Tag Archives: paleo

menu monday: perfect summer BBQ menu

Over Memorial Day weekend we had Greg’s boss and his family over for dinner. We are friends, so it was fun, not like a 1960s sitcom episode where the boss comes to dinner. The weather wasn’t warm enough to eat outside, but it was warm enough to pull out the BBQ for summer and grill our food. I’m so excited it’s BBQ season.

I threw together a menu on Friday and it ended up being so delicious I thought I’d share for anyone planning a summer BBQ. You could also make the chicken in the oven if you aren’t able to BBQ. Everything can be prepped ahead and then the cauliflower can be cooked while the chicken is being grilled. I wasn’t aiming for this, but since I know the family prefers to eat low carb I went with meat and veggies and it ended up being a completely Whole30 compliant meal (minus dessert).IMG_9087_edited-1I only managed to get a photo of the salad, but here’s what we served. Typically I would have put together a fun cocktail as well (well, asked Greg to do so), but we don’t totally have our post-baby hosting act together yet.

Green Chicken from Nom Nom Paleo. This is my favorite chicken recipe right now and while it might seem like a lot of ingredients, you only need to toss them all in a blender to create the marinade. We used bone-in thighs instead of legs and marinaded the chicken for about six hours. Greg followed the grilling instructions from the recipe and they were so good. Probably the best grilling he’s done to date. I think we are going to have a good summer of eating.

Mango Cabbage Salad from Food Network. I wanted something other than a green salad to serve and this looked delicious when I read through it. I’ve been on a mango kick ever since realizing I like them about two years ago (I’m slow sometimes). It ended up tasting delicious as well. I skipped the Serrano chiles since we had a two year old dining with us, but it turns out she loves Sriracha so maybe I should have just gone for it. With the exception of the mango that I sliced by hand, I used the shred blade on my food processor to prep all the other veggies. I made this in the morning and tossed with the dressing about an hour before we ate.

Coconut Cauliflower ‘Rice’ from The Clothes Make the Girl. This recipe is from Well Fed 2 and isn’t available on her site, but here is a very similar version that someone has adapted. This is such a great substitute for rice; it leaves you less stuffed and adds another veggie to your meal. I doubled the recipe (we had some leftover, but I think we wouldn’t have had enough if I didn’t) and it took nearly double the amount of time to cook. The key to cauliflower rice is always lots of salt to give it a little more flavor.

For dessert we had fresh strawberries and WOW brownies. They are gluten free but really tasty. I’ve eaten a lot of gluten free treats over the years that I would not say that about. I find mine at Whole Foods and while they aren’t cheap, it’s way more cost effective for me to pick up pre-made dessert occasionally. I really do not enjoy baking at all and if I buy supplies they end up going bad before I use them.

Happy summer eating! If you’ve got any great grilling recipes, please leave them in the comments. We eat at home a lot more now that Paige has arrived and I’m looking forward to new recipes this summer.

menu monday: tips for taking meals to others

I was in Denver this past weekend where my parents and sister both live with their families. My sister recently had an adorable little boy. With a toddler at home already, cooking isn’t something she has a ton of time to do right now so my mom and I put together a week of meals for their family. Having recently been both the recipient of meals and the maker of meals, I thought I’d share my tips for making meals for others and a few recipes that work well.

Tips for Making Meals for Others

  • If available, sign up on a shared calendar. It’s really helpful to know what nights dinner will be provided and to keep from having multiple meals provided on the same night.
  • Plan to drop off food and make a quick exit unless invited to stay. We loved seeing friends for a bit after Paige was born when they dropped off a meal. It made us feel plugged into our old life and gave us a chance to socialize without all the effort of getting her out of the house. In some cases though people might be too exhausted or not ready to see family and friends. A front door drop off followed by a text message is not rude, it might be exactly what they are hoping for!
  • Use disposable containers or packaging you don’t care about being returned.
  • Write instructions (baking, freezing, etc.) directly on the packaging. The new mama or friend recovering from a surgery will be thankful they don’t have to go dig up the email in which you sent the instructions.
  • Don’t kill yourself, but try to respect the food choices of the family, especially if there are real allergies. My sister’s son can only eat a little bit of dairy so we made all the meals dairy free with the exception of providing cheese to top one of them.
  • Provide something that can be eaten with no or easy prep if you know they are going to eat the meal that day; if you’re unsure, try to provide something that can be eaten the same day or popped in the freezer to save for a later time.
  • Think about breakfast. If you have the time, it’s nice to include breakfast for the next day when you drop off a dinner.

