I think there is a misconception that people who eat a Paleo/Primal type diet are basically carnivores and eat the occasional vegetable... the truth is that is a myth. The bulk of my diet is produce when you look at my plates (as I'm sure you have seen on Instagram for my lunches at least- @reallifewithheather).
This week's produce haul for instance had:
And my weekend is eating out for Friday's dinner as well as Saturday's lunch and dinner and Sunday's lunch as I will be at a conference this weekend! If it wasn't there would be even MORE produce on this list. Thankfully the conference is nearby so I can eat breakfasts at home but since it is at a hotel I didn't think bringing my own food would be appropriate other than snacks (as I'm sure it will be mostly pastries and cookies on offer then and there is no way to make that work in the paleo framework.) Main meals I can usually find something on the menu that is a decent option at the hotel's restaurant or wherever we are going as a group for the meal.
I also keep some Spirulina and Chlorella in the pantry (algae) along with shirataki "noodles" and sometimes veggie chips of various types if I'm feeling in the mood for a crunchy snack and they are on sale. You'll often also see cucumbers, celery (I can't actually chop this as the scent gives me a migraine- random I know- so it's mostly just for bone broth/stock use), zucchini, squash, pumpkin (I have some puree in the pantry and some sweet potato puree frozen in the freezer), radishes, red potatoes, the occasional avocado (not my favorite, yet!), peppers, various lettuces/salad greens, spinach, an assortment of mushroom varieties, and more on my shopping list... it just depends on what I planned meal wise for the week and what looks great at the market.
Of course, we don't just eat produce... there is meat, nuts, oils/fats, and etc. This week I have:
If I was eating at home this weekend I would have about 1 lb more of meat most likely along with a lot more veggies. When eating out there is typically more a focus on the meat that the veggies as many options are offered that way (steak, chicken, pork chop, burger, etc. with x sides is how they are presented and veggies aren't plentiful on the plate as I'd prefer) but I try to get a good portion of veggies when available.
That's this week, things vary from week to week but when I plan meals I have one line for meat on each meal and 2-3 for veggies/fruit (and they aren't small 1/4-1/3 C portions for each veggie side either) so that should say something about how I eat. No two 'paleo'/'primal' eating plans are the same of course- I eat low carb and higher fat for instance so you will see a lot more fat rich foods on my meal plans and less starchy veggies but most of the people that I know buy their veggies (and fruit) plentifully and widely varied, many seasonally
Crock Pot Shredded ChickenRead Now
Shredded chicken is incredibly versatile. You can toss it in a variety of sauces for instant wrap filling, burritos, spreads, and more... or just eat it plain on a bed of salad greens with a drizzle of your favorite vinaigrette for a quick and healthful salad. I prefer to make my shredded chicken in bulk when I find a good sale and freeze it up in batches for later use. It's simple, quick, and saves time when preparing last minute meals or bulk cooking chicken meals in later weeks.
1. Place chicken in crock pot.
4. Allow the chicken to cool for a few minutes before attempting to shred. If you are using the two forks to shred the chicken I suggest that you allow it to cook quite a bit as I have been burned quite a few times trying to rush to get it shredded and off my to-do list... its not worth it.
5. Shred the chicken. My suggestion is to use the electric mixer to shred the chicken by simple putting the mixer in the bowl with the chicken and 'mixing' like you would cake batter. The chicken shreds very quickly with this method and you avoid burned fingers. :)
6. Allow the chicken to cool completely before freezing it into portions appropriate to your family's needs to avoid ice crystals forming in the containers and on the chicken itself.
Crock Pot Salsa ChickenRead Now
This recipe is what I call a 'dump' recipe. You literally dump all the ingredients into the crock pot and walk away. It can't get much easier than that. Use this shredded chicken as a topper for a baked potato, a stuffing for enchiladas or tacos, over rice, as a nacho topping, or just by itself as a protein main. Whatever suits you fancy. :)
Once again we look at chicken. This easy recipe has about 5 minutes of hands on time and is ready before I've finished my evening 'chores' making it a go-to meal when I was married. I've had it on salads, as a protein main with steamed or sauteed veggies, and sliced cold in a wrap... it was pretty tasty any way I tried it. Feel free to mix it up and try this with other spice combinations, the recipe listed below uses Taco Seasoning mix but there are other options. See the "Mix It Up" note at the bottom for two alternate versions that I have already tried out myself.
2 lbs Chicken
Enough taco seasoning to coat the chicken (1/4 C or 1-2 packets of clean taco seasoning or this)
Large bag or deep bowl for coating chicken
MIX IT UP: You can do this with a Tbsp of almond meal and Italian seasoning as well. Just add a little melted butter or ghee drizzled over the top for a delicious pairing with zucchini pasta or other Italian inspired meal!
