Favorite Recipes: April 2018

Monday, April 30, 2018

Favorite Recipes: April 2018

I didn't do as much cooking this month as I did last month. Mostly because we were so excited to be done with Whole30 so we went out to eat a bit. I did try out three new recipes:

Paleo Blueberry Lemon Bread

I love love love blueberry and lemon combinations and I loved this paleo bread! The texture is a little different because of the almond flour and coconut flour but it was good! I am going to slowly try out gluten free recipes of some of my favorite gluten filled foods since I want to avoid gluten as much as possible.

Bell Pepper Nachos

Easy and delicious! I loved this healthier version of nachos. I topped my nachos with fresh guacamole and Trader Joes salsa. I also had a handful of corn tortilla chips to add some crunch to my nachos.

The Dud this month...

Lemon Paprika Chicken

Meh. That's how I felt about this recipe. It was fine, didn't taste bad, it just wasn't that delicious either.

Goal Check In: April 2018

April 2018 Goal Check In

April was a big month for checking goals off of my list! I completed my first Whole30, you can read about my experience here, and I also completed the Sweat 12 Week Challenge, see my review here.


  • Drink eight glasses of water a day 
  • Journal everyday
    • I missed out on a couple of days of drinking eight glasses of water while I was traveling but otherwise I am still keeping up with both of these daily goals.


  • Workout four days a week
    • So glad I am keeping up with my workout goals! 
  • Cook a new meal once a week
    • I've still been cooking a lot, I just haven't tried making many new recipes. 
  • Work from a coffee shop one day a week
    • Been working from home. Hoping to get out in the future! 
  • No TV or Social Media one day a week
    • Still failing at this. It's harder than you'd think it would be to disconnect for an entire day. 


  • Read two books a month
  • Try a new restaurant: I ate out a lot this month! I love trying new to me places when I travel. 
    • Houston
      • Bloom & Bee: This is the absolute prettiest place I have been to in Houston! The decor is very feminine with a blown glass ceiling, pink chairs, marble table tops, and flowers on every table. I had the avocado toast and an an iced vanilla latte. This is the perfect spot for brunch with the girls. 
      • East End Hardware (Bar): We went specifically for the boozy snow cones and were not disappointed! I had the tigers blood and starwberry pisco. 
    • NYC: I'll be including details about each of the restaurants and bars below in my NYC guide. 
      • Bustan 
      • Plantshed Cafe 
      • Souvlaki 
      • Old Rose 
      • Le District
      • Flour Shop
      • Milk and Cream Cereal Bar 
      • Teriyaki Japanese Ice Cream
      • Dō cookie dough confectioners 
      • Bluestone Lane 
      • Xi'an Famous Foods 
      • Maison Pickle 
  • Plan a girls night
    • My time in NYC with Clair was girls night every night! I loved spending time just us girls catching up on life.
  • Send birthday cards
    • Got the cards out this month! 


  • Run a 10k - Completed on February 24, 2018 
    • Finished my first timed 10k in 59:15.6 mins! 
  • Run a half marathon
    • I am working my way up to a half marathon. I am currently working my way through a 15k to half marathon program! I signed up for the Houston Marathon in January of 2019 so I am training slowly but surely! 
  • Complete a Whole30 - Completed April 13, 2018 
  • Plan our 30th birthday party
    • Haven't made any new progress on this. 

Sweat 12 Week Challenge Review

Sunday, April 29, 2018

My review of the Sweat 12 Week Challenge
At the beginning of this year I set out to complete the Sweat with Kayla 12 week challenge which is a high intensity interval training program by fitness trainer Kayla Itsines. Kayla is the person behind the Sweat App and Bikini Body Guide otherwise known as BBG. Kayla’s BBG program features 28 minute workouts that you can do virtually anywhere.

Why I chose the Sweat 12 Week Challenge

During the winter I typically don’t want to leave my house unless it is absolutely necessary (i.e. for work or for food). Winter is the time when my workout routine is shot because going to the gym does not fall in the category of ‘absolutely necessary’ for me. That is where the Sweat App came in to play. The Sweat App is like having a personal trainer available any time of day and the workouts require little to no equipment making it easy to complete them in the comfort of your own home.

What I liked about Sweat

  • The App: I had the BBG PDF for a couple of years and could never bring myself to complete more than a week or two. When I learned about the Sweat App I knew I had to try it. The App really made all the difference for me. The App shows exactly what moves to do and keeps track of the time all in one place. There is an App for the iPhone and for the Apple Watch as well. 
  • Flexibility: I loved being able to fit my workout into my schedule. Since I had access to the workouts on the App I could workout whenever I had time. I liked not having to look up class schedules at my gym or not having to worry about making it to class on time. 
  • The Community: I follow Kayla on social media and really love the positive community that she has built around her program. If I ever needed a boost of motivation it was easy to just scroll through Kayla’s Instagram feed and see the progress that others have made by using the same program. 

What I would change 

  • Variety: I would like to have a little more variation in the workouts. Each workout featured two circuits. Instead of repeating circuits I would prefer to have different moves in the second half of the workout routine. 


