Spaghetti Squash Coconut Chicken
These first two steps can be done ahead of time. We do a lot of baking and chopping prep on Sunday before the week starts, and it makes throwing the recipe together really fast. A paleo/primal (or Whole 30 in this case, as long as the ingredients in the canned food complies) meal can be ready in less than 20 minutes on a weeknight this way.
- 1 Spaghetti squash
- 1 lb of organic chicken thighs
- Fat of choice (ghee + avocado oil)
- Olive oil
- Pasta sprinkle spices
- 1 can of tomato sauce
- 1 can of diced tomatoes
- 1 can of coconut milk
- Salt and pepper
First, bake spaghetti squash:
Heat oven to 375, pierce squash with a knife or fork all around it a few times and put on a cookie sheet with a little bit of water. Depending on the size of your squash, it will take about an hour-ish until you can cut it easily in half without resistance with a knife. Let it cool, then slice open and scrape out the seeds. Then use your fork and scrape away. It should be really easy. If it is hard to scrape the strands out then you will want to put the squash back in the oven for another 10 min or so. It should not be mushy but have a nice little crunch to it.
Second, bake the chicken thighs:
Bake chicken thighs with olive oil and salt and pepper, in oven at 350, check at around 30 min, should be done by 35 or 40 min. Let chicken rest at least 10 min and then dice up and set aside to be mixed in with the squash later.
Third, saute the scraped spaghetti squash:
Sauté baked squash in a cast iron skillet in fat of choice (we used ghee and avocado oil) and season with pasta sprinkle (I like Penzy’s Spices best) and some salt and pepper, until all mixed together and heated through. The squash should have a slight crunch (i.e. not mushy).
Fourth, prepare sauce:
In a separate sauce pot over medium-high heat, combine 1 can organic tomato sauce, 1 can organic diced tomatoes, and 1 can of coconut milk. Mix in spaghetti squash and diced up chicken. Once everything is heated through it is ready to serve and enjoy right away!
This year we have done a good share of traveling with Johnny, he’s jet-set with 5 trips under his belt before 8 months old! The first time we got ready to go with him he was 3 months and I had NO idea what to expect. Would he be the screaming baby that I always dreaded sitting in front of? What do I bring? What do I not bring? How the heck do we get through security? Doing what I do, I googled my way through my questions. I compiled everything here from what I have learned from others and some plain old real world experience, which will be helpful for me to re-hash as we will be hopping on another flight to Minneapolis next week. Hope this is helpful for you too!
- Wear your baby through security check. I used the ergo, then they have you go through the metal detector instead of the “violator” machine (haha), and they swab your hands to make sure you didn’t recently fire a weapon (I think) and you’re done! So much easier than I thought it would be.
- Call ahead to declare you have a lap infant, then call again to make sure they put it down. I called just once that first time we flew and they somehow missed it, weird. It wasn’t that big of a deal, but I got held up in line to go on the plane and just found it a little annoying, but not the end of the world.
- Milk/Formula is exempt from 3-1-1. Expressed breast milk doesn’t have to be less than 3 oz, you just have to declare it to the agent and make it separate from the rest of your stuff. Same for formula. I can bring a bunch of water bottles through security as long as I declare them to the agent and it is a “reasonable” amount. So far that has been 2 water bottles. Also, this includes any liquid medicine that little one might need. Like, Zantac for instance. Oh, your baby didn’t have reflux? We might not be able to be friends.
- Car seats and strollers can be gate checked for free (on Alaska Airlines is who I checked with)… The car seat can be used on the plane if extra seats are available.* We did fine traveling without them the first time, since we had others to borrow once we arrived. Borrowing what you can when you get to your destination is really helpful. The next couple of times we traveled was when Zak had only one working arm so the snap-and-go stroller worked great to cart our luggage that he wasn’t allowed to carry, and the carseat we borrowed upon arrival. This worked like a charm. Other times we’ve brought our Chicco stroller and carseat which was a necessity for that trip, and it did just fine being gate checked. I would probably not chance it with bringing my Phil&Teds stroller though. [*We did a couple trips with the carseat, and as Johnny has gotten older it has been easier to have him in the carseat on the plane instead of as a lap infant. He falls asleep so much easier in there!]
- A window seat is easier if you are nursing, you can control the light, and it worked great when traveling with Zak and in the earlier months. An aisle seat is good if you want to get up and walk around a lot or have a longer flight, which when traveling alone with an older baby seems to be my preference now.
