What I Learned From the Whole30®

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What’s the secret to living past 100? No sugar. At least that’s what health expert Dr. Leila Denmark used to say, and she lived to be 114. She practiced medicine until age 103 and she even refused to eat a piece of cake during her 110th birthday party. While a bit extreme, I think this woman was on to something. And modern-day nutritionists would agree.

The Internet has recently blown up in a fury of 21-Day Fix, Whole30® and Paleo recipes, and for good reason. These eating plans offer tangible results in the form of weight loss, clearer skin, sound sleeping and much more. After some of my friends tried the Whole30 and were happy with their results, I decided to see how this cleanse could help me and if the claims were true.

What is the Whole30?

The Whole30 is a month-long nutritional reset focused on the elimination of inflammatory food groups. That’s right people, that means you cut out all of the good stuff including dairy (my all-time personal favorite), legumes, sugar, alcohol and grains. Corn and peanuts in any form are also on the no-no list.

What Should You Know Going In?

The Whole30 is a major commitment and a time-consuming change. You must factor in time to do your research. I recommend purchasing the Whole30 book as a first step so you can really educate yourself on the method behind the madness. Additionally, it helps to pair up with a friend to make this commitment. I’d suggest partnering with a roommate or significant other; someone you consume most of your meals with to hold you accountable and make the process more fun. My amazing boyfriend agreed to do the Whole30 with me and I don’t know how I would’ve done it without him. (He had to talk me out of giving up and eating peanut M&M’s on a few different occasions.) He also cooked most of the meals due to our different schedules, while I was the planner.

That brings me to my next point…plan, plan plan. It’s important to keep your recipes fun and fresh so you don’t get tired of what you’re eating and fall back into old cravings and habits. Pinterest is full of creative Whole30 ideas and there are a number of blogscommitted to a Paleo/Whole30 lifestyle. Each week I’d spend a day planning out what I wanted to eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner that upcoming week to set myself up for success.

Even grocery shopping is more time consuming! Get used to reading labels for EVERYTHING. This part of the experience was truly eye-opening for me because you really don’t realize how much junk you’re consuming on a regular basis until you open your eyes and read!

Lastly, the cooking itself takes time. Meal prep is a really important habit to develop. You’ll need to prepare what you’re eating for breakfasts and lunches during the week. For dinner you can either make a few recipes in bulk or cook easy recipes each night.

How Should You Stock Your Fridge?

As you begin your journey, you’ll want to stock your fridge with go-to healthy staples to make the entire process easier. While you’ll have to make the majority of your sauces, dressings etc. on your own, Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s do carry some of the essentials to make the process easier. Some of my favorites are below.

Wholly Guacamole mini packets will become your best friend. Not only are they easy to throw into a lunch, but they’re quite filling. I dipped carrots and celery into this guacamole for a satisfying snack.

TessaMae’s is pretty much the only compliant condiment brand. I recommend the southwest ranch and lemon flavors. There is also a date-based BBQ sauce which is great for grilling and the hot sauce isn’t too shabby either.

Tahini Sauce from Trader’s Joe’s is another great option for dipping veggies. It’s important to have a few different options so you don’t get tired of the food you’re consuming.

Hard-Boiled Eggs were one of my favorite go-to foods during this process. I could make them Sunday and have them ready for the week. They’re filling too!

LaraBars, while not my favorite snack initially, they were generally pretty filling and satisfied my craving for sweets, especially the apple cinnamon. Turns out the lemon flavor was pretty tasty as well. Just be sure you read the labels because not all bars are compliant.

What Are The Best Whole30 Recipes?

With such a plethora of information out there I was really excited but overwhelmed to find recipes I liked and didn’t like. I’ve included links to some of my favorites below.

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These pizza egg muffins were a staple item!

Where are the best restaurants to go?

It was very challenging to find enjoyable foods when dining out (contrary to what the book says). This was the most challenging part for me because my boyfriend and I are total foodies who love dining out. We pretty much limited ourselves to the three options below, but if you do enough research you can find compliant foods elsewhere.

Chipotle: Order lettuce with carnitas, tomato salsa, red salsa and green sauce. These are the only items not cooked in rice bran oil which is NOT compliant.

La Patrona: This little Mexican joint In Clintonville serves up some delicious fajitas. Enjoy them with just meat and vegetables, hold the tortilla. Top them with some fresh guacamole and you’ve got yourself a meal. Just be sure to confirm what oil they cook their meats in, especially if you visit a different Mexican restaurant.

