menu plan monday: gf/paleo freezer cooking

Monday

I don’t have a meal plan for this week. We’ve got dinner at a friend’s tonight and then the kids and I will be visiting Grandma, Grandpa and the cousins for the whole weekend.

Instead, I’m sharing the gluten-free and paleo friendly menu plan I put together and prepped last week using Once a Month Meals. I wrote last week about how this site and it’s tools have saved my brain in a season that’s a little crazier than normal. That’s not an overstatement at all.

I was able to prep twelve dinners for four (two of each) and several lunches in single servings, plus four side dishes we’ll be able to eat twice. And because I have the Pro Membership, I was able to swap some meals out for ones I know my family will love and still print out the shopping list, prep plan, cooking day plan and everything else customized exactly how I needed it.

Total cost: about $220, but that included some breakfast items and snacks and special requests from the kids.

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Here are the dinners I made:

  • Paleo Crockpot Meatballs – we’ll be serving with gluten free pasta or spaghetti squash and a salad for a dinner that’s less than 15 minutes hands on.
  • Artichoke Chicken Thighs – throw it all in a baking sheet and add an easy veggies. Sweet.
  • Bacon Wrapped Coconut Chicken Nuggets – confession: I left out the coconut. My people will like it better that way.
  • Spiced Chicken, Kale and Roasted Squash – 10 minutes or so hands on. We had this for dinner Friday night and it was amazing. Next time, I’ll double the squash
  • Spicy Beef and Broccoli – I’ll serve this with white rice cooked with bone broth.
  • Pulled Pork Shoulder Roast – I totally botched this recipe and turned it into bbq pulled pork. Just throw the roast in the slow cooker with salt, pepper, garlic, a diced onion and several tablespoons of apple cider vinegar and cook for about 8 hours. We pulled the pork, added a a paleo friendly bbq sauce. Serve it on slider rolls or on top of shredded cabbage to keep it paleo.

Lunches:

  • Chicken and Zucchini Poppers – I made these into mini patties to ensure they cooked all the way through. A minute in the microwave or in a frying pan to reheat and they’re to throw on a salad or in a lettuce wrap. Next time, I’ll add more seasoning – maybe some pepper sauce or vaudovon or chili paste.
  • Curried Coconut Cauliflower Soup – really good, especially make with bone broth, but also something I will play with the spices with when I make it again. And I will make it again!

Side Dishes:

  • Garlic and Bacon Green Beans – because all veggies are better when roasted with bacon. I used frozen organic green beans instead of fresh.
  • Maple Bacon Acorn Squash – this is sooo good. So good. Perfect with a roast.
  • Roasted Butternut Squash with Rosemary and Balsamic – can’t wait to pair this with some steaks
  • Smashed Loaded Red Potatoes – another recipe I sort of flopped because I wasn’t paying attention. I mashed the potoates, added raw shredded cheese, organic cream, scallions, mashed it all together and froze in an 8×8 baking pan. It’s not paleo, but it’s wholefoods and the family is very excited about it.

 

Shared at Org Junkie’s Menu Plan Monday and the Real Food Roundup with Musings of  a Housewife and Sassy Moms in the City.

swappable-300x250-logoDisclosure: I am an affiliate of Once A Month Meals and will receive a commission if you sign up through my link. I would have not become an affiliate without 100% belief that this service is worth every penny of the fee and more in making wholesome, healthy dinners easy and doable for everyone.

 

21 day sugar detox: halfway

21 DSD

I spent about an hour yesterday typing up a lovely post about the 21 Day Sugar Detox and my experiences so far on it.

And then WordPress ate not only the post, but all of the saved drafts.

Let’s try it again.

I knew – after a Thanksgiving weekend that left me looking like I was in my third trimester of pregnancy and my failed attempt at “clean eating”. I did do a mini Whole30 in November, but it wasn’t enough.

I remembered the 21 Day Sugar Detox ebook I’ve had sitting on my computer for probably a year and a half now.

I pulled it up, read it through and decided to go for it.

I’m so glad I did.

I’ve done three Whole30’s. It’s an incredible program that serves it’s purpose so very well. If you’re looking for something to really shake you up and help you figure out food sensitivies, it’s absolutely 100% the way to go.

