Meat Portioning

I don’t always buy a lot of meat, especially before we’re going on vacation. But when Fresh Thyme opens a store near me and sells chicken and beef for waaay cheaper than usual, it’s worth it to stock my freezer.

I do this with all the meat I buy, so it was especially good to share when I had a lot to portion out.

All I do is separate portions with fold and seal sandwich bags, you know, the ones you buy by accident when you forget to double check if it’s a zipper top.

For chicken.. each breast and every one or two thighs are in their own fold and seal sandwich bag, then put in a freezer bag. This way I can thaw only what I need at a time.

But for ground meat, I weigh my portions. I go for 8 ounces in each sandwich bag then put them in a freezer bag. I love this scale. I zero out my meat then subtract my portions as I bag them.

Now my freezer is stocked and I can thaw what I need meal by meal.

I keep a pan in my fridge to prevent cross contamination as I thaw.

That frozen chicken’s gonna take a while.


Tanya’s Reading List

This is my friend Tanya.

We attend church together but I rarely see her there. Once a month I see her at book club, but lately I run in to her at Fresh Thyme on Double-Ad Wednesdays. So this picture captures her in her “natural habitat.”

In book club the host chooses the book, and I’ve always loved Tanya’s choices. She put together a list to read this year to diversify your reading.

Just 10 books. I ended up finishing my list last month mostly listening to audiobooks on my phone while cooking, doing chores and waiting in pick up line.

Same name as the author or character – Where’d you go Bernadette by Maria Semple

Written by a person of color – What It Means When a Man Falls From the Sky by Lesley Nneka Arimah

A Classic – The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

Male Author – Tuesday’s with Morrie by Mitch Albom

Historical Fiction – Shoemaker’s Wife by Adriani Trigiani

Non Fiction – Going Solo by Ronald Dahl

Takes place in an alternate universe – Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore

Asian location – I am Malala (takes place in Pakistan) by Malala Yousafzi

Made into a movie or tv series – Wild by Cheryl Strayed

Liz Curtis Higgs – Bookends

One of my favorite was reading a book you share your name with the author or main character. I discovered Maria Semple for myself. The other was reading something by a person of color. From listening to Levar Burton, I first heard of Lesley Nneka Arimah. Her debut collection of short stories is crazy good. I loved Tanya’s list so much I think I’ll repeat it. I wanted to put it out here for any other friends. Most men read books authored by men and women read women. Being intentional to mix up who and what you read is so good to broaden your personal experience.

How about you? What’s your best off your stride reading you’ve done this year?

A Crumby Deal

My kids and I have texture purity preferences. I like my orange juice pulp free, and we like our Cheerios “dust free.” (Cheerio dust was a term my daughter called what happened at the bottom of a Cheerio bag.)

I was even reaching my hand in to the bag for the last bowl of mini wheats, trying to grab the last biscuits free from loose fiber bitsies.

Yes, I’ve clearly got a problem and have thought too much about this, but the results are worth it…


Dust removed.

Bottom of the pretzel bag…

Less salt!

Mini Wheats…

Look at all those bitsies. To the texturally-sensitive eater this is a rough bowl of cereal.

Shake, shake… now it’s as nice as the first bowl after opening.

This delicious crumb-less bowl of cereal brought to you by…

The plastic colander you already have.

Pecan Crusted Chicken

My husband’s favorite meal we ate on Whole30 was all his idea.  We were talking about using nuts in place of  grains, and he said we should do a take on breaded chicken and serve it with this great arrabiata sauce.  To make the sauce compliant we didn’t use the white wine this recipe.  I think we used red wine vinegar.  I also add fennel seeds to the sauce.  It’s like a secret ingredient to make anything Italian taste more amazing and complex.

For the chicken…

I pounded my chicken tenderloins in a plastic bag until quite thin, probably 1/4 an inch, then salted both sides and let them sit on the counter while I made the nut mixture.

I pulsed all of my “breading” ingredients in my food processor until it looked almost like couscous.

Pecans, crushed red pepper flakes, fennel seeds, Italian seasoning, garlic, salt and pepper, and fresh parsley.


I placed my mix in a bowl and beat an egg in another bowl.


Simply dip in egg then pecan mixture.  I did have to press the mix on a little.

Heat oil in a medium non-stick pan with olive oil over medium-high heat until almost smoking.  Cook tenders for 2-3 minutes one one side, then flip for another 2 minutes (depending on how thick your chicken is) until cooked through (should read 160 degrees on an instant read thermometer).  Place on a plate and let it rest for 5 minutes.

