Vacation Meal Plan!

healthy-vacation-meal-planWe came home from a great little getaway to a sleepy little beach town. The whole trip was unplugged (more on that another day… so embarrassingly hard), and we stayed mostly inside due to rainy weather. As much as that may sound like a bore, it was incredible and connecting. All the cozying, cuddling, dance parties, board games, reading, yoga, and homemade food (mostly ;)) we could manage.

Our kids drank it up. Once the twitch to check my phone dissipated, I did too.

I have lots about this trip to share, but today I wanted to give you a little mini meal plan for easy, wholesome, vacation eats. This trip was easy on the prep front, full of healthy food we bought already prepared, and mixed with enough homemade to make it all feel really right for our family.

Dinner (at arrival):  Snack plate! I raided Costco for easy, whole food choices. We had apples, almond butter, guac cups, hummus cups (the new kirkland brand organic have an amazingly short ingredient list!), GF crackers and some veggie chips. It was a light dinner but worked well for our snacky kids.

**Note** My kids aren’t super adventurous eaters. A big reason I meal plan is to keep our meals at least somewhat similar to at home. They eat really well at home, but at restaurants they rely on gluten/processed kid menu picks, that also cause big problems in behavior and how their bodies feel. Choosing to put in a little extra work to avoid eating out helped not only our budget, but our vacation to actually be far less stressful!


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Breakfast:  We pan cooked bacon and eggs for everyone, easy and quick! I bought russet potatoes I had cooked at home (in the Instant Pot! I do this often to make breakfasts and lunches easier. I cook 5 russets and 6 sweet potatoes, steam for 10min, and they’re perfect!) and just chopped them up and sautéd in left over bacon fat. These were served with some fruit, and gluten free toast. It was a huge breakfast and kept us going strong for a long time! img_1305

Lunch: We had a late lunch of extra potatoes, peanut butter and jelly on GF bread (my favorite is the gluten free white bread made by Franz at Costco). It was just a scrounge meal since our breakfast was huge and dinner would be large and early too (some family came out to meet us to share a meal at our vacation spot!).

Dinner: For dinner we grilled (benefits of staying in a house! yeah!) big steaks, and marinated balsamic chicken. Making dressings and marinades, and bringing pre-cooked foods, will shorten all your meal making and help it to still feel like a vacation! I bought some organic already cooked beets at Costco and used those, green apples, and cucumber to toss together an easy salad. Using some of the reserved balsamic marinade from the chicken to have as dressing for our salad also added to speedy prep time. This hearty meat and salad dinner set us up for a fun dessert…


While we were planning our trip, I asked my girls what a fun dessert treat would be for them. My oldest had the brilliant idea of fondu! Not only is it a blast, and has unending options, it’s interactive and can be kept relatively healthy! If you regard chocolate as healthy (I do). It’s also an easy one to pack! Melting chocolate is easy, traveling with an iced cake… is not.


I melted chocolate chips with coconut oil and we had apples, mixed fruit, and gluten free pretzels for dipping (or spearing!). If you have littler kids, provide them a ramekin of their own chocolate for dipping. It helps with mess, provides more fun, and is a little less…. germ ridden (ha! only my kids? Fingers DID end up in the pot).


Breakfast: The following morning was our last there, so I knew we would be doing cleaning/packing and lamenting leaving.  I left it all up to pre-prep and easy. My husband and  kid’s had some left over steak, steak and eggs followed up by Trader Joe’s gluten free frozen waffles. I just had waffles and fruit.



Also, obviously, coffee. I ground up enough for a few days and brought my homemade pumpkin spice syrup along with some coconut cream. It made for indulgent, sweet, Fall coffee to enjoy with a stormy beach view. Basically, perfection.

Quick Tips:

Bring you staples: What do you make your kids when they are hungry between meals? For us it’s fruit and nut butter, sausage, or eggs.  So I brought a ton of all of that. I could easily have cobbled together three more meals just with the easy staples we had on hand!