Want a Cajun version of this? Just sub the taco seasoning for cajun spice mix and you've got the beginnings of one of the tastiest ceasar salads I have ever had. Yumm!
The possibilities are endless! :)
Fajita ChickenRead Now
Fajita chicken is a staple at my house. I use it in fajitas, tacos, on salads, as a protein main with other veggies such as green beans or squash and zucchini... you could even top a potato with it and other 'fajita' toppings for a tasty meal higher in carbohydrates. It's pretty versatile. Quick and simple, just like I like it!
NOTE: If you have a George Foreman grill or similar you can simply season the meat and put it on the grill for a fast salad topper. It is lower in fat this way and not quite as tasty in my opinion but very fast and easy. I do not have a grill at the moment, of any type, so am working on fajita meat on the stove top. This one is just a seasoned meat rather than a marinade but I am working on a marinaded fajita chicken as well.
Easy Roasted Chicken- 2 WaysRead Now
Sorry I've been MIA guys... it has been a little bit crazy in my personal life this past week with a new doctor, an MRI, grad school starting up again and some other personal issues so I wasn't able to get a lot of blogging work completed unfortunately. Never fear, I am not gone from the net-verse! I have a list of posts that I am working on currently including a review of one of my favorite running apps (I can't run but I love it for my walks!) plus I ordered the backpack that I was talking about in my previous post. It should get here this week so that review will be upcoming as well- I'm so excited! Then it's a couple of recipes and a post about how I organize my household chores for quick completion throughout the week. I completely re-did my chart to show you guys how I came up with my personal plan from start to finish so that you can design your own that works for your family! For today though I am talking about two recipes for roasted chicken that are very simple to make. Read more below.
This week I decided to stick with chicken as my main protein as it was on sale and I've had some big expenses lately. I picked up some chicken thighs and drumsticks for a good price and headed home to see what I would come up with once I got in the kitchen. Unfortunately by the time I got home I wasn't feeling very well at all as I had had an MRI earlier in the day and the contrast dye really doesn't get out of system as fast as the doctors say it should- possibly due to the MTHFR but its an unknown and doesn't really matter in the end. The dye makes me sick to my stomach and causes my POTS to act up... I had to wait a while after the MRI before I could leave as I was pretty dizzy actually. So I went with as little time as possible on my feet in the kitchen and had some cuddles with my pups. Here they are... I love my love-bugs! The one on the left is Roxanne or Roxy and on the right is my Isabel or Izzy. They are both 4 years old turning 5 in January and February of 2016. Roxy just had quite the health scare if you recall- she almost died! She is doing so much better now though, happy as a clam and hyper as all get out. Isabel is a bit more mellow but is crazy about her ball and will bug you for hours on end to throw it again and again... do not forget to pack it if we go visit somewhere or there will be craziness. It's basically her binky... and the only toy she cannot destroy in less than a minute (tennis ball to gravel in 60 seconds people, for serious). I will likely review the toy maker at some point since I have quite a few of their toys if anyone is interested.
For the chicken thighs I drizzled a little ghee and 2 cloves of rough chopped garlic (you could use melted butter if you prefer), did a quick massage to get everything coated well then sprinkled on some sea salt and fresh cracked black pepper and popped it in the oven. If you want it with a little kick add some paprika... yumm!
For the drumsticks I went with a citrus taste. I simply squeezed two lemons and a lime on top of the drumsticks and added the same salt and pepper as on the thighs. There are so many options for this with marinades including zest, spices and etc that I will be going back and experimenting with this combination again in the future but tonight I just wanted fast but still tasty.
For both of these dishes I set the oven to 300 degrees in order to get a slow roast on the chicken over a couple of hours. Depending on the amount of chicken you have in the oven the cook time could vary but it took about 3 hours for mine to be fully cooked. Make sure to check the internal temperature if you aren't sure if the chicken is fully cooked or not. So far I have enjoyed these dishes as lunches and dinners throughout the week. What other ways do you cook up chicken in your house? :)
Podcast: Balanced BitesRead Now
I wanted to take a few minutes today to tell you about a podcast that I have been listening to lately... and by listening lately I mean that I have listed to all 200 and something episodes on my commutes over the past couple of months. Sooo... I like it. Obviously. If you like learning about health topics but also like talk radio and morning shows then this is the show for you. Diane and Liz are hilarious and don't take themselves too seriously but still offer great advise backed by research on health topics from prenatal care to eczema and everything in between. The show is called Balanced Bites.
On some episodes the two hosts will bring on individuals to interview from the Paleo and/or Real Food community at large. There have been doctors of all kinds, chiropractors, nutritionists, chefs, medical researchers, other scientist, cookbook and other authors, as well as others over the years. The interviews typically consist of a conversation with the interviewee and one of the hosts about the main area they work in followed by listener questions that have been submitted online beforehand. Oftentimes they will also offer a coupon code if they have a business as well which is nice.
