PLEASE share with me your exercise regime, you look amazing! What is your secret 🙂
How do you stay so healthy? You look great! I know you exercise and eat really well at your house, but what about all those cookies you make? Do you ever find yourself eating 4, or 5, or 10? Do you ever hop on the scale and realize that you’ve gained 10 lbs? Do you eat when you’re stressed? It seems like this isn’t really an issue for you, and that’s fantastic! Any tips?

First of all, you are too nice. Thank you very much for your kind words. My “secret,” quite simply, is that I’m super tall. I do try to stay healthy and exercise regularly but I think when you are six feet tall weight isn’t as much an issue as finding jeans that are long enough! I am lucky that I do not have to stress out much about weight but I feel so much better when I exercise and eat well. It seems to make a difference in how my day goes (and how my clothes fit). My exercise routine took a dive over the summer but I’m back into rotating P90X, Insanity and Jillian Michaels (when I only have 20 minutes) these days. At some point I will join a gym again but right now I have to get it in early or it doesn’t happen.

Cookies are my vice. I love them. And we make them.

Sometimes a lot.

But I kinda justify that because something’s got to give…we don’t really have any junk food in our house and sometimes you’ve just got to have a little bit of sugar.

A little background on why we are so conscientious about what food we stock our house with:

Lucy’s syndrome causes obesity {more about that here}. Since receiving her diagnosis {more on that here}, our awareness of what foods we bring into our home has been heightened drastically (and struggled with) every single day. We try to stay away as much as possible from processed, colored, fatty things but man alive that’s tough sometimes. It sounds silly but sometimes I lament the fact that we aren’t “normal” and we can’t just have candy and mint Oreo cookies around. A while ago I got into this phase of “wo is me” because my poor kids looked at me with puppy dog eyes to please buy even things like granola bars or goldfish for their lunches (Lucy goes hog wild on that stuff and we just can’t have it around). And then I came to the stark realization that that’s not something to mourn…we should be celebrating that we are forced to eat more healthy around here! It’s just a tricky process to work out and although we are very far from perfect at it, we sure try.

Please share some of your favorite recipes!

I make pretty simple things for family dinners. Some of our favorites are honey lime enchiladas, chicken pot pie (I know, not overly healthy) and grilled steak or chicken with baked potatoes. We have salad for dinner almost every single night.

As far as those salads go, right now I am SO into fresh basil. I crave it every day. I buy these plants at Trader Joes:
…and chop up the leaves for some of my favorite things:

caprese salad
I love this so much.
(Elle took this picture before we drizzled a little bit of olive oil and balsamic vinegar over the top, and sprinkled freshly ground pepper over it all. You cannot forget the balsamic vinegar. It makes my mouth water even to think about it!)

You just layer fresh mozzarella cheese,(you can get big packs at Costco), tomatoes, and freshly chopped basil. Then add the balsamic vinegar, oil and pepper.

For a more hearty caprese salad my favorite is chopping up all the following ingredients:

–fresh mozarella cheese
–lots of basil

and toss with a balsamic vinaigrette dressing. This is one I like:And there you have it, my favorite salad:

For sweeter salads I usually mix and match whatever I have in the fridge (my sister Saydi is a salad guru and taught me everything I know). Lettuce and spinach mixed with any variety of apples, grapes, Parmesan cheese, craisins, mandarin oranges, avocados…whatever I happen to have on hand. I usually mix in “candied” almonds too for good measure:
(You just sprinkle a little sugar over the top of raw almonds and saute them until they brown up a little and then let them cool.)

This is one of my favorite dressings for sweeter salads:
And there you have it…easy as pie.

As far as main dishes go, I use a lot of chicken. (I know we should probably do more vegetarian stuff but I’m not there yet.)

I mostly use this chicken because it’s SO easy and quick to cook (my sister Saren taught me this nifty method and I thank her in my mind every time I use it):
I spray the pan with Pam and throw in as many frozen chicken tenderloins as I need.

I cook them over medium heat with these things sprinkled over them.
(No, I’m not a great frozen chicken photographer so please excuse the blurriness 🙂

As it cooks I shred it up with two forks now and then.
(And I make sure I have that very serious expression on my face. This is very serious business, folks.)

I end up with chicken like this that I can use for myriads of quick things from enchiladas to salads, etc.

Mostly I like to use that chicken with stuff like this:

or this:

I am a big sucker for any kind of Thai food I can get my hands on and it’s so easy to make and serve over rice.

As far as snacks go, I’m still trying to beg my kids into loving my favorite:

…and I try to always have something like this out on the counter.