Meals That Work Well

For my sister’s family we decided to go with four dinner meals and two breakfasts. I picked meals that would include enough for lunch leftovers (there are two adults and a toddler eating). Because we were providing many meals at once, I also picked meals that could easily be frozen and prepared or reheated later. If you’re looking for more freezer meal ideas, back in January I shared a few posts (here and here) around what I prepared for our freezer before the baby arrived.

If you’re curious about time and cost, here are the details: My mom and I made the following in about three hours, while also wrangling a two month old, a two year old, a four year old, a six year old, and a 12 week old puppy. My dad did the grocery shopping for us the night before and bought all of the ingredients needed to make the recipes below (with the exclusion of all the spices as my mom had those on hand) for $112. He had a mix of quality, for example getting grass fed lamb and pastured eggs, but regular chicken and non-organic produce. (Note: I had meant to provide a few bags of frozen veggies to make one with each meal, but I completely forgot about that until writing this post now.)

These meals are all Whole30 compliant, with the exception of the shelf stable goods we provided with a few of them.

  • Chocolate Chili and Rice. There is something about a bowl of chili and rice that is really filling and comforting. This meal can be provided two ways: hot and ready to eat or cooked, cooled, and packaged (ready to reheat or throw in the freezer). We gave them a bag of white rice to cook with the chili, but if you know they are planning to eat it the same day or soon, provide already cooked rice and maybe even a salad. Trader Joe’s has great frozen microwavable rice that is perfect to pair with this.
  • Merguez Meatballs and Sweet Potato Soup. I paired these together for a meal as both have great Middle Eastern flavors. If you don’t want to provide this as a hot meal, you can cook the meatballs and flash freeze them on a cookie tray (that way they don’t stick together), then store in a freezer ziplock. The soup can be cooled then packaged for the freezer. A note on the soup: because we were serving it with the meatballs, I skipped the bacon. A salad or a veggie is a great addition, but the soup and meatballs alone are pretty filling.
  • Salsa Verde ChickenThis chicken is incredibly versatile. Typically we eat it on it’s own, topped with avocado. For my sister, we included some shelf and fridge stable taco fixings – shells, a jar of salsa, and cheese. I know that she has a crockpot, so I provided this uncooked in a freezer bag. She can throw it in the freezer, then thaw overnight and toss it in the crockpot on a day when she’s ready to make it. If you are providing this to eat the same day, I would cook it for them and maybe provide a few other fresh taco fixings, like mango salsa, chopped tomatoes, and/or lettuce.
  • Spaghetti Squash Pizza Casserole It’s the paleo version of dropping off a casserole for your neighbor. If you are taking it around dinner time, you can bake it and bring it hot. Otherwise you can skip baking and let the recipient bake when convenient (perhaps mention it takes an hour so they aren’t caught off guard). If you use a disposable aluminum container, it’s very easy to go from freezer to fridge to oven. We gave them a bag of salad mix to eat with this meal (or whatever meal they decided to go with first). Frozen veggies are a great alternative if the casserole is going in the freezer.
  • Southwest Frittata. I’ve linked to this recipe so many times because we eat it often. Once it’s baked you can provide the frittata in full or slice and wrap individual servings in foil (this is a good option for a single friend who won’t eat it as fast as a family will). Send along a few avocados for topping the casserole to make it extra filling. To make it slightly easier, I skip the jalapeño and add a can of diced green chilies.
  • Buffalo Chicken Egg Muffins. Egg muffins are a really easy, on the go breakfast option and freeze well. The recipe only makes six muffins (but leaves leftover chicken). If I were to make it again I might use slightly more chicken and double the rest of the recipe to make a full dozen. Our muffins turned out really spicy, so keep that in mind when selecting your hot sauce.

I forgot to take pictures of our cooking session, but my sister and her husband carried several handfuls of food out to the car. For around $100 and three hours of our time, we gave them a week of food, allowing them to focus on their newborn and toddler. Hopefully this helps anyone looking to take meals to a friend or stock up their own freezer with tasty, healthy meals.

pantry prep for post-baby eats

I’ve previously shared what I prepped for the freezer for post-baby meals in these posts here and here. Since then I have added several jars of bone broth and a few packages of Applegate sausages. Last thing to add is frozen veggies. Today I’m following up the freezer posts with how I stocked my pantry. It’s usually pretty well stocked, but I went a little overboard to make sure we can live through the first few weeks of baby. Or the apocalypse. You decide.