Serve in a shallow bowl of arrabiata sauce (or any marinara).


pecan crusted chicken

Reading Rainbow Redux

Levar Burton has a podcast!?! His podcast is just him reading short fiction?! He’s been doing it for a while so there’s 20 episodes I get to catch up on!?! Best news.

In his first episode he explains how he thinks Millennials have a wish that he would come and read them a bedtime story. I kinda hate that I’m a Millennial mostly because of the reputation that is associated with some younger ones from my generation. I always want to yell, “I first learned how to “cold boot” a computer and “floppy disks” were larger and actually floppy, I remember the first time I used the Internet (dial up), and my first email account was Juno!”

But, if being a Millennial means I can get a little credit for motivating Levar Burton to read to me on a podcast, then can I just say, “Yes, I’m a proud Millennial.”

He even leads us listeners to take a deep breath and get ready for the story, and I smile like a total goof.

Another bonus, the short fiction he’s reading can often be found on Goodreads if you need to give your annual ” Reading Challenge” a boost.

These stories are selected with adult listeners in mind, so please, listen to it yourself before you say, “Let’s have family story time.”



How it happened…

I listened to an interview with creator of Whole30, Melissa Hartwig on the Jen Hatmaker podcast. I checked out a couple of Whole30 books at the library. My husband and his mom, his sister, and brother-in-law all set up to start on January 1.

It was really nice eating this plan with people I could check in with daily. We all felt benefits and we also shared comments we were getting from non-supporters. The comment we all heard was simply, “I could never do that.” Not true. Anyone can give up dairy, grain, and added sugar for only 30 days. It was fuel for us to keep going.

What We Ate…

I found one Whole30 recipe we loved. This chili was great. We made it with ground meat and nixed the peppers after the first time. But mostly I went through my cookbooks I already owned and found recipes I could make compliant easily. Usually that just meant not adding the sugar called for in a dressing or changing the oil used.

Eggs for breakfast every morning. Scrambled, fried in ghee, omelettes, frittata, and aloo tiki, but most mornings I sautéed mushrooms and onions, wilted spinach on this then set it aside and scrambled eggs in the pan. I topped our scrambled eggs with the spinach and mushrooms. So satisfying.

Sesame crusted tilapia (America’s Test Kitchen) with an Israeli tomato cucumber salad and grapes.

Pork chop cooked with olive oil and salt and pepper and roasted butternut squash with tahini and pistachios (America’s Test Kitchen) and Israeli salad.

Pati Jinich’s recipe for Chicken a la Trash. We are this four times. So good. I only had to switch from vegetable oil to olive to make this compliant.

What We Learned…

We eat without thinking a lot of the time.  It was hard to not “clean the knife” after making my daughter’s peanut butter and nutella sandwich every morning for school.  It was tricky to fix pasta for my kids without trying a bite to see if it was “al dente.”  Once I put a piece in my mouth then spit it out when I realized what I was doing.  You really treat non-compliant foods like you are allergic to them.  Whole30 is strict.  They say if you eat something wrong, you should start your 30 days over.  That’s motivational to keep you on the straight and narrow just so you can eventually graduate.

Eating Out Was Hard.

We only ate out once at Longhorn Steakhouse (we had a gift card).  We read over the online allergen menu (why is there soy in everything?!) and read online people who eat Whole30 at different resturants and what you can order.   You poor folks who really do have food allergies!  I’m so sorry.  We both had steaks without the “love sauce” they finish them with (soy oil based something) and sweet potatoes without cinnamon sugar or butter (they call this order “sweet potatoes-dry”) but they were delicious, and salads with white balsamic vinaigrette, which may have been non-compliant, but I couldn’t figure it out in time, so we ordered it on the side and I used very little.  The food was delicious, but ordering things special is rough on me.  I don’t like making my server do special things, but our gal was really great about it.

What we lost…

My husband lost 24 lbs in the 40 days. (Whole30 plus 10 days of reintroduction). I lost 10.6! My progress chart is a nice straight line because I followed the plan and did not weigh from day one to 30.

How it’s changing me…

It has taken a while to figure out how to continue since doing Whole30. I was expecting to find I had some issues with gluten or something. Not so much. I am as a whole giving up dairy. It causes me to break out. Most mornings I eat eggs and drink coffee with almond milk and sugar. I basically gave up coffee for the month because I like my coffee sweet. I’m eating rice again regularly, but I eat way more fruits and vegetables doing Whole30-ish than I was. This sounds cliche, but I really didn’t have cravings while doing this. I was so satisfied nutritionally.

We just felt good eating meat, vegetables, fruit and not much else. Our energy was great. Our sleep was better. It felt like an accomplishment. I would highly recommend checking out this plan for your health.