Shop smart on pre-made food: Coscto has great easy options with hummus cups, guac cups, already cooked beets, and Trader Joe’s has riced broccoli or cauliflower, and my big concession was gluten free frozen waffles (not the best choice, but a fun treat on vacation!). Read ingredient lists. There are so many out there that are short and only whole food filled, just as there are lots out there with crazy preservatives. Read well!

Treat Wisely: I struggle with wanting vacations to be one treat after another. That can mean that I buy ice-cream, cookies, super sweet coffee additions, and bars of chocolate for after bedtime. I always end up feeling awful at the end! Instead this time we planned a fancy and indulgent dessert, brought pumpkin spice, and maple syrup, that was it. No after bedtime treats, no extra temptations. It worked really well for us, and made the home transition far less bumpy that typical post vacation!

messy me, trying to have it all.


Messy is a feeling that looks different on everyone, and new each time. I recently read a piece that had the headline;        “Family, Relationship, Sleep, Job, Exercise; Pick Three” and it hit home. Hard.

I’ve been waking at 6am to work on writing goals, pitches, take classes on different aspects of blogging and social  media, and write posts for this page. It’s been exciting! I wake without trouble, not tired by the ideas, and instead buzzing with whatever tasks I’ve written for myself.

I’ve taken the energy I had for Exercise and let it flow into this space I’m creating for a Job. And that worked for a bit.  My newfound work, ambition, and schedule overshadowed the negative self thoughts  that typically accompany a workout slump.

I’ve thought a lot recently about those of us who walk the line. Who are not depressed. Are capable of getting going when we need to, and don’t have a clinical diagnosis. But still struggle. Where the slumps can feel long, the feelings or clouds don’t lift, and the thoughts begin to grow into really cruel words. I hit that point and knew that it was time to shift things around again, and find a new way to be motivated.

I reached out to our Strong and Free, Women Supporting Women Facebook group for some advice… and left with a thought I chewed on all day after. The idea of taking stock of myself and deciding what Maintenance looks like for me. What do I need to put back into my day, or take out, to maintain my heart and brain better? While still going after these goals I feel the brain space, and motivation, for.

I thought about whether a full stop break from exercise would be best, to guiltlessly embrace the pounds and softness of the new job, full time homeschooling, and taking on a couple of new side projects. I sat in that idea for quite a while, until I remembered that has never worked for me. Walking the line of depression means that I need to know what saves me and what doesn’t. Trust that what works for some, may not work for me, in short; Know Myself. This also should come along with the caveat of, judge less. Judging someone for prioritizing their evening run, or afternoon workout just as we shouldn’t judge someone for saying “this is a less active season” and leaving that be. One size does not fit all. Walking the line is hard.

Exercise is my lifeline. I’m not great at it. I’m not fast. I won’t at all proclaim to be “super Fit!”. I can’t do many real pushups, I’ve never done a pull up, running feels like lead feet every time, and it’s just as tooth pulling to press play on a video for me in the evening as it is in the morning. But once I’m going, and my body is in motion, I feel different. I don’t feel bad about myself in any way. I feel like I am doing it. And so quickly, I feel the chemical change in me, endorphins! and I’m grinning through squat jacks and ending the workout feeling like a new person.

My Undone, messy, has taken so many paths. It’s looked like me crying to Charlie with a newborn in my arms, enorged, and wondering when I will ever sleep again. My messy has looked like me drinking too much, making regrettable decisions and waking up feeling sick and uneasy. Messy has been crying after reading too many Facebook posts, and wondering if I’ve made the right choices for my daughters. Messy before was always heartbreaking. Exhausted, overwhelmed. This Messy is different. My little family, and me, have grown up a bit.

My home is relatively kept, I feel zeal and excitement for Home-School, side projects, and all the hopes and dreams I have for writing. This is a messy, undone, and slightly overfull time in my life. I think it’s true that you can’t have it all, but for this little season, my messy is me trying. In brief moments, I do have it all.