These are the staples I use all the time to throw together meals when it feels like there is nothing in the house to eat. This post is on the long side, but I’ve had several people ask me what I stock in my pantry that is considered ‘real food’, so I’m going for it. If you have zero interest in my dry goods, definitely stop reading now and save yourself the time.

IMG_6974_edited-1Our pantry is six shelves tall, plus the floor, and in our our hallway outside of the kitchen. Gotta love houses built in the early 1900s. There is also very limited light in the hallway so please excuse the grainy photos.

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Top Shelf: Oils and vinegars. And the dog’s dry food.

  • I always have EVOO along with light tasting olive oil that I use for homemade mayo.
  • My vinegar collection currently includes apple cider (local to Seattle), balsamic, red wine, white wine (three bottles for some reason), and coconut.
  • If you’re curious, this is the dog’s dry food. He’s been eating it for two plus years and we’re happy with it. He’s dairy-free by necessity and grain-free (with the exclusion of a non grain-free treat on rare occasion) by my choice. One 50 lb. bag lasts us about four months.

IMG_8842_edited-1Second Shelf: Sauces. And the dog’s wet food.

  • We are big hot sauce fans and loyal to Horsetooth Hot Sauce in Colorado. I haven’t found it locally so I order it in bulk to save on shipping. We love all of the varieties which means we have half a shelf in a six shelf pantry dedicated to hot sauce.
  • I also have coconut aminos* on this shelf. Soy makes my eyes puffy and coconut aminos taste very, very similar to soy sauce. Much to Greg’s embarrassment, I bring my bottle when we go out for sushi. Oh sushi, you are so close I can taste you.
  • The dog eats a variety of Merrick wet foods that I purchase through Amazon’s subscribe and save. Because he’s our baby (for the next few weeks at least), we rotate through four or so flavors to ensure he doesn’t get “bored”. Should I be admitting this kind of thing to the internet? He eats half a can per day.

IMG_8844_edited-1Third Shelf. Coconut and tomato products.

  • I’ve gone through many coconut milk brands and lately I’m pretty loyal to Natural Value as they are BPA-free, organic, and arrive on my doorstep with the click of a button. I think I bought the non-organic one last time as they don’t always have it available on Amazon.
  • I also have a jar of coconut cream that I’ve yet to use and some tetrapaks of coconut milk. I find these hard to use unless I’m making a Thai soup because they are large and go bad before I use it all. I should probably check the date on these, they’ve been in here for a while. How’s the for a glowing recommendation?
  • Tomato products are one of the easiest ways to create a quick meal. I have several jars of Rao’s Marinara* and Arrabiata* sauces. Add a pound of ground meat and either spaghetti squash or zucchini noodles and dinner is done.
  • I’ve changed from canned tomato products to using the Pomi packs. Each one is roughly equivalent to two 14 oz cans (they are 26 ounces). I keep the strained tomatoes in stock for when I need tomato sauce and the chopped for when I need diced. I usually stock up on a few of each when they go on sale at Whole Foods.
  • Other random tomato products currently include sun dried (no idea why, not something I ever use) and paste (love the tubes for when I just need a tablespoon or two, then I throw in the freezer).

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Fourth Shelf. Fish and a few random things I like to keep in stock.

  • Homemade mayo + canned (quality) fish makes the easiest quick meal. Not to mention all the good nutrients that come with fish. I keep Wild Planet tuna* and Loki Fish Company salmon (local to Seattle, but shipped anywhere) stocked. For the salmon, I buy the 7.5 oz pink can (a full steak of salmon with skin, bones, and sea salt).
  • Sardines are ridiculously good for you and I tolerate them on top of salads with lots of dressing. I’ve picked up a few brands at Whole Foods, but mostly I stick with Wild Planet in olive oil*.
  • Great Lakes Gelatin* for making gummy snacks and other gelatin needs. The red or orange canisters will gel, the green will not.
  • Lemon juice for making mayo. I try to use fresh lemons for other cooking needs, but it’s always nice to have a back-up.
  • Trader Joe’s salsa verde. TJs hasn’t been in my regular shopping rotation in a really long time (though after seeing Holly’s latest Whole30 haul, I’m reconsidering this decision), but I still stop in to stock up on their salsa verde.