Northstar: The chopped salad is amazing. Order it without croutons, blue cheese and dressing. I substituted olive oil and balsamic vinaigrette. The almonds add a nice crunch and the smoked turkey is delicious. Apples help to sweeten this dish!

Will the Whole30 Change Your Life?

Maybe not. But it will change your body. In the words of motivation speaker James Clear, “If you want to be in the best shape of your life, then losing 20 pounds might be necessary. But the only way to reach that result is to fall in love with the process of eating healthy and exercising consistently.”

In other words, it’s a lifestyle change, not just 30 days. Through my experience with the Whole30, I found that I toned and flattened my stomach, had more energy during my workouts and even improved my sleep cycle each night. I’d definitely recommend the experience for awareness, however I decided it was a bit too extreme for me to maintain. I’d like to reincorporate healthy dairy items like Greek yogurt and cottage cheese into my diet because they have a lot of protein and I’m a very active person. They key is finding what works for your needs by adapting the framework.

Additionally I’d like to be able to enjoy myself when I go out to dinner, but I’ll definitely be limiting this after I learned a about all the hidden ingredients found in seemingly healthy dishes (aka SUGAR). My boyfriend and I like the basis of the plan so it’s our goal to follow an 80/20 paleo diet, treating ourselves 20% of the time, because life’s too short!

Have you tried the Whole30? I’d love to hear about your experience so feel free to leave a comment!



100 Years of Family Dinners

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I love it when food videos go viral. Last week, I watched what my older siblings, parents, grandparents, and even great-grandparents ate for dinner through the years. All in three minutes. It’s called “100 Years of Family Dinners” – watch here:

Thank GOD spam isn’t a thing anymore. Or fondue. I could definitely bring back roast beef and franconia potatoes, though.

There’s plenty to notice in this video, but the most obvious stands out: each meal reflects its own time period. Take TV dinners, for example. During WWII, food shortages introduced newly created processed foods. This was also a time when television was becoming a new-found phenomenon in America. Put the two together, and you’ve got yourself a TV dinner – the beginning of convenience meals.

Of course, everyone remembers taco night in the 90s. It was an easy choice for all those picky eaters (like me) who could choose their toppings without screaming at mom. Just kidding, I wasn’t that mean. We were all just in a constant sugar high during the 90s. No big.

But let’s talk about the last one: salmon, quinoa pilaf, and a kale salad. I wouldn’t say it’s on my list of dinner ideas, but it exemplifies the biggest trending foods out there right now: kale and quinoa. It also supports the foodie-health-nut phase we’re in. It’s not a bad thing until people become pretentious about it *throws shade at hipsters*.

Basically, each meal evolved into something vastly different, and I wonder if it has something to do with the conflicting health studies that emerged in each decade. Atkins told us carbs were bad one year, and the next year, we were told they’re okay… but in moderation. So we’ve adjusted our meals as such. But what’s funny is that every meal in this video includes some sort of carb. Almost half of the meals, however, do not include a vegetable. Hm…

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And what’s the deal with eggs? Can I eat them every day? Seriously, guys, please let me know.

This video was meant to make you think, just like all of Mode’s videos are meant to do. They just happen to be extremely enjoyable, too. For the past week, I’ve been wondering what I often include/exclude in my dinners. Am I incorporating enough vegetables? Is there something to be said about what everyone was eating in the 1920s?

I love food videos…


Here’s Why I Make Meals in Bulk

Cooking for one person has its pros and cons. For example, while it’s cheaper to cook for just myself, it’s time-consuming to plan a different meal each day of the week without wasting ingredients (and money). Therefore, I make one meal in bulk for the entire week. Here’s why:

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1. It’s easy

I work a nine-to-five job. When I come home, I’m usually VERY hungry and exhausted. It’s almost effortless to grab a meal in the fridge, heat it up, and eat it within five minutes. This means more time to be lazy and watch cartoons in bed. Wahoo! Or, ya know, exercise or something.

2. It’s healthy

Lately, the words “easy” and “unhealthy” have become synonymous (think: fast food, microwavable frozen dinners, etc…). Making your food in bulk eliminates this confusion. For example, if I come home from work and I don’t have anything to eat, I’ll be more tempted to eat fast food, microwave a meal, or just chomp on some chips (I’ve been known to eat many chip dinners in my day). However, if I take time on Sunday to plan a healthy tasty meal in bulk, I’ll happily eat it every night without overeating or snacking.

3. It’s cheap

When you buy groceries for one meal each week, you’re more likely to use all of those ingredients in one sitting (at least the perishable ones). This eliminates food going bad the next week or getting lost in the back of the pantry. I cringe thinking of the times I’ve thrown away a pound of chicken after accidentally neglecting it in the fridge for a week.

