LIBBY LIVING COLORFULLY

Food

What is Whole30 and Why Did I Do It?

Food, How ToLibby RasmussenComment
IMG_4025.jpg

I love food. Period.  I feel very fortunate to have a healthy relationship with it. I don't have any food allergies, disordered eating habits, or even any real aversions to any kind of food.  There isn't a food item I won't try or likely, enjoy.  I do however, love a good challenge, especially when it comes to changing the way I think about what I'm putting in my body.  

Enter Whole30.  What started as a personal challenge to go "Sugar-Free For a Week" turned into a decision to try it out for a month.  So, let's talk about it, because a lot of people have some seeeeerious opinions about "diets" or "eating habits" without really listening to the person who is trying it out.  

What is Whole30?

According to Whole30.com, Whole30 (we'll call it W30 from now on) is a way to change the way you think and eat for 30 days.  "Think of it as a short-term nutrition reset, designed to help you put an end to unhealthy cravings and habits, restore a healthy metabolism, heal your digestive tract, and balance your immune system."  What could be wrong with that?  The W30 theory is that many food groups (like sugar, grains, dairy and legumes) could be having a negative impact on your health and fitness without you even realizing it.

Again, I don't have any stomach issues, I sleep like a baby each night, and don't have any food allergies.  I do, however, tend to get a little off-balance from time to time and am easily convinced (by myself) that what I'm eating, seemingly healthy, or not, isn't thaaaat bad for me. 

So I like to reset - which for me, is what Whole30 does. It puts things back into perspective for me and challenges me to think more.  Am I reading the labels? Are the foods I'm eating truly, "whole"? Or are there 13+ ingredients on the label, half of which I can't pronounce? Am I drinking that coffee because I love the taste of the coffee? No, it's because I want the cream and sugar.  When I do W30, I basically decide to take the plunge, and push the “reset” button with my metabolism and take a hard look at the food choices I made in the past and what I plan on doing with them in the future. 

Okay, So What Do I Eat on W30?

Probably the first question I get when I tell people that I'm cutting out sugar, grains, dairy, and legumes for 30 days is, "Okay, well what CAN you eat then?" and my answer, well, a lot of things actually. Rather than think about the foods I CANT have, I try to think of W30 as a way to eat more fruits, vegetables, seafood, with the occasional red meat and a lot of eggs.  HERE is my favorite Whole 30 Trader Joe's Grocery list and HERE is my favorite Whole Foods W30 compliant list. 

If I had to break down my top W30 foods it would be:

1. More green veggies.. hellllllooooo Sweetgreen salads
2. Pasture Raised Eggs (see here why I only eat these kind)
3. Clementines & other citrus fruits
4. Plantain chips
5. RXBars (here's their Whole30 pack)
6. Avocados 

IMG_6727.jpg

...And What Can't You Eat

Straight from the experts at Whole30.com here is the official list of no no's. "Omitting all of these foods and beverages 100% for 30 days will help you eliminate cravings, restore a healthy metabolism, heal the digestive tract, reduce systemic inflammation, and discover how these foods are truly impacting how you look, how you feel, and your quality of life."

  • Do not consume added sugar, real or artificial. No maple syrup, honey, agave nectar, coconut sugar, date syrup, stevia, Splenda, Equal, Nutrasweet, xylitol, etc. Read your labels, because companies sneak sugar into products in ways you might not recognize.
  • Do not consume alcohol, in any form, not even for cooking. (And ideally, no tobacco products of any sort, either.)
  • Do not eat grains. This includes (but is not limited to) wheat, rye, barley, oats, corn, rice, millet, bulgur, sorghum, sprouted grains, and all gluten-free pseudo-cereals like quinoa, amaranth, and buckwheat. This also includes all the ways we add wheat, corn, and rice into our foods in the form of bran, germ, starch, and so on. Again, read your labels.
  • Do not eat legumes. This includes beans of all kinds (black, red, pinto, navy, white, kidney, lima, fava, etc.), peas, chickpeas, lentils, and peanuts. No peanut butter, either. This also includes all forms of soy – soy sauce, miso, tofu, tempeh, edamame, and all the ways we sneak soy into foods (like lecithin).
  • Do not eat dairy. This includes cow, goat, or sheep’s milk products like milk, cream, cheese, kefir, yogurt, sour cream, ice cream, or frozen yogurt.
  • Do not consume carrageenan, MSG, or sulfites. If these ingredients appear in any form on the label of your processed food or beverage, it’s out for the Whole30.
  • Do not consume baked goods, junk foods, or treats with “approved” ingredients. Recreating or buying sweets, treats, and foods-with-no-brakes (even if the ingredients are technically compliant) is totally missing the point of the Whole30, and will compromise your life-changing results.  These are the same foods that got you into health-trouble in the first place—and a pancake is still a pancake, even if it is made with coconut flour.
AMAZI2+(1+of+1).jpg