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Fifth Shelf. Snacks.

  • This is the most rotating shelf as I like to try new items I hear about on podcasts and blogs. Right now it’s well stocked with protein bars and jerky as I’m expecting to snack a lot while getting the hang of how much I need to eat to successfully breastfeed Martian.
  • Rx Bars in Apple Cinnamon and Coffee Cacao. These are awesome protein bars and feel like you ate a full meal. I don’t advocate eating protein bas when you can eat real food, but when you need something for on the go (or the fifth meal of the day), they totally work and are super clean.
  • EXO cricket protein bars* in a variety of flavors. Funny story: My friend Amanda put together a nursing supply box for a shower present and asked Greg about my favorite protein bars. I’m sure she wasn’t expecting to hear cricket protein, but she is a good friend and got them for me anyway. I like to embrace being the weird eater. I’m particularly excited to try the peanut butter and jelly ones.
  • Chomps grass fed beef sticks (the original). These are the perfect snack when you need some quick protein but not a full meal. I might by them by the 250 count case, which would be the big white box with easy access. Surprisingly, we’re actually bigger fans of the original flavor than the jalapeño.
  • Primal Pacs for more on the go meal options. I’ve been eating these for three or four years, the first paleo snacks I found. And they are locally made in Seattle, which is a bonus. I buy the small and they are particularly good for traveling. I keep them in my bag and in the car for emergencies. Greg even keeps a bag or two in his backpack for when he’s on the road and can’t get a meal.
  • Lemon Larabars*, which really are a treat versus a protein bar. I don’t typically love Larabars (they are super sweet) but the lemon flavor has a nice tang.
  • Seasnax* are ‘strangely addictive’ as they advertise. Full disclosure, you either love these or hate these. I have yet to meet someone who thinks they are just all right. Usually I have quite a few more but with all my protein bars and jerky I’m low on storage space so haven’t ordered any in a while. I prefer the original over the onion and wasabi flavors. These are also vegan.
  • Yawp bars are like granola bars but grain-free. I have a sack of each flavor (two are hidden in the picture). They are delicious with coffee and are more of a snack than a meal replacement. I enjoy all three flavors, but the Cafe Mocha ones make me really thirsty. Like the Seasnax, these are also vegan.
  • Other snacks very, such as chocolate, dried fruit, nut butters, etc. Lately I’ve been obsessed with dried mango but it never lasts very long on the shelf.

IMG_8847_edited-1Sixth Shelf. Baking goods.

  • This shelf has all sorts of flours, sweeteners, and other baking goods. None of it gets used very often as I don’t enjoy baking nor do I have much of a sweet tooth.

IMG_8848_edited-1 Floor. Extras and the dog’s bulk dry food.

  • Extra jars of coconut oil, a large jug of apple cider vinegar (I use it to refill the smaller bottle), and anything else that I might have an extra of at the time.
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Recent Thrive Market purchase

*I linked to products where I could and tried to use the link to the place I most often purchase the item. The one exception is everything with an asterisk. I recently found Thrive Market (save 15% using this link) and did a large purchase through them when restocking my pantry. This is basically an online Costco for real food. Yes. I can’t directly link to the products because you need to be a member to view them. I was impressed with their prices – they beat Amazon on everything I purchased that was available on both that day (it’s hard to say that is always the case since Amazon’s prices fluctuate so much). There is an annual fee (I think around $50), but after my first purchase and continuing to look at more of what they have I will definitely become a member when my trial expires this month. You rarely find real food at a discount (without stalking social media for time sensitive codes), so this is pretty awesome.

Amazon links are affiliates. Thrive Market offers 15% off using my code; if you were to join as a paying member I get a small reward. 

stocking the freezer for baby | week two

I’ve moved on from nesting to “oh my gosh, what have we done, we better get out of the house now while we can”. Which means this weekend I did absolutely no cooking. We met friends for happy hour, went to the movies, ate every meal out, and enjoyed a brunch that our friends hosted for us. But last week I cooked up a storm and just never shared it, so here it is…

This plan of mine is working really well. The kitchen freezer is slowly filling with pre-cooked meals and ziplock bags full of meat and veggies ready for the crockpot. Thanks to a few things going on at work I ended up with a four day weekend the weekend before last, which really helped. I was able to break up cooking over several days to avoid too much time standing in the kitchen. I much prefer a 3/4 work to weekend ratio over the current 5/2.

