.  I always have extra spinach, cooked Italian sausage, Parmesan cheese and cooked pasta for people to add in on their own.  It is delicious and healthy.

3. This Italian Chicken from Crock-a-doodle-do is tasty and I like that it incorporates vegetables.  I like to cut the chicken breasts into large chunks before I serve it.

4.  Slow Cooker Jambalaya from My Recipes has been a crowd favorite.  I typically make one crock pot with shrimp and one without for people who don’t love seafood.  It isn’t too spicy, which is great for kids, but forces me to have a large selection of hot sauces on hand.  With this recipe, I also recommend letting the rice cook longer than 30 minutes.  I typically let it cook closer to an hour.

5. Chicken Tortilla Soup from Miller Musings has been one of my most frequent dinners.  It is one of those meals you that you can dump everything in the crock pot and not worry about it again until 5 minutes before dinner.  I love that.  This soup has a great flavor and is delicious with tortilla chips, cheese and sour cream on top.  I always double or triple the recipe to feed the crowd and have leftovers for the next day!

6. Crock Pot Ravioli Casserole from Becoming Betty is delicious.  It sort of reminds me of lasagna.  Again, I always double or triple the recipe.  This is typically served with a large salad and garlic bread.

7.  From Southern Plate, this is the recipe for Cheesy Chicken and Rice.  You have to love casseroles to love this recipe.  Everyone at my house always gobbles this up.  We actually had it Monday night!  It is just a classic chicken and rice recipe.  I have quadrupled this recipe before and had two giant crock pots full.

So there you have my favorite recipes to feed a crowd!

We also rely on go-to meals like hamburgers on the grill, chili in cool weather, spaghetti, sandwich night, and lasagna.  I normally have a big salad to help fill people up, offer something healthy, and make the main dish last for everyone.  I also use paper products so I can enjoy my company and not stress about clean-up.

You can find all of these recipes and many more crock recipes by following me on Pinterest.

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Do you ever cook for a crowd?  What are your go-to recipes?  Are there any crock-pot recipes you can suggest for me?  I’m sure our small group would be thrilled to have some new recipes added to the same old mix!

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A Gathering of Links XII

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A Gathering of Links XII

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It’s that time again!  I love linking you up to my favorite posts of the week and this week there are a LOT!  First, some highlights from my week…

We had a relaxing three-day weekend, spent mostly at home.

Some exciting things are on the horizon for Gathering!

Ava had her last day of school and is home for the summer!

A long-time friend was married, seemed incredibly happy and had a gorgeous wedding.  Here we are, getting ready to leave for the celebration:

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We actually planted at the community garden!  All of my husband’s hard work is finally paying off.  The garden is looking fantastic and we are all eager to taste the (literal) fruits of our labor!

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Now let’s get to it and link you up!

My most read post of the week was Gathering Self-Control (and an announcement).  Thanks for all of the positive feedback!  We now have at least 10 adults committing to all or part of this challenge.  Day 1 down.  Lots to go.

Marriage and Family:

On Loving Well from Narrow Paths to Higher Places.  I can’t tell you how much this post resonated with me.  My love language is also acts of service, and I found myself relating to so much of what she discussed, especially after having just written What I Gather About Myself as Mom!  Love this post!

At A Holy Experience, When strong mamas feel quite weak.  This was so insightful.

From Lisa-Jo Baker, How to Fall in Love.  Again.  Because we all must choose to fall in love over and over again.

Spiritual Reflection:

At A Deeper Story, Lessons from a Fundamental Baptist on Memorial Day.  I enjoyed this perspective.

Food Love:

Info about the paleo diet at Simple Mom.  Our family is attempting to transition to a more paleo-friendly diet and I found this really helpful.

Fried pickles at A Beautiful Mess, because who doesn’t love fried pickles??

Also at A Beautiful Mess, Three Super Healthy Salads.  Because months and months of no sweets = new food choices necessary.

For Fun:

I’m going to make these Washi Wildflowers from Girl in the Garage with Ava.  They are so cheerful and I love that they won’t ever wilt.

So.  Funny.  From Jen Hatmaker, Worst End of School Year Mom Ever.  This made me laugh out loud.  Truly.

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So there you have it!  Those were my favorite blog posts from the week.  What are you reading these days?  Have you discovered any new blogs I need to check out?  I would love to hear from you.  I hope your weekend was fantastic and that the coming week is full of sunshine and joy!

If you haven’t already, subscribe to Rachael Gathers and get posts delivered right to your inbox!  You can do that HERE!

