Under the Weather Chicken Soup

I just started exploring using my instant pot more over the past 6 months and I love making soups with it! They come together so quickly, which is handy for busy days or when you’re just not feeling great! This is a great one for cold days, or when the family is under the weather and needs some extra immune support! The bone broth, garlic and turmeric are so good for you.

4 cups chicken broth (or bone broth)

3 carrots

5 stalks of celery

1/2 an onion

2-3 garlic cloves

2 chicken breasts

1 1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper

1/2 tsp dried parsley

Dash of turmeric (it’s so good for you and gives the soup a pretty color!)

1 drop of lemon vitality essential oil (Optional, from young living. Vitality oils can be ingested.)

1/2 box of pasta ( I like the gluten free simple truth fusilli. You could use any kind, 1/2 cup of rice, or orzo pasta.)

Dice carrots, celery, onions, and garlic fairly small. Add to instant pot along with broth, chicken and spices. Attach lid and cook on manual for 9 minutes. Release the pressure, add the pasta, stir in. Close the lid and set manual for another 5 minutes. Release the pressure, shred the chicken and enjoy! (I shred chicken in my kitchen aid mixer, using the whisk attachment. It takes about 30 seconds and comes out perfectly every time!)

*this can easily be made on the stove top too!

My experience with the Whole30

I just finished my first Whole30. I thought I would write out my thoughts on the whole experience, in case it helped anyone else!

1. Starting: I would recommend just starting, not waiting until the beginning of the month, or trying to work around any time in particular. Once I decided I was going to do it, and set the date officially (the following Monday.), I actually followed through and started. I’ve found that when I put it off to long, I usually talk myself out of it.

2. Put the whole family on it. (Modified for kids.) It’s a lot harder to be consistent and successful when you’re having to cook multiple meals. Just cook whatever you’re going to eat that is approved, and don’t worry about how you’re spouse will react. In my experience, they will eat the dinner that is prepared, or if it’s really that big of deal they will stop for a hamburger on the way home. I made sure I was careful about what I was eating, but I had my toddler eat normally for breakfast and lunch.

Roasted chicken, potatos and Brussels sprouts

3. Keep approved snacks on hand that are easy to grab! Nuts, Lara bars (a few are approved), dried fruit, and plantain chips for occasional crunchy/salty cravings were a life saver when I was especially hungry between meals or while out and about. If you have snacks that are whole30 approved on hand, you will be less likely to cave and eat whatever you can find.

4. Don’t be afraid to be repetitive. Kendra Adachi talks a lot about living in your season, and the whole30 is a season. (At least for me.) Pick a number of dinners that work, and do them several times. It takes the guess work away from trying to prepare dinner, because you know at least a couple dinners you can just throw together that are plan approved.

5. Find someone to keep you accountable. I have started posting a bit about my health and fitness goals on my Instagram, and it’s helping me stay accountable for my goals. Even though no one is going to bother me about them on there, I know that people know about my goals, and that alone helps keep me motivated.

Whole30 omelet (eggs, peppers, onions sautéed. Salsa on top.)

6. Qudoba and Chipotle both have whole 30 menus, and they taste pretty good. They’re a great alternative if you are out and about and need something quick, (If you get hangry like I do.) or if you just need a break from cooking!

7. Don’t freak out if you have to cheat one meal. I had one day where it was just unavoidable. And I ate the food happily and didn’t worry about it! You can keep going after that meal and it isn’t going to matter in the long run! Give yourself some grace! “Diets” are hard, and the Whole30 is more about eating habits and lifestyle than dieting. So don’t sweat it.

I hope that was helpful! I’m glad I did it! I saw some health benefits, lost a bit of weight, and it really was a great way to work back into eating more healthy again! I would recommend it to anyone with similar goals!

Easter 2021 // Liam

I can’t believe how much Liam is talking these days! Pretty much every day he is saying something new, and surprising is with what he knows! He’s starting to get a little frustrated when he can’t think of the word he wants to say to communicate with us. He’s always so excited when he does know the words!

He wasn’t so sure about the bunny ears at first, but decided he liked them eventually.

Happy Easter from this little Easter bunny! Xo

Smoked Roast

I love making a roast! It’s so easy to dump everything in the pot, stick it in the oven, and come back several hours left to a juicy, tender roast and perfect potatoes! It makes the best dinner for cold evenings, or a mouthwatering lunch after church on a Sunday! This one is just a little elevated, and super delicious!

You start by putting a dry rub on the roast, And then let it smoke for about 90 minutes.

Once it has a nice bark on it, you’ll take the roast out and put it in a large Dutch oven along with your broth and vegetables. This will go back in the smoker or in your oven for another 4+ hours. (with the lid on tight.)

When the meat is very tender, it’s ready to serve!

Dry rub:

3/4 tsp. Each of salt, garlic and pepper.

Other ingredients:

Chuck roast (or really any kind of roast!)

4-6 potatoes (depends on how many you can fit in your Dutch oven.)

