Tag Archives: paleo

menu monday: super simple whole30 tips

This morning starts day seven of my Whole30. I started last Tuesday and because we were out of town the weekend before I didn’t have much time for prep. I thought I’d share today how I put together a simple plan for a week of Whole30 eats.

Make a plan. Even if you have really limited time to prepare, taking a second to make a plan is key. When I don’t make a plan, I find that I never end up with enough food. Not having enough food on hand is one of the reasons I’ve ended up not completing a Whole30 in the past, or in general picked a less healthy meal option. The plan doesn’t need to be fancy, but getting down what you’re going to eat for each of your 21 meals that week is the only way you’ll have an idea of what you need to have available. Here’s the quick menu I put together in about five minutes while timing friends on an exercise at study group. I’m not sure it can get more simple than this. IMG_6132_edited-1

Eat and repeat. If you don’t like repetition this might be hard, but I don’t mind eating the same foods for my breakfasts and lunches all week. The key here is to make meals you know you like. Don’t try a new recipe for a week’s worth of lunches. Been there, done that, thrown it out, and picked up other food. I only go with favorites if I’m going to be eating one meal all week. Breakfast this week was hard boiled eggs mixed with homemade mayo over baby spinach and topped with sauerkraut. Lunch was chocolate chili over spaghetti squash and a side salad. One of my favorite meals ever. IMG_6122_edited-1

I had one hour to prep food on Sunday night and made the most of it. I got the chili together and simmering then put the squash in the oven to roast. Once those were both going I hard boiled the eggs and made the mayo. Finally, I used my “convenience foods” to put together salads for each day of the week.

Mix protein, fat, and veggies. I didn’t have time on Sunday to prep meals for dinner so I went another easy option, creating super simple meals to make each night. When I need to cook on weeknights, I follow the formula of a quick cooking protein and veggies with a good fat. Greg ended up working late in the office most nights this week and my food went further than expected. Boo for no hubby, yay for less cooking. I made cracklin’ chicken that lasted several evenings and finished off the week with salmon on Friday night (living large here, people). The key to the formula working is making a plan to ensure that you have purchased or defrosted your proteins. Not having anything defrosted makes it very difficult to put together a ten minute meal.

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This salmon dish took less than 15 minutes. I melted ghee in one pan, tossed the salmon with Old Bay seasoning, and pan seared it until done. At the same time I had bacon fat in another pan and let cherry tomatoes cook down (I recently read about this but can’t remember where). Once the tomatoes were done I sautéed spinach for a minute or two with a shake or two of sea salt. Dinner.

Buy convenience food. Typically when I’m going to do a Whole30 I have a lot more prep time and make more than normal from scratch. Since that wasn’t the case last week I needed to rely more on prepared and convenient foods. I like to think of this as my own version of don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good (commonly attributed to Voltaire). Sure, homemade everything is best, but you know what’s a lot better than eating pizza for lunch? Eating salad dressing on my salad that someone else made out of good, clean ingredients. Be practical and be realistic with yourself.

For my lunch salads I purchased pre-washed lettuce, cherry tomatoes, sliced mushrooms, cooked beets (I did have to chop these), and my favorite Tessemae’s dressing. I also picked up ghee, which I’ve only ever made in the past. Butter is off limits, but ghee (butter in which all milk proteins have been removed to make a pure fat) is okay. Knowing I would need options for sautéing, I picked it up and moved on. I also bought a package of prosciutto, bananas, and the no-sugar added version of Sunbutter for snacks.

This coming week we’re trying something new with PreMade Paleo. Painters will be in our home all week, turning our walls into one, neutral color (you don’t even understand how excited I am). I have five days worth of meals being delivered on Monday because I don’t know how much access we’ll have to the kitchen during the week and I’m not willing to compromise on these thirty days. I will report back next week on how we feel about the service.

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I’ve been taking a few minutes to jot down my thoughts every night, mostly out of my own curiosity to understand what I get out of the experience. If you’re curious on the musings of someone on a Whole30, here you go. Everyone’s experience is different, but the Whole30 creators put together a general timeline as well that I find to be pretty accurate. 

Day 1 Sleep deprived and had to get up earlier than normal for our 6:30am ultrasound. Glad I had the guidelines or I would have snacked all day because that’s what I do when I’m tired. Planned for big enough meals I didn’t get too snacky. Did have a banana with sun butter in the afternoon. Going to try to get 8+ hours tonight. Fingers crossed.