I started a new workout program last night, it’s meant to be 21 days straight, but I plan to finish it at my leisure, not feeling awful when I put off a day. Grace is the factor that will change me. Grace is the evolutionary addition to my Messy. It will give me the space to have it all, but not quite perfectly.


Fall Style, Prana Review

I always stock the girls up on new leggings, a pair of fresh boots, and a new sweater for Fall. This year, Prana and Sweat Pink spoiled me with the same kind of gift. I am so excited to add both of these pieces to my wardrobe, and happy to share about them with you! If you are a fan use the code PFS16PHFT at checkout to receive an extra 15% off until October 31!

Prana clothes have long been on my list of favorites. I’ve always loved their organic cotton, and ethically made workout wear but didn’t know much about their casual, daytime clothes. But as my life goal is to basically always be in pants I could do yoga in, because . . . comfort; these fit the bill! I wear yoga pants or tights and dresses about 90% of the time, jeans are not typically my first choice.

But I chose the Kara jeans because they have a lot of stretch, and are versatile (can be rolled up, or are perfect for tucking into boots). They are a medium rise but have a thick waist band so they don’t feel low or like I can’t squat/run/bend/chase kiddos comfortably. They come in a ton of colors and now I’m wanting to buy some of the bright red ones! This hunter green was my selection because I’m a big fan of chambray tops and often struggle with what to pair them with, because a Texas Tuxedo isn’t quite my jam. These worked perfectly.

I sized up after reading their size chart but could have easily grabbed my typical size and felt great in them (these ones have quite a bit of room in them), they have a lot of stretch and are super long (made to roll) so if you are long legged they would work well for you too. I’ve been pretty blown away looking through the #PrAnaFallStyle hashtag on IG and seeing how well these jeans work on a large range of body types. I often struggle with jeans because my waist is a couple sizes smaller than my thighs, but these were an easy fit and a true to size fit (but I did feel that their size chart was a little off, likely because these have quite a lot of stretch, so I want them to fit more snug).

Prana, and Sweat Pink were also kind enough to send over a sweater. This was, obviously, right up my alley and easy for me to adopt into my wardrobe and NEVER WANT TO TAKE OFF!


The cut, the seams, and the color… YES. This is the Mattea Sweater and is made of recycled wool, and is such a perfect weight. I worried it might be too thick, but it’s not at all. It’s soft, not stiff, fully lined so not itchy at all, and so cozy. I’m wearing a medium here and other than the sleeves being a bit long, it’s a great fit all the way through and I love where it hits on my hips.

And, obviously, I put the jeans to the test.


They passed with flying colors. Thanks again to Prana and Sweat Pink for these awesome pieces to add to my wardrobe, they will be in the rotation for years to come.

Butternut Squash Lasagna, Welcome Fall!


To view the recipe, click here!

Transition Time, Back to (home) School

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #StimulateTheSenses #CollectiveBias


As each of their playdate buddies has been packing up and heading off on the school bus, it’s gotten clearer and clearer, back-to-school is here, no matter how deeply I dig in my heels. Our home has been in full SUMMER VACATION swing for months now. Transitioning from endless beach days, slow mornings, cartoon filled afternoons, and a general “whatever goes!” vibe, into Back To School, routine, schedules, and places to be… early… is tough.

Embarrassingly it’s hardest on me as my girls are amazingly go-with-the-flow and love routine as much as they love sporadic camping trips. But the days are beginning to shorten and I’m starting to feel the pull towards roasting veggies, cozy sweaters, chapter books read aloud to start our day, and pulling out and cracking open some curriculum. This is our second year home schooling, and I am realizing how much setting up our ‘school space’ is an enormous part of the transition from Summer to Autumn, for me. Part of that involves using a few different essential oils, like these two I’ve been using recently from Nature’s Truth – Calming and Focus.  I’ve been diffusing the calming blend, more for me than anyone else, and I notice that our home feels less frantic. The roller on focus blend has been coming to my rescue as my brain goes wild with ideas and options and all the “we have to study this!” and “I’m not doing enough!”.