4 carrots

1/2 onion

3 garlic cloves

3 cups beef broth

1/4 tsp thyme

1/4 tsp rosemary

Preheat smoker to 180°.

Sprinkle dry rub on all sides of the meat , place in the smoker, and let it cook for 90 minutes.

Then, you will pull the meat off the smoker, and place in a large Dutch oven. Raise the temperature to 275°. Add potatoes, onions, carrots and garlic, rosemary and thyme, (make sure the lid can close completely.). Pour your broth over the top of it all, be sure the meat is covered.

Cook for about 4 hours, until the meat is very tender.

I like to serve pot roast with the potatoes and carrots cooked with it, but you could also do mashed potatoes, instead of cooking them in the pot. Add a garden salad or some garlic bread and your family will be delighted! Enjoy!

Easter Basket 2021

Last year I saw people doing Easter baskets for their kids, and I thought it was such a fun idea! Liam was only one, so too young to really appreciate something like that, but this year I decided that I want to put one together for him. I didn’t want to spend a ton of money, so I decided to check the dollar store, and ended up putting together the perfect basket for a 2-year-old!

This book is so good, and I found it on Amazon. It tells the entire story of Bible, but in a way that even Liam can understand. (He’s been telling me things from it all week!)

The dollar store has this very sweet line of Bible story books, and Liam loves them! They are a really good way to introduce the major Bible stories to children. So far we have bought David and Goliath, Jonah, Moses, baby Jesus, Daniel in the Lions den, Noah, And Joshua and the Wall.

I also found a book on eye doctor visits, and thought it would be a fun way to introduce that subject, since we go to the eye doctor so often for Victoria.

And I picked up some chalk and finger paint, and a couple of hot wheel cars since Liam is obsessed with cars right now.

It was really fun to put together and I’m excited to give it to Liam! I think this will be a really fun tradition to do with the kids every year, and it’s fun to be able to do it affordably!

MY HANDS ARE FULL

To the random strangers who remark on our children:

Did you have another one on purpose? Wow you have your hands full! Why did you have them so young? When are you having more? Why did you have them so close together?

I get remarks and questions like this everywhere I go… it both amuses and annoys me that random strangers think it’s acceptable to ask such personal and inappropriate questions. And while none of them will ever see this, it’s just some thing I’ve been thinking about for a while.

I love my life. I love having kids young. (Spoiler: That’s a decision we made.) We have the energy to chase toddlers, and will still be pretty young when they’re getting older and doing more things. I love the age gap. I think it’s perfect; they’ll be close enough in age that they’ll be going through the same life events at the same time and hopefully they’ll be able to be friends.

Sometimes it is overwhelming, when the toddler is potty training and the baby is hungry and everyone is crying, including me. But it is also the best thing I’ve ever experienced in my life, and I wouldn’t change it for the world. When your toddler randomly runs over and pulls your face to his to give you a kiss, or your newborn meets your eye as you lean over her crib to pick her up in the morning and gives you the biggest grin, it is the most rewarding and special experience.

So yes, my hands are full, but my heart is fuller, and I love this life!

Smoked Spatchcock Chicken

We are obsessed with spatchcocked chickens! They are so easy, take only about 2.5 hrs in the smoker, and taste amazing every time! And while they look and taste impressive, spatchcocking a chicken is incredibly easy!

I buy our whole chickens from Costco, they come in a 2-pack for about $10, and it’s the best price I’ve found! We buy a several at the beginning of the month, and I usually do at least a couple this way.

Spatchcocking is just cutting the backbone out, so that the chicken can lay flat on the grill, so it gets that good smoky flavor all over, and it cooks way faster than it would as a whole chicken. (I am 100% sure you could also do this in the oven and it would turn out great! We haven’t had an oven for over a year now, so I cook everything outside on our Traeger.)

I use a pair of kitchen scissors and just cut along both sides of the backbone. (you just want to go slowly, because you are cutting through some bone, so you don’t want them to jump around.)

Smoked Spatchcock chicken:

What you need:

Kitchen scissors, basting brush

Oil (I use olive)

Salt and pepper

BBQ sauce (my favorite right now is the Private selection Kansas BBQ sauce from Fred Meyer

Directions:

Preheat oven or grill to 350°

Begin by cutting the backbone out. Discard, along with the pieces inside the bird.

Oil the entire chicken, inside and out, and coat with salt and pepper.

Place on hot grill, laid flat, breast side up, and cook for an hour.

After and hour, it should be golden. Brush with some bbq sauce, (both sides) and then place back on grill. Turn heat down to 300°. Brush with more sauce after another 30 min.

Check internal temperature at 2.5 hrs total, but leave it on the heat until it reaches 180° internally.

Take it off the grill, let it rest for 10 minutes, and then serve!

I like to serve it with mashed potato’s, and steamed veggies! (Right now we are on a whole30, so I will just serve it with some steamed veggies, and a chopped salad.) Enjoy!