Aside from the increase in strength and energy, at the end of the 12 week challenge I was down ten pounds and could see some muscle definition. I can’t attribute all of my results to the Sweat 12 Week Challenge because I was also training for longer runs and completed a Whole30 during the last four weeks of the challenge. I will say that the four weeks where I was focused on both diet and exercise were the weeks where I saw the most results: flatter stomach and more muscle definition.

Is it worth it?

For $20 a month you get access to the resistance workouts, recovery workouts, and more. If you don’t currently go to the gym or workout consistently then this would be a wonderful option for you! You will only need to purchase a few pieces of equipment and some space in your home to complete the workouts.

Will you continue using the Sweat App?

While the App worked wonderfully and the workouts were challenging I did miss taking the classes at my gym. I feed off of the energy around me and I really missed having a trainer and others there to motivate me. I do go through phases where I don’t want to go to the gym (like winter time) so during those phases I will definitely be using the Sweat App to get my workouts in.

Our Whole30 Experience

Friday, April 27, 2018

Our Whole30 Experience

It's been a few weeks since Steven and I completed our first Whole30. It feels so good checking that off of my goals list! When we first started it felt like 30 days would be a long time, but looking back at it, time went by quickly.

What is Whole30?

I'd first heard about Whole30 from a few ladies at my gym about two years ago. I heard them say that they felt more energized and overall healthier during and after doing a Whole30. I decided to do some research and learn about Whole30. I bought the books on Amazon, read them, and decided I liked what Whole30 aimed to do. 

The Whole30 program eliminates gut-damaging, inflammatory food groups from our diet for a full 30 days. Unlike other programs there are no cheat days during Whole30. For 30 days you completely cut out added sugar, alcohol, grains, dairy, legumes, carrageenan, MSG, and sulfites. The goal with cutting out these foods is to let your body heal and recover from the effects those foods my be causing. It is meant to help reset your health, habits, and relationship with food. After 30 days you follow a reintroduction schedule to help determine if any of the foods that were cut out have a negative effect on your body. 

Why did we do Whole30? 

After reading about Whole30 and talking to Steven about it, we decided to test out a few recipes before committing to it. We were pleasantly surprised that most Whole30 recipes were simple and delicious! We liked that Whole30 claimed to help pinpoint if any foods were affecting us in a negative way and liked the recipes we tried, so we decided to give it a try to see if we would have any improvement in some pesky health issues.

Did you see any results?

Yes! During Whole30 we both saw results in the forms of more energy, less bloating, less stomach pains, and clearer skin. 

The first few days were rough but ten days in I noticed that I had a lot more energy, my stomach was completely flat after months of being bloated, and I didn't have any stomach pains. I've suffered from stomach pains most of my life and never knew what caused them. It was nice to eat and not feel sick after.

Steven has delt with seborrheic dermatitis on his face for a couple of years now and about a week into Whole30 his skin cleared up! He has been to the dermatologist countless times and uses prescription creams for his face and nothing had worked until Whole30. It was a freeing moment for Steven to see that his diet could help control his skin problems. 

Did you lose weight? 

While Whole30 is not a weight loss diet, we did lose weight. We didn't count calories and ate until we were full. We never felt deprived or like we were left hungry. We both lost about 10 pounds during the 30 days. Before and during Whole30 I was doing strength training using the Sweat App and was also training for long runs so I can't attribute my weight loss fully to Whole30. I will say that I did see the most significant changes in my body during the month I was doing Whole30. 

What were your reintroduction results? 

Reintroduction was scary. We both felt so good during Whole30 and were scared that we were going to negate all the results we were seeing, but Whole30 isn't meant to be a lifetime diet so we moved on and did our reintroductions.

We started with a glass of red wine on day 31. We enjoyed our glass that day, but boy did we not enjoy the effect it had on us the next day. We both woke up feeling like we'd been hit by a truck. I was so thirsty and had a pounding headache upon waking up. All from a single glass of red wine! Thankfully when we introduced other gluten free alcohol we didn't have the same reaction.

Dairy was something I was scared to reintroduce because I thought it was responsible for my stomach pains. What I found was that while dairy made me a little bloated it didn't cause the severe stomach pains I'd suffered from previously.

Gluten free grains didn't effect Steven and I was mostly fine except for feeling a little bloated after eating them.

Legumes didn't seem to effect either of us. Thank goodness! We love spicy peanuts! 

Now gluten, oh gluten! Gluten is not our friend. When we reintroduced gluten we both felt sick after. Stomach pains were back with a vengence. What I was attributing to dairy was actually being caused by gluten. 

Was it worth it? 

Absolutely! While it was difficult at times (traveling, holiday, not being able to go out with friends), it was worth it to find out how certain foods affect us. Without doing Whole30 we wouldn't have found out that we both have a gluten sensitivity and that it was the cause of Steven's seborrheic dermatitis and my stomach pains. 

Was it hard? 

Yes. It was. While majority of the time we were happy to be doing it and enjoying the process we did encounter a few times where it was difficult. It was mostly difficult because of the social limitations. We were invited to go to a margarita pour off (one of our favorite events of the year) and we had to decline. We couldn't meet up with friends at bars because all we could drink was water and we didn't want to be tempted. When family invited us out to eat or over to eat we felt like we were being difficult because of our dietary restrictions. 