We end up doing the majority of our school at the kitchen table, a park bench, the car, on a road trip, in a hotel room, at the cafeteria table at our supplemental school program… you get the idea. However, there is something to having a special space, just their own, where we can set out the schedule, I can sit to read to them, and they can organize their tools just how they like; it’s been very important to all of us. One of the components of traditional school that I loved the most, growing up, was my desk. Having a space to organize and focus at, and decorate on my own – and I knew that having a spot like that was paramount to giving my girls the experiences they will enjoy in our homeschool journey.

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The space we created is a flip down table, so we can fold it away for when we just want a cozy reading space or have guests over. Our school year hasn’t quite started and already this little table has been getting daily use, as the calmer and less frantic feeling of fall is settling over us. I’ve been reading aloud each morning from The Magicians Nephew and the girls have taken to sitting and coloring at the desk while I read. It’s been amazing how palpable the shift from Summer to Fall feels just by adding in this small bit of routine. Diffusing the lavender and calm blend is a gentle way to supplement this transition. I have also put a few drops in our baths here and there, spiked my homemade room sprays (half witch hazel, water, and several drops of lavender or calm oil from Nature’s Truth). I’m really looking forward to adding more schedule and routine to our days, and seeing how our productivity and learning changes and grows.

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Here are a few of my go-to tips for making that move from Summer to Fall:

  1. Quiet your environment. Use the shift in weather as a time to shake off the summer habits. For us, summer was a time where we started our mornings with TV. We are dropping that habit and picking up this reading out loud one. I’m waking with the kids, adding reading into our morning while the oatmeal cooks. It doesn’t have to be reading out loud, but any small shift into a morning routine that involves your children is a good way to move into Fall, no matter what their ages.
  2. Set an intention for the day. The girls and I are doing this together. Deciding what today will be: will it be a home day, an adventure day, a productive day, a journaling day, a movie day, we talk together and figure out which/what combination we will be creating.
  3. Smells. I’m a big smell person. Fall for me is baking, roasting, incense, all of it. So giving essential oil defusing a try was an easy leap for me, and I’ve been pleasantly surprised at it’s positive effects.
  4. Cozy. In the PNW the weather has begun its turn into fall, as our mornings and nights get chilly, and with it I’ve been transitioning our decor. Adding in far more big blankets, floor pillows, and warm light lamps. When it feels cozy inside, it’s easier to be excited for the grey and rain, instead of missing the sun and beach.

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I saw these oils at Walgreens and was happy about 1. their quality and 2. their price. At our local store they were on sale, so buying two to give a try to help us snap out of our summer obsession wasn’t going to break the bank and was easy to swallow. I chose to try a roller of focus for me because I’ve been struggling with really wanting to jump in with both feet into school this year. I’ve felt pulled between two extremes of Unschooling and Public Schooling, neither of which is the right fit for our family. I knew I needed all the help I could get to focus, calm down, and start some list making to get every ball rolling for my family.

Finding these oils was easy at the store, they are in the vitamin aisle, and all together in an easy to spot display.


I have a little diffuser, but have my eyes out for one of the gorgeous wood ones, now that I know my family is a fan and that we can actually feel the benefits.  We are slow and steady stepping into Fall, and making it as gentle a transition as we can has helped immeasurably in all of us growing in excitement and readiness for this year ahead. Here’s to Pre-K and 1st grade, second year of Homeschooling, and as much Calm as I can infuse into this little house!

Also, here is a coupon code to make Nature’s Truth Oils even more affordable for you. To connect and learn more, check out their social hub Nature’s Truth  Let me know if you give them a try! Or if you find any other blends of theirs that you especially love!

Paleo Pumpkin Spice

There are hundreds of homemade pumpkin spice syrups out there, but I’ll be totally unbiased and let you know that this one is the best, and isn’t loaded with weird ingredients or corn syrup. The ingredients are simple, and you likely have them on hand, and it tastes like real pumpkin. It’s sweet enough to be perfect to just spike a cup of black coffee with, but smooth enough to easily blend into your bullet proof to make it basic AF and all your fall dreams. You can also easily omit the real pumpkin and you’ll still end up with a really tasty, and fall flavored drink, but it won’t be near as amazing.