 

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A Gathering of Links V

blog2-1It is later than normal for my weekly post of links.  I have been stuck in bed for four days with some kind of flu/sinus infection-type illness.  Thankfully I’m feeling better today, although my muscles feel like I have just run a marathon without any conditioning.  Let’s look at the bright side… there’s at least a foot of snow outside.  Oh, that’s not the bright side?

While I haven’t been thrilled with the illnesses in my home or the horrible weather launching spring 2013, I must admit that anytime I get really sick, like stuck-in-bed-for-days-sick, it gives me a new appreciation for my health and my life.  It makes me want to live it fully and take advantage of the time I have.  So what better time to get sick and better again than the week of Easter?  I am anticipating so much this year.  I know that spring is coming and with it will come new life and beauty.

I will talk more about Easter later this week, but for now I want to direct you to some great links from the past week or so.

First off, thanks to my fantastic readers, my most popular post this past week was A Gathering of Goodwill Finds.  My own personal favorite was What I Gather About Layers, Life and Spring.  That post was breathed to me by the Holy Spirit and encouraged me so.

Spiritual Inspiration:

From Lisa Jo Baker, on hospitality

From Jen Hatmaker.  I love how bold and honest she is, while still demonstrating such love.

My FAVORITE post of the week… I wish I had a son to share this with…. from A Holy Experience.

For Parents:

From Sarah Markley, on Knitting Us Well Together.

On Marriage:

From my friend over at Becoming Whitney, Desperation.

For Easter:

Design Mom’s painted egg cartons.  I hope to find time this week to make these for my girls.

Pioneer Woman’s fun rice krispie eggs.

Food Love:

Because I lived in Cuba… from A Beautiful Mess, banana chips.  Also, their 25 breakfasts to love.

From Oh Happy Day, churros?  Yes, please!

Inspiration:

From my friend Jen at Girl in the Garage, on overcoming fear.

What about you?  What books are on your nightstand?  What have you read this week that has inspired you?  Any favorite recipes or blogs to share with the rest of us?  I would love your feedback!

A Gathering of Links IV

blog2-1I heard on Thursday that the temperature in Indiana a year ago this week reached 80 degrees.  It has been so, so cold here and all I want to do is hibernate until spring comes with its warmth.  Contributing to my blah mood was a week spent with a sick baby.

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She was so pitiful.  Thankfully, being holed up in the house, both unwilling and unable to leave, I at least had some good reading material.  I hope you enjoy my favorites from this past week or so.

My most popular post was Gathering Delight.  I truly appreciate all of the positive feedback in response to this post.  Let’s remember to be honest with each other about our shortcomings as parents.  We can draw from each other’s strength and stories to become the parents I know we can be.

My personal favorite post from my blog was A Gathering of Cuba Photos.  It took me back to a land I love.  Plus, I spent hours editing photos for the first time in Photoshop.  It’s a process, but one day I hope to have a clue what I’m doing!

Parenting:

From The Actual Pastor:  To Parents of Small Children… this made its way around the Internet this week!  I think so many parents of young children need to hear they are doing a good job.

From Luke at A Deeper Family.

Love:

From Sarah Bessey:  I love her “In which [love looks like]” posts.  The openness with which she speaks about her love for her husband and their journey is simply beautiful.

Spiritual Inspiration:

From A Holy Experience:  I love this idea of A Grace Garden for Easter.  What a fantastic way to create something beautiful with our kids to remind ourselves of the grace of God!

From Jen at A Deeper Family.  I love this post about being real with one another.

For Fun:

Design Mom’s Nigellissima.  I have been somewhat obsessed with Nigella for about ten years now.  I was thrilled to see that someone else has fallen in love with her.

At A Beautiful Mess… because who doesn’t love hummus?

If I were just a little more motivated to be crafty, I would make these salt dough eggs from Design Mom with the girls.

Please let me know if you like any of these links!  Also, what have been your favorite posts this week?  Are you reading anything worthwhile?  I would love to hear from you.

Finally, have you subscribed to my blog yet??  If not, please do!  Just enter your e-mail address where it says “Follow Rachael Gathers” above my picture on the top right of my blog.  You will receive a link to each new blog post.  Your e-mail address will not be used for any other purposes.  You can also follow Rachael Gathers in your favorite RSS feed using the RSS button at the top of my home page.  Next to that button you also have the opportunity to follow me on Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter.  Whew, that’s a lot!! Thanks and enjoy the last night of your weekend!