I did Whole30 and it was amazing. Even now, a few weeks after completing my first challenge, I’m feeling the effects and reaping the benefits.

Whole30–What is it? Here are the basics:

Over 30 day period, you eat real foods. Fresh is always better. No taking measurements of your body during your Whole30 (W30) journey. You should always shoot for the organic, cage-free, grass fed option. With those as the basics, here is a list of things you cannot have.

Avoid for 30 days
Omitting all of these foods and beverages will help you regain your healthy metabolism, reduce systemic inflammation, and help you discover how these foods are truly impacting your health, fitness and quality of life.

  • Do not consume added sugar of any kind, real or artificial. No maple syrup, honey, agave nectar, coconut sugar, Splenda, Equal, Nutrasweet, xylitol, stevia, etc. Read your labels, because companies sneak sugar into products in ways you might not recognize.

  • Do not consume alcohol in any form, not even for cooking. (And it should go without saying, but no tobacco products of any sort, either.)

  • Do not eat grains. This includes (but is not limited to) wheat, rye, barley, oats, corn, rice, millet, bulgur, sorghum, amaranth, buckwheat, sprouted grains and all of those gluten-free pseudo-grains like quinoa. This also includes all the ways we add wheat, corn and rice into our foods in the form of bran, germ, starch and so on. Again, read your labels.

  • Do not eat legumes. This includes beans of all kinds (black, red, pinto, navy, white, kidney, lima, fava, etc.), peas, chickpeas, lentils, and peanuts. No peanut butter, either. This also includes all forms of soy – soy sauce, miso, tofu, tempeh, edamame, and all the ways we sneak soy into foods (like lecithin).

  • Do not eat dairy. This includes cow, goat or sheep’s milk products such as cream, cheese (hard or soft), kefir, yogurt (even Greek), and sour cream… with the exception of clarified butter or ghee. (See below for details.)

  • Do not consume carrageenan, MSG or sulfites. If these ingredients appear in any form on the label of your processed food or beverage, it’s out for the Whole30.

  • Do not try to re-create baked goods, junk foods, or treats* with “approved” ingredients. Continuing to eat your old, unhealthy foods made with Whole30 ingredients is totally missing the point, and will tank your results faster than you can say “Paleo Pop-Tarts.” Remember, these are the same foods that got you into health-trouble in the first place—and a pancake is still a pancake, regardless of the ingredients.

There are always exceptions to rules. W30 has some, too.

The Fine Print

  • Clarified Butter or Ghee. Clarified butter or ghee is the only source of dairy allowed during your W30. Plain old butter is NOT allowed, as the milk proteins found in non-clarified butter could impact the results of your program. Refer to our Butter Manifesto for more details on the milk proteins found in butter, purchasing high quality butter, and how to clarify it yourself.

  • Fruit juice as a sweetener. Some products or recipes will include fruit as a sweetener, which is fine for the purposes of the W30.

  • Certain legumes. We’re fine with green beans, sugar snap peas and snow peas. While they’re technically a legume, these are far more “pod” than “bean,” and green plant matter is generally good for you.

  • Vinegar. Most forms of vinegar, including white, balsamic, apple cider, red wine, and rice, are allowed during your W30 program. The only exceptions are vinegars with added sugar, or malt vinegar, which generally contains gluten.

Let me explain the two big reasons I wanted to give this a go: I wanted to tackle the W30 plan for quite sometime, but I knew I needed to set myself up for success. The first part, was to con someone into doing this rigorous plan with me and that very lucky person was David.  Let me explain the two big reasons I wanted to give this a go:

  1. After several appointments to the dermatologist, I never got a real answer even after a biopsy. Long story short, I have these red dots all over the back of my hand. Now, when I say all over it’s like five bumps that are in a circle and one or two next to the circle. A lot of people said it would be ringworm, some people said it could be due to diet, etc. Everyone just kept giving me suggestions of what it could be. After my biopsy, I found out that sometimes these just appear and form on the backs of people’s hands or the tops of their feet. This happens for no reason at all. I asked the Dr. if it had anything to do with my diet, i.e., gluten and he said it could but there’s not a true link making that case.  my options were to keep the ugly dots, get shots, or use a steroid cream and even after all that “treatment” the specks would just lessen and would never fully go away.
  2. I felt like I was starting to develop a sensitivity/allergy to dairy after I consumed it.

