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My Whole30 Experience

EatWhole30-InstagramIt’s been about a month since I completed the Whole30. I completed a Whole60, two Whole30’s back to back in May and June. I hesitated for a while about writing anything about it, because, that’s what I do, think about it over and over, and debate whether I should write about it. I am not natural writer in that way at all, but have been reading and researching much about blogging this summer, and one piece of advice everyone gives is just to keep writing and publishing content. That’s the only way to grow your following and readers. And once you have readers, people want to read what you have to write. That’s how it’s supposed to go. Sometimes though I think, who really cares about what I have to say?

A little about me for those that may not know… You can certainly read more about my nutrition journey here, but I’ve been following a Paleo lifestyle since January 2014, before that I was gluten and dairy free for 5 years. I arrived at this way of eating and lifestyle because of several symptoms I was experiencing due to my underactive thyroid. So I come to the Whole30 table extremely well versed in elimination of several food groups. Removing these food groups has proven to work for me and I feel so much better overall. You may ask, then why are you doing the Whole30 anyway? My main motivation for learning about the Whole30 is simply learning, to be honest. My passion about how the intersection of nutrition and lifestyle can help us feel better and heal ourselves from within is what drives my curiosity. I also still have a few nagging symptoms as a result of Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis and I was hopeful that the Whole30 might help with my energy levels, inconsistent mood issues, vitamin deficiencies, and remaining sugar cravings.

What is the Whole30 you may be asking? The Whole30 website is extremely thorough and gives a ton of information about the program. The two books that are available are also great too, It Starts With Food and The Whole 30: The 30-Day Guide to Total Health and Food Freedom. Basically, the premise is to eat real food (story of my life). I discuss this concept to anyone who will listen and haven’t consumed processed foods in years. And I am okay with it. I feel better when I eat real food: vegetables, fruit, sustainably sourced chicken, fish and meat, fats, and some nuts. So what’s out for a Whole30 then? Sugar, alcohol, grains, legumes, dairy, carrageenan, MSG or sulfites, processed food, and no weighing yourself (I never weigh myself so that was not difficult). The others are really fine for me too, as that’s basically how I live my life. But my friends, I have to tell you even though I don’t eat processed food, sugar is in everything. Unfortunately. Sauces, dressings, sausage, just to name a few. The few things that do I eat that have labels on them had to be scrutinized. Items such as almond milk, mustard, macadamia nuts, and plantain chips.

Anywho, my experience with the Whole30… So I attempted my first Whole30 in January 2015. I started out the month doing another 21 Day Sugar Detox, just to reset everything after the holidays. At the same time, I started reading It Starts With Food and thought, “well I’m basically doing a Whole30 anyway, I might as well do it now.” Well, I wasn’t really. I couldn’t part with the half and half in my [organic, decaf] coffee, so I followed my usual paleo template during the month of January, trying to consciously keep sugar out of my diet, since that was the one sneaky thing that came back in over the holidays.

I didn’t even consider the Whole30 for February and thank goodness for that, because that month was just terrible for several reasons. We had a really, really long and snowy winter here in New England, and let’s just say February was a wash.

Two of my good friends were starting a Whole30 in March and I joined along. I had finished the book, which I highly recommend, by the way, and started my Whole30 journey. The first week I had full-fat coconut milk (the one from the can, which is suggested while on the Whole30) in my coffee, and it was not pleasant. I kept thinking, come on Jen, you can do it, you can do anything. Suck it up, have tea, anything… I did for about two weeks. I cannot even remember what I had that didn’t make the month 100% Whole30. The program, the way it’s written is meant for 30 full days. If you have a little slip, they really want you to start over because the only one you are slighting is yourself. It’s about you and feeling better in the end, which I do believe is a necessary component for the majority of people who participate in this program.

I remember thinking sometime in April, after some sugar cravings were still slightly knocking on my door, I’ll give it a shot in May. The weather was turning nicer, my mood was better and not so up and down (I think I have some Seasonal Affective issues). And so I did and succeeded. I was feeling so accomplished by the end of May that I continued through the month of June. I was challenged along the way for sure, but I did it. I joined the Whole30 Forum for additional support. When I started feeling the nagging bloating, I posted a few times and it was very helpful.

