Tag Archives: Whole 30

Butternut Squash and Chicken Curry over Coconut Cauliflower Rice

20 Aug

Did someone say squash!?!?!? Seriously way too excited for fall for that sole reason. Regardless of how long the title of this recipe was, it sure was tasty! To tell you the truth, I thought it up while laying in bed Sunday night until approximately 2 am not sleeping. What was I doing? Thinking about food, apparently. Something about knowing I was going into work the next day made me not be able to sleep. Never fails.

I love squaaaaash! I can’t wait to eat massive amounts of it when it’s in season. I’m also planning on blanching and freezing some so I can have it throughout the winter.

We’ve been having chicken for the last three nights because the other night I roasted another delicious pastured chicken from the farm. It seriously feeds us for up to 5 days. So worth it. This is what it looked like before:


Those veggies fried in the fat were to die for. It also makes for yummy leftovers, which I used in this recipe. It took about an hour to put the whole thing together.

Butternut Squash Chicken Curry over Coconut Cauliflower “Rice”


Serves 2-4/ Prep time: 30 mins /Cook time: 20 mins

1 cup cooked, diced chicken breast (roughly one breast. you could add or take away as needed)

4 large carrots

1/2 of a medium butternut squash (I used the narrow, top part)

1 large onion

2 cloves garlic

1 can of coconut milk (full fat)

3/4 cup chicken or vegetable broth

1-4 tsp curry powder (I used 4 and it was VERY spicy)

1/2 tsp black pepper

1 tsp kosher salt

1/2 tsp rubbed sage

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp garlic powder

1/4 tsp onion powder

dash of cayenne

Cauliflower Rice

1/2 head of large cauliflower

2 tbsp full fat coconut shreds

1-2 tbsp full fat coconut milk

salt, pepper

I first prepped veggies. I peeled the butternut squash by cutting the round bottom off and peeling the top part.I sliced the onion. I peeled and cut the carrots into small, bite size pieces. I minced the two cloves of garlic. I cut the squash into 1 “ cubes. Then I put them on the stove in boiling water and cooked them for 5 minutes. You don’t want them too tender or they will fall apart.

butternut squash

Meanwhile, I cut off the head of cauliflower and rinsed it, then broke the florets into the food processor. If you’ve never made cauliflower ‘rice’ you need to try it! So simple, easy and delicious. (Or you could always use regular rice). After the cauliflower is “riced” I put it in a microwave safe bowl with all the other ingredients, cook for four minutes, stir, then cook for another four minutes. Done.

Set a deep sauté or sauce pan on the stove on medium heat and add some coconut oil or lard. When it’s ready add your garlic. Let them get fragrant and add carrots.


Cook for 5-6 minutes, adding a tablespoon or two of your broth so the carrots get soft. Then add onions and a little more broth.


Cook for another 4-5 minutes until everything is nice and soft. After your squash is par boiled, portion out about 1/2 cup and process it to a puree. Add the rest of the diced squash and COOKED, diced chicken to the pot along with the coconut milk and the rest of your broth. Add the pureed squash to the mix.

squash puree

The reason I thought I’d add this was because the pureed squash gives it a thicker sauce when finished. It’s optional, but it worked out well!

Now, add your spices! Feel free to experiment here and go up or down depending on your tastes.

Let it simmer for 15-20 minutes on low. When it’s done everything will have a deep brown and smoky smell.


Top coconut cauliflower rice with curry. Eat up!!


‘Twas good !

Do you ever get recipe ideas while laying in bed?

What vegetables do you put in curries?

Online Resources for Change- Paleo/Whole 30

19 Mar

Healthy Living Blogs is challenging bloggers to write a blog post with a theme of ‘Online Resources for Change’. Recently, I have been trying to adopt a Paleo lifestyle after reading the book It Starts with Food which advocates a diet style similar to Paleo called Whole 30 (no grains, no sugar or substitutes, no dairy, no legumes).


I thought I’d share some of the online resources I’ve been using to transition to this type of diet in case you’re interested in what it has to offer. I have been following this for a little over a month (with a few cheats here and there (because life happens) and I am pleased with results. Results I’ve experienced include better energy, a reduced urge to snack and diminished sugar and carb cravings.

So if you’re looking for a change in your diet, want to slim down or improve your performance at the gym; or are just plain sick of feeling tired and worn out all the time I encourage you to give this diet a shot! Take it a day at a time and see if it works for you.