Paleo Pumpkin Spice Syrup

1/3 cup maple syrup

1/3 cup raw (or not, but raw is better and actually beneficial to your body!) honey

1/3 cup pumpkin puree

1 tsp. cinnamon

1/2 tsp. ginger

1/2 tsp. nutmeg

(optional) 1tsp. tumeric I like the flavor it adds, and it’s anti-inflammatory benefits, but it does change the profile a bit!

Mix your maple and honey in a sauce pan on low heat until fully melted, combined, and beginning to bubble around the edges. Stir in your pumpkin puree and spices, well. Turn off heat and allow it to sit a minute, stir again, strain well, and jar. Keeps in the fridge for a week+. It’s very sweet stuff so a little goes a long way!

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Mix it! Pumpkin Spice Protein Latte!

In your blender combine:

1 scoop Vital Proteins Unflavored Collagen Whey or Collagen Peptides

2tbs (one if you aren’t a fan of sweet coffee!) Pumpkin Spice Syrup

12oz (I do 16!) hot, black, coffee

Blend blend blend blend!  If you want it extra milky, add a little almond or coconut milk, but it will get frothy from the Collagen or the Whey on it’s own. I top mine with cinnamon!

You can use a blender, but it also works to use an immersion blender, or stick blender (if you don’t have one, they are magic. Bullet proof coffee and the EASIEST way to make creamy and smooth soups!) I have this brand. That’s often what I use since it’s small and easy to clean (and came with a perfect sized container for coffee making!). Just remember that the liquid will go way up on the sides so it can spill easily if you aren’t paying attention.


Enjoy, and FALL!

New Adventurers, New Love


Charlie and I have known each other forever, we began dating at 17, married at 22, and had a baby at 23. We weren’t adventurers then, we were college kids, day laborers, many minimum wage job holders, and bar hoppers. If you weren’t an adventurer before, two kids: two and under won’t make you one in any grand REI’looking sense. You might adventure to a movie after bedtime (and check your phone frantically). Or adventure to a dinner out with children… Or possibly adventure to a new park, or a short day hike, and then pack it up quick when you realize you forgot wipes. But, for us, becoming an outdoor adventurer, was dang near impossible with children under 4.

But this year it began to click. Both the ages and stages of our kids, and our desire. I’ve always wrestled with whether or not I’m a “city girl” or “outdoorsy girl”, finally coming to the obvious conclusion. I’m both. I don’t feel any need to boldly proclaim either, as I adore both. I’m fed by both. I grow in both. It’s similar to how I feel about claiming my extroversion or introversion, I snag both. Whenever I need them.

Our marriage has had rough patches. Those seasons in marriage that are just . . . less fun. The going through the motions, overrun with work and orders and hours. Children and planning and school. This Summer was a little divisive and a tough season for us. The girls and I were out and running and playing nearly every day, sun for hours, new spots to uncover in our home. But the divide felt huge when we came home, as Charlie couldn’t join us on much and the weekends were spent trying to accomplish the to-do list, all that was left undone while we were out exploring, and trying to keep up with all the work.


These past several weeks we’ve really made a point of just ignoring the long to-do list at home, not letting the possibility of crowds deter us, and plunging into the long car rides it can sometimes take to find a treasure… and going! So often I let all of the “that could be hard…” or “that will take a long time…” or “I don’t want to pack all that.” keep us from getting out. I’m seeing more and more how when I just rip off the bandaid, it gets easier and easier, more and more worth it, and fills me up in a way I didn’t quite realize I was missing.

I expected this would make me love where I live more, grow my list of what I want to see, and endear my kids to nature in a new way. What I didn’t expect was to fall in love with my husband again.

