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Whole30 – the end and reintroduction

My friends, I did it.  I went for 30 days, actually more than 30 days, with no sugar, gluten, dairy, grains or legumes. Read – no peanut butter! For more than 30 days! Are you proud of me?


Let me recap for you:

The original objectives were (1) to change my habit of eating too much, especially while baking, (2) to lose some weight and (3) to understand if other foods than gluten and dairy were causing me dietary distress. 

The results:

(1) I baked so many cakes, cookies and slices, including many with peanut butter, and did not have a single bite, lick or taste. At all.  Yes, some were full of gluten and dairy to take away the temptation, but through the process I did develop other habits, like putting the spoon on a paper towel, rather than in my mouth, wiping my fingers on a tea towel rather than licking them, etc. I was so proud of myself – I found I was enjoying baking without the feelings of guilt associated with eating too much. And that was awesome – I was able to fulfill my love of making food for people and seeing their joyous expression with no regrets.

(2) I lost weight. 6 pounds to be exact. All of my work pants now feel like my ‘fat pants’ used to. Almost need a belt for them.  Almost.  However, my jeans and shorts that I used to wear when I lost a bucket load of weight about 5 years ago still don’t fit without having to squeeze into them.  Maybe that’s due to denim shrinking in tumble dryer (please say so!).

(3)  One of the critical parts of the Whole30 is the reintroduction phase – where you slowly reintroduce foods that were taken out during the 30 days, like grains, legumes etc.  I’m still in this phase right now, but let me just share without giving too much information that beans (i.e. black beans, chickpeas, kidney beans) have kicked my great feelings to the curb, and corn (just kernels tested so far) have not assisted in my digestive process.  For me, any dish that contains these ingredients will have to be so darn worth it for me to have them again (and Abby does a silent happy dance that I’m not going to pressure her to eat beans again!).

The BIGGEST thing by far, is knowing how I feel when I don’t overeat.  Eating just 3 meals a day.  Big meals.  Full of protein, fats and veggies.  And the very occasional snack when it’s been 5 hours between meals and it will be another 2 or so before the next one.  This has been the winner for me.  Knowing that I don’t have to feel bloated. Knowing that I can exercise because I enjoy it and not to make up for eating too much.  

The kids have both commented that I am more awake, more tolerant, more happy.  I feel better.  I feel healthy.  I feel happy.  Haven’t quite got the additional energy kick that some people have reported, but that may be due to a snoring husband and cats that sleep on my side of the bed, rather than anything food-related!


If you feel bloated, always tired and worried about food/health – give the Whole30 a try.  It sounds restrictive, but I enjoyed cooking so much more, knowing it was good, healthy food that was going to make my body feel good.  See below for all the recipes I made that are Whole30 compliant:

Thanks for supporting me – would love to hear any comments/thoughts/suggestions!

Until next time, enjoy cooking at home!


Whole30 – nearly the end

It’s coming to the end of my Whole30 and I wanted to update you all on how I went. 

I can honestly say that I feel better than I have in such a long time. My stomach is so much flatter i.e. not bloated, I don’t feel the constant need to exercise off overeating episodes, and in general I feel happier, without the guilt of overeating. And I’ve been able to bake so many sweets without having a single lick or bite. Not. One. Single. Bite. 

This photo is a collage of all the goodies I have made this month … including things like my favorite monster cookies, peanut butter fudge, my ultimate chocolate peanut butter slice, carrot cake and granola.  Lots of granola.  The granola was meant for Abby when she realized how much better she could be eating but she didn’t really stick with it that much.  I’m still working on her though!


Mind you, a lot of the time I baked with full gluten and full dairy so I knew I would suffer some pretty terrible pains if I did give in, but I still made a few things that technically I could have eaten.  And I didn’t!  I’m so proud of myself!

I’m still being challenged with how much to eat at each meal. Over the past week or so I’be been really hungry. And I feel like I’ve been eating way more than previously. The recommendation is to just have 3 meals a day but to snack on a combination of protein, fat and/or carbs if hungry. I’ve been trying to avoid snacking, but I’ve given in a few times. People have told me it can take 4-6 weeks without the sugar and grainy carbs for your body to use the fat and protein for energy instead so I’m waiting for that to kick in. 