We’re all resistant to change sometimes and upon reading the list of things you ‘can’t’ have you may say things like “Well I could never give up________”. You are capable of doing whatever you want to do as long as you’re committed. A couple of years ago I used to say “I could never give up pasta”, and now I don’t remember the last time I ate regular pasta. Trying to make something a habit takes time, and undoubtedly you will run into challenges. So what?? Every day is a new day! You are only as strong as you allow yourself to be.

It’s easy to get sucked into the internet and all the resources available, but if you’re really interested in researching Paleo or Whole 30, here are some of the good ones I’ve found over the last month:

Whole 30 official website

Whole 30 forum- get support from other members

The Clothes Make the Girl (author of Well Fed)

Nomnom Paleo

Chowstalker <<< Awesome website of a collection of recipes from all different blogs

Paleomg <<< awesome blog!


Mark’s Daily Apple

Here are some recipes I’ve tried in the last month that were stellar:

Everyday Paleo Curried Chicken and Parsnips with Pears

Paleo Chicken Pot Pie with almond crust <<< SO GOOD

Plantain Lasagna


Paleo Shepard’s Pie (I used a couple of different recipes and made it my own but this is where I got the idea)

shepard's pie

Happy researching! I’d love to hear about others’ experiences with Paleo or Whole 30.

Do you think you could do it?  What foods on the ‘no’ list make you most hesitant to try it and why?

Coconut Rutabaga Pancakes

2 Mar

Today I discovered my next veggie obsession: rutabagas. I picked one up yesterday while killing time in the best grocery store ever- Wegmans- it’s like our Trader Joes. Since I made another trip to Buffalo the over day I just had to stop there….and mill around for as long as possible. They are a great potato substitute so anything where you would normally eat white potatoes you bring this little guy in.

My objective was to make this recipe from Paleomg (one of my favorite) for rutabaga egg nests. It was a success, and it was delicious, but I discovered something amazing while doing it. I shredded my rutabaga in the food processor then used coconut oil for frying the nests.When taste testing the rutabagas, I discovered that shredded rutabaga fried in coconut oil tasted like….shredded coconut! Boom.

Shredded rutabaga

Shredded Rutabaga

I started thinking about how I could take advantage of this. But I foresee lots of experiments with the rutabagas in the future.

My first experiment- obviously pancakes. They were more savory than sweet but after the fact I am envisioning all sorts of alternative toppings.


Paleo Coconut Rutabaga PancakesCoconut Rutabaga Pancakes

Serves 1

1 cup shredded rutabaga (I peeled mine and ran it through the shredder attachment on my food processor)

2 eggs

1 scant tablespoon coconut flour

1 tablespoon coconut milk

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

dash of nutmeg


2 tablespoons coconut oil or butter (Must be coconut flavored. If not, add coconut extract)

**You might want to consider adding sweetener (some stevia or honey). I didn’t because I’m currently not eating sugar or sugar substitutes.

– Put your eggs in a medium bowl and beat until mixed. eggs

Wegman’s eggs are far superior

– Add scant tablespoon of coconut flour and coconut milk and mix.

-Add the cinnamon, nutmeg,  S&P, and sweetener if using.

-Fold in your rutabaga until well mixed.

-Place some coconut butter on your griddle (heated to 350) and let it melt.

-Spoon about 1/4 of the mixture on top of the butter and press down with a spatula. Repeat with the remaining mix, making sure to put more oil down before each one (I made four pancakes).

IMG_cakes on the griddle

– Let cook for 4-5 minutes on each side.

-I topped mine with sunbutter.

Can’t wait to make them again tomorrow. They were great, but they probably could have used that added sweetener. I could even top them with a natural made syrup to get some sweetness in. Next time!


Ate them with a side of kale

What’s the best thing you’ve made so far this weekend??

Breakfast in Buffalo

23 Feb

My mind is in conflict over which topic I want to blog about first but I think I’ll start with this: a restaurant review. Austin and I were lucky enough to travel to Buffalo, NY this weekend (about an hour away) to see a legend in concert.


George Strait. We are huge country fans, and I still can’t believe we saw him in person. Martina McBride was the opener and she was also phenomenal.


Fun times! Me outside the Buffalo Sabres First Niagara Center. We are hockey fans as well!