Day 2 I woke up wanting donuts, which is funny because donuts are not a go to vice of mine. Though maple bars are delicious. Mmm, maple bars. I digress. Fall tea (my favorite: Tazo Baked Cinnamon Apple) with a splash of apple cider vinegar is the perfect evening treat. I’m hoping a little ACV in the morning and evening will help with my heart burn. Slept okay last night, better than lately but still running very behind and need to catch up. Eating the same meals over and over actually reduces stress on busy weeks. I don’t have to think about it, I just eat what’s in the fridge when I’m hungry and move on.

Day 3 I slept last night! So happy. Woke up once with a terrible leg cramp (pregnancy fun?) but immediately went back to sleep. It’s amazing what a different outlook on life I have when I actually get more than a couple hours of fitful sleep. Made it back to prenatal yoga after two weeks off, too. Was much needed. Starving all day and ate a ton of fruit around the office. Hardest thing about doing Whole30 while being pregnant is not knowing when I’m going to have starving days. I guess I just need to prepare more food.

Day 4 I slept poorly last night, waking up at 4am and not really getting back to sleep after that. It’s frustrating, but I also understand I can’t expect 72 hours to fix a few months worth of bad habits. On a positive note, I’m not having any cravings for any off limits food. I’m so happy to be eating home cooked food after weeks of take out that I’m feeling really satisfied (and digestively good) with what I’m making myself. Ready for the weekend and some more sleep!

Day 5 Another crappy night of sleep and a headache that has lasted most of the day. I get why on the timeline these are called the “kill all the things” days. I’m exhausted and grouchy, but at least I know it’s just my body making sense of the changes. And I know WAY better days are just around the corner. So I’ll keep sipping my fall flavored tea and studying my notecards. 15 days to go with school, 25 with the whole30. Martian and I have got this covered.

Day 6 I slept so much better last night and feel really good today. Tons of energy. I have only eaten homemade food these six days and there’s such a difference. Wondering if I can go the full thirty days without eating out? Best part of today – finding sugar free bacon and having a $20 off coupon at our local co-op. FREE sugar free bacon.

here we go again. for reals.

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Today I am on day three of a full on Whole30. Not a ten day one between trips. And not one that perhaps includes bacon cured with sugar because I can’t find sugar free. Nope, I’m going whole hog, 30 days. I’m even hoping to not eat out very much (at all if I can pull it off!) to be 100% sure I’m sticking to the rules.

I was having the nagging What is wrong with me?  question as I contemplated another run at this. Why can’t I just do one Whole30 and be super on top of things for the rest of my life? Sure, there’s always the time and place for a treat but why can’t my everyday eating look Whole30-esque most of the time? Then Melissa Hartwig, co-creator of Whole9 and the Whole30, posted an article this week on what she learned during her seventh Whole30. Her first two points made me realize it’s not me, it’s life. And instead of feeling like a loser, I’m being awesome for recognizing I need a change and going back to what I know works for me.

So why am I doing it? I asked myself that pretty seriously as I drove home from Eastern Washington this weekend. The next four weeks are a little nutty. But they are only going to be worse if I continue to not take care of myself. Everyone is different, but for me it really does start with food. When food is on target for me, everything else falls into place. When it’s not, things get messy. I stop making sleep a priority, I don’t exercise, and I definitely spend way more time in front of screens. So while this season is busy, making the effort to eat incredibly clean is only going to help. Below are the specific issues I’m hoping to help improve over the next thirty days.

1. Sleep. I am in the awesome (sarcasm font) cycle of tired but wired. I am exhausted at night then can’t fall asleep. I wake up multiple times and then for good well before I’m actually rested. I can’t fall back asleep but I’m still tired. I’m looking at the last four months of uninterrupted sleep I’m going to have for a long time and I want to make the best of it.

2. Digestive issues. I’ll spare you the details, but will add that for the first time in my life I am having heartburn. While it’s partially due to the alien in my belly, I did have a friend test my HCL point and it is hotter than it’s ever been. Study group pays off.

3. Eczema. I’ve been battling wrist and eyebrow eczema since last fall. I haven’t tied it to a specific food, but it pops up when I’m run down and when we have been traveling. My guess is because both scenarios usually mean a lack of sleep and poor food choices. This past weekend my wrist flared up and it’s both ugly and itchy.

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4. Lethargy. I just don’t feel very energetic right now. I failed miserably at keeping my goal of getting exercise four days a week in September. I don’t want to get up and do anything. The second trimester is supposed to be the golden months of pregnancy and I’m wasting them away.