I havent weighed myself, or measured myself all month but I’m pretty sure I have lost some weight and inches at least. And I haven’t missed peanut butter or sugar at all. To be honest, I am a little scared of how I’ll go next month and whether I’ll gradually slide back into my old habits, but the funny thing is, the first non-whole30 compliant food I’m thinking of having is green peas in a soup or casserole. Not sweets or peanut butter. How weird is that?

Anyway, just thought you guys could celebrate with me … counting down the days but will probably continue eating this way the majority of the time and only splurging on the non-compliant foods when it’s really worth it. It will be interesting to see how my body copes with legumes and grains again … wish me luck!

Thanks for reading and for following me on the journey. I look forward to posting many more new recipes across the gamut of all things gluten and dairy free in the coming months!

Until next time, enjoy cooking at home!


Whole30 October … the first 14 days

It’s halfway through the month of October so I wanted to give you an update on how my Whole30 experience is going.

The positives:

  • I have not had peanut butter for over 3 weeks now!  That’s a pretty major achievement for me!!
  • I can definitely feel that my stomach is less bloated, and my pants fit better.  I always thought I had a few pairs of ‘fat pants’ for work, but for a few months I never found them (they all look the same!).  Since last week, every pair I’ve worn have felt like the ‘fat pants’!
  • I am enjoying creating new meals with Whole30 compliant ingredients, and am amazed that a lot of my recipes are already compliant, or can easily be made compliant.  Check out my new creations here (Thai beef curry, Turkey meatballs with marinara sauce, Sweet potato toast with egg & avocado and Applesauce and trail mix).
  • I have still been baking a lot for friends and guests.  And I haven’t had one single lick of the spoon or scrape of the bowl.  At all.  While most of what I’ve made has been full-gluten and full-dairy to help me get into better habits, I recently made my ultimate chocolate peanut butter slice, which is fully gluten and dairy-free and I did not have one taste.  I’m counting that as a major win!
  • The kids tell me I look more awake and more happy.  And that’s true – I feel more happy now that I’m not constantly worrying about how I’ve overeaten.


The challenges:

  • Life happens.  And every now and then Grant and I like to go out for a meal together.  Typically we would choose places like Indian, Thai, etc, but now I’m leaning more and more towards the steakhouses, where I know I can get a decent piece of meat and some steamed vegetables.
  • Trying to balance the flavors that I like – eggs, avocado, sausage – without having the same things every meal every day.  I’ve had to put together a meal plan so I can do all this.
  • I’m still not sleeping that well, but that may be due to the change in weather, the cats sleeping on my side of the bed, and/or Grant’s snoring, rather than any digestive issues!
  • We were recently invited to a friend’s house for dinner.  She made a chicken veggie soup that was full of good stuff, but she showed me the ingredients of the chicken stock and it contained honey.  I battled with myself as to whether I should bring my own food and appear rude, or whether I should just eat the soup.  So I ate the soup and it was yummy.

Now I need to figure out whether I should either start the 30 days again, or realize that amount of honey wasn’t going to bring back all the old habits of overeating or promoting any sugar cravings and just continue for the rest of October.  I am really enjoying eating this way and am thinking I’m not necessarily going to reintroduce many of the foods I’ve taken out this month.  I think it will just be a decision each time as to the costs vs benefits of each food.  And still enjoying life.

So I’m definitely continuing for the next 16 days.  It just depends on how I feel at the end of the month, whether I feel I’ve gotten out of all those bad habits while baking, as to whether I continue to strictly monitor sugar contents and the grains/legumes (read peanut butter).

I’d love to hear any advice from people who have done the Whole30 or something similar … and also what you think of all my new recipes!

Until next time, enjoy cooking at home!


Whole30 October

Warning: this post is going to be a bit more personal than usual, so feel free to click back to whatever you were doing before if you don’t want to step inside the workings of my mind!


