Monday, October 5, 2015

31 days to whole ~ cousin katie's turkey and sweet potato chili...

Happy Monday Y'all!!

How did your weekend go? Things here were slow and steady. Lots of housework, meal planning and writing. Yesterday we had our full day at the church with CCD, Mass and Youth Ministry. All while stepping in between raindrops.

On Saturday, I made a crock-pot full of goodness. My cousin Katie sent me her favorite crock-pot chili recipe and I knew it would be a winner. As with any recipe that comes my way, I name it for the giver once I have changed it to work for my family. Cumin is very important here. Turkey is a very mild flavored ground meat so the complexity of the spic combination is key to make a flavorful dish. 

Also adding in the dry garlic powder along with the fresh helps give the sweet garlicky back note. The sweet potatoes are a hearty enough root vegetable to hold up in the crock pot for the 4-5hours it takes to cook. 

This recipe is Whole30 compliant as well. 

Aunt Katie's Sweet Potato and Turkey Chili
heavily adapted from Real Simple Magazine

2 pounds of ground turkey, (dark meat works best)
2 medium red onion, chopped
2 bell peppers, chopped
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 tablespoon chili powder
2 tablespoon ground cumin
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
kosher salt and black pepper
2 28-ounce can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
2  medium sweet potato (about 8 ounces), peeled and cut into 1⁄2-inch pieces


Cook turkey in a skillet. When browned add in fresh garlic, giving it a stir or two. 

In a 6-quart slow cooker, combine the cooked turkey and garlic, onion, bell pepper, garlic powder, chili powder, cumin, cocoa, cinnamon, 2 teaspoons salt, and 3/4 teaspoon black pepper. Add the tomatoes (and their liquid), sweet potato, and 1/2 to 1 cup water depending on how wet you like your chili.

Cover and cook until the sweet potatoes are tender and the chili has thickened, on low for 7 to 8 hours  or on high for 4 to 5 hours (this will shorten total recipe time).

Sunday, October 4, 2015

31 days to whole ~ day four ~ what I wore ~ making peace with your body type...

The weather has changed in the last 48 hours and we are full on in Fall y'all. The air is crisp and a breeze is ruffling the leaves on the trees. We have also been experiencing some major rain fall these last few days making todays wardrobe choice a little more challenging than usual. 

I am wearing tights. Alert the media!! This 48 year old menopausal woman is wearing tights!! That tells you how chilly it actually is. I also stepped waaaaaayyyyy outside my fashion comfort zone and am wearing a pair of booties with a dress. 

It's cray cray around here. Seriously!! 

I layered things as well. I have on a jean jacket from Nordi's, my empire waist cotton dress from Land's End, tights from Lane Bryant and booties form DSW. The earrings and scarf are from Charming Charlies. Nothing is new. It's all from last year. 

Let's talk body image for a moment. As I have been making my way through this 31 Days to Whole adventure, I have spent a lot of time in meditation and prayer about where I am and how I feel about my body and all it's wonder. I, like many of you, have struggled for years to make peace with my body shape which has led me to really dive into learning about what looks best on my body. 

Nobody like to feel like a frump. Nobody. We all have our feminine moments where we want to feel beautiful. I am 5'10" and weigh 268 pounds. That sounds more like a middle linebacker for a football team than a lithe sexy woman. 

I have never been a delicate creature. God did not make me that way. We have talked about this beforeHe made me strong and on the larger side of life so that I could full fill one of the jobs He sent me here to do. To love and care for my girl Courtney. 

That doesn't mean I haven't abused my body or treated it with less respect than it deserves. I am working on that. That's what the 31 Days to Whole is helping me resetablish. A healthy perspective on what I put into my body to fuel it. 

But here's the thing, even when I have reached my goals, even when the weight that needs to come off does, I will still be an oval shaped girl. Just less fluffy and full. 

So how about we stop talking numbers and start talking love of self and shape and personality. How about we just look in that mirror and say "Thank you God for giving me this day to be your hands and feet." 

Let's do it shall we? Let's be at peace with where we are right now in this moment. Let's stop allowing the devil to whisper in our ear urging us to compare and feel less than. 