5. Mama guilt. Did you know that it is possible to have mama guilt even before the little one is born? Between personal interests and my NTP program, I know a lot about nutrition and it’s impacts during pregnancy on mama and baby. With that knowledge comes responsibility and I haven’t been taking mine very seriously lately. I want to go into the second half of my pregnancy with a concerted effort to be the healthiest I can be, both for the martian and for myself. I am unequivocally at my best when I’m feeling good and we all know the ‘fourth trimester’ is going to be rough no matter how it happens. I want to increase our family’s chances of thriving versus simply surviving, and me being at my best (or as close as I can be post birth with a newborn!) is going to be key to that. Getting myself back on track is a thousand times more important to me than setting up the perfect nursery, so this is where my focus is for now. Just to be clear, I have not been out boozing around, just eating more sugar, gluten, and bad fats than I am comfortable feeding myself or the martian.

W9-Manifesto-for-FB-Cover-NEW-660x244I should address weight. No, I am not trying to lose weight. I realize the martian will keep on growing and chances are I will gain weight on this Whole30. That is totally fine with me as my goals are all around improving energy and digestion (and ditching the red bumps from eczema). I don’t typically weigh myself at home, but I did have a midwife appointment on day 1 (coincidentally) and will have another one in the final days of this Whole30. Knowing that what the scales says for this Whole30 is not important, I specifically called out the five items above to have something other than weight to compare at the end of my 30 days.

This Whole30 is going to be very simple by default. There is way too much going on to cook complicated meals. Next week I’ll share how I’m managing to have compliant food ready to go for three meals a day despite a hectic schedule.

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Today is the last day to sign up for the Style Me Fall Challenge at the regular price. The shopping list comes out tomorrow and in perfect timing, Seattle weather has gone from summer to fall almost overnight. 

menu monday: i love the whole30

You guys, I feel amazing. Five days into my mini Whole30 and I am feeling better than I have all summer. My sleep hasn’t improved yet but I usually see that sometime in the second week. I’m also basically a bottomless pit. That happens with every Whole30 and as the days go by I start to right size my meals and cut back on snacks.

I was pretty good at taking pictures during the week but failed most of the weekend. I did stick to 100% Whole30 eating, just no pictures to prove it. whole30days1to5Other meals that I can remember but didn’t capture in a photo: pork spare ribs + easy cabbage slaw; Chipotle salad with carnitas and guac; grilled salmon and peaches; greek salad with chicken (hold the feta) at our local pub.

On to this week. It’s nice to be excited about cooking again. The cooler weather and getting back into a routine with work have really helped.

Breakfasts: chorizo with home fries (yay! potatoes are Whole30 approved now!), greens (mix of spinach and beet greens), and tomato; egg salad. I’ve been eating a ton of eggs lately (nothing wrong with that) and decided to try an eggless breakfast this week for a few days, before I burn out on my favorites.

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Getting my veggies in with breakfast – going to be so good with home fries, chorizo, and salsa verde!

Lunches: tuna salad with cucumber and tomato; pork roast with veggies. WF2 has several variations of the pork roast and I’ll make whichever one sounds good tonight when I throw it in the crockpot.

Dinners: london broil with red pepper sauce; pork chops + veggies; steak + veggies. We’re almost a year into our quarter cow and half pig, so I’m down to all the cuts of meat I’ve been avoiding. I wasn’t excited about the london broil until I came across the red pepper recipe. If the sauce tastes half as creamy and delicious as it sounds, I’m going to be putting it on everything going forward.

Veggies/Sides: tomatillo salsa verde (tried a second recipe just for fun and liked it better than last week’s); pesto (awesome dairy + nut free recipe); mayo; roasted beets; kale; tomatoes; cucumbers; carrots; summer squash. I prepped three weeks of CSA beets today and roasted half of them. The other half is ready to be roasted later in the week (I think cooked veggies taste good for about three days max). And sauces. I know I’m back on my game when I have multiple sauces to choose from all week.

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The red sauce is homemade ketchup that I used for ribs last week. Ribs weren’t so great but the ketchup is.

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Three weeks of beets from our CSA. Don’t forget the tops are edible and tasty!

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A friend generously gave us some of her bounty. That one squash made two pyrex dishes worth of ‘noodles’.

menu monday: back at it

It’s been a while since I’ve done a menu monday post, for no reason other than I haven’t menu planned in a very long time. Over the weekend I made a few goals for the rest of August and one of them is to get back to weekly menu planning. Not menu planning (and traveling, etc.) has lead to really sub-par eating the last month or two. I’m ready to get back to eating what makes me feel good and I know from experience that for me this requires being organized and planning ahead. IMG_5914_edited-1

breakfast: Leftover Southwest Frittata from last week; hard-boiled eggs with mayo and hot sauce. Lately I’ve been adding 1/2 an avocado and a good-sized serving of sauerkraut to my meal.