What Makes W30 So Hard?

HUMMUS guys.  I missed it so much.  Probably of all the foods, not having legumes when cooking for myself is a particular challenge.  As someone who doesn't really drink soda (unless I'm getting fast food) or is a habitual coffee drinker (other than Colada Shop) cutting out the sugar wasn't really that hard.  One exception though, I LOVE LOVE LOVE condiments and sauces and guess what, pretty much every condiment has sugar in it.  Ketchup, Sriracha, Ranch, BBQ sauce, Honey mustard, tartar sauce, they all have sugar.  

My affinity for hummus and sauces aside, eating out tends to be a bit of a challenge.  If you're planning on going on a trip to Europe or long trip back home, don't do Whole30. Unless you really have the determination, it would just be far too hard.  This is why a lot of people choose to do W30 in January.  It can be a great way to kick off the new year, and rid your body of the holiday weight and poor decisions you may have made in the early winter months. Plus, many choose to participate in Dry January which leads me to the next topic of W30, alcohol...

So What About Alcohol? 

This is where I chose to "opt-out" and no it has nothing to do with needing alcohol. I've gone weeks and months at a time without drinking alcohol and take no issue with cutting it out.  However, I did my second round of Whole30 in July and much of my social life revolves around eating and drinking. So when I'm needing to be cautious about my food choices, simply opting out of alcohol didn't feel like something I wanted to do.  Did I avoid mixed drinks? Yes, if I could help it.  My intent was to have mostly clear, low sugar alcohols like vodka and gin.  If I was a guest at an event where wine is served or a mixed drink is prepared for me, I wasn't necessarily going to turn it down. Overall, I did make an effort though to consume less alcohol during W30.  

Why less? Well we all know what happens when we drink, and I know it's not just me here, we make poor choices, especially when it comes to food.  What has been a great personal "challenge" of having alcohol while on W30 is coming home from an event or a bar and making the decision to pass on the pizza or Chinese food and go straight for the cold bowl of watermelon in the fridge or dried (sugar-free) mango. The next day I wake up feeling guilt-free and refreshed.

If you do decide to consume alcohol during W30, be prepared to get a little heat from the W30 pros, and (somewhat) rightfully so.  They are doing it 100% and you're not.  But, I think I'll keep my sanity and social life! #chinchin #thanks

Did I Lose Any Weight?

Of course I did. Do you even know how much gluten I eat on a regular basis? (Hint: I was on Buzzfeed for it lol.)  So yes, I lost a few lbs' and this was pretty noticeable by week 2. I looked and felt lighter, my clothes fit better and yes, my skin was great too.  Strangely enough, my fingernails grew a lot.  I'm a fidgety nail-biter, and I didn't find myself doing that while on W30 for some reason.  This was also the case a few years ago when I went vegan for a few months, but we'll talk about that some other time...

Girl kneels at the altar of gluten @libby_livingcolorfully #girlswithgluten

A post shared by Girls with Gluten (@girlswithgluten) on

Will I Do It Again?

Easy answer. 100% yes.  I'm not particularly sure when, but definitely in the near future.  I've also considered doing small stints, like a Whole15 or 20. Just going long enough to feel refreshed and cleansed. Next year I will probably partake in Dry January along with my W30 just for kicks.


Have any of you done Whole 30 before? What did you like? What didn't you like? Will you do it again? 

1467920989034.png

Photography by: Kara Schab of Right Foot Creative 

How To: Make an Avocado Rose

Food, How ToLibby RasmussenComment

If you follow me on Snapchat, you know I'm no stranger to topping my eggs, salads, or a piece of toast with an avocado rose.  There's also a good chance you've spotted some on Karen McLean's feed @secretsquirrelfood. They're hard to miss but are actually incredibly easy to make! Follow along for the easy steps!

1. Pick the Perfect Avocado. This can always be tricky, but when it comes to an avocado rose, you will actually want an avocado that is a little more firm.  If it's too ripe, you'll run the risk of it falling apart or having brown spots.  Really ripe avocados are great for guac, not so great for avocado roses.  Tip: A nealry ripe avocado's "belly button" if you will, will be green underneath when gently pulled off. A ripe avocado, for guacamole, will be slightly brown and will fall off easily. 

IMG_6714_2.jpg

2. Cut the avocado lengthwise and gently peel off the skin.  The perfect avocado will be firm enough to do so.  It's very important that you don't scoop the avocado out of the skin, as you would while making guacamole.  This will leave you with a dented avocado.  You need to pull the skin off piece by piece to keep the avocado smooth. Obviously, remove the pit as well. 

3. Slice Evenly Across. Lay the avocado down and begin slicing it thinly and evenly from one side to the other. Move slowly enough to make sure you aren't bringing up any pieces on the knife. 

4. Slowly Fan Avocado. Create a semi-circle by fanning the slices out.  Make sure the slices are still touching one another on the sides, but don't be afraid to really spread them out for a larger, more spiraled avocado rose. 

5. Spin into a Rose. Slowly cupping the sides, continue to gently spin the slices into a rose. Make sure it's tight enough that the outer edge of the rose stays neatly on the sides. However, you want it to look like a rose, (kinda) so keep it loose enough to keep the blossoming effect.  Tip: Use a little lemon juice to keep the rose from browning. And remember to move it with a spatula if you are plating it or placing it atop a salad, or piece of toast. Tip: It helps if your cutting board is a little damp. 

Make sure to follow me on FacebookPinterestTwitter,  & Instagram!
 

Fresh and Easy Thai Chicken Spring Rolls

FoodLibby RasmussenComment

Fresh spring rolls, are easily one of the top ten food items I regularly crave but shockingly, had never made for myself. Until now. In fact, just a few weeks ago I tried making them for the first time and I will say, it takes a little practice.  After two or three practice rolls (which I happily ate) I finally got into the swing of things and was rolllllling through, with each roll getting better and better.  Regardless of the appearance, again, I'm still working on this, the spring rolls taste amazing. 

IMG_6381.jpg

Ingredients 

Basil Leaves
1/2 pound chicken breast
2 tablespoons Sriracha sauce
1 tablespoon soy sauce
Pinch of Sesame seeds
1 tablespoon honey
Scallion
Asian rice noodles
Shredded carrot
1/2 cucumber julienned
Rice spring roll papers
 

Sriracha Chicken

1lb Organic Chicken Breast
2 tablespoons Sriracha
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon honey
Pinch of sesame seeds
Coconut oil or cooking oil of choice

  1. Slice chicken in thin strips and place in a bowl. Add Sriracha, honey, soy sauce, sesame seeds, and any other seasoning of choice.  Let marinate for at least 10 minutes. 
  2. Cook chicken in coconut oil or oil of choice until ready and tender. 

Thai Peanut Chili Sauce

¼ cup peanut butter
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 tablespoon water
2 tablespoons of chili-garlic sauce

Instructions

Before assembling the spring rolls, make sure you have all of the ingredients prepared and ready on a cutting board separate from where you will be making your rolls.  Have a frying pan filled with lukewarm water next to you for getting the rice papers damp. 

  1. Place one rice paper in the shallow water and flip.  Do not keep in the water longer than 5 seconds or so.  The paper will continue to soften as you are preparing the rolls.  Tip: it helps if your cutting board is wooden and a little damp for the paper to roll more easily.
  2. Once on the cutting board, assemble your rice noodles, carrots, cucumber, chicken, basil, and scallions neatly in a line on the rice paper.
  3. Carefully begin working the rice paper and fillings together in a way you would roll a burrito.  Nice and tight and make sure the edges are folded in on the sides.
  4. Remember, practice makes perfect.  It took me about 3 rolls to get it just right. And the rejects still taste just as good!
Source:  Take a Bite

Source: Take a Bite

A few weeks prior, I explored with Shrimp Spring Rolls with more fun ingredients!  Really with spring rolls, the opportunities are endless. Make sure to check out my friend Annie from Take a Bite.  She made Chrissy Teigen’s Summer Shrimp Spring Rolls recipe the other night and they looked amazing! 

What ingredients do you like in your spring rolls? 

Mac and Cheez-It Muffin Bites

Food, DIYLibby RasmussenComment

While I’m not too thrilled about the first few days of September starting off on a rainy note, (summer’s not over, summer’s not over) I am admittedly excited for warm, fall food. Any excuse to basically eat like sh*t is good enough for me.  Enter boxed Mac & Cheese.  (Guys I swear I eat veggies too.) The opportunities to make this 88-cent food item absolutely irresistible are endless.  Make sure to check out my friend Lauren Durden’s article in Cosmo, “5 Hacks to Make Boxed Mac and Cheese Taste Gourmet” YAS.  I’m always a big fan of easy apps and thought, hey, why not combine mac and cheese with well, everyone’s favorite cracker, the Cheez-It.  Here’s my recipe on how to make these bad boys at home. 

Ingredients

2 Boxes of Kraft Mac and Cheese
1/2 Cup Shredded Cheddar Cheese (Wisconsin recommended)
1/2 Stick of Butter
Cayenne Pepper for added spice
1/2 Cup of Crushed Cheez-Its
Scallions
Ranch, BBQ or any topping of choice

Instructions

  1. Make mac and cheese as directed on the box, adding cayenne and shredded cheese
  2. Crush Cheez-Its in a ziplock baggie and preheat oven to 350 degrees
  3. Grease muffin pan well and sprinkle the bottoms with Cheez-It crumble
  4. Add mac and cheese to muffin pan and sprinkle with Cheez-it crumble and top with additional cheese
  5. Cook for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown.  Let the muffins sit for 5 minutes after to let set.
  6. Pop out gently with a fork, add your toppings and serve warm

The results of the Mac & Cheez It muffin bites were quite a success.  They’re a great idea for a fall BBQ or football game.  

Always a fan on condiments and toppings, I took a little creative liberty and added a drizzle here and there of Ranch dressing and BBQ sauce.  Don’t forget the green onion! Some other ideas for toppings could include: bacon, pancetta, crushed red pepper, jalapeños, bleu cheese, hot sauce, you name it.  

Make sure to follow me on Snapchat and Instagram for more food pics!  

Photography: Libby Rasmussen

Travel Guide: Charleston, SC

TravelLibby RasmussenComment

This summer, Charleston easily became one of my most favorite cities, and apparently I'm not alone in this adoration.  This year it took home the number one spot in Travel + Leisure's Best Tourist City in the world and for good reason.  With lush greenery, beautifully colorful homes, and top of the line restaurants, Charleston manages to preserve its quaint charm in spite of it's popularity.  My girlfriends and I were not alone in selecting it as our getaway for a Bachelorette. It's a far cry from the quintessential trips to Vegas or Miami but still keeps up with exciting nightlife. 


Where to Stay

The Spectator Hotel. Named the #1 City Hotel in the U.S., staying at the Spectator was a no-brainer. Everything about this hotel was spectacular, from the butler service, to the complimentary bicycles and breakfast.  The staff was incredibly friendly and accommodating and the bathrooms were larger than most NYC apartments. We kicked off the weekend with delicious cocktails and bottles of Dom. If you're going to do it, do it right.   

Souce:  @  laurendurden

Where to Eat

Husk. Ask anyone who lives or has been to Charleston this question and they will across the board tell you that Husk is one of the best in town.  It's centrally located in downtown Charleston and truly captures the essence of great Southern cuisine.  While the menu changes day to day, the jalapeño boiled peanuts are a must.  Drink up too, the cocktails are one of a kind.  