YOU ARE ENOUGH!! Right now, right where you are. Today in this moment God loves ALL of you. 

You are His beloved and He is yours! Now let's all start acting on that truth shall we? 

Now go and your's ALL God is asking of us. 

Saturday, October 3, 2015

31 days to whole ~ day three...I actually feel hungry...

Start the beginning...

Last night I actually felt hunger pains. 

Like actual pains in my tummy. 

I cannot tell you the last time I was actually physically hungry. 

I know. Scary right?

I have been an over eater for so long, I have never really been hungry when I sit down for a meal. I just sit and eat out of habit. 

How sad is that? What an abuse of my body. 

I am learning in these early days of this challenge, that I have spent too many years just surviving. I know, I know, it's what had to be done. With a special needs child's intensive care being the number one priority in our home, my own health and wellness issues have been buried for quite some time. 

Survival was key and survive we did. Not only survive but I think we even thrived during our time with our Courtney. There was joy and so much love. Now that she is in heaven, I still have ALL that love to give and it has to go somewhere. I thinks that's one of my current problems, is filling my time, intentionally, with good things, positive things, healthy things.

Instead of stuffing my grief and boredom down my throat via potato chips and brownies. 

It's rainy, cold and wet here in NoVa today and I have dinner in the crock-pot, the laundry is going and there is Vivaldi playing on the iPod. Jerry made a wonderful breakfast of bacon, eggs and hashbrowns. 

We will have a cup of vegetable soup in a bit to tide us over until supper. 

For the first time in a long time, it feels like enough. I have a meal plan in the works for next week so I keep myself focused and prepared. I am delving into the creative side of my brain preparing to write a book in the next few months AND I have been sewing again. 

It feels good to create again. It feels good to be a homemaker again. 

I have discovered the only time I think about food is a) when I am not prepared with a meal plan and b) when I am bored or feeling overwhelmed or rushed. 

It's like bi-polar food disease. The highs and lows are what challenge me and create situations where I make foolish choices. I mean I can't avoid those situations all together. Life is life and I am far from perfect. BUT I can learn a new way of thinking that allows me to use logic instead of emotion. 

For today, logic is winning. For today. 

Friday, October 2, 2015

31 days to whole ~ day two ~ setting goals and sticking to them...

You can find the intro post to my 31 days to whole series here. It's a great place to start. 

Day Two ~ Setting goals and sticking to them. 

Planning. Goal setting. List making. Brainstorming. This is my happy place. 

My Type-A perfectionist personality welcomes any and all opportunities to make my daily life more simple. Since the concept behind this 31 Days to Whole is to remove the stigma of food and restore some emotional balance to my universe when it comes to food, setting some realistic goals is a must.  

I have spent the last month thinking about these things and praying that I am on the right path in addressing them. You will notice weight loss is not my main goal. This goes much deeper than that. 

My goals in these 31 days are:

1. To examine my daily eating habits, paying close attention to what I eat and the quality/nutritional value of that food.

2. To examine why I tend toward emotional overeating and what those triggers are.

3. Reset my taste buds and lower my glycemic load by cooking natural, whole foods (locally sourced as much as possible) from scratch, thereby forgoing fast food/pre-packaged of any kind. 

4. Re-ignite my love of cooking using new flavorful recipes. 

5. Return to my menu planning roots, thereby spending less and never going hungry. This also helps me to make the healthiest choices possible for me and my family. 

That's it. This is what I want to do. These goals sound so simple and yet each one has layers of emotional crud going back decades, especially the emotional overeating. So it will take time to work my way through all of this. 

I'm off to a good start though. At least I feel like I am.

Todays HUGE revelation was to place a decaf Chai Tea bag in a cup of almond milk and microwave it. Instant Chai Tea Latte WHole 30 style. It's like a slice of pumpkin pie. Perfect for my wicked sweet tooth. 

I am learning it's the simple things that make me the happiest. 

I have also started journaling everyday. This is something I used to do before starting this blog but have fallen out of the habit of doing. It's been helpful as I figure out some of my emotional overeating triggers. 

