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Scattered Sundays

I feel like I’ve been going through a blogging identity crisis over the last 12 months. Please file this upcoming discussion firmly under the umbrella of “first world problems”.

Last May, Troy and I did a Whole30. And it lit a fire under my butt that renewed my love of cooking with basic whole food ingredients. So I started posting a lot of Whole30 recipes.

And they did well! You guys liked them. And that made me happy.

It may surprise you, but I truly do examine the data with every recipe that I post. I look at comments, social shares, engagement with the recipe on Facebook and Instagram, and how many emails I get about the post. 

I look at alllllllllll of it. And I honor your reactions and try to make more of what you want, and less of what you don’t.

I know you want family-friendly recipes that are 1) one-pot 2) Instant Pot 3) soup (I love you. You’re my people.) 4) sheet pan meals that include mains and sides.

You all don’t want desserts from me. I know. It makes me sad (I love to bake), but for the most part, I honor it. Excluding the gluten-free brownies, I posted this week. Seriously, those brownies needed to be shared with the world.

So, combined with some food sensitivities that Troy and Jack have, I slowly moved this site to more paleo/Whole30 recipes. And it was fine and fun.

I even changed the tagline of the site to “Serving up family-friendly recipes that are mostly Whole30 and Paleo. The only thing we’re strict about is not eating boring food”.

Everyone takes food photos in the living room with a random basketball, right?

But sometimes I want to post recipes that don’t really fit that mold. Cauliflower rice is great, but sometimes I really just want regular rice! I adore baking and even have a recipe on my site called Crack Bread. I mean, c’mon.

The more I tried to just post strict “lifestyle eating” recipes, the more I felt like I was doing y’all an injustice by not staying true to why I started this blog in the first place. And that was to empower people to cook from scratch food when they didn’t think they had the ability to do it themselves.

After discussing it with my blog bestie Katie, my “yay I finally met her in real life” blogging friend Cassie, and a few others, I came to the conclusion that it’s ok to share things that don’t fit into a neat box. Frankly, to share meals that our family with the various dietary issues love eat.

Which means cheese is ok for those who eat cheese. A slice of bread with an otherwise paleo meal is awesome too if that is what makes us feel great. It is never all or nothing.

Katie very thoughtfully came up with a new tagline that I think encompasses everything I just blabbed about. And everything I really want this blog to be: “Sustainable food. Balanced Living“.

:mic drop:

Jack went on a field trip this week. As always, we were instructed to pack a 100% disposable lunch. Jack looked at all the baggies and things we had to use to make that happen and said “mom, there’s so much waste”.

That’s my boy!

We’ve been using a Yumbox for Jack’s lunch since Kindergarten. We upgraded to a bigger size about two years ago, and now Bennett uses the smaller one.

These lunchboxes are magic people. Magic. They’re bento boxes, but unlike the annoying boxes where you have lids for each compartment, this has one lid.

And in the lid, there are grooves to keep each compartment air-tight. Air-tight = you can put yogurt or applesauce in there and it won’t spill over. And even sliced apples won’t brown if left in there overnight.

Yes, they are plastic. BPA food grade plastic. They’ve held up to two boys over five years. I think that also makes them part magic.

This week I bought a few kinds of reusable silicone ziploc style bags on Amazon. I posted a photo of this brand on Instagram and you guys sent me so many direct messages asking about them!

I’m testing them out for two upcoming posts I’m working on, and I’ll let you know my thoughts when I have enough data to have opinions about them.

Can’t wait until I’ve tested these products out? Check out this post on 10 Baby Steps Anyone Can Take to Reduce Waste. There are tons of free and low-cost ideas on how to make your footprint just a tiny bit smaller.

I was going to try out a new meal planning service last week, but they never actually got back in contact with me. Rude! I try these things out so I can tell you if they’re any good. So that is a firm nope on this company from me.

I was counting on them doing the planning last week but since they ghosted me, I scrambled a bit each night. I hate that.

One of our favorite scavenged meals was a simple roasted pork loin (I used the instructions in this post from Dinner Then Dessert and used just a bit of salt, pepper, and garlic powder) that we served over a salad of cabbage, carrots, cilantro, cashews, and sesame dressing.

The pork loin was in our freezer from a recent Butcher Box order. So, while I hated not having a plan, it was nice to get creative with what we already had.

Speaking of that, have you signed up to take part in the pantry/freezer clean out challenge? It starts on June 23rd! It’s free (of course), and just a great way to make some space without spending a lot of money.

Every time we do a challenge like this we save a boatload of cash. Sign up to be part of this awesome group here:

I’ve had lots of messages on Instagram from many of you wondering about our neighbor who we’ve been taking dinners to. And, yes, we’re still doing that!

She goes into the hospital next week for heart surgery and we’re all very hopeful for a fast recovery. If you would like to keep Sandy in your thoughts or prayers, it would be great!

Our furniture box mega-fort now has lighting!

In gardening news, the strawberries from our Vertical Strawberry Planters are going gangbusters!

I get the weirdest reaction when picking strawberries and I wonder if I am the only one. Eating strawberries doesn’t bother me, but something about the leaves causes the skin on my arms to break out in a terrible and itchy rash.

It only lasts for about an hour and goes away. And I still pick strawberries because it’s totally worth it.

Raspberries from our Raspberry Supports are putting on flowers and buds. I think we’ll have our first ripe raspberry within a few weeks.

I’m dreaming of Easy Creme Brulee With Raspberry and Lemon made with our garden raspberries and eggs from our spoiled backyard hens.

Speaking of chickens, we may be adopting another three this summer! It’s a long story, but my aunt and uncle were planning on getting three new hens.

After a few untimely deaths (there was no fowl play…) with their own chickens, they decided they were kind of over being chicken parents for the moment.

We can’t raise chicks ourselves due to Troy’s allergies, so any new chickens we get have to be coop-ready and ok to be outside. Adding to our flock is really hard because no one wants to give up three-month-old chickens!

Jack’s school did a pirate musical this week and it was amazing! The kids did so well, and it was actually entertaining. One thing that almost made me cry was some of the quick speaking roles.

They had kids coming up to the stage to say a few lines and then go back to the risers to sing with the other students. After a few times of various kids coming up to speak, I realized that almost half of them were kiddos from the special ed program.

So freaking amazing and I wanted to hug the music teacher for giving those kids an opportunity that is likely not usually open to them.

This week Bennett made his first batch of Homemade Brown Sugar. But it won’t be the last I am sure. That’s right – making your own brown sugar is so easy that even an easily distracted three-year-old can do it.

Three-Year-Olds Be Bonkers

Three is the worst age for kids. It is the age that makes me want to ship my kids off and pick them up when they’re four. In this week’s episode in “three-year-olds be bonkers”, Bennett lost his mind because band-aids won’t stick to the sky.

Send help.

He is doing two sessions of week-long summer camp through preschool in June. They’re four hours a day (he usually goes two hours, three times a week) and every single person in the house is excited about this.

I know three is a horrible and tough age. I know we’ll get through this. But, honestly Troy and I are not having a lot of fun being parents at the moment. Bennett pushes everyone’s buttons and Jack knows exactly how to set him off for maximum tantrums.

Summer camp is a life-saving necessity for us all.

And, yes, the car was parked.

What I’m Listening To This Week

Duuuuuuuuude! I binged The Last Days of August in a little under two days this week. Another podcast that I love – Pop Culture Happy Hour – recommended it in a segment. I listen to all their podcast suggestions because they’re the ones who got me hooked on My Dad Wrote a Porno.

The Last Days of August is about a porn star named August who committed suicide in 2017. The podcast follows the days leading up to her death. And was it really a suicide…?

If you like To Live and Die in LA, Serial (season one), or S-Town, you’ll love The Last Days of August.

Reader Spotlight of the Week

Long-time reader Erin (and mom of a three-year-old, so you know she needs brownies) left this five-star review on our Fudgy Gluten-Free Chocolate Brownies. Erin was actually an official recipe tester for these brownies! Her husband is gluten-free and she was kind enough to make two batches three months ago to make sure these brownies were just right for you guys.

These are amazing! The test batch disappeared at a family gathering in minutes. People didn’t believe they were gluten-free and were blown away by the subtle almond flavor. I am so excited to make these again now that they are “official”!

Three almond flour brownies stacked on a piece of parchment

{Pin this recipe}

On Sustainable Cooks This Week

Confessions – E’rbody’s favorite post of the month!

Pantry Essentials For the Home CookSo many ideas for pantry essentials and pantry organizing for the home cook. Learn about the staple items that can help anyone whip up a healthy and homemade dinner for their families. And yeah, there’s some chocolate too.

ingredients and other items listed as pantry essentials

{Pin this recipe}

Fudgy Gluten Free Chocolate BrowniesThese Fudgy Gluten Free Chocolate Brownies are the best homemade brownies you’ll ever eat! So much better than a box mix, a batch of almond flour brownies are perfect for any dessert-lover. You’d never know that these double-chocolate brownies are actually gluten-free!

And a special thanks to my 10-year-old for his amazing hand modeling. He works for cheap (ipad time) and with him holding the food I can focus on keeping a steady hand while taking the photos. Plus, we have the same color skin (opaque), so it doesn’t even look off.

You can see some of his other work in: Chocolate Coconut Coffee Creamer, The Fluffiest Whole Wheat Pancakes, Homemade Sugar-Free Coffee Creamer, Healthy Apple Nachos, Blistered Shishito Peppers, and No-Churn Peanut Butter Ice Cream

a hand reaching for a brownie on a baking rack

{Pin this recipe}

The Five Most Popular Posts This Week

We have some new players up on the leaderboard this week! 

  1. Mojito Mocktail {Pin this recipe}
  2. Trader Joe’s Whole30 Shopping List {Pin this}
  3. Homemade Peach Ice Cream – this old post is coming out of the archives and doing well on Pinterest! {Pin this recipe}
  4. How to Use and Love Cast Iron – I think camping season is heating up and people are looking to go frontier days up in here! {Pin this}
  5. Whole30 Bacon Brands – the start of the month tends to bring an uptick to Whole30 searches. And e’rbody wants to know what bacon brands they can have on Whole30.  {Pin this}

Meal Plan

Looking for someone to do the meal planning for you? I’m partnering with Real Plans to bring you personalized meal plans that fit all dietary needs. Try it yourself for free for 30 days.!

Monday:: Breakfast dinner (Fluffy Whole Wheat Waffles, Whole30 Breakfast Sausage, and Make Ahead Scrambled Eggs).

Tuesday:: Steak (another Butcher Box freezer stash find), salad, and probably asparagus (because, hello spring!). 

Wednesday:: The boys really want my homemade taquitos, so we’ll do those with salad and maybe a bit of rice. I use the cooking method from these Pressure Cooker Chicken Tacos but I don’t season the meat (TWSS). I cook the taquitos in a little bit of avocado oil in my cast iron skillet. So yeah they’re fried, but not “deep fried”.

Thursday:: Asian meatballs and stir-fried veggies. 

Friday:: Popcorn, leftovers, and movie night.

Saturday:: T-Roy’s birthday! We’re going out and the brats boys are staying with my generous in-law’s.

Sunday:: Family dinner

What are you having this week?


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31 comments on “Scattered Sundays”

  1. Sarah, LOVE the new tagline, especially about balance. If Whole30 and Paleo ever go out of fashion (the way Southbeach and Atkins eventually did), I think your new evergreen tagline will still be relevant and helpful.
    Glad to find a new approach that brings you joy too!

  2. I’m glad you are being true to yourself and love the new tag line! I read your blog for your sassy, “real” remarks as much as the recipes. I have learned so much from you and am probably old enough to be your mother. I love all of your recipes. Some of my favorite are the hummus recipe, crunchy salad toppings (or salad crunchies as I call them..they are a staple on my dinner table!) and I learned how to make vanilla from you, among other things. Your kids are close to my grandkid’s ages so I’ve used some of your book suggestions, etc. for them too. Our youngest grandchild is THREE! The picture of Bennett crying in this post looked just like him last weekend when they visited for the long weekend. We went to visit family graves and took all the kids. It was a 40 minute drive and he was a little demon. He whined most of the way there and back. On the way home he kept saying “I want to go to MY home!” Under my breath I responded in kind! (Bad Grandma!) Even though he no longer takes naps his mother forced him to take one in the afternoon, maybe because I said he sounded like he didn’t feel good and maybe needed a nap?! He slept for 3 hours and was a new kid the rest of the weekend! He’s a true joy when he is well rested. Thank you for keeping it real, educating me and entertaining me every week!

    • Awww, I love those recipes that you guys love too! I feel like those “salad crunchies” don’t get the respect they are due. I always have a jar of them in the pantry. Troy and I used the same ingredients/cooking method on cashews and almonds, and whoa Nelly they were so good.

      I’m cracking up picturing your face during the road trip with the three-year-old. When even the grandma is annoyed, you know it’s a bad situation. I am (and I’m sure your kid is as well) counting down the days until this kid turns four.

  3. Excited to hear that you might be including some more general recipes that include carbs, dairy, etc. back on your blog!  I was sad when you crossed over to having mostly Paleo/Whole 30/Instapot/air fryer recipes.  I don’t cut out any food groups like that and don’t own (nor want) an Instapot or air fryer.  Mostly I’m just reading your menu plan on Sunday now.  I really enjoyed the frugality aspect of your former version of the blog too, so it you wanted to lean back into that aspect of it at times, I would definitely be a fan!!  Thanks! 

    • Dori, just a quick note about the Instant Pot and air fryer recipes. I always, always, always include conventional cooking methods in those posts. So, let’s say you see the post “Air Fryer Egg Rolls”. You can bet your butt that there are alternative cooking options in that post. That one, for example, tells you how to fry them in a skillet or bake them in the oven.

      The instant pot recipes all have stovetop or slow cooker options in there too (in case you have a crockpot).

      I totally get not wanting more gadgets, so that is why I always make the recipes accessible to anyone!

      And we never once cut out carbs. I have three different mashed potatoes recipes on this site. 🙂 Carbs rule!

  4. I bought some reusable sandwich bags (zipper style) on Amazon and while they worked great for a while, they started to take on a visible tinge. I only ever used them for cut up fruit or snack crackers in my son’s lunch but it felt like hand-washing them was no longer effective. I just didn’t like the look of them anymore because they looked dirty. I went back to using reusable containers.

  5. I was super happy (but sad for your guys) when you started posting more paleo/GF recipes. That being said, I still scan through the recipes we can’t eat to see who I could send them to!

    Happy B-day to Troy! I thought we shared a birthday, but I was off by a day. Please tell me you figured out how to make gf poptarts!!!!!

    • I see any recipe as a starting point and am so excited when people can adjust them to meet their own needs and preferences. So hopefully there are still some you can adapt to make your own!

      His actual birthday is Sunday, but we’re celebrating on Saturday. You’re the 9th too? Happy early birthday to you friend!

      Never tried the GF pop tarts, but I bet you could use your favorite GF pie crust recipe. The pop tart dough I use is essentially pie crust.

  6. Please, post whatever you want. I’m here for your passion! ???? I have learned that if you say something tastes crazy good, it really does. Plus, you are really good about labeling what recipe qualifies as keto, GF and so on, and pointing out what ingredients might need to be subbed out. No worries about neat boxes! Your focus seems to be on the fun and delicious. Keep it coming, and thank you!

  7. That Tagline! I think it sums it all up nicely. I’m looking forward to seeing what’s coming up.
    Also I LOVE that Jack is so enviro conscious.
    Yesterday Adam wanted to grab coffee at the shops & I refused to go to a place that only had disaposable cups (I forgot mine). So we walked til we found somewhere that used mugs (who doesn’t for sit down customers anyway). I got some of those reusable bags awhile back but they weren’t great – got stained easily by carrots. But they were probably crappy quality. Keen to try these!

  8. Love it! My keto journey has taught me so much about food, inflammation, the gut biome, and its effects on our bodies. I know people who’ve tried keto and it wasn’t sustainable for them. I told them just eat real food. You’ll be going in the right direction.

    Can’t wait to try the almond brownies. I’ll substitute the sweetener for golden monk fruit.

    Yeah, my three year old spit on me and the window at church this morning so that’s how it’s going for us.

    • Love, love, LOVE the advice of “just eat real food”. So true!

      If you make the brownies would you kindly comment and let me know how much monk fruit you used and how they turned out? I’ll update the notes in the recipe if the substitution works.

      Sigh. When are they four? Can our kids just be four very soon? Please?