So, why not give W30 a try?

We finished our first round of W30 April 21st and, boy, was it amazing! There were a lot of days that were insanely hard, but other days were so amazing. I could feel my skin feeling better, the specks on my hand went away (not completely, because they never will disappear, but they weren’t red and I couldn’t really notice them). I felt my workouts more. I was getting stronger and leaner by the day! I had mass amounts of energy and sleeping was uninterrupted most nights, too!

A few thoughts, tips, tricks & takeaways

  • Planning and prepping is key

    • Always know where your next meal is coming from

    • Make a list of meals and snacks

  • Once you have it down, there is so much you can actually eat

  • Always ask questions if you are going out to a restaurant

  • Making homemade mayo is time consuming and really hard the first time, but once you figure it out it’s cake!

  • You will eat eggs ALL THE TIME

  • Larabars are life savers

  • Trader Joe’s has really good Ghee, plantain chips, pre made guac and coconut milk

  • Palm oil- it never says you can’t have it. We probably could have had the chips, but we saved them

    • ALWAYS look at labels. I bought plantain chips at Whole Foods, and checked out without thinking/reading the label and they were compliant.

  • Here’s a list of approved things, but just because it’s on this list doesn’t mean it’s not compliant.

  • It’d hard!

  • You WILL have intense cravings. Get up, walk around, do something.

  • I read an article about hunger v. boredom eating that Melissa (founder) said about this. Bottom line, you need to ask yourself, could I get a salad with chicken, tomatoes and sweet potatoes right now. If the answer is no, then you’re bored. If it’s yes, obvs you are hungry.

    • You aren’t supposed to snack, but if you can’t make it then do it. Just make good choices

  • Due to the sugars, limit fruits especially bananas, apples and pineapple

  • Some meals you try will be weird. The worst one we had was avocado eggs. Basically you heat the oven, half the avo, remove the pit and crack and egg into each of the pit holes…warm avocados with eggs the worst.

  • Your meals will be bigger and you will be fuller longer

    • My plate was ALWAYS full. I didn’t really go off the portion guide, because I knew everything I was eating was good fresh food. Plus I was hungry

  • Cauliflower rice was the only thing we made that was on the “naughty” list. You aren’t supposed to make things that emulate “bad” foods. In this case rice

  • You’re not supposed to have smoothies because different neurons act when drinking something v. when you eat something. Also, I think it’s because you are drinking a lot of fruit and no veggies

    • David and I had smoothies. It might be illegal W30, but we ALWAYS packed them with kale/arugula/spinach and never had them with just berries. I always feel full after having a smoothie so I wasn’t too worried about this from the gecko. Also, we didn’t have these more than 2/week.

  • Ghee- butter substitute, we used once. We made a roast chicken for Easter. We never came across another opportunity/recipe to use it.

  • Sweet potatoes were our saving grace. We ate them ALL the time. The last 10 days we cut ourselves off from potatoes because we thought we had them too much

Day by Day break down

The beginning is hard. Days 1-3 I wanted to gnaw my arm off. I was so hungry all the time. I feel that I was a relatively healthier eater to beginning with and didn’t think I’d have any of these issues or symptoms, but they are pretty spot on. Days 9-12, I was so bloated because everything was finally working out of my system, but by Day 13, I could slap on the same jeans (not washed) from Day 9/10 and they fit even better than before! Day 27-32 (we added on 2 extra days, so it was really W32 for us) was tiring. I was so ready to be done. All I wanted was to have some bbq and it was all I could think about. When you know the end is in sight it’s easy to snap. We stuck with it, but I couldn’t wait for that first meal.

Post W30

  • I felt the best I had ever felt. I always struggled with being really bloated after meals, so far it’s not there
  • I lost weight (16 pounds!), but that was just a perk not the main objective or incentive. They also tell you that you might not lose much weight. It just depends on your body. *Side note, I am sure this has to do with the amount I workout too. It wasn’t all attributed to my W30 expereince, but I won’t discount that it’s not due to it!*

  • I have endless amounts of energy

  • The dots are gone for the most part

  • Sleep—I can sleep a full night without tossing and turning (per my Fitbit)

  • My workouts are awesome and last longer

  • I don’t crave sweet anymore (not yet)

  • I’ve been pinning things like crazy. You’ll see some things that have butter, dairy, etc in it but I know enough to switch those out or omit them.

