What If…

What if you could eat the foods I cooked every day? 

What if they were available to you in the correct portion size?

What if all you had to do was reheat and eat?

Would you be down for that?

People have been asking me to make food for them for as long as o can remember. Comments on photos and blog posts. Direct messages on Facebook. And I’ve always kind of thought of it as the highest compliment. 

But what if I did do it?

Would you be interested?

I’m taking a poll. To see how many people are interested in homemade lunches and/or dinners. This is all purely an experiment to see if there is interest.

If you respond, I’ll create a menu, and we will see what happens. 

Leave your comments, and let me know what you think. 

January Whole30 Week 1 Recap

It’s been six days since I gave up sugar, dairy, gluten, beans and alcohol. I’m sure there are other things, but these are the big ones. It’s my second Whole30. We did the last one in June 2016. That was a fun time…to give up beer in the hot of summer.

This time has been better. Same detox symptoms. But better because I know what to expect. It’s funny. Now that I’ve done it before, I know I can do it. And do it well. And I can say without a doubt, the food and preparation in Round 2 has been on point. Not to toot my own horn or anything, but it’s true. Good food tastes better. The reason junk food tastes so good is because it is tricking your brain to think it’s better than it actually is.

It’s addictive. Junk food is addictive.

Hi, my name is Ashten, and I’m addicted to melty cheese, small chocolate candies and consuming the occasional glass of wine…or margarita.

That having been said, I know my psychological response to certain foods is what keeps me from living my healthiest life. That, and the fact that I don’t run as much as I use to. But I digress.

When I did Whole30 the first time, I was not prepared mentally, physically or emotionally. I know it seems crazy. It’s just food. But food is everything. It makes your mind tick and your muscles strong and you emotions stable…when you don’t abuse the foods you eat.

I could preach on this all day. I believe it. To my core being. But I’ve also done my research. I’ve read the Whole30 book and It Starts With Food. But it wasn’t until I finished It Starts With Food until I realized just how unhealthy certain foods can create negative biological and psychological and emotional responses AND increase overall chronic systemic inflammation. It’s fascinating and completely terrifying.

My advice is to read It Starts With Food. The science makes so much sense. And it helps you understand why eliminating delicious foods for a 30-day time period is important to learn more about your overall health.

But enough of that.

I know you came here for the food pictures and the recipes.


Day 1 Breakfast: Two Egg Scramble with Broccoli and Orange Bell Pepper topped with lots of Wholly Guacamole. Super easy.

When I have time to make breakfast, which is usually on the weekends, I make something like this. During the week, it’s two boiled eggs with an avocado or a side of whatever veggie I had for dinner. The thing about scrambled eggs is you can add whatever you have on hand, and it’s almost always delicious. I suggest you make this as often as you can because of said deliciousness.


Day 2 Lunch: No Fuss Salmon Cakes on a bed of fresh green with a drizzle of Tessemae’s Creamy Ranch and a squeeze of lemon.

This recipe came straight out of the Whole30 book (see link above to get yourself a book). But I didn’t have canned sweet potato or almond flour so I improvised. I had roasted four huge sweet potatoes in the oven so I mashed up some of those. The recipe called for almond flour so I chopped up some raw cashews and called it done. Y’all, these little beauties are so freaking good. And the ranch is Whole30 approved and absolutely amazing. Get some of the ranch, promise me.


Day 3 Dinner: Chicken Cacciatore with Roasted Broccoli and Sweet Potato

For the win. This is so good. I adapted the recipe out of the Whole30 book. I had chicken cutlets, not bone-in chicken thighs. I had most ingredients, but not all. But my kitchen smelled amazing. And it tasted just wonderful. The broth/sauce/juice is heavenly. I mean it. Remember those sweet potatoes I roasted on day 1? They fed us for two days. Not too shabby when you live in the land of I-work-full-time-and-commute-and-don’t-want-to-be-a-slave-to-my-kitchen-yet-want-to-be-healthy.