stewI haven’t made a beef stew in a really long time and with the cold weather it sounded good. I doubled a recipe I found on Pinterest, putting half in the crockpot for dinners this week and the other half (uncooked) in the freezer for later. It was really easy and decent, but it was more like beef and carrot soup, the broth didn’t thicken much like a good stew. The leftovers are a little thicker, but not quite what I want in a stew. On a positive note, the veggies were cooked perfectly. We’ll happily eat the freezer meal, but not sure I’ll make this one again.

breakfast meatballsLast Monday morning I made a double batch of breakfast meatballs and patties for the freezer. They turned out to be delicious. So delicious that I ate a few more than planned with leftover kale and roasted potatoes. Because I am prone to setting our smoke alarm off, I followed the directions for baking in a mini muffin pan. I also used a regular muffin tin and created patties so that I could bake both pounds at the same time. I immediately cooled them on paper towels so that I could get the grease out of the tins before it hardened. Then I popped them into the freezer just laying on a cutting board. This allows each ball or patty to freeze individually and not as a big clump. After about an hour I transferred them to a freezer ziplock for storage. These will be perfect to add to soup (I love soup for breakfast in the winter), to an egg dish, or just stand alone.

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I roasted two chickens to make Lemon Chicken Kale Soup and have a little leftover shredded chicken for quick meals. I forgot a picture of the soup, but it was delicious. I made one batch to eat for dinners last week and have a second batch in the freezer ready to be thrown in the crockpot for a quick meal.

I also made, but did not take pictures of, double batches of 50/50 Burgers and Merguez Meatballs. I ate each for only one meal, so there is quite a bit in the freezer. At this point I’ve maxed out most of my freezer space with proteins. With the little room I have left I’m hoping to stock up on veggies (probably store-bought frozen and maybe some soups) and broth.

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I threw together a little lunch for Greg and I as we watched the Seahawks game two Sunday’s ago. It’s completely Whole30 compliant and completely game worthy. I didn’t use recipes and it took maybe 25 minutes. Perfect for the upcoming Super Bowl.

  • Applegate mini sausages (compliant ingredients!) that I found at Whole Foods with a dipping sauce of 2/3 dijon mustard + 1/3 homemade mayo
  • Deviled eggs; the filling is simply the yolks + dijon mustard + homemade mayo
  • Bacon wrapped dates; pit dates, cut bacon slices in 1/2 or 1/3 (depending on how long they are), wrap around date, place on baking sheet with “seam” side down, bake at 400* for 12 minutes

pumpkin puree in less than ten steps

I made my own pumpkin puree this weekend for the first time. It was so easy, I had to share.
pumpkinpuree1. Preheat the oven to 375. 2. Get your sugar pumpkin. Mine was gifted to me from a sweet co-worker’s garden. 3. Cut in half and remove the seeds. 4. For faster bake time, cut into pumpkin wedges. 5. Brush melted coconut oil on the pumpkin wedges. 6. Bake, starting to check for doneness around 45 minutes. Let the wedges cool. 7. Scrape out the pumpkin / remove the peel. 8. Toss in a food processor, about two minutes total in 30 second increments. 9. Put the puree in cute jars (yields just under 4 cups).

We enjoyed ours in pumpkin spaghetti squash and pumpkin chili

 

menu monday: eating from the freezer

This week’s menu is all over the place as I’m trying to clean out our inside freezer. Our new meat shares will be ready shortly and I want to clean out the chest freezer and defrost it before adding our 2015 meat. We don’t have much left from 2014, but I need a little room inside to store what is left.

When I plan an ‘eat from the freezer’ week (usually once every few months) my goal is to clear out as much as I can and shop for as little as possible. I create a list of what I have and look for recipes that will use the ingredients, or just make them up.IMG_8274_edited-1

One jar of chicken broth and a bag of frozen cauliflower is in the fridge, turned into one of my favorite fall soups, Golden Cauliflower Soup. One of the few bonuses to rainy, cold season is that I start making and consuming a lot of broth.

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For Sunday dinner we enjoyed this recipe for beef shank. A friend at work gave me a sugar pumpkin and I made my own puree with it for the first time. As a side to the beef shank we had pumpkin spaghetti squash, featuring the puree. With the rest of the pumpkin and a big chuck steak (not pictured) that I ground up, I’m making pumpkin chili for dinner tonight and lunches the rest of the week.