Overall, I loved it and so did David! It was an awesome experience and for the most part we are going to stick with it. David and I have now transitioned into the Paleo lifestyle, and W30 has only helped us to maintain this new change. I absolutely foresee us doing several rounds of W30 each year.


six days and counting without coffee

what did you give up?

you can find me at: @K_AnnM | Insta | LinkedIn

It seems that whenever it’s not the Lenten season I have no problem figuring out what I would give up for Lent. Then, the Lenten season sneaks up and I have no idea what to give up. In years past I gave up the classics: sweets, chocolate, soda. Yes, those are always challenging items. But last year, I wanted a real challenge. Last year, I gave up cheese. Yup, you read that right CHEESE. A classic Wisconsinite staple and I was abstaining from consumption of all cheese items. When it came down to the nuts and bolts of it, it included anything really with the word “cheese” in it, for example, cream cheese, cheese spread, and cheese item those were all out. 45 days without cheese may have been one of the most challenging and most difficult things I have ever done, but I did it.

Needless to say, after a year like that, I couldn’t very well “top” what I would give up this starbucks-iced-coffee-156x300year. I could come close, but nothing can top cheese.  As you know, Lent started last week and I was a half day in without coffee when I uttered the words, “well, I guess I will give up coffee for Lent.” It’s been 6 days and the effects are surprisingly sparse. Now, understand I am by no means going caffeine-free, but 45 days sans coffee seems rather similar. Rather than having a morning coffee, I opt for tea. I’ve been downing tea like a camel hoping to see the same effects as coffee, but there’s just no use. Truthfully, it’s not that bad. I can last 39 more days.

You’re probably scratching your head thinking, “Lent is only 40 days why does she keep saying 45?” Though traditional Lent doesn’t count Sundays, I do. What’s the point of giving yourself a “cheat day” when Jesus didn’t get one? What’s the point of the cheat day now? If you are giving up smoking you don’t giving yourself the option to have a cigarette on Sundays.

April 5th, you will find all of these iced coffee options (and more) in my refrigerator. Just give me a straw and I will be good to go. Starbucks should probably sponsor my iced coffee habit that day._-Stsarbucks-iced-group-shot-page-14_slide

pancakes + art

you can find me at: @K_AnnM | Insta | LinkedIn

Question:What do you get when you put pancakes and art together?
Answer: The coolest pancakes ever!

I came across this video yesterday and it made me insanely jealous that I would never get pancake art, and in the mood for pancakes. Nathan began entertaining his kids with silly pancakes during their adventure in Saipan. Now, he serves up new pancake themes for viewers every week. Special thanks to Nathan at saipancakes.com for the use of his video. Visit him on Facebook.

Be sure to watch the embedded video so you can truly appreciate how outstanding these pancakes look!


restaurant week

the Alexandria edt.

you can find me at: @K_AnnM | Insta | LinkedIn

Restaurant Week is one of the happiest times of the year. More often than not twice a year Restaurant Week is offered throughout various metropolitan cities. Participating restaurants offer three-course dinners for only $35 per person and $20 three-course lunches. Also, many restaurants will also offer a deals for couples as well. Restaurant Week is a great opportunity to experience Washington, DC’s best restaurants at affordable prices. Cuisines include Contemporary American, Mexican, French, Mediterranean, Italian, Southern, Seafood, Spanish, California, Pan-Asian and more!

This week (August 15-25) Alexandria is offering their Restaurant Week. ARW is held at a range of locales, from fine dining establishments to casual neighborhood favorites, guests savor the flavors of Alexandria’s distinctive collection of eateries. Check out the list of participating restaurants and book your table online to see why everyone including Bon Appétit and Food & Wine are raving about Alexandria’s dining scene.