Everyone talks about when you have a new baby, you fall in love all over again with your spouse. Seeing them parent, love, give, all of it, it will take your breath away and give you a brand new facet of love for this person you thought you knew so fully. I had that experience, twice, but now I’m getting a piece of it all over again.

Seeing him play, adventure, and speak out loud what new things he wants to see, seek, try. It’s reminding me of watching him rock our babies and kiss their tiny noses for the first time. It’s obviously slightly less enchanting, but it’s no less captivating. Being shown a piece of him that I didn’t know before, feels like such a privilege. Checking off ‘bucket list’ items together is bonding in a way I didn’t expect.

We’re adventuring, getting out, and hungry for more. These pictures are from our last summer adventure. But we have plenty planned, and unplanned, for fall. I love this seasonal transition so much, both in the PNW and in us. It’s another time that I’m really embracing, and loving, our growing up family.


These pictures are from Ross Lake/ Lake Diablo in North Cascades National Park. It’s a gorgeous drive, and there are some fun spots to break up the trip. I’ll share more about it soon!


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Intuitive Cooking: Perfect Fall Soup Base

Best adaptable soup recipe

Being an intuitive cook is something I’ve grown over the years. I think it’s been mostly created by needing to work around allergies, seasonal food, budget, ever changing kiddo tastes, and a complete inability and aversion to recipe following. As such, I’ve found that the best way for me to cook is to know what flavors pair together well, what makes the best bases (for soup, cookies, breads, casseroles, ect.) and how to adapt them to whatever we have on hand or have a hankering for.

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This soup is very, very adjustable. The base is very easy and you’ll likely have everything on hand. The add-in’s are where you can tailor it to your taste. Shown in the picture is quinoa, but it’s been equally tasty with red/green lentils, split pea, or ground turkey or shredded chicken (just cut the liquid in half), or nothing added at all and have a nice brothy vegetable soup. This soup is vegan (unless you add meat, obviously) but can be turned into a great whole30 or primal soup, or served up for a nice vegetarian/vegan meal.

I have made this stove top, and in my instant pot and have equal success! I plan to make a batch most every Sunday in my Instant Pot so that I can have it on hand for my lunches on school days!

Nearly all the veggie mix-in’s are easily swapped, I’ve had the same success with russets as with sweet potatoes, zucchini and summer squash, just as tasty with broccoli and cauliflower, or any mixture of the above.

Home Cooking, fall soups

Fall Soup Base:

Mince well (I use my vitamix !): 

6 stocks cellery

6 large carrots

6 garlic cloves

1 yellow onion

Set your IP (or on the stove top with 1tbs oil) to sauté and sauté your minced mix well until aromatic and onions are translucent.

Chop well: 

1 flat pearl tomatoes (about ten tomatoes, or one large can of diced tomatoes will do)
2-3 zucchini

2-3 summer squash

1 head cauliflower (you can also use riced cauliflower)

2 sweet potatoes (can also be ribboned or spiralized)

(you can substitute or change for any other veggie, such as: broccoli, russet potatoes, kale/spinach, etc.)

Mix all chopped veggies in with the sautéed mix. 

Stir in:

one cup Lentils (or split peas, quinoa, or any other small grain or sprouted bean, or cooked ground meat or shredded chicken)

1 quart veggie broth (reduce by half if you are using meat instead of grain/legumes)

Stir in:

Salt, seasoning mix (I love Primal Palate seasonings, but Trader Joe’s 21 seasoning salute is also great and an inexpensive option, but whatever your favorite house seasoning is will work just fine).

Stir well and simmer for the day, or set your Instant Pot on “Soup” (30min) and enjoy!

We often top ours with Nutritional Yeast and avocado, but chips or croutons would go well too, it would also pair perfectly with a fancy grilled cheese, or vegetarian sandwich. I’ve also topped it with Sweet Potato “toasts” with tasty success too! Happy Fall Cooking!



Five things I want to buy… right now.


I’m really (really) late to the online shopping game. My girlfriends have long been singing the prime praises, knocking it out of the park at birthday parties, and always stocked on art supplies. It just never worked for me, I’m tactile and want to touch what I’m buying, and I also don’t *ever* want one click installed on my computer, because… duh.