IMG_8307_edited-1I made an egg casserole with the shredded sweet potatoes and cubed pork for our weekday breakfasts. Greg is now eating breakfast (yay! my first NTP success!), but that means I have to have ten servings of breakfast ready to go each week. Two big casseroles is usually the easiest way to make that happen and we end up with a two extra serving bonus for the next week. I cleaned out my spice cupboard on Saturday (a project I started back in March and maybe will get around to sharing on the blog before the new year) and found a few spice blends that need to be used. I added one of the mixes and extra veggies from the weekend. Casserole done.IMG_8298_edited-1

For weekend breakfasts we had sugar-free bacon, eggs, sauerkraut, and potatoes. I don’t have them pictured above, but the remaining PreMade Paleo meals are defrosting in the fridge for any time one of us is eating alone or needs a quick meal. I’m on a four meal a day plan some days (finally gave into four meals versus a ton of snacking) and I defrosted a bit of carne asada that can top a salad. I also defrosted what appears to be meatballs (in the jar on the right). I didn’t do a great job of labeling so I’m not positive what they are, but hopefully they are tasty.

Towards the end of the week I’ll defrost salmon and pork chops for dinners. And we don’t eat all meat around here, there is plenty of veg in the fridge from my CSA box. We have lots of winter squash, beets, potatoes, and salad and spinach for greens. The freezer is looking better, though I’ll probably need to do a second week to make enough space for the chest freezer contents. Oh the trials of an urbanite who likes to pretend she’s a homesteader…

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I’m going into the final few days of my Whole30. This has been by far the fastest one has ever gone by. Between the craziness of the month and dietary restrictions due to pregnancy anyway (i.e. no booze), it seems like I just started. I’ll be doing a big recap post next week once I’m done.

The only noteworthy moments from this week are that I finally ate out after 25 days of only cooking my own food. Not sure that I’ve ever gone 25 days without eating out. I can say that it felt great AND our credit card bill notices the difference! I had a little meat at a friend’s on Saturday and Greg and I had Chipotle for lunch on Sunday while car seat shopping. Things are just getting crazy around here.

Have a great week!

menu monday: premade paleo

Last week I had our food delivered from Pre-Made Paleo. Painters were in the house for the week, transforming our colorful walls to a lovely neutral shade. I wasn’t sure what sort of access I would have to the kitchen and, not wanting to deviate from my Whole30, I decided to order five days of prepared, frozen, Whole30 compliant food. My one qualm was cost, but a few quick calculations showed that ordering the meals was equivalent to the cost of eating them all out. Sold.

The order. The most cost effective way to order is to select one of the current menus. Each menu comes with 5 meals for two people. A meal consists of a protein and a veggie side or a combo of the two (a chili or soup where the veggies are included with the protein). I picked up one menu for our dinners and added five breakfasts for each of us, chicken sweet potato hash for me and pork skillet for Greg. Greg eats lunch at work everyday but I needed something for me. I went with five different chili/soup options as they seemed like the easiest items to reheat at work. I added a few more items to save in the freezer for food emergencies to get to the free shipping minimum ($250).

These pictures are terrible as it was late when I got home. First is the menu, where I grouped our proteins and veggies together into dinners. The second photo is lunches and breakfasts. Also, these are the last photos EVER of the purple kitchen walls. Because they are no longer purple. Hallelujah.

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The ordering. I ordered at the last minute for getting the food by the time we needed it. When I emailed Pre-Made Paleo to make sure they’d be able to ship in time, they responded very quickly and were helpful. It was painless to order and everything arrived solidly frozen.

The cooking. Or I should say, the “cooking”. I woke up each morning and cut open my breakfast pouch and tossed the contents into a hot pan with a little ghee. While it reheated I transferred Greg’s breakfast from the plastic pouch to a glass container for transporting and reheating and did the same with my lunch. Dinners went much the same way. Heat skillet, add cooking fat (or water), reheat protein for a few minutes then throw in veg. It was beyond easy and no mess minus washing out the pan. The food tastes significantly better if you allow it to defrost in the fridge before cooking. This requires a little bit of planning, but worth it.

The quality. The quality of the food is fantastic. All vegetables are organic and the meat used is all grass fed and pastured. Nothing but good things to say about where they source their products from.

The taste. Hit or miss. Some of the flavors I really enjoyed, some were not so enjoyable. Buffalo chicken was delicious as were most of my chili and soup dishes for lunch. Greg’s breakfast was tastier than mine (I ate his instead of mine one morning when he had a work breakfast).