The non-interview podcasts have varied in organization over the years but they typically have listener questions, kitchen tips, updates on any books or appearances by the hosts as well as life updates (such as funny goat stories from Liz who has a homestead or Diane's wedding plans), health topic discussions, and right now pregnancy information as Liz just had a baby and is about to launch a new product about fertility 'and beyond'.
They do have sponsors so you will listen to a few adds that they record themselves as well as mini-interviews with sponsors over the 4 years of episodes currently archived but those interviews are typically very interesting and they never stay completely related to the company's products rather the over-arching industry or problem they are trying to help with. Any podcast that has been going on for long will typically have sponsors though so that they can pay for hosting fees and recording equipment. I don't mind listening to a few 10 second ads mixed in with the hour of content that most episodes tend to be to be honest... and they only choose sponsors of products that they actually use themselves which is pretty awesome when you think about it.
Now on to how to find the podcast... search iTunes for "Balanced Bites" or go to one of the hosts' pages where they have links for their blogs, podcasts, and products (books, seminars, etc.).
I regularly laugh out loud listening to these two chat on this free podcast and always learn something new so I give this podcast two thumbs up and suggest you check it out.
Sorry for a short post today everyone, my dog was in the hospital for a day and a half this week so it's been a little hectic around here as you can imagine. Hectic days aren't particularly good for my health so this week has been especially difficult for both of my pups as well as myself. Thankfully she is back home and doing much better now so we can get back to normal around here. Thanks for being understanding.
21 DSD Week 2 Meal PrepRead Now
My meal prep this week took about two hours (see below... I decided to make iced tea and dressing later that day so I added about 20 minutes for those items) but it was a lot more in depth than I normally would do since I usually make breakfasts in the morning and use my crock pot for one of the main entrees. So... keep that in mind if you are planning on making your breakfasts fresh. Honestly, the breakfasts took longer than any of the other meals so I could easily make just the lunches and dinners from this week in a little over an hour or an hour and a half if I needed to double/triple the number of meals prepared to cook for a larger number of people. If two hours doesn't sound like a bad deal to have every meal for the entire week ready to go then you and I are of the same mindset my friend.
For the numbers oriented reader:
I ended up with 15 mains, 7 breakfasts, and enough veggies and salad for myself for the week in under two hours, including salad dressing from scratch. If I was to cook for two it wouldn't take more than 10 minutes longer since doubling a recipe like these doesn't take long. Should I be cooking for a family though I would make an extra main in the crock pot and do the prep on one more that could be in the freezer ready to toss in mid-week... this would, from past experience, take about an additional 20 minutes for 2 extra mains and you would need to re-prep the veggies and breakfasts plus the one crock pot meal mid-week for about another 30-40 minutes total but would garner you: 60 mains, 28 breakfasts and enough salad and chopped fresh veggies for the week for the whole family. This is enough for a family of 4 easily and you are looking at about 3 hours total cook-time for the week... about 8 minutes per meal when you do the math or 2 minutes per serving... not including the chopped veggies which could easily be a snack. If you are making breakfasts fresh then make it 2 hours and 5 minutes per meal or so for the pre-prepared breakfasts plus however long you need for breakfast making in the morning.
Anywho, now that all the numbers game is taken care of lets get down to what I cooked during meal prep. This week I made: Italian Spice Blend (pg. 208) to use in a recipe, Mustard-Glazed Chicken Thighs (pg. 114), Apple Streusel Egg Muffins (pg. 102), and Green Apple Breakfast Sausage (pg. 94). I also did my own version of the No-Miso Soup on page 164 with what I had on hand "Asian Inspired Shrimp and Zucchini Soup." Additionally I prepped an extra-large salad, tons of sliced veggies including zucchini, peppers, carrots and tomatoes... and some sugar free buffalo ranch dressing as well as iced tea. All in all it was a fairly easy meal prep since the recipes were very easy to follow and uncomplicated.
I live in Texas. Texas is famous for a lot of things but BBQ and Tex Mex are the two big food things we are known for. BBQ was an easier fix when I went to a more Paleo/Primal lifestyle as the main part- meat- was still on the 'yes' list. I just had to make my own rubs and sauces without sugar which didn't take too long to work out and I was able to enjoy summer BBQ's without a problem. Tex Mex was another issue altogether. Chips, tortillas, rice, beans... all pretty much out or at least seriously limited. I have a couple different enchilada recipes I worked on for years to perfect that I can no longer eat since I don't eat tortillas any longer. It wasn't ok... I love enchiladas, enchiladas were something I was famous for in my little world. I needed enchiladas in my life. I tried Paleo Wraps and I tried making my own 'tortillas' at home (an epic failure). I tried so many recipes but I still haven't figured out a perfect replacement that holds up with enchiladas... I will keep trying though! This search led me to purchase some of Nikil's Roti at my local farmer's market when I saw them. While they didn't really work out as the perfect enchilada wrapper they were pretty tasty. I enjoyed them heated and used as scoops for dips and curries.