- Nurse/feed at take-off and landing… Although for landing Johnny has been already asleep for the most part. I guess sucking/nursing is like chewing gum for babies for the pressure change in their ears.
- Get a seat in back of the plane… It’s noisier and it’s like a huge white noise machine. It drowned out any fussiness and helped him get to sleep. Although I can say that we’ve had plenty of flights in the front of the plane and its been just fine too, once the plane got moving.
- We get an early flight if we can since that is Johnny’s best time of day. Later in the day is a fussy time for him regardless of where he may be. Sometimes you have to make that later flight work though, so bring some earplugs and a cookie to pass out to those sitting near you if you want to be nice. Most people are a lot nicer than I thought they would be though. Even helpful! Some people are even so nice as to seek out seats where they can sit next to babies so they can help the solo mom if need be. Can you imagine?? People like that still exist in the world. Now, if I have the opportunity, I will look to do the same and pay it forward.
- Take a lot of deep breaths. Be flexible. Give yourself plenty of time in transit. Ask for help when you need it, people are a lot nicer than you might think… and smile! For every person that might scoff at having a baby on board there is someone who LOVES babies and they will tell you how cute and precious your baby is leaving you feeling like a really great baby maker. True story.
There will be a time when “it” hits the fan and you are breaking out in a cold sweat. Remember to breathe. One of our flights ended up being delayed because of something wrong with the engine which was discovered just as we were supposed to be departing from the gate. My perfect timing of feeding with the take-off was going awry and during the wait Johnny flipped a switch from being happy and social to completely game-over in 2.5 seconds. Zak was feverishly trying to make a bottle (with one hand since the other was in a sling from his shoulder surgery… so that was going, ahem, super well as you can imagine) and I had Johnny who was hitting the high notes that would make Mariah Carey jealous… everyone had their eyes on us and I could feel my face burning red, doing my best to help Johnny calm down. A grandma was sitting in the aisle across from Zak and she was helping him get the bottle together while a monk… no really, a monk in a bright orange robe sitting next to her was trying to distract and entertain Johnny. It was a pretty comical scene, looking back on it. We got him the bottle, the plane got fixed, and Johnny was asleep for the rest of the flight. Crisis averted. Phew.
Cue happy pictures of us all at the airport/on a plane…
You can do it. It’s an adventure!! Happy traveling and may you find helpful grandmas to sit next to you.
p.s. Grandpas are really helpful too.
Any tips you want to add?
As of today we have raised $86,697 for Jayson and the kiddos. That is mind blowing and we are so, so extremely grateful for all of the financial support that has come in to help the Berray’s during this time. We are at almost 87%!! It is such a testament to the hands and feet of God’s love and provision for Jayson right now, and that is just on the financial front. We have about 45 days left to meet our goal, and I would LOVE to see us meet it. If you have already shared this link below, donated, or prayed for Lauren and the family, we give our sincerest thanks from the bottom of our hearts. You have helped carry us all in ways that you will never know, and we will pay your kindness forward as we make it through this. There just are no words other than thank you, thank you, we are so deeply touched and can’t find the words to express it sufficiently.
For those who would still like to get involved and help us reach our goal of $100,000, the link to go to or share is:
…and don’t forget to sign the guestbook even if it is an anonymous donation. I can’t tell you how much it means to us all to read through the comments and prayers. Every day that we were in the ICU with Lauren and then each day thereafter we would log in to see the number keep rising and the words of encouragement shared, and it gave us so much hope and even some comfort to see everyone come together and share their love and financial support for the family. It was and is still overwhelming at the thought of it.
Part of our goal with this fundraiser is to go over and above the amount of any medical bills that have incurred for Lauren, and be able to go to helping Jayson get on his feet and take care of his kids without stressing about finances. This is going to be a long haul. I can imagine that if I were Jayson, I would probably need a lot more time off to process my grief than I would have in “sick days” allocated, and not to mention the need for childcare for both kids now. So, all that said, we thank you from the bottom of our hearts for all of the support and prayers, they are a light in a dark time and we are so grateful for you. Thank you again. And please, keep the prayers coming.
These are hard days. The adrenaline rush of everything that happened has faded, and we are back to “real life” but it doesn’t feel real. Zak is off of disability and back to light duty as of last week, I am back to my schedule of taking care of Johnny. Yet, we are exhausted. I feel like I could sleep for days, ugly cry a LOT, and stare at a wall for hours if I was allowed to. Such is the nature of grief, right? Just before Lauren’s accident Johnny was five months old and I was finally starting to get a sense of normal with him sleeping through the night and subsequently having enough energy to tackle my to-do lists during his nap times instead of taking a nap myself. I was starting to sense a little more of my old self again which I had lost through the sleep deprivation and nursing schedule. Stroller Strides became my exercise and I had done of month of hard-core working out 4 times a week. I was starting to find my groove.
That night before the accident, I was just telling Lauren how I was ready to start a cleanse and not worry about my milk anymore. Nursing Johnny had been one of the hardest things I have ever worked for but it was taking me over, and I decided that I was going to be proud of myself for making it five whole months and start giving myself the freedom I needed to take care of me and feel happy again. If my supply stayed, then awesome, if not, I will pat myself on the back for doing so well for so much longer than I thought I could. I made it FIVE MONTHS by that point and was ready to celebrate that. There were all of these rules I felt consumed by, like don’t lose more than a pound a week, make sure to hydrate enough or my milk supply would dry up, be careful with hot yoga (but don’t stress out about it… yeah right), get lots of sleep! (nope), and take supplements three times a day and don’t forget to pump after every feed… I felt like I was stressed out and held back from taking care of my body and feeling good about it so that I could give my son breastmilk, because like everyone knows, breastmilk is best. Except I was miserable. That damn pump, it owned me. I ended up in this place where I realized it was time to take care of my body and give Johnny a happy mama. (Did I mention I made it FIVE whole months yet?) Enter, Whole60.
I found a picture posted by JennasKitchen on Instagram where she had a side-by-side of her belly pre-Whole60, and then post-Whole60. She said that she only worked out one to four times a week, and this was a testament to how food is more important than exercise. Her before image resembled a better version of what I was struggling with and I wanted her post picture to be mine too. Something in me just clicked and I was IN. I shared all of this with Lauren and she was in too. Our sister Heidi was going to be back from Peru in a little over two months so it was perfect timing to have that as a goal to share our hard work with her, knowing she would be so proud. One of my favorite things about being a Shultz is that when one person decides to go for something, everyone else in the family will give their full support and pretty much jump in with you, no questions asked. It’s kind of amazing.
Unfortunately, we know what happened the next day. But like I said, that thing about being a Shultz… Amy and Heidi jumped in, and we started a Whole30 challenge and then finished it together. I don’t even have the words to express what that meant to me. All I can do is cry at the thought that I got these two in my life as sisters. As far as the challenge, Zak and I are continuing with it after taking a tiny break to do the full 60 days and are currently on Day 6. This food thing has been an important part of our healing. Usually, at least for us, when feeling sad it is much easier to eat crappy food with a lot of sugar, fat, and salt and eat away the pain. Yet once that cycle starts, it leaves you feeling worse about your body and just not feeling great overall leading you to start that cycle around all over again. Not to mention, those ingredients mess with your hormones and that doesn’t mix well with managing grieving to say the least.
What we realized is that what we put in our mouths is one of the very few things we can control right now, and therefore eating clean will make us feel better at least physically for now. It is working. The physical benefits are great, we are losing weight and that can always make you feel better. The Whole 30 Challenge is basically a diet without any grains, sugar, legumes, or dairy. Think of it as strict paleo 100% of the time without re-creating our favorite baked goods with paleo ingredients. Simply, it’s just a ton of veggies, lean and healthy organic grass-fed meat, fruit, nuts and seeds. We’ve been on and off paleo for the last couple years but we were wanting to go full on for awhile especially since I learned that what you eat affects your body more so than exercise, and with Zak’s injury and feeling incredibly restricted in what he can do there, this was a huge area he wanted to focus on. So we are in the thick of it now, together, and feeling free from the sugar addiction that seemed impossible to shake once. It is completely changing our relationship with food. Anyone who is grieving should absolutely take a Whole30 challenge, I can’t recommend it enough.
If you are interested in finding out more about this, you can check out the website and/or get the book “It Starts with Food” by Dallas and Melissa Hartwig. I’m reading it on my kindle paperwhite right now and am learning SO MUCH. After my last 30 day challenge I was down 15 pounds. I am proud of us. I can’t wait to report how this next round goes. We will keep you posted.