The next morning after the concert we were looking for a diner type place to eat breakfast and decided to go to The Washington Market on Elicott St in Downtown Buffalo. I knew nothing about it- turns out it was kind of a little grocery store as well.




You can order your food up front and take a seat in the back. There was absolutely no wait, and the staff was extremely kind and accommodating regarding several, um, substitutions and alterations I made  trying my best to keep it clean.

I ordered an omelet loaded with veggies and a fruit salad on the side. It was fresh and delicious. The omelet was not soggy or oily like diner food regularly is. The fruit was literally as fresh as possible as they had just made it. Delicious.



The fiancé ordered classic home fries, eggs and toast.



I wanted to bite into that toast…but resisted!

All in all an excellent experience that I would highly recommend if you’re ever in Buffalo looking for somewhere to get a quick breakfast. We got all this and coffees for about $15 so that kept me happy as well.


After that we headed to the mall to look at tuxedo options for our wedding, but I’m saving that for another post. Just a random question I have for blogger friends: Collard Greens. Okay that’s not a question, but I tried to make them yesterday and they turned out extremely bitter. I sautéed them in bacon fat with garlic and onion and simmered them for about a half hour with some chicken broth. Ick. They had a strong bitter after taste. Everything I read online says the longer they cook the less bitter they will be. I’m not all that convinced. Anyone (especially southerners!) have a good recipe??? Thanks!


<a href=”http://www.urbanspoon.com/r/42/777237/restaurant/Central/Washington-Market-Buffalo”><img alt=”Washington Market on Urbanspoon” src=”http://www.urbanspoon.com/b/logo/777237/biglogo.gif&#8221; style=”border:none;padding:0px;width:104px;height:34px” /></a>

Homemade Salsa + Butternut Squash Hash browns

20 Feb

I have two great, Whole 30 and Paleo compliant recipes to share with you today. I couldn’t decide which one I wanted to share more so I decided to include both!

If you have been reading my blog (all 2 of you), you know I am going through a change in my eating habits called the “Whole 30”. I’m not going to say that I’ve been totally 100% on what the Whole 30 is supposed to be….I’m not going to stress out because something was cooked in soybean oil, or the marinade for the chicken I ate had dextrose in it. I know that I shouldn’t  be eating these things, but when circumstances to cut that stuff out stress me out more than just eating them, that’s how I know I just have to give in. Eating shouldn’t be complicated. It should be easy and good. But I don’t think it’s fostering a healthy relationship with food if I’m passing up on fun things/time with friends in order to avoid eating/drinking. That’s stupid.  If the Whole 30 creators want to tell me I’m wrong, whatever. I’m doing my own version of Whole 30.

Anyhow (slight rant), after closely examining some of the ingredients in the food I eat in order to stay compliant to Whole 30, I have realized that sugar is in EVERYTHING. I mean everything. Sugar is in salt. Why? Because it makes things taste good.



Sugar is in everything that you never thought would need sugar. They add sugar to dried fruit. Our modern taste buds are so immune to it and this is what causes out of control sugar cravings. These have been the worst since I have had absolutely no sugar (except in fruit) for the last week and a half. No chocolate, no fake sugar, no sweets of any sort. And contrary to popular belief: sugar=sugar. This means honey, raw honey, agave, Stevia, molasses. It’s all the same. There’s no such thing as ‘healthy’ sugar.

The craving for it is ever present and I do my best to try to smother it. I keep dreaming about diner rolls and white chocolate cheerios (do those even exist??? I’m inventing them!). The book INSISTS that the only way to kill the ‘sugar dragon’ is to starve it. So I’m trying my best. First things first- create homemade versions of foods that regularly have sugar. Cue the homemade salsa recipe!

Easy Homemade Salsa


5-6 Roma tomatoes, diced

2 cloves garlic

1 small onion, minced

1/2 cup of fresh chopped cilantro

2 tbsp of lime juice

1/4 tsp black pepper

1/8 tsp salt

dash of garlic powder

1. Chop your tomatoes and cilantro.



2. Place everything in bowl.

3. Enjoy. The longer it sits the better it gets!

Homemade Salsa


This was yummy on top of the steak fajitas that we had for dinner last night.

