Spaghetti Squash with Bison Marinara

Matt picked up some ground bison at Costco last week and wanted me to make something with it. I was skeptical at first since I don't really care for ground beef but decided to give it a try. After doing a little research, I learned that bison meat has less saturated fat than beef, contains nutrients (zinc, niacin, iron, B6, and selenium), has more flavor than ground beef, and is typically raised in a healthier manner than beef. This meal takes about 20 minutes start to finish, and my family loved it more than traditional spaghetti! We only buy beef on occasion, but from now on we'll be getting bison instead!

Cooking Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 4-6


1 small spaghetti squash
1 lb ground bison
2 tsp italian seasoning
3 cloves garlic, pressed
1 shallot, finely chopped
28 oz. crushed tomatoes
olive oil


Using a sharp knife, poke small holes all over squash. Microwave for 10-12 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a large pan, brown ground bison meat over medium heat and add in italian seasoning, garlic, and shallot while browning.

After meat is fully cooked, add crushed tomatoes. Add extra seasoning, to taste. Bring to a simmer, then lower heat.

Once the squash is softened, cut in half, remove seeds using a spoon, then scrape the flesh of the squash  with a fork until all of the strings of "spaghetti" have been removed.

In a separate pan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add spaghetti squash and cook 1-2 minutes to remove excess water.

Serve meat sauce over squash.

This meal is even kid-friendly :).

+, Lauren Aiken


The Virgin Diet

What it is

Just over two weeks ago, I began The Virgin Diet - 21 days with no gluten, dairy, eggs, corn, soy, yeast, peanuts, and artificial sweeteners (top culprits of food intolerance, highest genetically modified, and inflammatory foods).

Why I'm doing it

While many people use this as a weight loss diet, it serves another purpose - reducing inflammation in the body and healing the gut. More specifically, I'm trying this diet in attempt to lower the antibodies that attack my thyroid. I've mentioned before that I have Hashimoto's thyroiditis but have never gone into detail about it on the blog, as it has always been no big deal - until I became pregnant with Nora. Pregnancy increases your need for thyroid hormone, and after pregnancy it typically decreases again. This year has been a huge struggle for me health-wise. My thyroid has been all out of whack, and I've had more than a handful of illnesses that left me out of commission for 2 weeks at a time. For someone who previously rarely got sick, it has been hard year but a humbling one. God has placed a couple friends in my life who have dealt with similar situations this year, and they have been so encouraging to me! He also gave me clarity in finding a new endocrinologist and deciding to wait a long 6 months to see an integrative healthcare provider. I'm finally addressing the root cause of my thyroid problems and learning how to rebuild my immune system, and this diet is just one step in that process!


If you're interested in reading more about the diet, this blog explains why each food is cut out and offers substitutes. And this post goes more in-depth with week by week instructions. I should mention that I have not read this book, only googled some tips and followed my doctor's instructions, modified specifically for me. Please do your research and consult your doctor before trying this diet (or any, for that matter).

I'm currently on week 3 of the diet, which is the final week of the elimination phase. Each week following this one, I will reintroduce one food at a time, watching closely for any type of response (headaches, rashes, bloating, fatigue, thyroid inflammation, etc.). If I think there might be a sensitivity, the plan is to eliminate the food again for another week or more, reintroduce, and see if the same symptoms happen.

What CAN I eat?

Everyone's first question is what CAN you eat? The short answer is pretty much nothing packaged/processed and almost everything that is real food. Some foods I've eaten over the past couple of weeks include:
  • high quality meats (like grass-fed beef and bison, wild-caught salmon, and organic chicken)
  • beans
  • rice
  • tree nuts (peanuts are not a tree nut)
  • fruits and vegetables (possibilities and combos are endless)
  • GF pasta and other substitutes (rice products only, not corn)
  • all spices and herbs
  • oils that are not soybean or peanut derived
  • hummus, salsa, guacamole
  • Naked juice
How I'm doing 

It has been easier to come up with recipes than I anticipated. We are used to eating mostly whole foods, and I love trying out new recipes so the hunt for great meals has been mostly fun. Most nights I have made enough dinner that there are leftovers for lunch the next day so I don't have to come up with lunch recipes too, though I have made a few lunches and will share those ideas.

Apart from the first week of my diet (fighting a really horrible cold/sinus infection), I have felt really wonderful. All of my thyroid symptoms have diminished. It's hard to know whether to attribute this directly to the diet, since my mediation was also increased, but either way I am thankful! I think I will know more specifics when I begin to add foods back in.


There has been one day that I wanted to just give up because nothing sounded good to eat that I could eat, and all I wanted was boxed macaroni and cheese (which I eat only when Matt is out of town, about twice a year - obviously not a reason to quit). Dairy has been the hardest thing for me to cut since I frequently eat yogurt and cheese. Salads just aren't the same without a little gorgonzola, goat cheese, or feta!

Eating out has been the biggest challenge though. I've found that restaurants use either peanut oil, soybean oil, or butter for both grilling and frying. In addition, corn and soy is hidden in things like soups, salad dressings, sauces, and even meat. I haven't knowingly cheated, but we have eaten out about 4 times, a couple of which I had to trust my best judgement and the waiter's limited knowledge because specific nutrition was not available.

Satisfying my sweet tooth has been another challenge. If I decide to stay GF (which my doctor recommends for all Hashimoto's patients), I will experiment with baking, but for these three weeks I've cut out any candy (corn syrup), chocolate (dairy), or desserts.


Over my next few posts, I plan on sharing some recipes from some great meals we've tried. I'll also summarize my results as I add foods back into my diet over the coming 6ish weeks. If you have any questions, please feel free to comment below or contact me personally!

Have you tried this diet or something similar before?
Are you gluten free, dairy free, etc.? 
I would love to try your favorite recipes! 

+, Lauren Aiken