Being Aunt Aly

Monday, September 22, 2014

When divorce becomes your reality, you think about the splitting of the obvious...the house, the bills, the finances, the "stuff." The task of dissecting it all was deeply painful but I think what has proven harder is the splitting of relationships. 

There was an unspoken understanding of 'these being my people,' of you taking these friends, and of each of us retaining our families. That is hard. I don't care so much about the stuff (unless you are talking about Addy's things and in that case, MommaBear won't part). But, it was hard for me to accept that those whom have become my family wouldn't maintain their role in my life.

Those very people that stood in the room with us on the day my beloved was born, those whom held her, and had the opportunity to take in her presence...those people were no longer our people but mine or his. 

Blessed am I because what I have found is that those very people love and care about me just the same as before that little divorce decree changed their title.

This was so abundantly clear to me one Sunday when I had the opportunity to spend the day with his niece and nephews...the kids whom I met the day they were each born, whom I have watched grow up, have celebrated their milestones, and love deeply. As we jumped in and out of the pool, hearing "Aunt Aly look" or "Aunt Aly race me" or "Aunt Aly catch" was such an incredible blessing. To them, I am still Aunt Aly. And, that role is not something I take for granted.

So in being a good aunt,  I treated them to ice cream after our swim with only one rule...the bowl was the limit. I let them each fill it as full as they could with ice cream, candy, and every topping their little taste buds fancied. And then I watched as they joyfully indulged. It only felt appropriate to fill them full as they were unknowingly filling me.


Also, I want to share the sermon from Sunday
It was Matthew 5:4. "Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted."

As I sat in the pew, I cried, I nodded in agreement, and I felt like I needed to shout "amen." So, I wanted to share. Friends, life is hard. Maybe you haven't lost a child or a marriage, but we all mourn something. A parent, our health, a dream, a job. Whatever it is for you, Jesus wants to meet you in the middle of your grief. Listen and be encouraged. I was.

Veggetti and Meatballs

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

If you asked Abby, I think she would tell you that her favorite Whole30 meal was meatloaf and cauliflower "mashed potatoes." But for me, hands down it was veggetti and meatballs.

The Veggetti was a purchase in the midst of our Whole30 journey and it was well worth the $14.99 price tag! Run and get it because it can turn veggies into pasta or lo-mein noodles!

Simply twisted and like magic, the zucchini and carrots were noodles!

 To cook the veggetti, just toss them into boiling water for three minutes and then drain.

As for the meatballs, I could not find a Whole30 recipe that I totally jived with (mainly because a lot of them had mushrooms, bison, or pork which I wasn't so sure about) so I combined and came up with my own.


1lb Beef (I use the leanest ground available)
1 Handful of Fresh Spinach (Shredded)
1 Small Sweet Potato (Peeled and Grated)
1/2 Tbsp Dried Parsley
1/2 tsp of Paprika
1 Egg
Salt and Pepper

Combine and roll into golf ball sized balls.

 To save time on the weekdays, I made the meatballs on Sunday and left them rolled in the fridge until I was ready to bake them. 

Coat the pan with coconut oil, spread the meatballs, and then cover with foil.
Bake at 375 degrees for 40 minutes.

Toss them over the cooked veggetti and top with sauce (if you are eating Paleo or Whole30, I highly recommend Costco's Kirkland brand of Marinara).

I told you the Whole30 meals were delicious! 
You can do it!

Day31 of The Whole30

Monday, September 15, 2014
So what did we eat on Day31 following the Whole30?

We indulged! Self-serve frozen yogurt with all the toppings for the win!
It was as if it was meant to be when a little email landed in my inbox on the morning of Day31. We were already planning (one of us may have taken the planning part very serious!) to treat ourselves but getting such an email made it feel all the more needed.

And it was good. Like really good.
And, my colon handled it like a champ {insert fist pump}.
Sorry if that is TMI but I say the word 'poop' or some variation at least 100 times a day for a living. 

But since we actually really enjoyed the Whole30, we plan to stick with the meal planning, prepping, and eating of real foods when we are at home. We stuck to every rule over the 30 days but now we will be a little more lacked if we are out and about (as in my purse won't double as a lunch box).


Thursday, September 11, 2014

It was about a year ago that I began to get serious about getting healthy. I had been a grieving momma for 18 weeks and yet still had no idea that a little message would pull the rug out from under my feet. Nonetheless, last July I started to get serious about refueling my weary body because the last thing I needed was to near the end of Year28 and look in the mirror only to realize that I didn't help myself. Certainly, I could go for mashed potatoes and 'so good you can eat it with a spoon gravy' from Stroud's, or Cinnamon Roll French Toast from Kate's (maybe even with a side of biscuits and gravy), or the biggest bowl of chip and salsa from Margaritas, or some de-light-ful BBQ from OK Joe's...oh BBQ, how I love thee. But, I knew that eating my feelings would only be a temporary fix and I would be left still doubting me. 

You see, after I learned of the affair, my self esteem was depleted. If only I was _____. Fill in a word and chances are, I thought it...funnier, smarter, prettier, skinner, more free spirited, or more outgoing. With an empty tank on my self esteem and a world that felt completely chaotic, how I cared for my body felt like the only thing I could control (well that and my eyebrows so they were well tended to). So, I got serious. You can read more about the start of my journey here.