Another thing I did was put MyFitness Pal on my phone at the suggestion of my health coach Katie (Hey Cuz!). It has been helpful to pay attention to calories in and calories out. I also check in with Katie twice a week or whenever I may be struggling. It's another layer of support. 

What is your favorite Whole 30/Whole Food recipe/aid? Any tricks that you have for me? Happy to hear them all. 

Thursday, October 1, 2015

31 days to whole ~ day one ~ ((scream))

Here is my intro post on 31 Days to Whole.

Well here we go my friends. 

31 Days to Whole has begun. I have prepared as best I could. The fridge is full of healthy chopped veggies, eggs and lean meats. There are very few dairy products to tempt me and the sugar is up high on a shelf. I kind of feel like a five year old whose been told to stay out of the cupboards.

I know, childish, but honest.  

This morning I started with Mass and breakfast with my Mommy. It's her Feast Day. I knew this was coming and I was ready. There were yummy eggs and bacon (sadly with no cheese), hot tea and lots of water. No stress over my food choices, just enjoying time with my Mom. It was a lovely morning. 

The rain made my trip home quite the adventure. Stop and go traffic on a major highway does not make for a stress free trip. 

Lunch was a quick salad, easy peasy, and then I got to pick up our little house guest. For the next three days, Princess Lilo is in 'da house. It's nice having a doggy in the house again. It will help make my daily walks a little more interesting. 

Dinner will be a a pork chop (baked), roasted sweet potatoes with rosemary and veggies. What I really want are a small stack of pumpkin pancakes, however, that will not be happening tonight. 

The first day of a new life is always the easiest. Now comes the hard part. To get up and do it all over again on day two and beyond. My intention is to make permanent life changes and I pray these first 31 days will help me get moving in the right direction.

Meal planning has been a HUGE help in staying on track and lessening my stress about things. I am just so damn tired of worrying about food. What to eat? When to eat? I think my biggest challenge will be no snacking. I am a life long snacker. Give me a cracker and some cheese and I will create an awesome snack. 

Oh cheese...I miss you...

Ok, maybe it's the little to none dairy thing...sigh...

How's everyone else doing? 

Team work Y'all. I'm praying for ALL of you to succeed. I covet your prayers as well. 

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

31 days to whole ~ authentic living...even when it's not perfect...

Day Four ~ what i wore ~ making peace with your body shape

Tomorrow is the Feast of St. Therese, my mothers favorite saint and also her namesake. It's a special day with Mass and roses for the best Mama I know. 

Marianne Therese Stuecken Green, you are a godsend to me and have taught me so much. You taught me how to love and sacrifice. You taught me how to work hard and pray harder, You taught me that when we put God first, amazing things happen. The greatest gift you ever gave me was my Catholic faith. For that I can never say enough "thank you's". I love you Mommy and I look forward to Mass with you tomorrow morning. BEST part of my day for sure.   

You also taught me that when changes need to be made, the only way to do is to dive in and work your ass off. Tomorrow is also the first day of a new journey, lasting exactly 31 days. I have chosen to call it "31 Days to Whole". 

Two years ago I dabbled with writing 31 days straight here in this space, about gratitude. It was a time of transition for us with Courtney. She was home full-time and fairly healthy. She still had seizures every day but she was also doing PT with Miss Pam and laughing and was really present to us at that time. I chose to write about gratitude because I needed to keep focused on all the awesome things there were about being a Mama and a caregiver. 

When I focused on gratitude, the harder stuff seemed easier to deal with. This year it's not about Courtney or our relationship. She is in heaven with God and no longer needs my care. This year it's about her grieving Mama and dealing with some of my deeper issues with food, emotions and faith and their deep connection to one another. 

Tomorrow I start my physicians/health coach's version of the Whole 30 program. As we chatted about some of my current health issues, he said after everything I have faced in the last year, it was time to start caring for myself with the same passion I cared for Courtney. After all, I too was a child of God and worth fighting for. 

I was floored. He knows of my deep faith and knows how important it is to me. This was the first time I heard him speak in such a way though. I have a feeling that Courtney and the Holy Spirit had something to do with it. 

Just a little bit. 