I’ve decided to do the Whole30 for the month of October.  That’s a pretty big statement there, because I’ve just made myself accountable to you all.  But I’m determined to do it … and I’d love any support you can give me – thoughts, prayers, recipe ideas etc!

What is the Whole30?  

For all the information you could ever want to know, check out the website at  But in a nutshell, the Whole30 is a ‘short-term nutritional reset, designed to help put an end to unhealthy cravings and habits, restore a healthy metabolism, heal the digestive tract and balance the immune system’.


Why would I want to do a Whole30?  

The reasons are pretty much two-fold:

(1)  Since we moved to the US just over 2 years ago, I have gained nearly 15 pounds in weight.  And I’m having trouble losing it.  And I’m still having digestive problems.  And I have very low energy levels that can’t totally be explained by lack of sleep at night or just getting older.

(2) My eating habits have gotten very poor.  This is pretty much the main reason why I want to do the Whole30, and here’s where all the personal, touchy-feely stuff comes in.  

I have joked around on quite a few of my blog posts and recipes about eating too much, and this is not an infrequent occurrence.  I can usually eat quite well and disciplined during the week, but when it comes to the weekend and I start baking, I have a tendency of eating way too much of both the preparation and the finished product.  And if I bake during the week as well, I can easily blow up with too much food.  You know the feeling that your stomach is never empty?  Yeah, I was getting that lots, rather than giving my stomach time to digest, I was just filling it with baked goods.

And even though I’ve made a concerted effort to reduce the amount of refined sugar in my baking, I can still eat way too much combinations of peanut butter, honey/maple syrup etc.  And I was craving it.  Every weekend … I’d get upset if I couldn’t go in the kitchen and bake (translation – eat dough).

I have tried a number of things – like calorie counting, working through an eating disorder app and talking to professionals – and every time I think I’m doing well, the weekend hits and I can justify to myself that I can be strong and not eat too much while baking multiple things.  I do feel that I’ve improved over the last month or so, but there are still too many times that I overdo it.

How does the Whole30 work?

So it comes to the Whole30.  Here’s the deal (from the Whole30 website):


  • I eat real food – meat, seafood, eggs, tons of vegetable, some fruits and plenty of good fats from fruits, oils, nuts and seeds, foods with very few ingredients, totally natural and unprocessed.
  • I avoid:
    • Added sugar of any kind, real or artificial
    • Alcohol
    • Grains
    • Legumes
    • Dairy
    • Carrageenan, MSG and sulfites
    • Re-created baked goods/junk food with ‘approved’ ingredients

This list of foods to avoid is to help to regain a healthy metabolism, reduce system inflammation and help discover how these foods are truly impacting my health, fitness and quality of life.  My main objective is to train my brain to not crave baking (and eating).  The secondary objective is to lose weight and become fitter.  The tertiary objective is to find out if other foods are affecting my stomach issues.

Sound simple?  Well, in case you missed it, peanuts are a legume.  Legumes are on the foods to avoid list.  And if you know anything about me at all, you will know that I LOVE peanut butter.  30 days without peanut butter, or baked goods???  That’s going to be the challenge.

Progress so far:

I was originally going to start the Whole30 this week, after a weekend of lots of chocolate and peanut butter left me feeling more bloated and heavier than normal, but as I started working through some of the normally considered healthy food I had in the house, which needed to be used, I realized that I needed to take a week just to get prepared.  Did you know that Craisins have sugar?  And that tuna often contains soy?  So this week I have used to get more familiar with the program and trying my best to adhere to the principles without worrying about a few green peas here and there.  I haven’t had anything with honey or maple syrup, or any baked goods this week.  And I made a cake for Henry’s birthday without tasting even the slightest amount of it (it was full gluten and dairy, which made it easier!).  

My stomach is feeling better and I am learning a lot about what I am capable of.  And I’ve started swimming again and loving it.

Don’t worry – I’m not going to forget you all during this month!  I’m bound to be creating new recipes for you to try and I’d love to hear any suggestions of what you recommend.  I’ve already discovered a number of new dishes that I’m dying to put up here for you guys … once I make them again and take photos!