Do you pack home lunches for your kids or do they usually eat a hot lunch at school? I’m trying to be more conscientious about my spending as well as helping my kids eat healthier and I wondered what you do?

I have a really big pet-peeve with school lunches. They are not healthy and they are expensive. That being said, we let our kids buy lunch once a week. We make lunches the rest of the time. I’d love to say that we pack all kinds of interesting new things each day and I cut their sandwiches into cute shapes for them and all that jazz but we are plain-jane in the sack lunch arena. Our kids get peanut butter sandwiches pretty much every day except on the rare occasion when Grace decides to make ham and cheese. I sometimes buy chips and keep them out in the garage so Lucy won’t get into them and they bring those too, but most of the time they choose between grapes, apples or carrots and we stick in some pretzels and applesauce. We do not believe in juice boxes or anything like that that professes to be all good for you but is really filled with sugar. Water is key and I’m going to teach them to love it if it kills me 🙂

I have an 18 year old (I can’t believe it – where did the years go?) with special needs and let me tell you… the search for making her life “better” never ends. We’ve tried supplements over the years, but I’m curious as to what you are using? I’m open to trying new things and am really, really interested in what you are doing with Lucy. I look forward to hearing more – you never know where the next breakthrough is going to come from!

Lucy has been through various stages of supplements. The last ones we tried made her go on a huge, drawn-out emotional swing that was horrible for all of us as she went through what they called “detox.” {all the details about that back in this post}. But then she evened out a little bit and we took those darn supplements all over creation with us this summer in our little cooler to keep them refrigerated. About a month ago we called it quits to see if we noticed a difference.

We did.

She became nicer. And more even-tempered. At least in my eyes. But Dave and I have both noticed that she has gained more weight. And that kills us when we work so hard at helping her on that front.

Oh it is just SO hard to judge what is really making the differences. Is it age? Is it sociability? Is it gaining more mental understanding of her world around her? Is it supplements? Is it how much sleep she’s getting or what kind of nutrients she’s getting from her regular food intake? It boggles my mind daily to try to figure this out. Sometimes it makes me want to cry.

For what it’s worth, she was taking supplements to help boost her amino acids (to help with muscle growth), protein powder, highly concentrated vitamin D drops and a liquid supplement that was packed with every kind of vitamin and mineral you can care to dream up.

We are trying to get to the point where she will get the extra vitamins she needs through what she eats, but it’s a continual, grueling process. Sometimes I feel so inundated with differing opinions it boggles my mind. You’re right, we will never be “done” searching for answers on something like this because every body functions so differently, especially those with special needs. I hope you find the best answers for that daughter of yours! I sure pray that we find them for Lu as well.


Right now I’m sitting here about to board a plane to get up to Logan for the sold out Time Out for Women there. I’m looking forward to meeting lots of interesting people and I’m crossing my fingers that all the things I finagled up for my kids back home pull through!

Similar Posts


  1. oh i love fridays!!! great recipies, i love a good salad, and i am gonna try the dressings. School lunches are soo hard, i have daughter who dosn't like PB, cheese, yogurt, or applesauce.. and her school does not offer any 'hot lunch'.. it's the pain of my day!!!

  2. Love these Q&A, Shawni! If you love caprese salad, you'd probably love Sarah's(Clover Lane) feta dip…so good! I would love to know some of your favorite family recipes you make at Bear Lake! 🙂 Have so much fun in Logan~

  3. Love this post! The big thing in my life that is changing my health issues is doing green smoothies (maybe you already do those) and getting my son to drink them. It's been a process and I had to reward him (a date with just Mom to the park and no brother or Dad) but it's the best way to get super nutrition in our diet. I use spinach, kale, carrots, flax oil, fruit and water and sweeten it with some raw local honey and it's super yummy and really good for you. Not that you were asking for advice ha ha ha but if you don't do it already it's a good way to sneak in some extra nutrition. You can get all the daily fruit, veggie and leafy green requirements in one drink. I follow Green Smoothie Girl (she has a website and a ton of videos) and it's changing my life. Hope I get to a TOFW someday! OH and I just found this site for "whole foods" and the thing I like is the photos of kids lunches (link under children adapting) because I never know what to feed my son when it comes to easy healthy lunches.

  4. Oh, please say hello to Cache Valley for me and drive past the Logan Temple, too. I miss them so, so much! And I highly recommend a trip to Logan's Pier 49 for the San Francisco Sourdough Pizza. YUM!