My ARW week will consist of lunch at La Tasca and a date night dinner at TJ Stone’s. Are you heading anywhere speical for AWR?

root beer floats


you can find me at: @K_AnnM | Insta | LinkedIn

I haven’t had a root beer float in quite sometime. I bet it’s been upwards of ten years since I’ve sucked down one of those bad boys. Root Beer Floats were a staple summer treat in our house as I was growing up. Today, is National Root Beer Float Day! Between the creamy vanilla ice cream and the frothy root beer foam, how can anyone resist this sweet refreshment? Today we celebrate this tasty summer treat.

At the end of the 19th century, a man named Frank Wisner invented the first root beer float. This early version was also known as a “black cow.” To make one of these delicious beverages, just add a scoop of vanilla ice cream to a tall glass of root beer. (Note: If you reverse the directions and add the root beer to the ice cream you’ll end up with a big mess!)

Today, enjoy this delicious American tradition and make your own float for National Root Beer Float Day!

Root Beer Floats are easy to make, just follow these simple instructions below and your taste buds will thank you for the treat later.


  • Vanilla ice cream
  • Root beer/beer


Spoon a scoop or two of vanilla ice cream into a tall glass. Slowly pour root beer into the glass, allowing the foam to rise and then recede before adding more root beer. It’s true you can make a beer float, too. Personally, I would try pumpkin beer and vanilla ice cream, but save that for an autumn treat.

Serve with straws and spoons.


happy national watermelon day

you can find me at: @K_AnnM | Insta | LinkedIn

Today is National Watermelon Day! Watermelon is a delicious summer fruit that is staple at family picnics and cookouts. Did you know that watermelons are 92% water? It’s a wonder why they’re so refreshing and a perfect summer treat!

To celebrate National Watermelon Day, have some watermelon for dessert tonight! Slice it up and eat it plain, cook it on the grill, mix it into a salsa, or blend it into a cocktail. The possibilities are endless with watermelon. Enjoy!

One thing I hate is cutting a watermelon. It’s never easy and there are so many different ways to do it. Here’s a tutorial on how to  cut a watermelon that will make your life easier.


you can find me at: @K_AnnM | Insta | LinkedIn

So it’s not a secret that I do not like grapefruit and I never have. Lately, I’ve been on this kick of trying new foods that I distinctively know I don’t like, but I want to try them in different forms just to make sure. More often than not the experiment at hand has the same outcome: I still don’t like [insert food].

This week, I was given a grapefruit and I brought it home for Matt to enjoy, but before totally handing it over I had an epiphany. Once, I heard about broiled grapefruit, and I figured what better time than the present to try this.

Broling a grapefruit is simple and takes about ten minutes. Sprinkle half a grapefruit with a little brown sugar and place it under the broiler for a few minutes; it couldn’t be easier to make. You just broil it until the sugar begins to bubble and caramelize a little, melting into the tangy grapefruit beneath.

Broiled Grapefruit

1.To make it easier to remove the grapefruit segments with a spoon once the grapefruit is cooked, use a sharp paring knife to cut around the edges of the fruit, where the fruit meets the rind. Then gently cut inside the grapefruit, along the edges of the segments. Don’t cut all the way through the grapefruit, just to the rind if you can.

2. Place the grapefruit halves, cut side up in the pan. Spread brown sugar over the top of the exposed fruit (not the rind), about 2 to 2 teaspoons of brown sugar per half (more or less to taste).

Broil for 3 to 5 minutes, until the brown sugar is bubbly and beginning to brown and caramelize. Remove from oven. Let cool for a minute. Eat while still warm.

It’s that easy! After the experiment I decided I could eat a grapefruit like that and I would even give a few more options a try. I am going to give this version of broiling a try next.

copy cat

passion tea lemonade

you can find me at: @K_AnnM | Insta | LinkedIn

I love summertime especially when it is accompanied by a Starbucks Passion Tea Lemonade. Sometimes, it’s too much to get to Starbucks or to pay the $4 for a beverage that you can make at home. Check out the recipe below for a copy cat recipe of Starbucks’ Passion Tea Lemonade! I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.


– Tazo Passion Tea bags *Note, you can buy the Tazo tea bags at Starbucks, but they are also often found at grocery stores or Target for cheaper.