Another challenge will be for me to still bake stuff, but get out of the habit of sampling as I go … so I’ll still be continuing to update my photos with recipes I make again.  Again, suggestions and comments on the photos are always welcome!

If you made it this far, thanks for reading all my brain dump.  I’m hoping this is the beginning of helping me to become a much healthier person.  Wish me luck!

Until next time, enjoy cooking at home!


Empanadas in America

It’s been a while since Abby and I got to spend any time together – not just in the kitchen but just anywhere.  Life has suddenly just got busier for our family – we spent most weekends during the summer paving our backyard (to reduce the amount of lawn we need to mow), and that nearly broke us.  Every single Saturday, Grant and I were out doing something in the backyard.  But it looks great now – and we have vowed the next house we move into will have an established garden!

Abby is growing up … way too fast.  She’s nearly my height now and she can kick my butt in karate (which isn’t that difficult, really!).  I am so proud to have her as my daughter … and I love the fact that she jumped at the chance to spend some time with me again.  

This opportunity was awesome.  An awesome chef (Freyka) at one of my previous cooking classes contacted me and said she was piloting a new class on empanadas and would like me to come and give her some feedback.  I had to think for less than a microsecond before I said a resounding ‘yes! And can I bring my daughter with me too?’.  Abby and I got to spend some time together in the car to the class and back again and some of the conversations we had … lets just say I’m glad we got the time together.

But now to the class:


We were making empanadas, which were right up our alley from the years we spent in Chile.  Three types were on the menu: a Venezualan empanada de viento, which was a cheese-filled deep fried empanada, Peruvian beef empanadas (Peruvian because they were baked – if they were fried they would have been Argentinian) and a Costa Rican pineapple and coconut sweet empanada.  And our challenge was to make them gluten-free and to trial how they would work in a class.


Obviously Abby and I were on the gluten-free team – another team got to make them with all the wheat flours etc – and we were joined by two other awesome people who also have food allergies.  How did we go?  Well, the team making the ‘normal’ empanadas did really well – their empanadas looked like they were supposed to …

Our cheese empanada actually formed ok, but ended up being like little rocks.  Our beef empanada pastry just did not want to hold together and stretch out properly, so we made it into a pie.


And our pineapple and coconut empanadas also had troubles being rolled out so they were formed into little cookies in the base of ramekins with the filling on top.  They tasted pretty good (apparently – I didn’t have any of them because (a) they had dairy in them and (b) I’m starting the Whole30 where I am not eating any gluten/dairy/grains/legumes/sugar… but more on that in a separate post).


We learned a lot at this pilot cooking class – how to make 3 different types of empanadas in the time allotted, and that gluten-free pastry is REALLY difficult to work with.  I’m looking forward to the challenge of trying to assist Freyka in coming up with no-fail gluten-free pastry crusts … I haven’t yet succeeded with a gluten-free pizza crust, which is starting to annoy me!  I do have an empanada recipe on this website (see here), but it may be a little complicated for a cooking class – Freyka, feel free to give it a go!

Anyway, Abby and I had a great time learning stuff about cooking again, and most of all, just hanging out together again.  Thank you to Freyka Nunez del Prado for making this possible, and for Harmons Cooking Classes for providing the location.  Also the awesome people I got to meet at the class – go check out their websites at kiwi and carrots, life made simple bakes and the diy foodie!

If anyone else wants help trying out new recipes etc, I’m happy to oblige – just let me know!

Until next time, enjoy cooking at home … with your kids!

Sarah (and Abby!)


Photography update #4

It’s been another week of making and updating recipes and photos.  I think I’ve gained 5 pounds since I committed to re-doing all of this!  Maybe I should take it a little easier this week?  Although, I know the people I share the food with have appreciated the push to improve myself.  I try not to make stuff just for the sake of photos – I try to have a purpose for making something specific.  Like someone coming around for dinner.  Like having to use up ingredients in the pantry.  Like we were going to have this for dinner this week anyway.  But then I just get a craving to make a particular recipe for no real reason.  And I enjoy it.  A little TOO much, maybe?  Oh, if only you all were here so I could share the love (and food)!