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Weekend breakfast: diced sweet potato, eggs, avocado, sauerkraut.

lunch: Salmon salad with veggies*; lamb stir-fry with middle eastern seasoning and veggies. I used canned salmon with skin and bones + a little mayo and a ton of chopped veggies to make my “salad”.

dinner: Greek Beef Stew over veggies; slow cooker spare ribs with veg.

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Greek stew over sautéed cabbage.

bonus: My CSA box had tomatillos this week, which I’ve never worked with before. It was fun to try something new (and easy). First I removed husks, cut in half, and broiled them for 4 minutes. Then they were turned into salsa verde and tossed in the crockpot with two pounds of chicken thighs for emergency protein in the freezer (based on this recipe).

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I might never buy salsa verde again – it was so easy to make and tasted amazing.

*I’m still in love with my weekly CSA box and find it easier to not “assign” veggies to each meal and instead pick whatever needs to be used next (or sounds good) to go with the protein de jour.

I’m all about keeping things simple right now and limiting the number of recipes I cook versus meals that can be prepped without a recipe or specific ingredients. I’m also looking for recipes that make a good amount of leftovers to maximize my cooking time. Down the road (i.e. when school is done and it’s not ten million degrees in our house every day), I’m hoping to get back to cooking through Well Fed 2 and having more time in the kitchen. For now though, my goal simply is to start eating better.

menu monday: csa week one

I picked up our first summer CSA box on Thursday evening. I wasn’t loving the home delivery one we had and found a more traditional box. It’s delivered to a home in our neighborhood every Thursday and we get a mix of what’s in season that week. After several months of not having a CSA, I decided to start again for a few reasons.

  • Simplicity: Lately I’ve been making a lot of recipes and it’s getting exhausting. I’m looking forward to a summer of easy meals – grilled meats, quick salads, sautéed greens, fresh fruit, etc.
  • Time Saving: I’m spending a lot of time planning and shopping. I like the idea of picking my box up on Thursday and making do with what we get and what we already have.
  • Money Saving: My grocery bills have been pretty high lately. My goal is to have several weeks this summer where I don’t go to the grocery store at all. We have tons of protein and plenty of fresh veg now. It should be possible.
  • Variety: I tend to buy the same vegetables over and over again at the store, and make the same recipes. I’m looking forward to getting a good mix of local veggies throughout the summer to get out of the rut.

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I love that since this particular CSA only does local food and because we’re in WA we’ll get more vegetables than fruit. I like to view fruit as more of a treat and some of my other boxes have been fruit heavy. This week the box included strawberries and cherries. I have the Martins to thank for my love of cherries; before my first visit to the orchard I had a silly notion that I hated cherries. (For the record, I still think maraschino cherries are disgusting.) We got a good mix of greens (purple kale, lettuce, spicy salad mix, and spinach) and other vegetables (radishes, asparagus, sprouts, sugar snap peas, garlic scrapes, and spring onions).

I still plan on meal planning for the week as it helps me make sure I have enough defrosted and prepped food for the week. My inside freezer was getting really full, so I’m getting off extra easy this week eating a lot of already prepared food*.

Breakfast: Bacon + eggs, Pork Breakfast Skillet*, Salmon Cakes*

Lunch: Egg + Radish Salad, dinner leftovers, Bolognese* with spaghetti squash and spinach

Dinner: Steaks, Carne Asada salads, salmon, pork chops, shrimp

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I don’t typically love radishes, but this salad was a definite winner. Perfect for a summer lunch. To not be wasteful, I lightly sautéed the radish greens and tossed them in the salad as well.

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Super simple summer meal, ready in ten minutes. Greg grilled the steak while I cooked the asparagus and snap peas. The mango salsa was leftover from Friday night (and bought pre-made).

 

 

 

menu monday: new well fed 2 recipes

After a week off from cooking (since we were out of town last weekend) I had quite the cook up this weekend and tried a handful of new Well Fed 2 recipes. I’ve only taste tested a few of them since they are prepped for mid week, everything is delicious as usual.

This Weekend: A few of the usuals: eggs and bacon, take-out Pho… twice. We had Thyme Braised Short Ribs for dinner Sunday with brussels sprouts. Terrible photo, but it was delicious.

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Breakfast: Spicy-Sweet Salmon Cakes (WF2) with mayo. I’m still loving salmon cakes for breakfast and each week I’m trying a new variation. There are nine variations in total in WF2 and so far I’ve tried three.

