Tag Archives: real food

It Starts with Food, the review


pages of notes (and if you looked inside my book you would see notes written all over the place plus paper clips marking many pages and passages)

Dallas Harwig says, “food can change your life and It Starts with Food will show you how.”

Dallas and Melissa Hartwig are the husband and wife tagteam bloggers behind whole9.com and the whole30 program. They are also pretty famous for their tough love!!  They wrote an awesome book, It Starts with Food, and I was lucky enough to be sent a copy to review for the blog.  This book is full of information about the whole30 program. You do not need to read the book because the ENTIRE whole30 program is (and always will be) available online for FREE on the whole9 site. However, I highly recommend you read the book!

I thought I knew about the whole30 program.

After reading, It Starts with Food, I understand much more of the “whys” and the how of this program! Dallas and Melissa break down the science of food and its effects on the body. And they do it in a way that makes sense to normal people. By normal people, I mean people without fancy science degrees. Melissa even calls it the “science-y stuff” and if you know me, you know I love that kind of talk!

There is so much science and diet information out there it is easy to go into information overload. According to It Starts with Food this can cause paralysis by analysis, a state in which you take no action.  Who among us lifetime dieters has not been right at this paralyzed state. We know we need to do something so we research and then the information is too overwhelming to know where to start. And while It Starts with Food does give you more information, Melissa and Dallas Hartwig have already completed all the scientific research and made it easy to understand for us non-sciencey people.

The whole30 is “grounded in science, based on thousands of observations and proven results, and anchored with a 30 day structured self-experiment.”

The whole30 was created in 2008/2009 and since then thousands of people have successfully completed the program!

It Starts with Food tells us that all food we eat should do four things. The food we eat should:

  1. Promote a healthy psychological response
  2. Promote a healthy hormonal response
  3. Support a healthy gut
  4. Support immune function and minimize inflammation

What you can hope to learn when you read It Starts with Food:

  • Why dieting doesn’t work but its not your fault – in fact It Starts with Food will tell you all the science-y reasons why we cannot resist.
  • What a “Frankenfood” is and why it wreaks havoc on your body.
  • Difference between satiety and satiation or Prime Ribs and Oreos.
  • The gut is super important in regards to your overall health.
  • what foods can make you feel great!

There is a good hunk of science matter in It Starts with Food. Dallas and Melissa really explain how food works for and/or against your body. And the explain how it all is supposed to work. I wont even try to explain all the science-y stuff because I could never do it justice. You will just have to trust me when I tell you, Dallas and Melissa know their stuff and they want you to know all about it! They want you to be successful on your Whole30 challenge.

It Starts with Food and the whole30 is said to change your life  in unexpected ways. I believe it will!! I was so skeptical about the whole30 but after reading It Starts with Food I was ready to take the challenge. Are you??

Disclaimer: I received a copy of It Starts with Food to read and review. All thoughts are my own!


let’s talk about food.


Big Man is making dinner tonight.

This is indeed a rare treat!!

I have pretty much taken over the reigns in the kitchen…would you believe when we first met, Big Man did all the cooking and I burnt water. Now, I love putting together meals and menu plans. I love food more than possible. I learned how to cook by watching Paula Deen and Emeril on foodnetwork. And, I got good at it!

I have tried all sorts of food styles and types (usually to go along with whatever “diet” I was trying at the time. Over the last 5 years, I have tried Weight Watchers, blindly cutting calories, nothing but hoping the weight would come off, Visalus, and a gaggle of other diets. With each one, I had initial success but nothing lasted.  I tried to fit in my favorite food, or modify them to be lower calorie, or only have them once in a while. None of that worked.

I recently read an amazing book, It Starts With Food (ISWF) and my mind has been opened! I have a formal book review coming tomorrow night but tonight I want to talk about food and a little bit about my Whole30 experience.

Today is Day 22 of my first Whole30 Challenge. I chose to do the Whole30 after reading ISWF, and as cliche as it is, I started my Whole 30 on January 1st!

Initial worries:

  • coffee with NO cream or creamer or splenda
  • was I going to be hungry?
  • was food going to be boring?
  • was I going to be hungry?
  • where’s my coffee?!?!
  • what am I going to eat?!?
  • how is this going to work with family meals (we make it a point to eat dinner at the table together every  night while we can. I know as Q gets older we will not always have this time)
  • really, only 3 meals?!
  • can I do this!?

I have logged everything I have eaten since January 1st. I am using myfitnesspal…my username is mendingjen if you use MFP too! When I am finished the whole30 and I have a bit of time, I may write up a day-by-day food diary for the blog but for now, check out MFP. If we are friends you can see my food logs.

Feast your eyes on this instead!


What I have learned so far:

  • I have not felt deprived.
  • I have enjoyed the food I have been eating. Its pretty and delicious!!
  • I have increased my veggie intake by at least double.
  • I am not snacking, but I have had the occasional snack (when I determined I was truly hungry)
  • I have made huge progress in eating what my body needs not what it thinks I want.
  • I do 1000% better with sweets when I just don’t have any to begin with (insert pasta or bread in place of sweets and it works the same)
  • I can drink black coffee but not every coffee. I like black tea.
  • I like peppers and mushrooms.
  • I can see myself eating like this (not as strict) for the long haul.
  • I miss cream in my coffee. I think I can do without the splenda but I miss cream coffee.
  • I like cashews, especially when paired with a banana.
  • I can sit at the same table while my husband and daughter eat pizza, and eat meat and veggies.


I have one full week after tonight. And I am ready for it!!