The texture. Proteins heated really well on the stove top but became rubbery when heated in the microwave (they do not recommend heating in the microwave, by the way). Chili and soup dishes tasted great out of the microwave, which is my only option at work for heating food. The veggies were where I struggled the most. It is really hard to have good texture when you are reheating cooked, frozen veggies.

The filling factor. This is hard for me to judge because my appetite is off the hook right now. Greg seemed to do just fine with the dinner servings but I typically ended up needing something extra after. I also added a hard boiled egg to my breakfast each morning and a side salad to my lunches.

The value. It is not cheap but it is quality. I was able to put real food on the table in less than five minutes for every meal last week and not question whether or not I was staying Whole30 compliant. It was the cost of a week of combined take-out and eating in restaurants, though since I did add more to each meal I suppose you could say this route was slightly more expensive.

The verdict. Though it’s more cost effective, I probably won’t order a menu again. I just can’t get past the veggies. I should add that there are very few tastes I don’t like, but textures do bother me. I only started eating watermelon about two years ago because it feels like a sponge on my tongue. The veggies are probably perfectly fine for most, I’m just texture weird. I am, however, thinking hard about doing a big order of breakfasts and chili and soup dishes to have on hand for when the martian arrives. I’ll wait until we get closer to see how much food I’m able to prepare and put away and see how much freezer space we have. If you have a time period where you need extra help in the kitchen for whatever reason, I do recommend giving it a try.

Greg’s review. “It was good. I enjoyed it.”

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As for my Whole30, I’m going strong and on day 14 today. I didn’t keep up with my nightly journal entries because I am trying to get off the computer and get to bed at a reasonable time. Staying up later than necessary to blog about my good nutrition seems silly. I’m just about halfway through and thought I’d revisit the five reasons I decided to take this on at a less than opportune time.

Sleep. This was so rough the first week. But now I’m sleeping as well as I can considering the volleyball-sized growth on my abdomen. I am falling asleep easily and not waking up at 4am. I do wake up when I find myself in an uncomfortable position, but I’m falling right back to sleep.

Digestive issues. Few and far between. I’ve had heart burn once that I can remember since starting and it was very short lived.

Eczema. At the beginning of week two my wrist flared like crazy. I would have been frustrated, but thanks to my NTP class I know about common reactions to nutritional protocols. One is a healing reaction, which looks just like the symptom you’re trying to fix. If it’s not severe, the best thing to do is push through it. (I am not a doctor and this is not medical advice.) The flare lasted a day or two and now my wrist is almost entirely clear.

Lethargy. I’ve got energy! Don’t get me wrong, I’m tired as hell. Work is crazy, Greg has been working around the clock, I’m trying to study for my final in the hours before and after my time in the office, and we’ve dealt with home repairs and changing renters in the condo all in the last ten days. I’m beat. But I wake up well rested and have enough energy to get through all of the above without feeling completely worn down and unable to deal. At the moment I’m only making it to my weekly yoga class, though I’m very much looking forward to working out more once class is over next week.

Mama guilt. I’m feeling really good. The martian is kicking around like crazy which is a constant reminder that my choices are no longer just for myself. While I assume I will always think I can be doing more when it comes to motherhood, right now I feel like I’m doing a good job.

Maybe it’s because I’m too busy to think about food, maybe it’s because the reason I can’t have a glass of wine is bigger than the Whole30, or maybe it’s because it’s my fourth (?) Whole30. For whatever reason, I just am not that focused on it. That’s not to say I’m not being completely compliant and absolutely feeling the benefits. It just doesn’t feel like that big of a deal. I eat something that makes me healthier when I feel hungry. It’s that simple. I can do that for thirty days. But maybe I should pretend it’s harder for me than it really is this time around so I can pick a Whole30 reward.

I really don’t mean to trivialize taking on a Whole30. It is a big undertaking and I applaud anyone’s efforts to do so. The other Whole30s I’ve done have felt much more intense, for lack of a better word. I don’t know why this one isn’t the same, but I’m grateful. If it felt more trying than it does, maybe I wouldn’t be able to continue given what else is on my plate. I’m actually finding that it feels like something has been taken off my plate during this crazy month rather than the other way around. My food choices are very black and white, one less thing to deal with three times a day. This is just my experience of this specific Whole30. Whatever your experience is is totally legitimate and real as well.