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Lunch: Tod Mun Chicken Cakes + Cucumber Relish (scroll down post for recipe) + Asian Slaw (WF2).

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Dinners: Leftover short ribs, pork chops and Merguez Sausage (made a double batch with lamb and liver); zucchini soup and cauliflower mash, plus whatever other veggies are left.IMG_8173_edited-1

We had a really lazy weekend but it was quite productive. I’m newly obsessed with Scandal and to feel less guilty I made myself do something productive between each episode. As you can see, Alfred can’t wait to see what Olivia Pope is up to next either.
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menu monday: no menu, but freezer tips!

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We spent our weekend on Oahu (post to come!) so I haven’t meal planned or shopped for this week. I did prepare ahead of time by making extras of several meals over the last two weeks for the freezer. We’ll be good to go for the first few days of the week while I get my act together. In the meanwhile, this seems like a good time to share my tips on freezing foods. So, straight from a cabana in Waikiki, here’s how I make my freezer work for me:

Foods That Freeze Well

  • Breakfast casseroles that are egg based freeze great. I typically bake, slice into single servings, wrap in aluminum foil, and toss in the freezer. (Disclaimer: After recently studying the mineral module for my NTP certification, I’m looking for a new alternative to the aluminum foil solution.) I try to plan ahead and defrost in the fridge, which leads to a much better texture than nuking in the microwave from frozen.
  • Mealballs are so easy to make in bulk and then freeze, it’s a no brainer.
  • Salmon cakes freeze well! This is a recent discovery for me and I’m excited. Since I prefer to eat my salmon cakes room temp, I let them defrost first. If you prefer them warm/hot, you could try heating from frozen.
  • Ground meat is a freezer staple of mine. Often times when I’m making taco meat or another seasoned ground meat, I will double and freeze one pound. It’s an easy way to get a stash of meals going in your freezer without a lot of extra work.
  • Stews and chili taste great post-freeze. I hadn’t thought of this rule of thumb before, but I’m thinking that if you can make it in the crockpot, you can likely freeze it. These meals typically don’t loose their texture once defrosted. I like to reheat on the stovetop as that helps with some of the liquid that seems to accumulate while frozen.
  • Soup is souper (ha!) easy to freeze. I try to always double a batch of soup and freeze half for later. Such an easy vegetable side for dinner and usually has the added bonus of bone broth.
  • Speaking of, bone broth! Keep a freezer stash full and you will never again have to use store bought broth with it’s long list of ingredients.
  • Vegetables are more tricky (for me at least). Grated sweet potato is about all I freeze. Suggestions? Leave ’em in the comments, please!

Crockpot Freezer Meals

I wish I had a long list of ideas for you here. Crockpot ready frozen meals seem awesome in theory and I love the idea of once-a-month cooking. Salsa chicken verde (there are a million recipes out there) is the only idea I’ve had that meets my ingredient requirements and doesn’t turn out mushy. I start by tossing all the ingredients in a freezer bag (make as many freezer bags/meals as you have space to freeze!). The night before I want to cook it, I toss it in the fridge to defrost. You could skip this, but it might be hard to get the food out of the freezer bag if it’s rock solid. Then I toss it in the crockpot to cook. If you have other ideas, I’d love to hear them.

Tips for freezing food

  • Follow safety standards. I’m not an expert here so read up on your own and do what you need to do. I always make sure to let food cool before putting it in the freezer. I buy the freezer safe glass jars and never fill past the indicated max fill line.
  • Label your food. I know you think you will know what it is, but I promise you won’t remember. I use either painters tape or masking tape to write on with a sharpie. Include the item, the date, and the number of servings or amount.
  • Buy smaller glass freeze ware. I find that freezing and defrosting single (I do double as well since there are two of us in the house) portions is the most likely way for me to actually make it through my food stash without wasting. I like knowing I can defrost one or two meals worth of something and not be eating a stew for the next six nights in a row.
  • Freezer friendly mason jars are great as well, I’ve been using them for everything lately (both in the freezer and just as tupperware now that I’ve thrown out almost all of our plastic). I use both the pint and the two pint sizes.
  • Also freeze non-meal food in different quantities so you don’t have to defrost more than you need. I try to have varying amounts of bone broth frozen (ice cube sized, 1 cup, and 2 cup). For shredded sweet potatoes I often do a few 1 cup and a few 2 cup portions.
  • If space is a concern, try freezing soups, stews, chili, and broth in freezer bags, laying them flat. Once frozen they will be nice and flat and you can stack several on top of each other, or “file” them standing upright.

Enjoy your week!