4. You can switch things up

Cooking a meal in bulk doesn’t mean you need to limit yourself to the same meal every night. A few weeks ago, I made meatloaf; a simple meal that can quickly become boring. It doesn’t have to be this way! One night I ate it with mashed potatoes, another night with veggies, and another night as a sandwich on French brioche. Try making a different sauce for it each night. Use your imagination – this is the time to get creative.

5. You have time to experiment with your food

If I don’t cook my meal in bulk one week and have somehow managed to forego fast food or chip dinner, I’ll usually rush through a recipe because I’m so hungry after work. That’s no fun. Wouldn’t you rather take the time you need on Sunday night to experiment with your dishes? Not to mention, some dishes require research. For example, I made spicy chicken sausage with gnocchi this week where the recipe called for the sausage to be sliced into coins. If I wouldn’t have been in such a rush, I could’ve frozen the sausage, cut it up, and then thawed it for my dish. Instead, I cut it when it was soft and it came out in lumps. Don’t get me wrong, it was still delicious, but it was kind of a bummer and could’ve been avoided.

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Here are a few ideas for some healthy, easy meals to make in bulk for your week:

  1. BBQ Shredded Chicken
  2. Slow-Cooker Chicken Burrito Bowls
  3. Slow-Cooker White Chicken Chili
  4. Irish Stew and Mashed Potatoes
  5. Korean Beef Bulgogi
  6. Gnocchi Skillet with Sausage and Tomatoes


4 Random Weekend Realizations

While everyone else was out having a life this weekend, I spent most of mine in pajamas, practicing new tips and tricks in the kitchen and watching TV. All within three days, Tom and I managed to cook the best breakfast for dinner we’ve ever had, screw it up the next morning, cut up a chicken for the first time, watch 90s Nickelodeon commercials for hours, and sorta-kinda fail at frying chicken (it ended with me ugly-crying in Tom’s arms and hoping we didn’t get Salmonella – spoiler: we didn’t).

Tom and I woke up Monday morning exhausted, yet all the more educated. Here’s what we learned:

1. Cutting a whole chicken into eight pieces is difficult

I was really grateful to have Tom in the kitchen with me this weekend, especially when it came time to cutting a whole chicken. I must have watched an instructional video five times before actually doing it, and I STILL needed to watch it as I went. So, you can imagine how nice it was to have someone press play and pause on command. But the most challenging aspect of cutting a chicken was lacking the right set of tools. Unfortunately, we didn’t have a chef’s knife, so we had to put some elbow grease into it. Make sure you do the following when cutting a chicken for the first time:

  • Use a chef’s knife for almost all of the cutting
  • Poultry shears come in handy when cutting the breast bone
  • When cutting for the first time, have an assistant in the kitchen with you while you watch this ten times:


2. Millennials don’t eat cereal anymore – and it’s not because we’re too lazy

I read an article on Friday saying Millennials didn’t eat cereal anymore. The reason? We’re too lazy to wash our spoon and bowl. Crazy, right? I didn’t buy into it, either. Well, after gorging on 90s commercials this weekend, I was convinced the article was a fallacy. There’s a reason we aren’t eating cereal anymore, and it’s not because we’re too lazy… it’s because we were eating dessert for breakfast. I mean, come on, do any of you remember what a “complete and balanced breakfast” was considered in the 90s? A bowl of sugar and milk, orange juice, and a plate full of buttery toast. Sure, it was delicious, but no wonder I was sleeping at my desk by 10AM in grade school – I was crashing.

“Here’s your balanced breakfast, honey. Oh, and I packed you a cold, floppy, Lunchable pizza to help you get through the rest of your day.”

But don’t blame mom. She thought SlimFast was a meal.

3. Water in the skillet is the best trick for cooking perfect bacon

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Part of your balanced 2016 breakfast

Cooking bacon in a skillet can be really messy. But I read a little trick to eliminate the majority of splatter from bacon grease sizzling on the stove: adding water. What you want to do is start off with a cold skillet. Line your bacon up in the skillet and then pour enough water in to cover the bottom. Then, put your skillet on the stove, turn to medium-high heat, and wait for the water to boil off (about eight minutes). Make sure to flip your bacon once within those eight minutes. Then, once the water is almost completely evaporated, turn your heat down to medium and flip until crispy. Easy-peasy.

4. The most frustrating way to cook chicken is by frying it

But it can have a yummy outcome, if you do it the right way…

Hey, here’s an interesting fact: oil heats up quicker than water because the heat capacity of oil is lower than the heat capacity of water. I’m really smart and totally knew that…

Yeah, so frying chicken can be easy if you can get the oil at the right temperature, which is really difficult to measure. Tom discovered an easy way to do it, though. Try dipping a wooden spoon into the oil – if it bubbles, it’s ready. I suggest turning your heat to medium and testing with the wooden spoon a couple minutes into heating the oil. Then, once your oil is ready, give the chicken 10-12 minutes to fry. The trick is making sure the oil isn’t too hot, or else your breading will burn and your chicken won’t cook thoroughly… (cue my ugly-crying)


In short: This weekend was an emotional roller coaster in the kitchen. Let’s face it – teaching yourself how to cook isn’t a walk in the park; you’re going to fail at times. But it’s important to laugh at the failures and celebrate the successes – even the minor ones.

Oh, and one last tip: if all else fails, old Nickelodeon cartoons are always the best remedy for a happy ending.


Go Yoga: Upper Arlington

Exercising is hard… especially when you’re trying to find the right routine for yourself. Whether you’ve never really exercised before, haven’t exercised in awhile, or you’re just bored with your current exercise routine, exploring new types of workouts can be extremely frustrating.

I dabbled in many forms of exercise during my days in college; heavy lifting my senior year, cycling my junior year, shoveling large amounts of food into my mouth sophomore year (those pictures of me as a fatty have been burned)…

My best friend Ash and I after a yoga session in Chicago

Yet, despite the versatility in my routine throughout the years, two have remained: walking and yoga. I’m a huge proponent of walking; it’s free, it’s easy on your joints, and you can do it just about anywhere. However, when winter strikes, it becomes difficult to walk outside. So you can either hibernate under the covers in your warm bed, eating gummy bears and pretzels (i.e. me last winter), or you can get creative with your workouts. I’m certainly not a consistent yoga-goer like Catie is (she’s awesome at it, too), but after some searching, I definitely found the right studio for me in the Columbus area. If you’re looking for a studio with a good price, an awesome vibe, and beautiful ambiance, Go Yoga should be your go-to.

Go Yoga has multiple locations in the city, including New Albany, Powell, Upper Arlington, and Worthington. I’ve only been to the Upper Arlington studio, but I haven’t felt any need to venture out to another location. I encourage you to give the other ones a try… but here’s what I love about this particular location:

The Ambiance

Upper Arlington’s Go Yoga is a one-room sanctuary. Whether it’s from the lavender spray, incense, or the warm, fragrant, wet towels they place on your eyes at the end of practice, it always smells like heaven in there. And although the room is clad with bright, white walls and decorations, once the lights are turned off, the room becomes peaceful, leaving enough light to be within one’s self. The numerous, lit candles help with this, too.

The Instructors

I have never had a bad instructor here. Some have a great sense of humor, or a quiet disposition, but their commonality lies within their peaceful, kind nature. Every so often, I get low blood-sugar and am unable to hold certain poses for a long time, but I never feel intimidated by sitting in child’s pose until I’ve regained composer…

Comfort Levels

Speaking of intimidation, Go Yoga offers many different levels of difficulty, meaning you won’t feel uncomfortable jumping into just any yoga class. Their website offers a weekly schedule, complete with brief descriptions of what to expect in certain classes. They pretty much have all levels of yoga available, whether you’re an expert or a beginner. My personal favorite is the Candlelight Flow.

All the Feels

I think the most important aspect of yoga, in general, is how you feel afterwards. I always leave Go Yoga feeling refreshed, never exhausted. Plus, I feel good that I didn’t spend a fortune on a class. I usually pay no more than $10, and I heard they offer $5 classes. You can’t beat that…

I suppose the only negatives I have with this location are the heat and the parking. It gets pretty steamy during the summertime, but you could definitely turn this into a positive if you like to sweat it out. As far as parking is concerned, I’ve never had a problem finding a spot, but I could see spots running out depending on the time of day.

All in all, this place is neat-o:

  • Experience = 4.5/5 Stars
  • Instructors = 5/5 Stars
  • Atmosphere = 5/5 Stars
  • Price = $
  • Location = 5/5 Stars
  • Parking = 4/5 Stars
  • Website
  • Schedule


Review: Balanced Yoga Clintonville

While I normally practice at Balanced Yoga, it’s always more fun on the beach!
While I normally practice at Balanced Yoga, it’s always more fun on the beach!

Yoga has swept the nation over the past few years with studios popping up from coast to coast. This fitness craze is here to stay with an average of 15,275,000 practitioners in the United States. The ever-progressive city of Columbus has hopped on the yoga bandwagon with several unique studios. One of my absolute favorites in Columbus is Balanced Yoga.