What I learned:

  1. I did it! I set a goal and accomplished it!
  2. Like I said earlier, sugar is in everything. It makes me feel like crap when it sneaks in, so I did feel better without it in sneaky places. Added bonus: sugar cravings are gone.
  3. I tuned in to mindless eating, especially at 8:00pm after the kids were in bed. Typically I am not hungry at this time unless I have exercised in the evening. I know that my body is getting ready to shut down for the night. It really made me listen to my body and avoid mindless eating during the one time during the day I may relax and watch a mindless television show. 😉
  4. This is pretty close to how I eat all time. I feel my best when only eating real food. The few things that tested me during the Whole30 were no sugar at all, limited snacking, and being sure to eat enough at meals. After so many years (in my 20’s) of calorie restriction, it is still challenging at times to be sure I eat enough at meals. (Whole30 focuses on filling your body with nutrient dense real food so there’s no need for snacking in between meals.)
  5. My body composition did not change AT ALL. Not one single bit. I actually developed a fair amount of bloating throughout the months of May and June, which was both puzzling and frustrating. (I later learned that I have a candida overgrowth. I saw a functional medicine practitioner in March and had a ton of blood work done. Candida was tested in April.)
  6. Super strict restriction beyond my normal paleo template, I believe, was too stressful for me at this particular time and hinted on the edge of obsessive/disordered eating. May and June, although nearing the end of school, are still pretty busy and stressful. In addition, there’s the usual stress of balancing my family, my job, and my wellness. I think my body was stressed to the max and therefore held on for dear life to the little bit of fat that may be hanging around my midsection. Also, for anyone that really knows me, knows how hard I am on myself on a good day. This is something I am working on continually. The last thing I need is additional negative energy in this area.

For anyone thinking about trying the Whole30 as a way to “reset” and get things back to clean slate, I do believe it is a good program for that. I also believe it is good for anyone who has some nagging or mysterious symptoms that they are unsure of such as fatigue, low energy, acne, stomach issues, etc. It is a great way to identify how your body feels when you eat real food (which most people do not do 100% of the time, and that is okay) and eliminate the most common troublesome food groups. The Whole30 encourages gradual re-introduction of the foods that were eliminated after completion of the 30 days to determine what may or may not work for you so you know which foods are troublesome. I would caution anyone who has issues with disordered eating or a fair amount of existing stress in their lives as it may bring up some sensitive issues or cause additional stress.

Finally, the underlying theme of the whole program, and life in general, is a gigantic balancing act between nutrition, lifestyle, stress management, movement, and sleep. In order to optimally feel good, all of those things have to be in balance. Yes, all of them. 😉 You have to live and be happy, and if that means having something that is not real food, or having a drink with friends, or staying up too late, then so be it. You have to do what is best for your body, which may be completely different from someone else’s body, and that is okay too. It is so important to be in tune with your body and how you feel. Many people may not make the connection with how they feel when they eat certain foods, or are in denial about things that make them feel not so great. We only have this one life, this one body, and balanced wellness including nutrient dense whole foods will help you feel your best, inside and out.

Thank you for letting me share my story. I would be happy to answer any questions at all if you have them about anything really: nutrition, paleo/primal lifestyles, Whole30, 21-Day Sugar Detox, movement, sleep, autoimmune diseases, Hashimoto’s, etc.

Have you completed a Whole30? What was your experience?

Until next time… In good health.



July 2015 CSA Wrap-Up

Hi everyone! Another awesome month of our CSA. Who can deny the awesome-ness of getting fresh, local veggies, fruit and fish every week in your house? No one! This month we enjoyed a lot of beets, scallions, onions, corn, zucchini and lettuces.

Week 5: beets, red leaf lettuce, Tuscan kale, wax beans, baby arugula, salad onions, blueberries

Recipes: many, many salads & smoothies

csa week 5-3

Week 6: swiss chard (in love), Boston lettuce (my new favorite), cucumber, zucchini squash, daikon, beets, red onions, corn, NJ tomato

csa week 6-2

Fish: swordfish

Recipes: Daikon + beet salad – this was surprisingly delicious and so easy. I am not a beet person, unfortunately. I have tried my best to make them in a variety of ways but I just don’t love them. I made beet chips last summer and those were delicious, but just okay. I will keep trying though.