Edmund's Oast. If you're anything like my friends and I, you often plan vacations around restaurants you are dying to try.  Edmund's Oast was a place we couldn't pass up, and I am so glad we didn't. Known for their beers and cocktails, Edmund's Oast boasts and impressive list of draft and house-brewed beers. One interesting (and delicious) selection was the Edmund's Oast Peanut Butter and Jelly Beer, brewed with peanuts, grape juice, and milk sugar, for a sandwich in a glass experience.  Don't think for a minute that the food here takes second place to the drinks.  In typical fashion, we ordered nearly everything on the menu.  I give my highest recommendations to the Chicken Liver Parfait, the Sweet Corn Salad with fennel and gem lettuce, and the Cauliflower with creamy chèvre and calabrian chiles.

The Darling. If you love seafood, go to The Darling Oyster Bar. If you don't suck it up and still go. Trust me, you won't regret it.  We discovered this adorable brunch spot after seeing countless Instagrams of the monster Lobster Claw Bloody Mary.  Everything is incredibly fresh and flavorful.  Besides all the seafood, ordering the Clam Chowder French Fries is an absolute must. 

What to Do

Rent Bikes. As mentioned, if you stay at the Spectator, you have access to their adorable bicycles equipped with adorable baskets and bells. If not, seriously consider renting some for a more fun and active alternative to the horse carriage tours.  Charleston is an incredibly easy city to navigate either by walking or by bike. The drivers are incredibly conscientious of the bikers and horse carriages, making it safe to explore the city. 

When the Celine bag fits perfectly into the bike basket..

Visit the Mansions on Rainbow Row. Charleston is known for its beautiful pastel mansions on Rainbow Row. Most notably, the bright pink mansion overlooking the water.  The charm and the history of the homes are too beautiful to miss out on.

IMG_9461 (1).JPG

Candle Making Class. This was quite possibly one of my favorite activities in Charleston.  Candlefish, a local candle shop, offers group candle-making classes where you can explore the 100 scents of the Candlefish Fragrance Library and select your preferred scent. After your class, you officially become a chandler and get to enjoy your two large, personalized Candlefish candles.  The classes are BYOB (woot), include two large candles to make and keep, and are only $45 a person.   

Shop My Charleston Outfits

Make sure to check out some of my blogger friend's posts on visiting Charleston for more ideas!
Cake and Lilies
Southern Anchors
Primp and Proper
A Touch of Teal
Champagne and Bluejeans
 

Savoring Summer with RIS Popsicle Brunch

FoodLibby RasmussenComment

Frank Ocean wasn't kidding when he recently sang "Summer's not at long as it used to be" on his new album Blonde (which you should 100% buy now.) Luckily, DC hot spots like RIS, in Foggy Bottom, are keeping it alive with their bottomless Popsicle Mimosa Brunch. 

With a watermelon mint and orange ginger pineapple, the Popsicle Mimosas flavors did not disappoint. Bonus: bottomless is only $20. 

In addition to our mimosas, we indulged in a charcuterie and cheese board that did not disappoint. Helllllo Amish eggs. 

For something sweet, we couldn't refuse the gooey cinnamon roll topped with powdered sugar and mint. 

Our favorites were definitely the salmon poke and the ceviche margarita, which I can't recommend enough. Lime marinated scallops with chillies, orange, avocado, topped with tequila ice, it's like this dish was made for me. I'll need to return ASAP to feed the cravings I'm already having for this dish. 

Overall, the brunch at RIS was fantastic, with or without the Popsicle Mimosas (but please keep this tradition around RIS, we need at least another 4 months of summer!) 
Make sure to make your reservation at RIS soon for this amazing brunch! 
RIS is located in the Foggy Bottom neighborhood at 2275 L Street NW.  

Photography: Libby Rasmussen

Sweet Potachos with Pomegranate Pepper Salsa

FoodLibby RasmussenComment

We had a little cook-off at the of firm today to make a traditionally unhealthy food item healthier. The food item: Nachos.  Yikes.  Considering just yesterday, I was indulging in some melty cheese covered tortilla nachos, I knew I needed to make a lighter alternative.  Luckily, just a few weeks ago, one of my favorite food bloggers, Annie from Take a Bite, made these awesome Sweet Potato Nachos or, as she fittingly calls them, "Potachos" and they are good, really really good.   