Over the course of the last year, with the help of the little goldmine that is Pinterest, Instagram, and the new magical library card I acquired (sidenote: when I redid my bedroom, I opted to ditch the TV and it was the best decision as I have come to enjoy reading!), I was set. I searched for recipes and books about clean eating and landed upon the Paleo approach. It is a life style geared toward eating real foods. I spent a year doing my approach to Paleo and since clearly cavemen drank diet coke and ate the occasional Mexican dinner, I did too. When I was at home and cooking for myself, I ate Paleo. When I was eating out, I didn't fret about the indulgences. 

Coupled with my diet change, I got back into boxing. An hour of wailing on a bag honestly became a form of anger therapy for me. There may or may not have been a few times when I was jabbing with all might as tears streamed down my face. The instructors looked at me unsure how to respond and then just let me do my thing. Therapeutic I tell ya. 

Shortly after moving in, Abby encouraged me to sign up for a 5K with her. I am in no way a runner but slowly we worked our way up to three miles and completed our first race in May. What I discovered was running became tranquility for me and somewhat spiritual too. No worries, I have not lost all my marbles. I assure you, my former self would have rolled her eyes at my current self but running has become a time for me to clear my head, to focus, and to listen. Trust me, I don't rise with the sun because I love to exercise, I have just really come to appreciate the serenity that the open run has provided. 

This summer I picked up a copy of It Starts With Food and after reading, Abby was gung-ho to start the Whole30. So while she was on a mission trip in Guatemala, I cleaned out the pantry, fridge, and freezer of all non-compliant foods. I made a calendar and a binder of meal ideas. And then, I restocked with lots of fresh veggies, fruits, and meats. And for 30 days, there was no cheating! Although I will confess...our budget didn't allow for strictly grass fed, free range, or completely organic foods, we just made the best choices based off our budget.

And we did it! 30 days of nothing by clean, nutrient rich, real foods! 
That is an entire 30 days without Diet Coke for me! At first it felt like a crime against humanity to pass a QuikTrip, see the sign for 79 cent fountain drinks, and keep driving. But rest assured, I made it. 

Surprisingly, it was much easier than we anticipated. And honestly my biggest surprise was how many foods I actually like that I thought I didn't! Things like sweet potatoes, nectarines, salmon, blueberries, cashews, and watermelon. 

We made our weekly grocery store run on Sunday and then food prepped for the entire week. With the dinner calendar on hand, weeknight meals became relatively easy as everything had been prepped on Sunday. And we were really surprised by how many of the meals we absolutely loved!

I won't pretend to be a expert on anything Paleo or the Whole30, but here are some pictures of the foods we have been enjoying. And let me tell you, there were some really, really good meals! 


I did have to set my alarm to get up about 15 minutes earlier to prepare breakfast but it was worth it to me. Usually I made eggs (either scrambled or fried in coconut oil), a side of a veggie (either a pile of raw spinach, stir fried peppers & zucchini, or a grated sweet potato), and a Whole30 compliant chicken sausage (which I found at Costco).

 When I was craving pancakes, I found a recipe for a sweet-and-savory blueberry tortilla and it was delish!

I kept lunch pretty simple and typically stuck with leftovers or a salad of some sort. Sometimes it was a taco salad with spinach and guacamole and beef, peppers, and onion that I cooked on a prep day. Or a garden salad with Sunday prepped chicken, carrots, macadamia nuts, hard boiled eggs, and  homemade ranch (of which the base is Paleo mayo), or tuna salad (using the same mayo as the base). 

Snacking consisted of carrots or a fruit with handful of pistachios, almonds, cashew butter, or almond butter. My go-to snack was Monkey Salad (it was also good with strawberries, blueberries, or nectarines in place of the bananas). We treated ourselves to caramelized apples with dinner one night.  And then there were sweet potato...lots and lots of sweet potatoes. Microwaved, grated into hash browns, or baked into fries. I am a convert to lover of sweet potatoes.

Dinner was my jam though. Probably because I had someone to cook with who was equally as motivated and excited to try new recipes and eat yummy foods. 

We made zucchini lasagna
Actually the first time I made it, I made extra of the stuffing and froze it so this time I just had to thaw, slice fresh zucchini, layer it up, and bake!

There was ginger chicken on stir fried lo-mein noodles (made from zucchini and carrots), meatloaf (@whole30recipes on IG) and cauliflower "mashed potatoes," and garden fresh peppers stuffed with beef and veggies. 

Before you go doubting, I am a mashed potato loving girl and was pleasantly surprised by the cauliflower mash...I mean I thought I didn't like cauliflower. 
The key to the mash is coconut milk!

And one of my favorites, salmon cakes!

Or my other favorite, veggiti and meatballs! For the love of meatballs, they were delightful (and I couldn't find a recipe that I was totally on par with so I made one up and will share it soon). For now, behold the beauty. 

And for one of our last meals, we decided to go out with a bang.
Grilled steak with veggies and pineapple.

There was only one small causality in the Whole30...

Turns out my chopping skills were sub par and the stuffed peppers resulted in a trip to the urgent care. A couple of quick stitches and all was well.


Because I know you will ask, I lost 5 pounds and Abby lost 8.
I didn't do the Whole30 to lose weight, I wanted to be more mindful of the foods I was eating and the ways they affected my body. Obviously no one is going to complain about dropping a few lbs or of feeling less 'fluffy' but really what I feel like I gained was a better palate for foods that I didn't even know I would like and a challenge to take the time to better fuel me. 

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