I’ve said this is now a photography update, rather than a handover, because Grant has been really busy recently, so I’ve taken most of these new photos … Maybe I shouldn’t have admitted that – if you don’t like the photos I could have always blamed them on him.  But now the secret is out and I’ll take responsibility for whatever you give me!

Again, I’d love your feedback – let me know if you think I’m actually getting any better!


Old photos


New photos

Almond coconut cookies  -> Almond coconut cookies (800x600) Almond coconut cookies
Raw energy bars   raw-energy-bar-800x600 Raw energy bars
Egg muffins  -> egg-muffins-800x600 Egg muffins
2015-02-19 Mint chocolate brownies  -> chocolate-mint-brownies-800x600 Chocolate mint brownies
Chocolate cake - dragon -> chocolate-cake-800x600 Chocolate cake
Dairy-free chocolate peanut butter ice cream -> chocolate-peanut-butter-ice-cream-800x600 Chocolate peanut butter ice cream

Can you see an improvement at all?  Any other suggestions?

Again, if you have any suggestions as to which recipes you’d like me to re-visit, please let me know in the comments below and I’ll be happy to oblige.  And dedicate that photo (and recipe) to you!

Thanks for reading – I’d love to hear from you … just comment below, or follow me on any of the social media sites using the buttons on the side menu.

Until next time, enjoy cooking at home!


Photography handover #3

Another update of photos and recipes for you.  I spent a lot of time outside taking photos of all the recipes I’ve been re-making in the kitchen inside and updating for your enjoyment.  It’s for your enjoyment, really.  I got nothing out of having to taste all of these recipes again.  Do you believe me?!

What do you think?


My photos


Grant’s photos

Quinoa and roast veggie salad  -> Veggie and quinoa salad (800x600) Roast veggie & quinoa salad
Peanut butter choc chip ice cream   Peanut butter ice cream (800x600) Peanut butter choc chip ice cream
Pancakes by Grant  -> Pancakes by Grant (800x600) Pancakes by Grant
Peanut butter s'more cookies  -> Peanut butter smore cookies (800x600) Peanut butter s’more cookies
Spinach peach salad -> Spinach peach salad (800x600) Spinach peach salad
Chocolate peanut butter pie -> Best ever chocolate peanut butter cheesecake (800x600) Best ever chocolate peanut butter pie

Can you see an improvement at all?  Any other suggestions?

I’m having fun re-visiting all these recipes again … and am happy to share the results with those of you who live near me.  If you’re interested, please let me know what you’d like me to make (and take updated photos) to share with you and I’ll do what I can!

Grant bought me a new light box so hopefully I won’t be stuck taking photos outside, especially since winter is coming up.  I’ll see how the photos turn out from that … and again ask for your opinions.  Because you are the most important at liking my photos!  That’s all of you!

Thanks for reading – I’d love to hear from you … just comment below, or follow me on any of the social media sites using the buttons on the side menu.

Until next time, enjoy cooking at home!


Photography handover #2

Last time I started updating the photos on this website, using photos that I asked Grant to help me out with.  I am honestly happier with the photos that we are taking now, but would always welcome suggestions for the recipes and the photos.

Here’s the latest installment of the photos that we’ve taken, with the before (my photos) and after (Grant’s photos) shots.  As I mentioned last time, I’m updating the recipes as I go, so make sure you check back on a regular basis to see what’s been cooking at our place!

My photos


Grant’s photos

Oatmeal granola cookies  -> Oatmeal granola cookies (800x600) Oatmeal granola cookies
Almond blueberry granola   Almond blueberry granola bow (800x600) Almond blueberry granola
No-bake oats and raisin bar  -> No bake oat and raisin bar No bake oat and raisin bar
Chocolate peanut butter cheesecake  -> Chocolate pb tofu slice (800x600) Healthy chocolate peanut butter cheesecake
Oat balls  -> Oat balls (800x600) No bake oat balls

What do you think?  I’ve been getting some good comments on Instagram for my new and improved photos – but would always love to hear from you guys as well.