I think this salad might be a winner. I peeled and cut the beets and daikon in julienne strips, added a homemade mustard vinaigrette and chilled. I will have to post the recipe separately. It was very good!

Week 7: Athena melon, romano beans, red leaf lettuce, zucchini squash, basil, NJ tomatoes, scallions, corn, carrots, cucumber

Recipes: grilled zucchini, zucchini fritters, basil + tomato stacks, smoothies and salads

csa week 7

Week 8: eggplant, scallions, green beans, basil, summer squash, zucchini, baby arugula, garlic, red leaf lettuce

Fish: sole

Recipes: Grilled shrimp over spaghetti squash and red leaf lettuce salad, smoothies with carrot greens and swiss chard

csa week 8

Our own garden is producing some pretty amazing results this month as well. I mean, look at it, it’s so beautiful! I posted a couple weeks ago for all of our local friends to come on buy and pick up some goodies. Every friend I visit these days gets some goodies from the garden. Lucky!

murphy garden july

We picked almost 30 zucchini over the course of 2 weeks!


Our basil was absolutely stunning as well. I started giving lots away and also picking it for us to use. But really, who can use that much basil in one month? I decided to try a new method of preserving the basil this year. I picked a whole bunch of the leaves, divided them up between my large ice cube trays, filled with water and froze. The idea is that when I need to use it throughout the year, I’ll just grab a cube, leave it out to thaw, dry off and chop as usual. We shall see how this method works. I have frozen basil in past summers flat in a Ziploc bag, equally as easy.


What kinds of local produce are you enjoying this summer?

Until next time!



June 2015 CSA Wrap-Up

Hi friends and happy summer! We are finally on summer vacation after a very long school year. Our last day was Friday, June 26th! Brendan and I celebrated after his last baseball game on Saturday with our first trip to Dairy Joy. Brendan was glad to get a chocolate soft serve with chocolate sprinkles and whipped cream. I, of course, still on my Whole60, had cherries. 😉

Another CSA season from Wilson Farm is upon us, and per usual, we are super excited for our weekly pick-ups. Who can blame us? Fresh veggies + supporting our local farm every week = total awesome-ness. We are also participating in the fish share again this year and get freshly caught fish every other week. So far this month, we have had lots of lettuce, beets, and radishes, and we can’t forget the amazing local strawberries too. Every meal we include some form of beautiful greens, such as spinach, swiss chard, escarole and kale, sometimes sautéed in a little coconut oil, sometimes raw, both ways equally delicious.

Week 1: baby spinach, red leaf lettuce, radish, zucchini, golden zucchini, beets, rhubarb, swiss chard heart, blueberries

  • Recipes: sautéed swiss chard, steamed & grilled zucchini, lots of salads

csa week 1-1

Week 2: english peas, escarole, red leaf lettuce, radish, kohlrabi, summer squash, garlic scapes, baby kale, baby spinach, baby arugula

  • Fish Share: haddock

csa week 2-2

Week 3: escarole, radish, summer squash, kale, garlic scapes, baby spinach, beets, strawberries

  • Recipes: garlic scape pesto, grilled squash, green smoothies with kale, lots of salads

csa week 3-3

Week 4: beets, maine tomatoes, Tuscan kale, cucumber, baby spinach, strawberries, zucchini, red leaf lettuce

Fish Share: Salmon

Recipes: grilled zucchini, sautéed Tuscan kale, tomato & basil salad, grilled salmon over sautéed swiss chard, green smoothies with kale & spinach, lots of salads

csa week 4-2

What do you love most about in-season, fresh and local veggies?

Until next time!


Easy Salmon Cakes

Dear friends,

Happy Sunday! I love when I try a recipe for the first time and it’s easy and delicious! I remember when I came across canned salmon for the first time last year – something I had never tried before. I found Wild Alaskan canned salmon and tuna in olive oil at my local Costco, and remember thinking, I will figure out something to make with the canned salmon. I am so glad I finally found a recipe for the cans of salmon I have in my pantry!