Another thing that I had to share was part of my breakfast this morning. Due to the fact I’m cutting out all sweets, things that have natural sweetness like fruit and squash taste EXTRA sweet. Like, an apple might as well be an ice cream sundae. Technically you are not supposed to be feeding this ‘sweet tooth’. But I didn’t do this on purpose -I swear! I had extra butternut squash I wanted to get rid of and it just happened.

Butternut Squash Hashbrowns


Okay, it looks like dog poo, but I swear it’s delicious. And that’s a glob of homemade sun butter on top, which made it 10X better. If you don’t know what sun butter is, get with the program and Google it.

Butternut Squash Hash browns

Serves 1

1 cup of butternut squash

1 tbsp coconut oil

dash of cinnamon and nutmeg

dash of dried oregano

dash of garlic powder

salt & pepper

1. Shred the squash. You can do this with a cheese grater, but I used the attachment on my food processor. It was awesome.

2. Heat the coconut oil over medium-high heat.

3. When melted, add the squash and stir around.

4. After 3-4 minutes add the spices, salt and pepper.

5. Keep stirring around until you get a nice crisp on the squash (Like traditional hash browns).

6. Top with sun butter or another nut butter and enjoy!

 Butternut Squash Hashbrown

Don’t forget the coffee! So, while not pancakes, this inadvertently had my taste buds perking up. I’m okay with it. I’m not about to feel guilty for eating squash.

WOW this was a long post, congrats for making it to the end.

Which recipe would you like to try the most?!!!??!

WIAW: Whole 30 Edition

13 Feb


Peas and Crayons

This is my first time participating in WIAW by Jen at Peas and Crayons…. I generally don’t post “what I ate today” posts because I feel like it promotes comparisons. But several people have expressed interest in what I am eating on the new Whole 30 plan I am following, so I decided to participate this week. I also want to track how I feel for my own reasons so bear with me. If you don’t care about how I ate or you are particularly susceptible to comparison & guilt feel free to skip this post! The last thing I want to do is make anyone feel ‘bad’ or ‘unhealthy’ because they don’t eat the same way I do. Eat however makes you feel the best! It doesn’t matter what I do- everyone is different.

Under the Whole 30, I can only eat high quality meat, veggies, healthy fats, and some fruits. I never thought I could plow through so many vegetables in two days!!! So far so good, and I feel way fuller than I normally do. I am basically eating the same amount of food just spread out more (3 meals a day instead of 6) and cutting out grains, dairy, sugar, and legumes. Things I’ve noticed so far are a huge difference in feelings of satiety, as well as amazement at just how many vegetables I’m going to have to eat/buy! I thought I’d have a problem with them going bad…..but no way! This is good because vegetables aren’t expensive. But meat is. I just have to tell myself that it’s worth it for my health! So here’s what day 2 of my Whole 30 looked like:

Meal 1:

Frittata with 3 eggs (!), spinach, tomatoes and onions

Blueberries and blackberries with 1 tbsp sunflower seed butter

coffee (obviously)

I made sunflower seed butter and it.is.awesome.











Meal 2:









Looks disgusting but:

1 cup roasted cauliflower

1 cup carrots roasted with garlic

chicken breast

2 tbsp of avacado


Meal 3:


Pan fried cod in coconut oil and topped with Milanese Gremolata olive oil from Olive a Sudden!

1/2 cup roasted cauliflower (again, yum)

1-2 cups of brussel sprouts

I am obsessed with brussel sprouts. They are so delicious. I roasted them here with white truffle oil and cinnamon pear balsamic vinegar. I finished them with garlic and pink sea salt. I had no problem ‘filling my plate’ with them. I want more of them. Now. But I had to save them for lunch tomorrow. Sad smile


I also snacked on some almonds that I forgot to take a picture of. According to Whole 30, you are not supposed to snack. It means you’re not eating enough. So I guess I have to eat more protein and fat at lunch. Still getting used to this and getting in the grove so hopefully I’ll get it right sooner or later. I am nervous about this weekend, because we are going to be away from home and I really hope I can be compliant. I am not going to over-stress about it when I get there though.

Thanks for reading, and Happy WIAW!

What is your favorite way to make brussel sprouts?