I kind of went a little overboard with baking and obsessing over taking photos of nearly everything over the past week, so please spare a thought for my poor family.  Yes, I’ve already got enough photos to share with you for a third installment … but you’ll have to wait for next week.  And I need to stop baking so much (and eating so much) to catch up with all the recipes.  Oh yeah, relaxing on the weekend outside of the kitchen …  What’s that again?

Until next time, enjoy cooking at home!


Photography handover #1

My last blog post talked about how I wanted to get more involved in social media – Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, as well as Twitter.  Well, it’s been a steep learning curve in the short time since then.  I have realized that my photos just aren’t up there with what’s needed to get people’s attention.  So I did what any normal person would do – and complained about it to everyone nearest and dearest to me.  Grant bore the brunt of it, I’m afraid, but being the awesome husband he is, he gave me a lot of suggestions.

I started to take them on board, and then realized that I am really not that creative with visual graphics.  Creativity in the kitchen?  Yep, not a problem.  Creativity in looking through a camera lens?  I think you’ve got the wrong person!  So I asked Grant if I could coerce him into being my ‘official website photographer’.  And he said ‘yes’!  Yay!  

I looked through all the photos on this website and realized I didn’t like really any of them.  And I told Grant that I’d be working my way through ALL of the recipes and making them again, just so we could improve on the photos.  I also told the guys at work to expect a lot of cookies and cakes since I didn’t really want all that stuff at home – it’s bad enough the amount that I eat while making them!

Anyway, we went down to the local cheapie store and bought some new dishes and placemats for accessories and here’s a few comparison photos from the first few photoshoots.  I’d love to hear your comments and suggestions for making the photos better! (I’m also happy to re-make all these recipes again if you’ve got some really good suggestions!).


My photos


Grant’s photos

Taco soup  -> Taco Soup P Taco soup
Gluten-free cornbread  -> Cornbread muffins red paint Cornbread muffins
Coconut peanut butter balls  -> Coconut pb balls (800x600) Coconut peanut butter balls
No oats granola  -> No oats granola P No oats granola
2015-02-24 Tortilla chips  -> Tortilla chips (800x600) Tortilla chips and red pepper hummus

I just showed the draft of this post to Grant and he thought I was blaming him for the horrible photos.  Well, he was blaming it on our ‘point and shoot’ camera mainly.  I still think they are 1000x better than my attempts!  What do you think?  And this way he may actually get the expensive camera he’s always been wanting.  I’m glad that my hobby and his desire are colliding so well!

The side effect of this is that I made a really awesome pumpkin pie on the weekend – and was going to post the recipe on this website for you all to share with me.  But, the photos looked terrible, so you’ll just have to wait until I can make it again, and get the photos to look half-way decent!

Anyway, stay tuned.  When I re-make the recipes (for the photos … the enjoyment of eating them is just secondary!), I’ll also be updating the recipes so keep checking back to see what’s new on the website.

Until next time, enjoy cooking at home!


Social media expansion

I am one of the most inept social media people out there.  I signed up for Twitter a few years ago and had a bit of success while I was doing my US National Food Day Quest (which lasted for nearly a year until I realized I wasn’t having fun any more).  Since then I’ve just been posting here and there with new recipes and getting more ideas for me to try out in the kitchen.

Until now.  After my recent experimentation with developing recipes for Veggie Fries and having success with them publishing recipes from little ol’ me, I thought I may have some further potential with developing more contacts in the industry and learning new tricks and recipes.  I had a chat with one of my friends who has a food blog which has just skyrocketed off (thanks Laura – check out her website at Joy.Food.Sunshine) and she recommended going on Instagram and Pinterest, as well as connecting with some local food bloggers on Facebook.  

So me, being the ever-interested-in-learning person that I am, took her advice and I now have accounts for each of those social media sites.  And you can follow me on them!  Here’s the details (do you see a trend in the usernames??):

Twitter: sarahcookathome




Or, if you don’t want to search, you can just click on the buttons on the toolbar!  To be honest, that’s what I would do …!

Anyway, any tips or tricks you can give me to continue to share all these awesome recipes would be greatly appreciated!

Until next time, enjoy cooking at home!


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