Easy Salmon Cakes

Prep Time: 10 minutes, Yield: 4 cakes


2 6-ounce cans wild salmon, drained
1 egg, beaten (or flax egg substitute)
1/4 cup minced shallots or yellow onion
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup scallions, minced
1 tsp. dijon mustard
1 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. onion powder
1 TB. fresh parsley or dill
fresh ground pepper, to taste
1-2 tsp. coconut flour (optional)
coconut oil, for cooking


Combine the salmon, egg, shallots, garlic, spices and mustard in a bowl and mix well. If the mixture is too wet, add some coconut flour over the mixture, and mix.

Form the mixture into four equal patties. Add enough coconut oil to pan to create a layer. (I use my cast iron pan and it browns them beautifully!). Add the patties to the pan and cook for about 5 minutes on each side. (I set the timer and check before flipping. Allow them to cook all the way through.

Serve warm over mixed greenss or wrap with lettuce for a quick salmon burger. Enjoy!

salmon cakes

Goodbye February, Hello March

Hey everyone! I am really happy that March is here. This morning when I walked into yoga, I thought it’s going to be a good month. It has to be better than February. Around here in New England, it was a long month of cold weather and snow, not enough sunshine and some personal ups and downs.

What have I been up to? Full disclosure of my blogging struggles: I have so much to say, so much to post on the blog… I find myself often too hesitant to put it all out there, write my stories, shoot from the hip, as they say… The best blog posts are from the heart, but I’m slightly detailed oriented, and often get caught up in the small details, and the post sits in draft mode forever… I tend to over think things and then will go weeks without a post. With that said, I have been researching how to market, brand, and grow the blog. This is a goal of mine – to determine my goal so I can move forward with a clear purpose. Let me tell you, this is hard work!

HippocratesQuoteFebruary was a challenging month for me with my Hashimoto’s. I started editing a document I created last year that tells the story of my autoimmune journey and so many things came to the forefront. As I January came to an end and I finished my first Whole 30, I did a lot of reflecting, researching and questioning my symptoms. The month ended with an appointment to the endocrinologist, who is supportive of my journey trying to heal thought nutrition and lifestyle, but cannot support me in a coaching way the way I need. My blood test results are not ideal and my thyroid seems to be so far gone that I have to take medication forever possibly. It’s not ideal, and to be honest, last week at this time, I was not in a good place, but I have come to terms with the fact that medical doctors cannot support me in the way I need them to. I will continue on my healing journey and have plans for this month that will hopefully help me take some positive steps forward toward healing and feeling good again.

If you’re reading between the lines and don’t know my full story, I will eventually share it here. I promise! I have shared a pieces of my story on my About and Nutrition pages. In short, I feel like I am constantly working to figure out the why behind this wicked annoying disease, Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. My thyroid is severely under active and because the thyroid is so important for so many systems in our bodies to work properly, when things are not working properly, one thing leads to another, sometimes positive, sometimes negative. Sometimes it feels like I take one step forward, and two or three steps backward. It’s like a constant guessing game. Because of that, I am constantly reading and researching. Some days it’s positive and I have a lot of a-ha moments. Some days it’s just exhausting and frustrating. Like I said, a lot of ups and downs. So this month of March can only go up from here. Better weather, better moods, better driving, and our youngest son’s second birthday!

What have you been up to? Are you glad March is here too?


green_heart Jenny

On being present…

be-presentI have been thinking about this A LOT lately. How can we stay fully present in a world full of distractions…

It’s the middle of January, I’m halfway through my first Whole30 + my second 21 DSD + modified AIP. Wow, that’s a lot. It’s all comes from a good place of self-love and healing, and I truly feel that I am on my way to more healing for sure, despite only feeling supported by a few people in my life… More on that later. (I am working on a reflection of this month’s experience – I promise!)

On Friday, this feeling of being overwhelmed really hit me while at school. There’s so much going on, all the time, for everyone. It seems like we do not ever get enough down time or “me time.” This has become my home life, work life, life in general. In my experience, and my circle, it feels like we are all running around like crazy people and like we can never get anything accomplished. I have had several conversations this month alone in which colleagues of mine, full-time teachers, full-time parents, feel this way. As the overwhelming feeling came over me, I tried my best to keep my emotions in check, and then I went to yoga on Sunday morning. Thank goodness for that.