Day 4 Dinner: Taco Salad

I browned some ground beef until almost cooked, and then I added diced green bell pepper, onion and half a can of Whole30 compliant diced tomatoes and their juices. I created my every own taco seasoning using ground cumin, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, pepper, chili powder and a few shakes of cayenne. Now, I don’t measure anything (sorry, I know that doesn’t really help you) but you can still make your own. Just add those things together until you get a blend you like. Be smarter than me, and write it down. I topped a bed of mixed greens with the taco meat. And then added all my favorite things. cherry tomatoes, crunched up plantain chips, Wholly Guacamole, Tesserae’s Creamy Ranch and Cholula’s Hot Sauce.


Day 5 Dinner: Lemon Pepper Chick with Sautéed Kale, Garlic and Onion

Simplicity is key. And this one is simple. Lay some lemon slices down on your baking sheet. Put the chicken breasts on the bed of lemons. Season the chicken generously with salt, pepper and garlic powder. Squeeze half a fresh lemon over the top. Bake in a 400 degree oven for 30 minutes or until chicken is completely cooked throughout. While the chicken cooks, tear the kale from the stalk. Heat a large pan with coconut oil on medium heat. Add the onions and garlic and sauté until onions begin to soften. Then add the kale and splash of Whole30 approved chicken broth. The broth will help the kale to wilt. Season generously with salt and pepper. And I want to say I threw in a little squeeze of lemon, but not much, as well as a couple shakes of cayenne pepper. When chicken is done and the greens are done, plate it up and enjoy.

I plan on posting recaps each week of Whole30 Round 2, but you can follow the @whenigrowupiwanttobeachef Facebook page and Instagram to see what I make throughout the week.

Happy Whole30 Journey to you!

The Journey of Whole30

It’s July. We’ve successfully completed Whole30. Only one minor hiccup during the whole process (Worcestershire sauce made it into some mushrooms on night). 

Major takeaways:

  • More energy
  • No breakouts
  • No headaches
  • Regulated blood sugar levels 
  • Less tired

The list seems small, but those are major wins. And they were sustained after the first 10 days of Whole30.

I definitely think this program will teach you how you don’t realize how bad certain foods made you feel. 

I don’t think I lost weight, which wasn’t my goal. But the Boyfriend says his pants fit different. Better. 

How will be change our food lives:

  • Less takeout
  • Better food choices when eating out
  • No food deprivation, but practice mindful eating
  • Whole30 weekdays, and free weekends

Personally, I will probably eat less gluten and carbs. Less processed foods. Less sugar. But cheese is coming back, and half and half in coffee is happening as I write this. 

For those of you who plan to start Whole30, I do have some advice. 

  • Buy the book. It will answer lots of questions. And it gives you recipe ideas to get you started. 
  • Your psychological attachment to certain foods is strong. Good moods, bad days, anger, stress and sleepiness all make you reach for certain foods due to the emotional connection. Being from the South, my connection to certain comfort foods was very strong. It’s a part of your upbringing. Notice those things. Note the emotions that send you into a craving frenzy. 
  • Make sure you find good people to encourage you. Lots of people won’t understand why you actively chose to give up all the “best” foods. But stick to your guns. Especially the first 10 days. 
  • Meal plan. Map out, at least a rough draft, what you will eat each week. This helps you not overspend at the store. Plus you know what main dish goes with what veggie sides. Don’t be like me, and try to wing it. 
  • Make enough dinner each night to pack your lunch for the next day. You will be cooking a lot. So the less prep you do after cooking dinner, the less you will resent Whole30. I cooked 88 meals during the month of June. My life would have been considerable better if I made sure dinner covered lunch every day. 
  • The weekends are you saving grace. Prep veggies. Cut fruit. Grocery shop. Make the fancy meals you won’t make during the week. The weekends always made me feel free to be creative. Plus I didn’t have to make meals back-to-back-to-back. 
  • You will get angry. Eliminating things you like will make you feel bad. Cooking all the time will be annoying. It’s ok to be angry. The Boyfriend endured lots of complaining about cooking every single meal. But he always thanked for my efforts during my rageful moments so that helped A LOT. Gratitude is a major anger kicker. 
  • It will get easier. The cooking. The planning. The not eating certain things. It will get easier. Know that I didn’t believe either during the phase of detox. But clarity and ease will come. Don’t. Give. Up. 

When you complete your Whole30, let me know and we will celebrate. 

I celebrated with a Whiskey Fix from Heights Taco. But if you choose to not have alcohol after your Whole30, we will cheers over unsweetened tea with lemon. 

Day 27: Almost. There.

I really can’t believe it’s almost over. So much work is finally coming to an end. The amount of time I spend cooking will go down considerably. I do want to make sure we continue to eat well for lunch and dinner. But I miss eating breakfast in the cafeteria of my office, and the Boyfriend doesn’t really like breakfast. He usually saves his breakfast for lunch time.

Tonight’s supper was a pan fried pork chop seasoned with a garlic, sea salt and peppercorn rub and a side of roasted broccoli and sautéed mushrooms. 

I was weary the pork chop would be weird since it wasn’t dredged in flour, but the rub made it delightful. And those crispy edges were a highlight for me. 

The thing I wanted to share with you is my night time snack. 

Every night I enjoy a cup of decaf black coffee with a sweet Whole30 compliant treat. 

Some nights it’s a Larabar. Tonight, it was a sliced banana with a smear of almond butter and sprinkle of allspice and cinnamon. Tasted like a delightful spice cake. Just what I needed to round out my savory meal. 

The Whole30 encourages you to kick you sweet tooth habits. And I have for the most part. But sometimes you need a treat, and this is what I’ve been choosing. 

Main thing is I’m not going to feel guilty for loving an almond butter smeared banana. Or a Larabar. Whole30 has taught me I control whatever I eat. Nobody else. Just me. I choose bananas over cake. Or grilled chicken over fried chicken. Or sautéed veggies over French fries. 

My relationship with food hasn’t changed. I still love it. But I definitely respect it more than I did. I’ve always known the food I eat fuels my body, but Whole30 has given me a clear view of what life without certain things can be like. 

I can say confidently there will be Whole30 approved meals in our weekly routine. I can also say I know we will incorporate things we haven’t eaten in 30 days. The occasionally sweet treat. The celebratory beverage. The vacation foods. But we will have the knowledge that we can do Whole30 choices anytime we want. And do it well. 

I feel empowered to be in control of what I’m eating now that Whole30 is ending. There will probably be a few days of no-so-good choices, but then we go back to what we know. 

Meat. Eggs. Vegetables. Fruits. Nuts. 

Day 10: Double Digits

Y’all, the chicken legs I made tonight were amazing. I found a dry rub on Pinterest that was Whole30 approved. 

What you need:

  • Coconut oil
  • Paprika 
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Garlic powder 
  • Parsley 
  • Red pepper flakes

Coat the chicken in the paste-like mixture. The coconut oil will melt when it hits the grill so watch for flare-ups. Grill the chicken legs for 45 minutes to an hour on medium to medium-high heat. 

I also threw the one squash we grew on the grill with onions and red bell pepper, and I made another pack of mushrooms with Balsalmic vinegar. 

So. Good. 

The boyfriend and I felt like we were eating normal food. All the food I’ve made so far has been normal. But we can’t just go out somewhere and grab a drink and a bite to eat. 

I tried to go to Chipotle today, but they cook everything in rice bran oil. Not compliant. Saddest day. All I could eat is the guacamole or salsa. 

Lunch today was leftovers from last night. And breakfast was a couple of egg muffins with a side of mixed berries. All good things. 

Still a touch of a stomach ache. Not as tired. But I remain in a constant state of annoyance at everyone else eating whatever they want. Hopefully, this will pass, and I’ll enter into a state of euphoria.