Ingredients 

3-4 Large Organic Sweet Potatoes
Olive or Coconut Oil
Pink Himalayan Salt
1/2 Yellow Pepper
1/2 Red Onion
1/2 Cup Pomegranate Seeds
1/2 Cup Shredded Cheese
1/2 Avocado
Jalapenos
Sliced Radish
Cilantro
Limes
Fage Greek Yogurt

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees.
  2. Rinse and slice sweet potatoes uniformly thin, using a mandolin. 
  3. Toss slices in light olive or coconut oil, sprinkle with pink salt. Lay out in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake for 2 hours.  Flip and rotate after an hour. 
  4. Begin making the Pomegranate Pepper Salsa (Step 6)
  5. When golden brown, let them rest for 10 minutes in oven with door open for extra crisp.
  6. Combine diced yellow pepper, red onion, pomegranate seeds, cilantro and a lime squeeze and mix together.  For extra kick, throw in some of the jalapeno seeds and a dash of pink salt.
  7. Once chips are ready to plate, add cheese, avocado, salsa, radish and greek yogurt to top. Enjoy! 

What I love most about this recipe is the pomegranate seeds. Fruit on nachos and tacos is surprisingly good, especially with a spicy pork or chicken.  Just a few weeks ago I had some pulled pork tacos with mandarin oranges and it was amazing. 

What would you put on your Potachos?
Thanks again for the recipe idea Annie!
Oh, and we won $100 for the office cook-off too! Worth it. 

Photography: Libby Rasmussen
 

Mini Chicken & Waffle Sliders

Entertaining, FoodLibby RasmussenComment

If you've been searching high and wide for an easy, fun, and delicious appetizer that your friends will rave about, and I mean, will really talk about months after your party, then you need to make these mini chicken & waffle sliders.  In this recipe, we paired crispy popcorn chicken nuggets with frozen, yes frozen, mini Eggo waffles and they are a hit. 

_MG_5758.jpg

There you have it! This classic comfort food is transformed into easy, portable appetizers that can be tailored to anyone's specific tastes.  For my 25th birthday, I made these sliders but with Chick-fil-A nuggets. With my birthday falling on a Sunday (when CFA is closed) I made sure to pre-order and pick up the nuggets later on Saturday and popped them into the oven with the waffles the day of the party.  They were a huge hit. Make sure to have plenty of condiments and toppings on the side for your guests.  These could include, but certainly aren't limited to:

Chick-fil-A Sauce
Mayo
BBQ Sauce (Salt Lick)
Honey
Maple Syrup
Honey Mustard
Ranch
Blue Cheese
Green Onions
Hot Sauce
Sriracha
Homemade Coleslaw


Make sure to have the right serving platters and condiment dishes for a neat and organized presentation.  I love my serving ware from CB2.  Here are just few of my favorites:
 

Easy Jalapeno Cheddar Corn Muffins

FoodLibby RasmussenComment

Can you tell I'm excited for summer? Seriously though, all I seem to be making lately are bites and meals perfect for a summer BBQ and these jalapeno cheddar corn muffins are no exception.  Forget your old, dried up cornbread recipe and try this one I've adapted from both Whole Foods and Damn Delicious

IMG_5725_2.jpg

INGREDIENTS 

2 boxes Jiffy Mix Cornbread Mix
1 box regular yellow cake mix
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon honey
2 jalapenos, seeded and diced
1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees and coat a muffin tin with nonstick spray; set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, combine corn and cake mix.
  3. In a large glass measuring cup or another bowl, whisk together buttermilk, eggs and honey. Pour mixture over dry ingredients and stir using a rubber spatula just until moist. Add jalapenos and cheese, and gently toss to combine.
  4. Scoop the batter evenly into the muffin tray. Place into oven and bake for 15-17 minutes, or until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean.
  5. Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack.

There you have it. The secret to keeping your corn muffins soft and sweet is the yellow cake mix.  I've tried this recipe a few times sans cake mix and it really isn't the same.  Also, if you want to add some meat to these bad boys, my good friend made these fun corn dog muffins a while back and they were a huge hit. 

Photography by Libby Rasmussen and Damn Delicious