The theme of class was how do we stay present in this world of distractions? While technology is great, and has contributed to so many advancements in the world, and is the reason for my career, I am a technology teacher after all… sometimes it is too much. How many of us have seen or participated in the following?

  • mindlessly scrolling through Facebook, maybe even while watching TV and not talking to their spouse/partner
  • checking the phone when out to dinner with friends or loved ones
  • using a device or keeping the TV on right up until bedtime

These things have become so commonplace in our world, that I am afraid we are losing touch with what’s important, what’s real: real people and real relationships. This scares me a lot. I am conscientious of this at all times. I have had the experience of taking a relationship for granted, that one day was there, and the next day was gone. So when I say, you never know when your last day is going to be, I actually know how that feels.

So… Trying to stay in the present moment, which ironically is always a mantra at yoga. It’s so easy to get lost in your thoughts, think about what’s next, what meal to prepare, which groceries to buy, what appointment or meeting is this week, etc., but our yoga practice forces us to be present on our mat and be there for ourselves, for our bodies for that given amount of time. It is so important. I am trying to take this feeling with me when I’m not on the mat. It is hard for sure, but will it be worth it? Oh yes, I can almost guarantee it. If I’m home with my kids, be home, be present, not randomly checking FB. If I have time at the end of the day to talk to my husband, then we should talk, be there, be present. And the list goes on and on…

Be well. Be present. As much as possible.

green_heart Jenny

Homemade Bone Broth & Turkey Soup

This post is dedicated to all of my friends who have become my family, and have been there for me, unconditionally… you know who you are! xoxo

I did it! I made my very first batch of homemade bone broth. Can you tell I am excited? I feel like such an accomplished paleo girl now.


This amazing event all happened over our Thanksgiving break. I drafted this post, and then in true Jenny fashion, did not publish immediately, so it has sat here as a draft. 🙁 I am truly sorry about that! I am working on my blog post drafts getting published quicker, but I tend to go back over them, and over them, and add details, corrections and pictures. Maintaining a regular blogging schedule is hard for a full-time working mom!

Rewind a little… We started collecting bones in a bag in the freezer for a couple of weeks from our various weeknight dinners. My amazing husband Brian, who usually does the dinner clean-up routine, kept cracking jokes, “Do you want me to put these in the bone bag?” We don’t know why it was so funny, but say that out loud to yourself, it really is funny. 😀

Bone broth is pretty simple to make. I used about 3 lbs. of bones, water, apple cider vinegar and salt. You simply combine all the ingredients in a slow cooker and cook on low for 8-24 hours, the longer the better, according to several recipes. Some recipes also called for vegetables and other seasoning if you’re planning to drink the bone broth each day, so it’s not so bland. I knew I would use it in my soup so I kept it simple this time around.

As I sat in the kitchen smelling (well kind of smelling, I was sick with some weird sinus and congestion thing for 14 days…) the turkey soup made with our Thanksgiving leftovers and my very own bone broth was cooking away on the stove, thoughts of my mom were all around. She would be so proud! I cleaned off the rest of the turkey from the legs and wings for the soup, and while I was doing it, my mom was in my mind the whole time. She felt present in the room. This is something I try to explain to people, but there really are no words. It seemed like she was there, patting me on the back, sending me her amazing cooking thoughts and skills. Every year after Thanksgiving I have fond memories of my mom making turkey soup with the leftovers from our turkey. We always celebrated Thanksgiving at my aunt’s house, but my mom was sure to make her own turkey so we would have enough leftovers to last for a while. She also made the most amazing stuffing known to mankind, and we would have enough leftovers of the entire meal to have a Thanksgiving meal several times after the actual Thanksgiving. My mom is definitely an inspiration to me and my adventures in the kitchen.


I was also inspired to try making bone broth and turkey soup because of this bizarre illness that ended up plaguing me for 14 whole days. It started with a stuffy nose one evening, and when I woke up the next morning I couldn’t breathe and had a killer headache. It felt sinus related and so I proceeded to drink tons of water and chamomile tea. I also picked up a homeopathic remedy at Whole Foods. At about Day 12, after a few people gave me a funny look because my eyes were puffy and watery, I asked my school nurse, “should I suck it up and go the doctor?” Her response was, “did you try a neti-pot? (which she had suggested days earlier…) Yes, you probably should go.” I couldn’t smell or taste anything for a whole 14 days, but I am happy to report on the 15th day I woke up feeling like myself again. It worked its way through my body, and I truly believe my turkey soup helped tremendously. Healing from within. It actually works.