– Honey or other sweetener

– Lemonade, fresh squeezed, concentrate, really whatever you prefer

– Water & Ice


1) Steep 5 tea bags in boiling water. You’ll need to use a large container for this, as it will be a large amount of water. I used an extra-large pyrex measuring cup.

2) Steep them for at least 10 minutes. I left mine in several hours because it was the dinnertime and bedtime craze, and they got forgotten. No big deal, it was just super concentrated. I use a little less and water it down.

3) Take the tea bags out and store the concentrate in the refrigerator.

Simple syrup:

1) Basically you are using a 2:1 sweetener to water ratio. Ie. 2 cups of water and 1 cup of honey (or sweetener of choice). I used half honey and half coconut palm sugar. Most types of sweetener will do fine. You could probably even use stevia in this recipe – just skip the simple syrup bit and add the liquid right to your drink.

2) Bring to a boil in a pot over the heat, and slowly simmer to reduce. Simmer and stir frequently for about five minutes, then remove from heat to cool. This mixture can be stored in the fridge for quite a while, but probably won’t last long if you love this lemonade like I do!

Copy Cat- Passion Tea Lemonade:

1) Fill your cup about a third full of Passion Tea concentrate (I like to use a mason jar, and you’ll see why in a minute).

2) Add a small amount of simple syrup (maybe start with 1/4 cup and add from there, to taste), and twice as much lemonade

3) Fill with ice. Taste test.

4) If the flavor is too strong you can always add extra water or additional simple syrup if desired.



Fruits & Légumes Moches

you can find me at: @K_AnnM | Insta | LinkedIn

Often people don’t think about all of the food being wasted when they sort through their refrigerators. Perhaps what’s even more frightening, is the fact that no one thinks about the fact that “spoiled” fruits and vegetables found at supermarkets can be used to create juices and supplements. Instead, they just go unused and wasted.  It goes without saying that people waste way too much food, and food waste comes in many different forms. Whether we’re throwing out fully-cooked meals from restaurants daily or tossing our produce out when it gets slightly brown, it seems like we’re always inventing new ways to waste food. A shocking 1/3 of all food produced, or 1.3 billion tons, gets lost or wasted according to one major world studyand many of the world’s “ugliest” vegetables never even make it to store shelves. More often than not, they find themselves tossed into the garbage, never to see the light of day. One French Supermarket chain, Intermarché, has taken it upon themselves to do their part to solve this problem, however, and so far it’s been a smashing success.

rhubarb = love

you can find me at: @K_AnnM | Insta | LinkedIn

As you might know, I started a new job (yay!) and every Thursday, we have a BBQ in the Summer. Everyone signs up to bring a side dish or dessert to pass. July 24 was my week to bring something. With my love for baking and my love for rhubarb, I knew exactly what I was going to make: Rhubarb Raspberry Crumb Bars. Without a doubt, they would be the hit of the party. Sure, my hopes are high but a crowd pleaser was a must. I love cooking and I love baking, but I hate following a recipe. I like giving things pzazz and my own flare. Below you can find my crowd pleasing-award winning recipe. Check it out, and be sure to give it your own flare.

Rhubarb Raspberry Crumb Bars


  • 1 cup wheat flour
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 cup rolled oats (old fashioned)
  • 1/2 cup lightly packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup raspberries, fresh preferred (you can use preservatives or jam or frozen as well)
  • 1 cup sliced rhubarb, 1/2 inch thick
  • 1/2 cup(s) sliced almonds/cashews chopped (OPTIONAL)


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line an 8 by 8-inch baking dish with aluminum foil, leaving a 2-inch overhang of foil on two sides. Grease foil.
  • In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda and salt. Stir in oats and brown sugar, and use clean fingertips as needed to break up brown sugar clumps. Add butter, and using fingertips, work butter into mixture until evenly moistened.
  • Add 2 cups of the oat mixture to the prepared baking dish and press into an even layer. Spread raspberry and rhubarb into an even layer over oat layer, coming within 1/4-inch of all edges. Sprinkle top evenly with remaining oat mixture.
  • Bake in oven until golden brown, about 34 – 38 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely before cutting into squares. Store in an airtight container.
  • Enjoy!