I will purchase these roti again most likely... I just won't use them to make enchiladas. On to new adventures!
21 Day Sugar Detox: Week 1Read Now
Week one went really well... until the weekend. So I'll be adding an extra week to the 3 I planned on doing to even it out. I made the choice so its all on me, no excuses. Anywho, the sugar wasn't particularly difficult for me to cut out but I do miss the flavors... maple syrup would've been really tasty in a smoothie I made for instance and my morning tea with a touch of honey was missed. Other than that there weren't too many issues with the sweets for me... cheese was another issue. I ended up letting last week start at a lower level than I originally wanted so that I could take a week to finish up some of the cheese in my house. I somehow missed that I wasn't allowed to have cheese when I did my shopping for the week (ditzy moment much?) and I really didn't want to push the detox back a week so I moved down a level but stuck to the rules of level 3 for everything other than the cheese. This week the cheese is gone and its time for strict level 3.
Since this was my first week off soda, which I got hooked on during the stressful time of moving cross country with the divorce, I stuck with unsweetened black tea so that I would only have to detox off of one thing at a time. I missed my daily soda, that's for sure, but I think that it was easier to kick on the detox than it was the last time I kicked soda cold turkey soda a few years ago. Soda is super bad for you, as we are all aware, but it is really bad for me with my health issues as the chemicals, artificial dye and sweeteners as well as the caffeine can really cause issues with my system. And yet I did it anyways... I know, I know, not my brightest moment that's for sure. The soda is officially gone and I have moved to green tea this week to lessen the caffeine load on my body. This should help my autonomic system a bit but also my sleep cycle. Luckily, I have tons of tea (I LOVE tea) in my cupboard of all types so I will have a varied tea experience this week even eliminating the highly caffeinated black and red teas in my collection 'o loose leaf teas. Today I am drinking a tea my dad brought back from from China for me the last time he was abroad. It is light and pretty tasty even sans sweeten. A lot of people would add a bit of citrus to their tea in lieu of the sweetener but I've never been a huge citrus+tea fan so I personally have not done so yet. I may in the future though, we'll see.
On to prepping for week 2...
I decided to try out several of the recipes in the book for the next few weeks so that I could truly give a well informed review of the book(s) at the end of the process. This week I made: Italian Spice Blend (pg. 208), Mustard-Glazed Chicken Thighs (pg. 114), Apple Streusel Egg Muffins (pg. 102), CoCo-Monkey Smoothie (pg. 92), and Green Apple Breakfast Sausage (pg. 94). I also did my own version of the No-Miso Soup on page 164 since I didn't have all of the ingredients to make her version in the house (I somehow managed to forget to pick up baby bok choy and green onions at the store... I tell you, my brain these days!). I wrote a post about the soup, which turned out pretty awesome and will be my lunch today along with part of the huge salad I made for the week, titled "Asian Inspired Shrimp and Zucchini Soup." Additionally I prepped an extra-large salad, tons of sliced veggies and some sugar free salad dressing as well as iced tea. I will need to rotate some of the meals out of the freezer mid-week and make an additional batch of iced tea but I'm pretty much done cooking for the week. Hurray! I haven't eaten all of the recipes yet but I'll let you know about the ones that I have eaten already.
Apple Streusel Egg Muffins: Took a bit of getting used to as they smelled like they would be sweet but the certainly are not. Day 2 of eating them for breakfast though I really enjoyed it. I will likely add a touch more cinnamon to my next batch and maybe a bit of sweetener once I am off the 21DSD but I can only see myself learning to like these more over the rest of the week.
CoCo-Monkey Smoothie: I did not like this. I'm not sure why I didn't like it though. It was quite bitter of course so maybe I'll lessen the cocoa powder and make sure to ensure that the banana I use is the correct size? I'll let you know next week if I find a fix but for now this is not a recipe I am a fan of.
Green Apple Breakfast Sausage: This one was pretty tasty. I am not a huge fennel fan apparently but I still enjoyed a patty of this sausage with my egg muffin for breakfast this morning.
Italian Spice Blend: You use this in the breakfast sausage so yes, I have tried it. I'm not a huge fennel fan like I mentioned before but it smells just like what I imagine when I think Italian sausage which is what she was going for so I'll say thumbs up.
I am having the Mustard-Glazed Chicken Thighs for dinner (they smelled pretty awesome coming out of the oven!) so I'll let you know about those next week.
All the recipes this week were from the original 21DSD book but I have purchased the 21DSD Cookbook as well and will be trying recipes from it over the course of the next month or so as well. Links to the books for the 21 Day Sugar Detox, should you be interested, are below: