Katherine’s Everyday Salad

At one time (just about a year ago), I told you about my experience doing Whole30.  It was hard and freeing all at the same time.  I learned so much about my eating habits, some I knew (too well, I’m afraid) and some surprised me.

If you would like to revisit those posts here they are:
Whole30: Why I Chose to Tackle Whole30 and Why You Should Too
Whole30: Where Do I Start?
Whole30: My Favorite Foods and Tools
Whole30: Final Thoughts and Lessons Learned

While I was able to go through lots of details of our first Whole30, I’m not sure I will document all of that a second time.  I’m certain you might all run for the hills and never return.  Really, I like your company too much to do that!

But, I thought I would share a few recipes here and there that are considered compliant and great for everyday.  Today, I have Katherine’s Everyday Salad.

Who names a salad after themselves???  Someone crazy I’m certain.  One of the things I recommend to people wanting to try Whole30 is to eat the same meal at least a couple days in a row so you just don’t have to think about it.  This is what I ate alllmost every single day for lunch on Whole30, so it felt like it deserve a legitimate name.  It isn’t complicated or fussy.  I don’t even have a ton of photos because let’s be real.  Throwing some things on top of lettuce isn’t really complicated.

First, get baby spinach and arugula.  I don’t love raw spinach but I find it much more enjoyable with peppery arugula.  Next, get some tuna.  I have yet to try to make my own mayo for Whole30 (since most mayos are off limits) so I eat it plain.  You absolutely could mash in some avocado to create a bit of that creaminess and it would be delicious.

Next, chop a crisp apple (I think this one was Fuji).  Finally, toast some whole pecans in a dry skillet for a couple minutes.  Trust me, this extra step makes all the difference.  It toasts them and makes them so hearty.  Drizzle with balsamic vinegar and olive oil.

Katherine’s Everyday Salad
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  • 2 handfuls baby spinach and arugula
  • 2 oz. canned tuna*
  • 1/2 avocado
  • 1 crisp and tart apple, chopped
  • 1/4 c. whole pecans, toasted
  • balsamic vinegar and olive oil


  1. Fill a plate with spinach and arugula. Top with canned tuna. If you prefer, mash avocado with tuna to make tuna salad. If not, serve diced avocado on the side.
  2. Core and chop apple and add to the top of the salad.
  3. Place pecans in dry fry pan and toast on medium heat. You will know they are done when you start to smell the nuts (about 3-4 minutes). Add nuts to the salad.
  4. Drizzle balsamic vinegar and olive oil on top for dressing.
Cuisine: Salad | Recipe Type: Whole30


*If you aren't a tuna fan, this would be just as good with grilled chicken. Feel free to substitute almonds for the pecans if you prefer.


This meal is super healthy, uses an inexpensive protein and is filling!  I love the contrast in flavors and textures.  Admittedly, making salads isn’t one of my strongest suits. (Frankly, if I wasn’t so good at making brownies and pancakes we wouldn’t be here in the first place…)  But!  I do think this salad is hearty, simple to adapt to your own tastes and delicious!  Please let me know if you give Katherine’s Everyday Salad a try.  You can be my first critics!

Do you have a healthy go-to meal or salad?  What is something you wish you were better at cooking in your own kitchen?  Do you eat the same food everyday for one of your meals?

Whole30: Final Thoughts and Lessons Learned

If you missed my first three installments of this series on Whole30, start here, followed by this one and then read this.  In this post I wanted to offer my final thoughts and lessons learned from my Whole30 experience.

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Here are my major takeaways:
#1: Veggies play a much smaller role in my diet than I originally thought.  If I actually counted out my vegetable intake, it would probably be ONE serving at dinner and maybe a few random ones at lunch (i.e. baby carrots or lettuce/tomato on a sandwich).  This was a pretty embarrassing realization.

#2: Our dinners were usually pretty healthy (whew!) but it was breakfast and lunch that did me in.  Serving three kids under 5 quick-fix meals (pasta, PBJ, cheese quesadillas), it was just easier to eat what they were eating.  It is quicker, cheaper and easier.  And also a LOT less healthy.  Oh, and it made me feel super guilty that I feed my kids so many carbs!!!

#3: Feeling self-conscious over being a high-maintenance guest for dinner or even at a restaurant was stressful for me.  As far as I’m concerned, if someone else cooked it, it is delicious (especially if it is a friend).  Even though we planned not to have many outings during this time, we unexpectedly had to and it was stressful (more on this in a bit).

#4: All the “experts” say to eat protein for breakfast because it will sustain you through to lunch.  I could never figure out why that never worked for me until Whole30.  By about day 12, I could agree that my daily eggs were sustaining me through.  I just hadn’t tried long enough to see the effects.

#5: I slept SO HARD during this whole process.  Truthfully, it was something my husband didn’t like about it because he felt so sluggish in the morning.  Once we were both up and moving we felt good but getting out of bed was tough.  But, we also slept better than we ever have.

#6: It IS possible to eat nothing but healthy foods for thirty days straight.  It felt great knowing that I was putting only the best fuel into my body.  The feelings of empowerment, self-discipline and control felt great.

Some confessions though…

Sadly, my desire for sugar has not changed.  It isn’t something that just tastes amazing to me, it is something I enjoy.  Loving to bake and making fun sweets for my kids and parties will not go away and I hate to miss out on that enjoyment.  I just need to learn when to say no (way more than I am now…) and when to choose to indulge.

Secondly, I have three children.  Under the age of five.  Not surprisingly, they weren’t elated when I served roasted brussell sprouts and butternut squash.  But I served it to them anyway.  We have one child who will try almost anything and she would attempt a few bites of our “weird” dinner.  But, to make our dinners successful, I would give them what they know alongside our dinner.  (For example, when I made roasted spaghetti squash with meat sauce, I would just make some pasta with the same meat sauce for the kids so it at least felt like we were eating the same things.)
Understanding it is a process, I will continue to offer new things regularly regardless of whether they like it or not.  Sometimes, though, out of necessity I would make a completely separate meal for my kids.  This was kind of annoying, but when I knew it wouldn’t go well I would prep a couple sandwiches for them while we ate.

Also, during this time, a dear friend lost his mom and we decided to drive out of state to attend the funeral.  This was obviously not something we could have anticipated but we tried (oh, we tried) to keep up the plan.  Salads eaten standing up in a parking lot while we waited for my dad to pick up our kids had dressing that I’m certain had a little sugar in it.  After the service, we ordered steaks, potatoes and veggies of which I’m certain all had butter.
Whole30 purists would tell us that in that moment we cancelled out the previous days of work and would have to start over.  I refused to do that.  We just kept going.  Even though we planned ahead, sometimes it doesn’t matter and life happens.  We decided to roll with it, do our best and just keep going.  Our friend is way more important to me than proving a point.

Finally, I’m not following Whole30 now.  And the creators don’t expect it to be a 100% of the time change.  Sometimes I will choose almond butter and banana as a snack instead of graham crackers with the kids because I know they are better for me.  And sometimes I don’t.  I lost 8 pounds in 30 days and my husband lost 6 pounds.  My friend absolutely killed it and lost 14!!  It can be very successful but I appreciated the lessons I learned almost as much as the weight loss.
Now, if we stop off for ice cream as a family, I understand what needs to happen to counterbalance the treat.  If I’m feeling groggy after a breakfast and lunch of carbs, I know why.  It also leaves very little whining room if I continue to make bad choices.

I hope this series in Whole30 has given you some good reasons to try it, some strategies for success, tools to help you through and understanding to know that no one is perfect and no one gets it right all the time.  I heard a well known television anchor say that she sets *little* goals for herself (a couple weeks at a time).  She will eat very healthy until that date (maybe a wedding or dinner party) and then splurge on anything she wants.  When it’s over, she gets right back on and plans out her next treat.  The goal setting helps her stay focused in the middle while also helping her enjoy the indulgence even more.

I would love to hear your thoughts on Whole30.  How has life derailed healthy eating even when you were focused and determined to do well?  What lessons have you learned about yourself in the process?

Whole30: My favorite foods and tools

Today I would love to share some of my favorite products and even a couple of very simple recipes.  When cutting out things that have been a part of your routine for a very long time, it is good to go simple.  These products cut out a few steps so that meals came together a bit quicker.  Who doesn’t love shortcuts in the kitchen!  These are my top 10 tips and tools to use during the Whole30.  {If you missed Whole30: Why I Chose to Tackle Whole30 and Why You Should Too and Whole 30: Where Do I Start? go check it out!}

Many of these items are specifically found at your local grocery store.  You’ll see here choices from my local Meijer, Target, Trader Joe’s as well as Costco.  I will specify what certain elements to look for with each item.  BUT, that doesn’t get you off the hook!  Be sure to look at every single label before you purchase (even the ones I tell you because products and their ingredients can change!).  Train yourself to start to notice the additives and extras that are in your convenience items.

ONE:  Kirkland Organic Marinara Sauce–You could use other marinara sauce, just make sure it doesn’t have any type of sugar in the ingredient list.  I often added this to Costco’s organic ground beef for meat sauce.

TWO:  Kirkland Signature Organic Ground Beef (Costco) was delicious with marinara over roasted spaghetti squash.  Cut spaghetti squash in half length-wise, brush with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Roast face down for 45 minutes at 400 degrees.  Very satisfying!
Ground beef was also great for making taco salad or tacos using Romaine leaves instead of tortillas.

THREE:  Low-sodium bacon is great with a breakfast hash, eggs or added onto salads for a salty, smoky bite.  Did you know that regular bacon has added sugar??  I didn’t.  Look for the low-sodium kind and you should have a winner.

FOUR:  Aidells Chicken and Apple Chicken Sausage was great with roasted sweet potatoes and a fried egg in the morning.  Equally fantastic for dinner with some eggs, veggies and potatoes for dinner.

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FIVE:  Pre-chopped and peeled organic butternut squash (Trader Joes) was nice because it eliminated those extra steps and was a nice alternative to sweet potatoes.  Great also with roasted brussell sprouts, olive oil and balsamic vinegar!

SIX:  GoodFoods or Wholly Guacamole were a necessity for me!  I used this on my bunless burgers, with my eggs in the morning and as a dip with veggie sticks as a snack.  I could NOT have done it without it!

SEVEN:  Creamy Almond Butter is delicious with a banana or apple for a snack or quick breakfast.

EIGHT:  Pre-mixed salads (use your own Whole30 approved dressing).  Sometimes it takes too long to make your own salad.  These were nice when I was starving and didn’t feel like all the chopping.  Be sure everything in the salad is approved.  I don’t believe the cranberries in this particular salad would be Whole30 approved.  It was also great to use broccoli slaw or cauliflower crumbles for quick stir-frys.

NINE:  Variety of nuts were always kept in small baggies in my car and purse.  Perfect for when you are caught out and can’t get home during mealtime hours.  Whole30 guidelines suggest choosing raw nuts to avoid being cooked in oil.  They are delicious just toasted in a fry pan over the burner for 1-2 minutes (be sure to watch them, they burn quickly!   Ask me how I know…).  When you can start to smell the nuttiness, they are done.

TEN:  My favorite fresh salsa was so delicious on tacos, scrambled eggs and steak.

These items helped make my experience a success.  If you consider doing the Whole30, try some of these items, I’m certain they will come in handy for you!  Be sure to check out my final Whole30 post where I make a few confessions and my overall opinions of the program.

Have you tried any of these food items?  What were some of your must-haves during the Whole30?

Whole30: Where do I start?

So you’ve decided to start your first Whole30!  I’m so impressed!  If you missed my post explaining why I decided to try tackling Whole30, be sure to check that out here.  You might be nervous, excited and fired up all at the same time.  Do you have “Eye of the Tiger” on repeat??  Well today I have three tips to get you started on the right track!

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Whole30 is intense but it is supposed to be.  Over the next 30 days you are choosing to fuel your body with only the healthiest food it can get.  Do you wonder what it will feel like?  There are times when you will feel hungry, tired and crabby because you are craving a caramel latte and you aren’t going to cave!  But there are other times when you will feel amazingly healthy and strong.  When the crabbiness is fighting hard, fight back with the knowledge that you are offering your body the best kind of nourishment.

When considering your first Whole30, do three things first:

ONE:  Order (or check out at your library) the New York Times Bestseller It Starts with Food by Melissa and Dallas Hartwig.  I needed to know the why behind all of those foods I was being asked to eliminate.  Honestly,  the book is a huge reason I finished.  Understanding how food is supposed to work with my body and not against it gave me the tools to overcome cravings.  Food is supposed to be fuel for your body to function.  What you put in determines what you get out.

Possibly even consider writing in a journal while you do this.  I documented my beginning weight (though you are only supposed to check your weight at the very end, not during the 30 days), what I hoped to get out of the plan and quotes from the book that helped hammer home certain concepts.  Also, guess at some of the triggers that will tempt you over the next couple of weeks.  For me, I knew that sugar was going to be a big one.  Then you might be surprised what you add to that list and how new triggers surfaced throughout your month.

TWO: Grab your calendar.
Do not start today.  Yes, you actually read that right.  Whole30 actually takes planning and strategy.  Consider your schedule: do you have a birthday/anniversary/wedding coming up?  Are you willing to eat according to the plan during those times?  These events are not a good enough reason to cheat.  Out of 365 days in a year, you can find 30 in a row to dedicate yourself to clean eating.  I wouldn’t recommend it around major holidays like Thanksgiving or Christmas, especially if you dream about the food you’ll enjoy during those times.

To be honest, my husband and I discovered how much we celebrate with food and drinks.  We chose to do ours around the month of April ending just after Memorial Day weekend.  It nearly killed both of us to be on a holiday weekend with family celebrating and not enjoying all the holiday “treats”.  And that was the end of our Whole30!  So be choosy when deciding when to tackle it.

THREE: Meal plan.

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First of all, take one week at a time.  Plan ahead and be ready for any unexpected thing that can happen.  Consider having the same breakfast everyday for the first couple of days so you don’t have to think about that meal.   Second, buy 4-5 types of vegetables and 4-5 proteins.  In It Starts with Food, the authors state that fruits are good but not necessary.  However, I felt apples and bananas (along with baggies of nuts) were the perfect food to keep in my bag for those unexpected delays that keep you away from your kitchen.

Particularly for the first week, keep it simple.
Breakfast: eggs, sauteed veggies (peppers/onions/tomatoes), avocado
Lunch: salad, chopped veggies, protein of choice
Snack: piece of fruit, small handful of nuts or almond butter
Dinner: protein, veggie, potato
Don’t start with Pinterest or Instagram because you might get overwhelmed.  A few days in to your first week go to Instagram, Whole30.com, or my personal favorite, Pinterest for meal ideas.

Day before you start, grill up at least a couple chicken breasts, make a handful of hard boiled eggs and chop up lots of veggies.  You will appreciate the ability to throw together a salad, stir fry or breakfast “hash”.  Buy more meat and veggies than you think you’ll need because you will go through them faster than you think.  Also, grab a couple larger bags of raw almonds or other nuts that you enjoy.  These are great to keep around for snacks.

You will certainly be the most successful if you:
Know your purpose (understanding the why)
Plan ahead (strategically choosing the when) and
Choose what to eat (being deliberate of the what).

Next time I will discuss a few confessions, a few meals and products that I could not have lived with out, and final thoughts.

Have you read It Starts with Food?  What do you anticipate will be your greatest challenge?  What do you look forward to in completing your Whole30 experience?

Whole30: Why I chose to tackle Whole30 and why you should too

I started Whole30 for the completely self-serving purpose of losing weight.  That is the truth.  There were some other things I was hoping to accomplish along the way, but honestly, I just wanted to lose some pounds and prove that I could actually cut. out. the. carbs.  (Why do we love carbs so much?!!?!?!) 

Honestly, I have done Weight Watchers (which among other programs, I see this as being one of the better ones), Medifast (I started losing my HAIR because of this one!  Whaaaat?), My Fitness Pal and various forms of “eat-nothing-you-like-and-you’ll-lose-weight” plans.  Clearly, if I have done that many, nothing has really stuck.  Reading different reviews of Whole30 intrigued me.

Here are the reasons I wrote down in my journal for starting (and finishing) Whole30:

Kick sugar addiction
Enjoy “treat” foods in moderation
Understand what food can do for my body
Understand my cravings and habits and use the knowledge to make better choices on a regular basis
Possibly eliminate headaches?
Gain more energy to spend with my kids
Regulate blood sugar issues

Couple of things you need to know:  Whole30 is an elimination eating plan (not a diet) to allow you assess how your body reacts to certain types of foods (i.e. dairy, grains/gluten, legumes, sugar, alcohol, MSG, sulfites and carrageennan).   It is called Whole30 because it wants you to be reintroduced to whole foods.  {Have you met squash before?  Yes?  Oh, a long time ago.  Let me reintroduce you!!}  I felt like I needed to relearn what REAL food looked and tasted like.

This program focuses on choosing to eliminate processed and other gut-busting foods for 30 days and then sloooowly reintroduce them to see how your body reacts.  It is NOT intended to be Whole365.  However, its creators, Melissa and Dallas Hartwig, would hope that over the 30 days you would identify some of your own triggers, what aggravates your gut and use that knowledge to move forward into a new healthy lifestyle.

My husband graciously agreed to do this with me, though he needed me to do all the meal planning and prep.  Normally I do most of this for him already, but Whole30 does require a good amount of planning, shopping (you will be buying all fresh produce and meats so you need to replenish often) and chopping.  As Americans, we use carbs as fillers ALL. THE. TIME.  Making tacos?  Let’s have rice!  Chicken parmesan?  A side of pasta!  How about a steak?  Mashed potatoes!!  Don’t have time to wait for chicken to defrost?  How about a sad excuse for protein slapped between two pieces of bread!!

“But hey!!  I added lettuce!  That’s a veggie!”
Ummmm.  No.  One wafer thin leaf of iceberg lettuce does not mean you ate your vegetable–singular!–today.
You see what I’m getting at.  I needed to know I could actually do it.

My mom loves to tease me about how my generation is solely focused on healthy eating and lifestyles.  I get it, and yes I believe we are.  BUT, I think that is a GOOD thing.  My parents played kickball and baseball outside until they were called in.  Our generation is inside playing on the iPad.  Yes, our kids might be better at computers but we have such an epidemic of childhood obesity it scares me for my own kids.  I want them to see that, yes, you can have cake at a birthday party, and something delicious at a carnival but you must also know your way around a rainbow of vegetables.  You don’t have to like all of them, I certainly don’t, but you need to find some that you do.  And how will they know which ones they like if they only know baby carrots and corn on the cob?

Ultimately, I wanted to answer some questions for myself and then hopefully pass on some of this new knowledge to my kids.   My kids need to see me saying no to unhealthy things and yes to things that fuel my body.  They need to know what “moderation” actually looks like.  In the next part of this series, I will talk about getting ready to do your own Whole30 and how to plan to successfully start (and finish!) your own Whole30.

Have you ever considered doing Whole30?  What is holding you back?  What would be your reasons for tackling it?  What would you hope to accomplish if you tried it?