Book Review: It Starts with Food

11 Feb

Before I start: I started a Pencils and Pancakes Facebook page! It would mean the world if you ‘liked’ me!!! Winking smile

I searched for a good couple of weeks for a quality nutrition book that would really help me with meal planning and getting back on track. Truth is I’ve been all over the place, unhappy and uncomfortable with my food lately. Ever since I stopped working out intensely because of my back, what was working for me wasn’t working anymore. At first I tried to cut back calories and felt fine….then I started feeling hungry…all.the.time. But I felt guilty going back to what I was eating before when I was working out. The key word: guilty. I shouldn’t feel guilty over what I eat. I don’t want to think about food as a reward, certain foods as ‘good’ and ‘bad’, or whether or not I could ‘cheat’ that day. It was all becoming a little overwhelming.

I needed direction and researched advice about how exactly I should be eating. This book has given me just that. It’s called It Starts with Food by Dallas and Melissa Hartwig.



The authors. both certified sports nutritionists and owners of a gym, start off by explaining dangers of the modern processed food and how the high carb/sugar diet causes all sorts of health problems because of silent inflammation. Health problems ranging from infertility to high cholesterol, IBS, and even stroke.

I found most of the beginning a bit obvious. I don’t think I eat the ‘typical American diet’ they were talking about, but people who are close to me do and it makes me scared for them.

The authors then describe the major food groups that are linked to silent inflammation and insulin resistance: sugar & sweeteners, alcohol, legumes, dairy and grains. They go into detail about the harmful effects of these food groups on the body. The food groups not only cause hormonal imbalances, but also have negative psychological effects that are equally as damaging.

The authors propose the reader adopts what they call the ‘Whole 30’ lifestyle and diet, which is cutting out all of these foods in entirety for 30 days in order for the body to do a ‘reset’, get hormones under control and counteract the effects of inflammation. They include a really easy to use meal plan, pictures and some great recipes for Whole 30 approved food, and what they call the ‘meal template’.

You should eat three meals a day, each comprising of 1-2 servings if protein and 2-3 cups of veggies, and one serving of healthy fat. It also leaves room for a pre and post work out meal of protein and carbs if you’re intensely working out.

Yup, that’s pretty much all there is to it. And you can eat fruit, but not too much.

So the big question is….am I doing it?

Today I started this style of eating….and thus far it has been a huge success. I was so scared about only being able to eat three times a day, but the template makes sure you are FULL from those meals. I was the fullest today (healthy full) than I have been in months. But it’s only day one. Why do this meal plan if I have no immediate dangerous health problems, you ask?

My main concern is my psychological relationship with food, which the Whole 30 really strives to change. The Whole 30 is not about losing weight. I want to change the way I look at food- not look at it as ‘good’ and ‘bad’ and ‘cheating’ if I go off-plan. I am so ingrained in some of my eating habits I’m not even eating when I’m hungry. It’s getting annoying.I also want to clear up some other health issues I suspect might be caused by inflammation, as well as put an end to the CRAZY carb and sugar cravings I’ve been having.


Noooooo more of these for a bitSad smile

So yes…this meals no oatmeal, cereal, or (dun dun dun) PANCAKES for the 30 days. Also peanut butter (it’s a legume). But it’s just 30 days. The book also includes a reintroduction guide for you to start reintroducing these foods and see how you feel. To me it’s not really a surprise…cut out sugar, alcohol and bread and obviously you’re going to feel better! I’ve been playing with the idea of trying Paleo for awhile…this is basically Paleo but excludes more (like natural sweeteners). You also CAN’T try to re-create desserts or treats like Paleo muffins or pancakes. It’s part of the ‘healthy relationship with food’ deal. Actually, most of the pancake recipes I make for myself WOULD qualify, but it’s not allowed for the 30 days.


Frank loves the book too!

So overall, this book was informative and extremely beneficial. I can’t wait to see how I feel at the end of 30 days. I know it’s going to be hard, but I mean there’s way worse things to go through in life so I think I can handle not eating cereal. I decided that I’ll really just take it one day at a time, however. The program is really strict, and although I want to get all the benefits, I decided I’m not going to let myself get stressed out about whether or not the peppers I ordered at some restaurant were sautéed in soybean oil. I will avoid it when possible, but I don’t feel like I have the health problems to really stress out about it. I will keep you posted with recipes, updates and hopefully good results!

Visit their website if you want to know more about the Whole 30 and It Starts with Food.

How do you think you’d do on the Whole 30? Or have you tried Paleo? What are your thoughts?

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