  5. Just a thought about Lucy when you were talking about her diet and her struggle with weight…I study nutrition and have found that protein powder often causes weight gain, and is actually unnecessary for most people except those who exercise vigorously on a daily basis. We get enough protein from a normal healthy diet, and trying to get it from powder can often lead to health issues. My friend had a sister on his mission who got really sick and wasn't sure why under she called the Elders over for a blessing. One of them was a workout 'guru' and saw the protein powder on her counter and told her she needed to stop taking that, and actually took it with him to make sure she didn't anympre. She got better soon afterwards.

    Maybe Lucy's condition requires taking it, and in that case, ignore everything I said! I don't know a lot about Lucy's problem but I thought I would bring this up in case it's helpful. Thank you for your uplifting blog! 🙂


  6. Although I'm not nearly as tall as you I am 5'8 and have really long legs. Long inseam jeans are for a slender gal aren't the easiest thing to find. What are your go to brands for jeans that are long enough?

  7. You have a big responsibility on your hands with Lucy's diagnosis. I too have health issues and have to live on a rather strict diet. It took me a while to mourn what I wasn't eating any more. But then I came to the realization too that I get the chance to explore really healthy food too and there is a lot of joy in that exploration. I can't eat sugar or grains or very much dairy but that still leaves lots and lots of veggies and lean proteins and even some fruit.

    I wish you all the best. It is one thing for an adult to jump into this but another thing entirely for a child to do it. Lots of blessings your way.

  8. Love the Friday Q&A. I have a question that I have been wondering about for some time. What happens when you and your parents differ in a parenting techniques or philosophy/policy to do with family? I know your parents have spent a lot of time developing and teaching parenting practices. O also totally get that you love and respect them. But you and your siblings are also grown-ups raising your own families. Seems like you parents take a very active role in teaching their grandkids; do they differ to your wishes? Are you ever able to voice a concern or differing opinion about something really important. (not what's for dinner etc)

  9. HI Shawni,
    I recently came across your blog. You have such a beautiful family with amazing smiles! I love learning about your way of life and your camera tips.
    Do you know about Juice Plus? My cousin is very much into nutrition and started selling it and now I am interested in it too. It is vine ready fruits and vegetables picked at their peak then dehydrated , taking out extra sugars as well. Adult form is in capsules and there are chewies for kids. My boys love them – my 4 year old came to me lat night and said, "Hey Mom, do you know puppy (stuffed dog) is taking Juice Plus too? THey even offer a great deal that if any adult (parent, grandparent, etc) takes them, you can do an easy child study that allows free vitamins for kids for 3 years.
    If you are interested, you should check out her website
    or email me at

  10. Isn't that blush wine dressing the best?!? I have always made my own dressing until I discovered it – now I could drink it straight from the bottle ha!

    I love your QA posts 🙂

  11. Oh yum, always love a recipe post! So Shawni, I love salads & dressings, and I love that blush wine. And I like to make my own. But my favorite of all time is Consorzio Raspberry Balsamic dressing. It is SO good, and it's like 3 ingredients, nothing weird added. I think you can just pick it up at any grocery store. Just sharing the love of a good dressing. . . .

  12. I know you probably have plenty of people with plenty of ideas -all of the time -BUT if you're looking for more good recipes, you ought to check out the book 'The Eat clean Diet' by Tosca Reno. She also has a family eat clean book. At our house we don't eat sugar or processed foods, also because of health issues, and her recipes are GREAT – so delicious.

  13. Those salads look yummy! My favorite salad is from a restaurant you might have been to in your DC days. Mike's American Grill (one of the Great American Restaurant chain.) It's a grilled salmon salad over mixed greens, grilled corn, diced tomatoes, dates, craisins, pinenuts and goat cheese with a balsamic vinaigrette dressing. I buy the marinated frozen salmon from costco to make it with their big box of mixed greens and my kids always beg for more and it's such an easy dinner to come together!

  14. yum! great tips thank you! I'm 5ft and although petite have to watch my weight but with summer here we eat lots of salads so thank you for sharing recipes!!!!!!!! love having some new ones up my sleeve!

    I wish I had baby twins again as they were the best diet ever! no time to eat!


  15. Yay for Time Out For Women! I was one of the lucky ones that got to listen to your presentation this last weekend! You are such an inspiration to me! Thanks for your uplifting message! I'm trying to bring more holiness into our home. I only have one child, but even with one, life can be hectic! I bought your book as well and can't wait to read it! Thanks again for taking time away from your family to come share your story! I look forward to following your blog now!

  16. Shawni, thanks for answering my question! I loved reading this post. I need to get P90X sometime soon. Oh, and I second the green smoothie idea another reader mentioned. That's helped me and my family al lot. And have you heard about Bountiful Baskets ( It's awesome! Fresh produce every Saturday morning. I love it!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *