Food, Life and All the Places in Between 

Life is hectic. 

But I don’t have to tell you that  because you already know it’s a fact. 

I’ve been doing lots and lots of things. 

Working. Finishing up my Master’s thesis. Exercising. Reading. Being a dog mom. Fixing up my new house. Cooking. 

But I did want to check in. Tell you I’m still here. Just on a writing pause at the moment. 

Plus I have some things to share. 


I’ve made my personal Bitmoji. The ponytail cracks me up. (Also I realize how important this is to adding substance to your life, but it’s fun. You should totally get one.)


I figured out how to make Whole30 approved pancakes. While I’m not currently doing a Whole30, I still try to eat paleo as often as I can. It makes me feel my best. 


I took a fun photography class with The Women Bloggers. Loved every minute of that. I haven’t taken a class since college, and I realized it could be an introvert’s favorite pastime. I love flexing my creative muscles, but sometimes I want to do it all in my head. And photography is a cool way to see quiet creativity manifest. 


I just got my first Beautycounter order in the mail. So excited to start a new skincare regime. I’ve been needing to rethink my skincare. My  naturally oily skin is not behaving lately. So it’s time for something new. Really excited about the activated charcoal soap bar for body and face. Can’t wait to report back on that. 


A gentle reminder as we move into a new season. I’ve always loved the little gestures. They symbolize people knowing you, listening to you and actively participating in the relationship. Carry this to work with you, practice it on your significant other and try do the small things more often than you expect to receive them. That is life changing. 

What’s new with you? Favorite new recipes? Anything I should know? 

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls

I can’t decide if this dish is a soup or stew. But I can tell you it is absolutely amazing and full of flavor.


It’s all part of my plan to will fall temperatures to come. It’s warm and bubbly and hearty. Everything you want for cooler weather. And it’s super easy. 


Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls 

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • One garlic clove, minced
  • One small head of cabbage, chopped
  • Two cans diced tomatoes
  • One can tomato sauce 
  • 1/2 cup water
  • Salt and pepper, to taste 

In a large pot, add the onion and the ground beef. Sauté with salt and pepper until meat is browned and onion is translucent. Add the garlic. Then add the chopped cabbage. Season with salt and pepper. 

Add in the tomatoes, tomato sauce and water. Bring to a boil. Cover and cook 30 to 45 minutes, or until cabbage is soft. 


It really is super easy and very tasty. We went back for seconds and thirds. And it makes enough to have leftovers for lunch. Score. 

No carbs. Big flavors. Whole30 approved. And all the tummies are happy in this house. 

Burgers and Fries

Sometimes the only thing to fix your day is a burger and fries. 

Happy Friday, y’all!

I’ve been craving David’s Burgers since July. To me, they are the best of all the burgers. Yes, I said it. Committed to a burger joint. And they serve soft serve chocolate vanilla swirl ice cream. Winner. 

So I ate the burger. And the fries. And the sample cup of swirled ice cream. And I’m totally thrilled with it. 

I’ll be sure to eat my veggies tomorrow. 

But all things in life need balance. And burgers help keep the balance. 

Am I right?

Eggs in a Bell Pepper Basket

You know the classic way to make eggs in a basket. Cut a hole out of a piece of bread. Crack the egg in the  hole. Cook until perfection. 

While I had bread in the cabinet this morning, I don’t want to eat a lot of it. So I improvised. 


I had a slightly wrinkly orange bell pepper. It was on the verge of going bad. So I sliced it into rings and sautéed them in a little oil with some salt and pepper. 

I cracked farm fresh eggs in a ramakin one at a time and poured them into each ring. Right before I poured the egg in, I put a pat of butter on the hot pan. 

I toasted two slices of wheat bread. One for me and one for the boyfriend. Flipped the eggs. I cooked them a little too long. No runny yolks today. And I topped the eggs in a basket with Parmesan cheese. 

Amazing! Extra veggie kick with the bell pepper. Definitely a brunch treat you want to try. I know it will be a staple in our house. 

What did you make for breakfast this morning? 

Grilled Chops with Black Eyed Peas and Parmesan Rice

I would eat this meal every day. 


Seriously, it’s that good. 

The boyfriend picked up a couple bone-in pork chops from the butcher. Yes, we are lucky enough to live near an old school butcher shop. 

He seasoned them with a delightful peppercorn rub and grilled them to perfection. I had some jars of my Mamaw’s canned black eyed peas so o whipped those up. And I made a batch of Riceland’s Boil-in-Bag Brown Rice and added Parmesan cheese and a little butter, salt and pepper. 

Amazing. Delicious. Easy. And everything I wanted on this Thursday night. 

What’s for dinner at your house?

Pinto Beans and Corn Muffins

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Sometimes you need a little bit of Southern flare in the kitchen. And while I can’t take all the credit for this beauty. I can tell you it was absolutely amazing.

My grandma likes to can things. Veggies, jam, salsa. So when she brought me two jars of pinto beans, I knew they would be delicious. She always puts bacon grease in her beans. Like a true Southern lady. Bless her for that. Bacon grease gives a depth of flavor that can’t be matched anywhere else.

I whipped up some Jiffy cornbread muffins to sop up all the juices, and I was a happy, happy camper. Doesn’t get any quicker or easier than that.

The perfect, lazy dinner.

What have you been cooking lately?