However, last year we did some of our Christmas shopping early and online, and it saved me SO much money and sanity. So starting now, September (can I turn on Burl Ives yet??), I’m beginning to hunt down some gift ideas that I think will fit the bill for some friends and family (or just for me . . . what?) and be easy on my bank account.

I’m also realizing that, with school starting next week, a full at home curriculum schedule and trying to make working from home happen… my time to wander Target and the local toy store is zero.

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Today I’m sharing 5 cute things I want, right now!

Charlie has plans to make me a cutting board, but it’s likely going to be months before he has the time. But this cute heart shape one… YES.

I use this mud mask a couple times a week, and it’s super inexpensive but a really fun way to treat a girl friend. I was thinking of popping this, some bars of Theo chocolate, and a bubble bath together as a friend gift.
51m1RoMa5+L._SL1024_THESE tea bags!…. I would buy the set and then pop a bag into my own stocking, my Mom’s, and into a new Mama gift basket with some Joy (help you feel happy!) tea from our local tea shop. These are just too cute.

This portable art set would be perfect for us to tote to school here and there, and Ever would LOVE it. She’s been drawing fairy houses, lands, adventures, and having something special for her when her big sister is in classes is going to be pretty important this year (also, on sale today!).

I have this water bottle on my wishlist… our friends have them and it’s mind blowing how long water stays cold/hot. I’ve put them in my cart and back at the grocery store at least three times… maybe Mama needs a back to school present? 610wmk79BWL._SL1500_

I should be prepping some soup for lunches, working on our learning plan, and trying to figure out a fun outing for today… but instead I’m clicking through Etsy, Amazon, and Pintrest looking for new mom kit ideas, how to send a nice basket to a friend who’s struggling, and what Christmas gifts are best to buy early…

Fall feels like it’s come, so quick, and with it I am ready to nest and hunker down and with that I’m getting gifty!

Have you seen any great sales, or especially cute things? I am planning on sharing a couple more gift guides in September and October too; fun educational/homeschool kiddo gifts, guys who are impossible to buy for (CHARLIE!), stocking stuffers, and a gift guide for tired Mamas… my specialty (me!). I’d love to see what things you are eyeing. Creating my wishlist and buying a few things here and there now is going to save me so much sanity and money come December!


Making Whole Foods Easier

Easy Whole Foods at Home

We’re almost two years into our Whole Foods and Paleo food lifestyle, and it’s easy to now take it for granted and feel like it’s “easy” but the reality is that it took the better part of a year for me to really find my groove, favorite recipes, and where to cut corners vs. where to buy convenience. I wanted to share a few tips that can really help you start down the Whole Food path without feeling so incredibly overwhelmed.

Firstly, if you don’t have any food sensitivities, or allergies, don’t cut out entire food groups. There are lots of ways to enjoy dairy, gluten, and even some sugar. The key is making them the smaller, more moderate, part of your plate instead of the be all end all. There is nothing inherently wrong with having bread with your soup, or a stellar sandwich. It’s more about being aware of your go-to  meals and what makes up the bulk of their nutrition. When I think back on our go-to meals three years ago they all lean heavily on gluten and dairy to make it filling (lasagna, pizza, burritos, pasta dishes, that was about it…) but all of those meals can easily have a few ingredients swapped to make them easier to digest.

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Know How to Swap:

Lasagna Noodles –> Eggplant, squash ribbons, or gluten free pasta (I buy this brand, I like that I don’thave to boil it first).

Pizza Crust –> I’ve had hit or miss success with cauliflower crust, but I love cornmeal crusts (lots of easy options, and Trader Joe’s also has an easy flatbread one), but the best I’ve found is doing them on eggplant rounds, or pizza toppings on spaghetti squash (TO DIE FOR).

Burritos –> We eat burrito bowls at least once a week, just toss all the regular suspects on top of greens or with a side of chips for kiddos. My girls like everything deconstructed anyhow, so a big pile of beans, cauliflower rice, and grated raw milk cheddar is a perfect meal for them. Add in guacamole and salsa and I’m set.

Pasta –> Obviously you can just substitute for gluten free pasta (there are also chickpea and lentil varieties that pack a huge protein count) but we have our whole family gobbling up spiralized zucchini, sweet potato, squash, and carrot ribbons with pasta sauce, or pesto. It’s SO good. I buy mine already cut at Whole Foods, but really want to get the spiralizer attachment for my kitchen aid mixer.

Those are just our families typical, but if you have any allergies and want help navigating swaps, I LOVE that kinda thing (there are SO many ways to fake eggs in baking! I could talk about it… for way too long). So just ask me in the comments here on or FB.

Easy Whole Foods

Know When to buy Convenience, when to homemake it.

For me it doesn’t always come down to cost, though that does play in, but often what will save me the most energy/time/stress.The number one convenience purchases I make are for my kids. Dried fruit, the new gluten free PB&J bars from Trader Joe’s, and gluten free bread (Franz from Costco is the closes to white bread we’ve found and the girlies love it).  That means that while homemade dressing is super easy, buying store bought keeps me going back to salads again and again. I like Primal Kitchens Mayo as a base for dressings a ton, I can just mix it with sirracha or balsamic (tastes like a steak fries dip!) and it’s creamy and perfect (or as a base for Dump Ranch!). I also love their greek and honey mustard dressings, and Charlie often uses those to pack work lunches.

I also often buy the little nut butters to keep in my purse, RxBars, and all the sparkling water to drink… all the time.

Meal Prep… simply. Meal prepping can be an olympic sport, when I have the energy I do it BIG. Whole meals into the freezer, everything cut and washed and ready, breakfasts and quiche all portioned out, and proteins pre cooked, beans sprouted, and homemade nut butter done. That only happens every few months, hah. But my baseline meal prep is pretty doable in about an hour after  my grocery trip. Key: do it right after shopping, it’s easy to feel motivated before you’ve even put your groceries away. Everything is at it’s most fresh, and you end up having a meal prepped to eat right afterwards too, so it’s easy to feel like you will be doing it anyhow.

  1. Chop: I cut up my daily eating veggies (carrots, celery, easy kiddo grazable ones), zucchini, onions, peppers, and some potatoes. That sets me up for easy soup starters, or snack plates, hash’s for breakfast, or just grab n’ go snacks.
  2. Hard Boil Eggs (we use our Instant Pot to do it… and the shells pop off like magic)
  3. Soak and Cook beans (I use my Instant Pot for this too, I soak my beans overnight and then cook for about 30min!)
  4. Salsa Chicken (IP again, haha, I make two packages worth of chicken, with two jars of store bought salsa, and cook for 22 min and then shred for easy protein)
  5. Double batch Lentil/Bean/Chicken soup, one batch of soup can be a few days off lunches for Charlie and I, or dinner and next day lunch for prep night.
  6. Nut’ Ola, this gets put on everything. Salads, chia pudding, yogurt, with milk, easy quick protein!

That boils down to: Eat what feels good in body and heart, know how to swap when your meals get to heavy, buy it store-bought if it’s going to save your sanity, and do a veggie heavy meal prep to make it easier to reach for whole foods all week long. All so super doable, but hard to get the ball rolling. What works best for me is to start with one goal (meal prep is going to give you the best pay off!) and work on making that a part of your families routine. Despite no longer being on a Whole30, it’s so a part of our routine that my grocery shopping, meal prepping, and eating reflect these months and months of whole food eating, it’s been amazing to let go of the rules and realize that I still reach for great things, and am finding that I actually do have a lot more self control and self love than I was giving myself credit for.

I hope these tips can help your family! Again, if you have any other questions or want help trouble shooting a sensitivity, reach out in the comments! My dream job is to work at a natural grocer and just chat weird food aversions/allergies All.Day.Long.