I began my practice about five years ago in Cincinnati, Ohio at Simply Power Yoga. I credit this studio for igniting my passion for yoga. The hot yoga classes were challenging both mentally and physically and I lost a pant size around my waist through regular practice three days per week.  When I moved to Columbus a little over a year ago, I was determined to find a yoga studio that matched the intensity of Simply Power Yoga.

I tried about four different studios and while they were all great, there were missing that special touch. I prefer to leave classes physically and mentality exhausted and I wasn’t able to find that until I took a class at Balanced Yoga in Clintonville, Ohio.

Note: I would consider myself an intermediate yoga practitioner for the purposes of this blog post.

I drove to the North High Street studio one Monday evening, which is a convenient five-minute drive from our place in Clintonville.  Parking can be a little tricky and there is no designated lot. If you take a class after seven, you’re permitted to park in the Jiffy Lube parking lot. Otherwise, you have to park on a nearby street and walk. It’s not too time consuming and it’s also very easy to find a spot, but I’d recommend leaving a little early so you don’t have to rush.

Upon walking into the hot yoga studio, I immediately noticed the beautiful space. Open windows let in the natural light and the wall to the left of the doorway showcased paintings from local artists. Candles filled the space with warmth and a fresh, vanilla scent. There are two studios (one for hot and vinyasa yoga and another for other classes) a few doors down from each other so make sure you check the studio number on the website. The friendly staff will also help direct you if you get lost.

When I walked into the Hot Baptiste yoga class I had pre-registered for online, I was surprised to see only a few other people there. The other students were very friendly and chatty with the instructor and I later learned that the Monday evening classes tend to be pretty sparse, so you receive a lot of individual instruction!

Our class of five students began the hour and fifteen minute class. The instructor led us through a brief meditation and breathing exercise to kick off the practice and before long, we were moving through intense vinyasas. The heat was set to about 90° and it’s safe to say that I’ve never been so sweaty in my life! I was sliding all over my mat, so I’d highly recommend bringing a towel and a large water bottle. We were instructed to hold chair pose for what felt like an eternity but I’m thankful I did it because I got a great workout in.

After several challenging sequences including balance, strength and breathing exercises, the instructor took us through a quick ab series. We wrapped up the class (which turned out to be about an hour and a half) with some deep stretches including dragon, lizard pose, and my all-time favorite, savasana, which basically involves laying on your back and doing nothing until class is over.

The class was so intense that I failed to notice the fact that the instructor didn’t play any music throughout the entire hour and a half practice, except when we were in the final pose. I did notice the lack of music in other classes and this is one critique I have of the studio, although clearly not a deal-breaker.

I’ve taken many classes at Balanced Yoga since this first class and I’ve been impressed with every single one. I always leave with a clear head and a physically exhausted body. Each instructor is dedicated and brings their own unique style to the practice.

The studio offers vinyasa, Baptiste, pre-natal, Forrest and many other types of yoga I’ve never heard of, so there really is something for everyone. I would highly recommend Baptiste with Morgan, Greg or Nicole. These instructors are very popular and classes tend to fill up quickly so try and arrive about 10 minutes early to get a spot.

While I love pretty much everything about this studio, there are a few other notes worth mentioning. The cost of classes is high. If I weren’t so impressed with the studio I probably wouldn’t pay close to $12 per class. Memberships run pretty high as well but offer bundled deals so the cost of single classes decreases by a few dollars. Yoga in Columbus can be pretty expensive, but based on my experiences I’d say this studio is a little on the high end. You can explore pricing options here.

The studio also charges an additional $5 fee to use a mat. I found this to be highly discouraging to new students who could be trying a class out for the first time and may not have a mat. It’s also a pain for regular practitioners who give the studio a lot of money but may have forgotten their mat on a given day. Regardless, while slightly annoying, this has not deterred me from the studio.

Lastly, some instructors can be very particular about students arriving late. I’ve taken a few classes where I’ve had to wait at the door until the instructor has ushered me in. I found this to be understandable since yoga is a highly focused practice, but definitely a bit extreme. I’ve never been disturbed when someone has come in five minutes late.

While there are a few minor things I would change about this studio, I always like to end on a positive note. If you want to practice a variety of high intensity yoga classes at a beautiful studio with dedicated instructors and a welcoming community, I would highly recommend Balanced Yoga.

  • Experience = 5/5
  • Instructors = 4/5
  • Atmosphere = 4/5
  • Price = 3/5
  • Location = 3/5
  • Parking=3/5
  • Community= 5/5
  • Website