The turkey soup was simple enough. I sautéed onions, celery and carrots in bacon fat for about 5 minutes, then added some grated garlic and sautéed for a few minutes more. Once the veggies started to soften, I added my perfectly gelled bone broth, brought to a boil, added the turkey and let simmer until the carrots softened, about 20-30 minutes. My son Brendan said “turkey soup sounds yummy mommy!”  I steamed some kale separately, and put the turkey soup on top for a hearty lunch. Yum!


Until next time…

What kinds of leftovers did you cook up this post-Thanksgiving or post-holidays in general?

Do you carry on any traditions from your childhood to your own family?

green_heart Jenny

A Few of Our Favorite Fall Things

Fall has turned into my favorite season… Apples, pumpkins, changing colors on the trees, awesome weather, awesome outfits, what’s not to love? I love apple picking, apple recipes, apple sauce, apple cake, apple muffins… anything with apples and cinnamon is just YUM! Don’t you agree?


We went apple picking twice this fall and both visits we picked our faves, Macintosh and Macoun. The boys had fun picking apples, climbing in the trees, running through the orchards, and going for hayrides. At one farm we even saw some animals and played on the playground. And of course, a visit to the orchard isn’t complete without apple cider donuts and fresh apple cider. 😉


IMG_0532 IMG_0527

On our second apple picking adventure, it was like summer outside! It was the last weekend in September and Carlson Orchards (my fave) still had some raspberries to pick. I had fun trying to get one little tiny pint filled.

picking raspberries

Every year I make apple sauce the night we get home from apple picking. It’s a Murphy household must. Everyone eats it with their dinner, but I think I love it the most. <3 Close second would be Braden. 😉

For years, I have been making apple cake. Since paleo baking is not really my strong suit, I really wanted to try some of my favorite apple recipes paleo-fied. Is that a word? I tried apple cake and apple muffins, and I was extremely pleased with the results. I will post the recipes in a separate post, I promise!

Pumpkin picking was of course on the list of fall fun. Brendan decided that in addition to the pumpkins we grew in our garden, we need a gigantic one to carve for Halloween.


Braden & the CSA

pumpkin picking


We also have taken our fall trip to Drumlin Farm (the first of many I’m sure). We have a Mass Audobon membership and go to Drumlin quite a few times throughout the year. It’s a fun trip to walk around the beautiful grounds and visit some animal friends. This day we visited we were just in time for grooming the pony, Midnight, Brendan’s favorite friend at the farm. Here they are digging in the garden.

drumlin fall

Do you guys love fall too? What fall traditions do you have?

Stay tuned for my apple and pumpkin recipes and experiments. Always a fun experience to try something new in the kitchen.

green_heart Jenny

October 2014 CSA Wrap-Up

Another CSA season has come and gone… I cannot believe it! We had a great experience, yet again, and look forward to another season next year. This fall we continued to receive awesome things in our basket each week. We are definitely going to miss the fresh veggies and visiting the farm each week. 🙁 What am I going to do without my week’s stockpile of farm fresh eggs?

Week 18: red leaf lettuce, swiss chard, butternut squash, medium eggs, baby spinach, carrots, beets, eggplant, all-purpose potatoes

CSA week 18b

Week 19: green leaf lettuce, broccoli crowns, kale, medium eggs, leeks, golden acorn squash, beets, macintosh apples

CSA week 19a

Week 20: turban squash, orange cauliflower, tuscan kale, golden beets, carrots, jonagold apples, red leaf lettuce, leeks, medium eggs, broccoli crowns

csa week 20

Thank you Wilson Farm for an amazing CSA season. I encourage everyone to investigate a CSA membership. It is such a great way to support our local farms and to try new veggies throughout the growing season. I just learned about the Winter CSA at Drumlin Farm. This is very tempting…

Stay tuned for some great fall recipes we’ve been making in the Murphy household.

green_heart Jenny