Does whole30 scare you? Have you conquered the whole30? What is your favorite veggie dish?

making plans monday


Meal Plans


Sunday: sweet and sour beef soup
Monday: sirloin, zucchini pancakes and cucumber & tomato salad
Tuesday: lemon and artichoke chicken*
Wednesday: beef stew/ pot pie
Thursday: chicken cacciatore
Friday:  grilled chicken topped with roastedred peppers and pepper jackcheese /sandwich/ and salad
Saturday: flank with peppers and onions*

Breakfasts/ lunches/ snacks
pork roll & eggs
swirly crustless quiche*
banana “pancakes”
Roasted chickpeas
Homemade plum applesauce
Leftover s&sbeef soup


*recipe from Practical Paleo


3 yoga practices
3 2-mile walks
3 girl-heroes kb workouts


a menu & a challenge (yes, another)


My good friend Kenlie is hosting a challenge! A cooking challenge. Ok, ok, I have to be honest this isn’t too much of a challenge to me. I cook  dinner almost every night. If I don’t cook, my husband does. Most of the time. Since we went #wheatfree on June 1st we have been ordering take out a lot less… A LOT less, in fact, I think we only ordered out once – and that was sushi last night.

I have discovered a serious love for cooking. The kitchen is actually a place to contemplate life and the struggles that just happen. Cutting veg, washing dishes, and prepping an awesomely fantastic meal. I may sound crazy but I really like my kitchen time. I don’t always want to have to do it, but I do enjoy the fruits of my labor.

Kenlie’s challenge isn’t exactly a challenge – I cook most nights anyway, but I am going to challenge myself anyway. I WILL cook at least 5 nights each week and I will take pictures – good pictures, not just the crappy pics I take on my crappy non-smart cell phone. I own a Canon Rebel xs but I have never really learned how to use the damn thing. So, I will add a bit of a challenge to Kenlie’s challenge….I will use my cool Canon (which needs a name) to take my dinner pics.

Now, onto the menu!!

Sunday: Venison Steaks, baked potatoes and spinach sauteed with garlic.

Monday: Chicken Sausage, tomato & basil all sauteed with zucchini spaghetti

Tuesday: Pork Tenderloin, mashed potatoes and brussel sprouts

Wednesday: Burgers with lettuce “rolls” and potato salad & corn on the cob

Thursday: Chinese Beef stirfry over rice

Friday: Seafood Boil. The works – shrimp, crab legs, corn on the cob, sausage, clams

and here are a few crappy pics from last week’s dinners:

Chicken & Sausage Bake

yummy salald

Spinach stuffed Pork, roasted cabbage & potato salad

What’s on your menu?!?

weighing in, #WW week 9


The scale: 

This week: 229.4

Last week: 227.4

Change:  +2

Total Loss: -2.6

The Reaction and the Reflection: 



damn, I didn’t track and look at what happened!!

I need a Gibbs-style slap.

I know I made a lot of good food choices but I know there are days I ate  too much. And the wrong foods. And there are other days where I am not sure I ate enough. Add in that I am lifting some serious weight at the gym, I should know what I am eating so I can see what is working and what is not.

Moving on, I have committed to tracking this week! I am going to write it all down in my WW tracker paper and online. I am very curious about my protein/carb/fiber numbers each day.  I need to find the right combination for weight lifting and weight loss AND feeling good (mentally and physically) – this is most important to me because it will be the key for my long term success.

All of this is about creating the life I want to live. A happy and healthy and long life!

The Lesson: 

Today’s meeting was all about FIBER.

Do you know how much fiber your are getting in ever day?

Do you know how much you should be getting?

I have no idea how much fiber I am getting in every day, but I think it is a fair amount. I eat vegetables all the time, but I don’t know exact numbers. I think I heard 25 grams of fiber is what a woman should aim for every day.

Fiber helps you stay full and satisfied longer. Also, fiber is usually low calories for high volume of food. so fiber is good.

Time for me to do a few things about fiber: 1. how much am I actually eating; and 2. find fiber-ific options for snacks. To do this I have decided to start using MyFitnessPal.com again for tracking. I will still use Weight Watchers and count my points but once a day, I will log all my food into MFP just to get a number for the protein, carbs, and fiber grams I am eating every day.  I think this is good information for me to have – it can only help my journey.

So, for the next week, I am going to track on WW and MFP. WW is for my weight loss journey – MFP is to learn how my body is processing what I am currently eating. MFP will help me get a perspective on the nutritional ratio of what I am eating.

I WILL NOT freak out if my calories seem high or if I go over what numbers MFP says I “should” have each day. I am in this to gain knowledge, not guilt.

[photo source]

I have to believe knowledge is more powerful than guilt!

Sunday Stew, a quick and easy recipe


1.5lbs Chicken thighs (boneless, skinless, cut in bite-size chunks)
1 28-oz can – crushed tomatoes
1 15-oz can – white beans
1/2 large onion (diced very small)
1 stalk of celery (diced very small)
4 slice bacon – chopped in small chunks
1/2 cup whiter wine (whatever you have open in fridge – I think red would work)
1 tablespoon veg oil
1/2 teaspoon splenda
Dried oregano
Dried rosemary
Salt & pepper to taste

1. Start with veg oil on medium heat, add onions and celery.
2. After onion and celery are sauteed for a few minutes, add in your bacon.
3. Once bacon starts rendering its fat, add in chicken.
4. When chicken is almost cooked all the way through, add in your spices. Stir and cook for a few more minutes
5. Stir in crushed tomatoes and splenda (or sugar).
6. Add in beans.
7. Cover and cook (on medium low) for about 10 minutes or until beans are warmed through and chicken are completely cooked.
8. Serve with a hunk of crusty bread and a side salad!

Posted with WordPress for BlackBerry.