I had never thought of of my health in those terms before. I have a very emotional connection to food. For me it means love, joy, celebration, sadness and grief. It is the center of my day. "What's for dinner?" is the first thing my husband asks every.single.morning for twenty-seven years.  

Seriously, it's kind of a big deal around these parts. I love to cook. I love to bake. I love to eat. I do these things with great passion, wether I am happy or sad. 

This is slowly killing me. 


I am a pre-Type 2 Diabetic who is morbidly obese (according to current BMI standards). I have had joint issues in my knees for years as well as the beginning of neuropathy pain and numbness in my feet this past year. Thankfully my heart is in good shape but my cholesterol levels are not doing me any favors, neither are my triglycerides. 

Are you scared for me yet? 

Hell, I am scared for me. 

I sat down a few weeks ago and just let it all sink in. If I don't make serious changes in my life now, I will be a burden to my family that I never wish to be. 

I share this with you because grief, weight loss, emotional overeating and my prayer life are all intertwined for me. I have been in this cesspool a really long time and to climb out of it is going to be really, really tough. 

This is not about food. It's about my relationship with food and with accepting who I am and how God sees me

It's about a healthy love of self. 

I chose to share this here in this space because:

#1. I need you to pray your butts off I can do this. Like seriously pray. 

#2. I have been open and honest about all the good and the bad for the last eight years here and I cannot imagine going through this without you guys cheering me on. 

#3. I'm scared. I have spent half of my adult life looking after and caring for my husband and children and ignoring many of my own issues. To stare them in the face today scares the crap out of me. 

#4. I can't afford therapy, so you're it. Let's do this.

#5. Things must change for my health and my sanity. I'm tired of being tired, sad, unfocused and unmotivated. I'm tired of not being me. 

I write this with a lovely cafe latte by my side. It will be my last one for 31 Days and maybe even more beyond that depending on how this goes. The original Whole 30 Program is basically no dairy, no sugar, no grains and no legumes. Mine will contain more than a few adjustments to that. I will not be going cold turkey on anything, just taking a significant step back from these foods. 

Sounds like quite the party, no? 

The whole point of this adventure is to learn and understand what my body needs and what makes me ill. To acknowledge why I eat when I do and what I need to do to change my relationship with food. To reward myself when I meet goals with more positive things besides food. 

It's the beginning of a new chapter in my life. It's time to put my health and well-being first on that life list. 

SO here we go my friends...31 Days to Whole.

You with me? 

Pretty Please? 

Sunday, September 27, 2015

what i wore ~ transitioning to fall...

As fall rolls in, my wardrobe plan begins to change. It's cool in the morning and hot by 3 p.m. So out come the sweaters and jackets. 

I had an opportunity to celebrate my birthday with some fabulous friends this weekend. Saturday we met at one of my favorite restaurants Seasons 52. It's one of those places that sources their produce locally and changes their menu four times a year along with the seasons. They were debuting their Fall menu this past weekend so it was a perfect timing for this birthday girl. 

I wore a comfy empire waist cotton dress layered with a lace camisole for modesty. I paired it with an ice blue sweater and robins egg blue flats. I like the color combo. It makes me think of summer meeting fall. 

This morning it was also a cool morning. Today is one of our shorter marathon Sundays at church with only CCD and Mass. Many of our teens are up in Philly hanging out with Pope Francis. Lucky them. Because of that, there is no Youth Ministry tonight which means early bedtime for me.  

I wore a pair of knit black gauchos and a white linen peasant blouse with black flower details at the hems of the sleeves and bottom. It's heavy enough to not require a sweater but light enough to handle my hot flashes like a champ. 

I also got to show off my new watch from Michael Kors, a very generous birthday gift from a sweet friend. You can see it in the photo above. I love it's two-tone wonderfulness. I look forward to wearing it a lot. I also wore a pair of heels (ish) since we are only at church for four hours instead of seven. I felt comfy and stylish. 

Thanks so much for all the birthday wishes. It's been a lovely weekend and I have felt so loved and cared for. My hubby and son are just the best, then you add in my very close friends and's been awesome. 

Here's to 48!!

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