Would we do it again? 

Yes. Not in the near future but if we got to the point where we felt that other foods may be affecting us or if we let ourselves stray too far from the good food habits we have developed we would do it again to help us reset. We have also chosen to implement some Whole30 restrictions into our home diet such as buying food that has no sugar added and avoiding gluten. 

Tips if you want to do a Whole30

Meal Plan & Meal Prep: I can't stress enough how important it was to have a plan in place. With so many rules and restrictions you can't just wing it and not be stressed out. Before we started Whole30 we spent two months testing out different recipes and putting together the bare bones of what would become our meal plan. The week before we started I finalized our Week 1 meal plan which included what we would be eating for every single meal, when each meal had to be prepared, links to recipes, and a grocery list.

Scheduling: Try to schedule Whole30 for a time you will not be traveling. While it is possible to travel and stay Whole30 compliant - I did - it isn't fun. It was stressful trying to figure out what food I could make and take with me or trying to find restaurants that would have options for me to eat while still allowing my dinning companions to eat something they enjoyed. 

If you must travel while doing Whole30, plan ahead. Fix meals that you can travel with, bring snacks, find grocery stores near you hotel, and do some research to find restaurants that could accommodate Whole30.

Don't schedule Whole30 around the holidays. We scheduled Whole30 during March/April because it was the month where we knew we would be doing little to no travel and because Easter isn't a 'food' holiday for us. We knew we could still have a great time with our family on Easter and not feel left out. This would not have been the case if we'd done Whole30 during Thanksgiving or Christmas. I don't know about you but I would not miss out on those meals! 

Book Roundup #1

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Book Roundup #1

I finally got a library card! I'd been meaning to get one since I moved to Houston almost five years ago and I finally did it! I should have done it a long time ago! I love being able to check out a ton of books! I typically read while I am eating my lunch and before bed. Below are my brief thoughts on the books I read or listened to from January 2018 through March 2018!

Alexander Hamilton - Ron Chernow

I'm not going to lie, I read this book because I am obsessed with the musical! I have yet to see the show, but I've listened to the soundtrack countless times! I've never considered myself a history fan until this point. This is the first biography I have ever read so I don't know how it compares to others, but I really enjoyed it. It was very long and dense at times and it helped that I didn't have a strict deadline for reading it. I spent about a month and a half reading the book. It is one of the more difficult books I've read only because of how much information there is, but if you are a fan of the musical I highly recommend you read it.

Wonder - R.J. Palacio 

This book was a super quick read for me, started it one day and ended it the next, which was great considering Hamilton took me all month to read! I'd honestly not heard of the book until I saw previews for the movie, and no, I did not watch the movie first!

Wonder is about 10 year old August "Auggie" Pullman who will be attending school for the first time. Auggie was born with a craniofacial abnormality that caused him to have many surgeries as a baby and child. Auggie was homeschooled by his mom until they decided to enroll him in the 5th grade. The story of Auggie's first year attending school is told from multiple perspectives giving light to not what different people in Auggie's life go through.

Wonder made me laugh and cry more than I thought a book about middle school could do. Wonder is one of the books I will be saving for my future children because I think it tells a wonderful story of accepting everyone as they are.

Why Not Me? - Mindy Kaling 

Oh Mindy! I'd heard friends talking about her show the Mindy Project a couple of years ago and I finally started watching it in February and loved it! I enjoy Mindy Kaling's wittiness in the show and it translated well into her book. I found my self chuckling quite a bit while I was reading her book. If you want something quirky, funny, and quick then this book is for you.

Girl In The Blue Coat - Monica Hesse 

I love reading historical fiction set in World War II. The stories usually captivate me from beginning to end and this was no exception. The book tells the story of Hanneke and how her work in the black market leads her to becoming a part of the resistance against the Nazis.

Cinder - Marissa Meyer

This book is basically Cinderella in a science fiction setting. I went into this book not knowing what I was reading about. I was taken aback at first and didn't think I would like it, but it grew on me. The story was pretty predictable but still entertaining. It was a light and easy read. If you want something to pass the time this is a great option.

Me Before You - Jojo Moyes 

I cried, oh boy did I cry. I knew from having watched the movie that this book would make me cry, but I wanted to read it anyway. I know there is a lot of controversy surrounding the ending of this book but there is more to the story then how it ends. If you want to read something that makes you see the world a little differently this story of loss, heartbreak, love, and compassion is for you.

The Invisible Bridge - Julie Orringer 

This is the first audio book I've listened to in a few years. It took me about four weeks to listen to all of it. The book started off a little slow and would go into lots and lots of detail about the life of Andras Levi, a Hungarian Jewish student who moves from Budapest to Paris to study architecture. At first I didn't know where the story would go because there was a bit of everything- love, friendship, belonging, drama, and loss. It was a long book to get through and I think listening to it is the way to go.

Lately on the 'gram

© Jessica Marie Kelley . Design by FCD.