But here’s why I’m really liking the 21 DSD so far:

  • There are different levels.
    A newbie to eating well? Level 1 is the least restrictive and a good starting point. Already solid with your nutrition but need a jump start or detox? Level 3. Somewhere in between? Level 2. And you can easily repeat the 21 days, moving up a level each time or as you’re ready.
    And that all makes it much less intimidating than many of the paleo/anti-inflammatory ways of eating.
  • It’s a little less restrictive. 
    Sort of.
    At level 3, there’s no grains, no sugar, no dairy and no fruits other than green apples or green tipped bananas. That’s tough, but unlike the Whole30, I can bake or cook anything I want within the parameters of the challenge.
    For me, that’s a big deal.
    We had a big holiday gathering this past weekend and I was able to enjoy macaroons sweetened with green apples. It felt like a treat and that I wasn’t miss out. That’s important.
    21 DSD 2
    And while my meals are generally pretty simple, I can make 21 DSD pancakes if I want them.
    Usually around this time on a Whole30, I’m bored with food in general. On the 21 DSD, that hasn’t been the case at all.
  • It’s less guilt and more grace.
    I slipped up a little last weekend. I had some whole cream in my coffee and sushi at a family luncheon.
    Both times, my body let me know rather quickly that it had been a bad idea.
    But I didn’t feel like I had to start over or that I had ruined everything. I just moved on and was happy to see that beyond the immediate stomach issues, I had no crazy carb cravings like I normally would.
  • It’s enjoyable.
    Again, I know the Whole30 has a specific purpose and it serves it well.
    But it sort of turns into an exercise in self-flagellation for me. By day 10, I’m counting down to the end in spite of good I feel and my life has become food focused. By day 15, I’m planning what my first non-Whole30 meal will be. By day 25, it’s a contest of wills with myself and all I can think about is what I’m going to eat next and how long until I can eat what I want.
    And I struggle immensely afterward to turn the way I know I need to eat into something sustainable.
    Right now…this…it’s sustainable. I’m not dreading food, but I’m also not consumed by it. Emotionally, it’s a much better place to be. Because it allows for more freedom in the kitchen (though I do miss fruit and would probably find it more difficult in summer when peaches and apricots abound), I can already see how it will be more sustainable in the long run.

How do I know this 21 Day Sugar Detox is doing what it’s supposed to? I’ve made three big batches of sugar cookies in the past few days for different events, and I haven’t been tempted in the least. That’s impressive.

And – for me – unheard of!

My 21 days ends just before Christmas. I’m going to give myself a little extra grace as we travel and celebrate time with family, but I’m planning to start another one on January second (there’s also going to be a big group through the official Facebook page starting on the sixth…I think).  I’d like to lose about 10 more pounds from where I am now and I think the rest of this one plus another round will get me there.

After that, there are a few modifications I’ll make for the long term. More fruit variety will be the first thing I do (though I don’t miss it nearly as much as I thought I would), and a bit of unrefined sugars like raw honey, pure maple syrup and palm sugar for baking.

Want to join me in January? There’s a new 21 Day Sugar Detox book in print, along with a companion cookbook. I haven’t gotten my hands on either yet, but they’re on my Christmas list and I know anything by Diane Sanfilippo is top notch.

Paleo Basics: Where to Begin

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I get asked quite a bit where to begin with paleo.

It can be hard to figure out where to start sometimes.

There’s so much information out there, a ton of books, so many different blogs and articles, and a lot of controversy. I also believe paleo to be a highly personalized form of eating, and that can take a little work to figure out.

I try to keep it to the basics.

Paleo Diet Infograph.
source unknown

The yes foods:
Good protein. Lots of vegetable. Some fruits. The right fats, and a fair amount of them. A little bit of nuts. And for me, health boosting ancestral probiotic foods like kombucha and sauerkraut.

The no foods:
Little to no dairy (and whole fat and at least organic on what I do eat. No funky oils (vegetable oils). No legumes. No grains. No refined sugar.

The best places to go for general information and recipes?

There are a lot of places out there, but for the two years that I’ve followed a paleo diet, these have consistently been the best and most trust-worth. Most of those authors have books available also and they’re all solid.

If you’re just starting out, I cannot recommend doing a Whole30 highly enough, and be sure to include the reintroduction phase the first time. A completed Whole30 gives you a perfect platform to begin to experiment from and learn what your personal version of paleo is.

When you’re starting out, it’s important to stay consistent. It takes at least two weeks to clear the gluten from your body if you’ve been eating it. And even though paleo doesn’t have to be low carb, it’s most likely going to be lower than pretty much any style of diet you’ve been eating except for maybe Atkins or South Beach. There’s a transition that your body goes through from being a carb burner to a fat burner, and it can lead to some headaches, exhaustion and crankiness that you just have to get through.

After that don’t hold yourself to a standard of perfection (unless you’re doing that Whole30). You’re going to mess up and burn yourself out. It’s okay, as long as you learn from it and move on. I shoot for the 80/20% paradigm – if I’m solid 80% of the time, I can do some paleo baked goods or other “treat” foods 20% of the time.

One more tip when you’re making the change to paleo: plan it out. Plan your meals, plan your snacks, plan your groceries and plan to have something on hand like coconut butter if you’re having cravings.  There’s a reason they say failure to plan is the same as planning to fail! I’ve written a lot about planning in the past, and here are a few of my favorites. They’re mostly written about the Whole30, but they work for just about any dietary changes:

And if you’re looking for recipes or meal plans:

Any questions? Any other resources you think are great for beginners?