menu plan monday: 02.06.12

Just had to share one of my new favorite breakfast sides or snacks – fresh blueberries, coconut flakes, roasted pecans and a splash of coconut milk. And you know what would make it even yummier? A dash of cinnamon. I use cinnamon on a pretty much daily basis in something – my paleo muffin tops, in my mashed butternut squash and I’m working on a spiced coconut milk drinking chocolate that I’m hoping to share soon.

I love the first menu plan of the month – it’s when I’ve done my big Costco trip, we’ve usually hit the big city for Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods, and I find I’m always up to trying some new recipes.

This week, I’ve got a fridge full of produce – including a flowering broccoli-ish something I need to do a little more research on, a great big bag of baby bok choy, several pounds of mushrooms and three heads of napa cabbage.

I see lots of veggies in our future and some stir-fry’s coming for lunch! And, as usual, everything is gluten-free and paleo friendly.

Here’s our dinner plan:

Monday
Marinated Tri Tip Steaks and Roasted Veggies (mushrooms, asparagus, onions)
Zucchini Alfredo
Still working on perfecting the marinade for the tri-tip and veggies – hoping to share next week!

Tuesday
Creamy Chicken and Tomato Soup
Tossed Greens
Paleo Muffin Tops – but a little more savory

Wednesday
Beef with Broccoli (from the Make It Paleo cookbook)
Cauliflower Rice (using the roasted technique in this recipe, and pulsed a little less in the food pro so it’s more riced and less mashed. I’m finding roasting as opposed to steaming to be the way to go for non-mushy cauliflower rice)

Thursday
Red Curry Glazed Chicken Skewers (from Make It Paleo, but doubling the red curry paste for more flavor)
Grilled Veggies – whatever needs to be eaten most!

Friday
Smothered Pork Chops
Roasted Kabocha Squash
Mixed Greens Salad

Saturday
no idea – probably breakfast for supper? maybe paleo waffles?

Sunday
Paleo Chicken and Vegetable Lo Mein

Shared at Org Junkie’s Menu Plan Monday and the Gluten Free Menu Swap at Celiac Family!.

five for friday: paleo reality bites

Hmmm…not reality bites as in reality bites…more as in a few quick thoughts…

  1. I continue to be excited and amazed by how good I feel when I eat paleo. I’m also surprised that for the first time in my life, I don’t wake up starving.
    Seriously.
    I’ve always woken up with my stomach growing and have had to eat first thing. Now, I wake up and can take care of getting the kids off to school before enjoying a more leisurely breakfast.
    Stable blood sugar is a good thing, friends.
  2. I added up a guesstimate of all of the money I’ve spent over the years on Weight Watchers, online programs, diet books, even shots…and it was scary. All along, all  I ever needed more fat, more protein, more vegetables, along with less sugar, no grains, no processed. Real food.
    Good to know.
    And I’ll keep doing all I can to spread the word: you can lose weight and get healthy without counting calories or points, and while eating real food that tastes good.
    Even bacon.
  3. I only lost about 3 pounds in January, putting me back at where I was at the end of my Whole 30 (I dove head-first into some not-great holiday eating - trust me, a few pounds gained was nothing compared to how terrible I felt). Kind of disappointing, but I added up the inches I’ve lost in the past two years yesterday.
    48.5.
    In two years, I’ve lost 48.5 inches when I add up the 8 spots I measure.
    Holy cats.
    Nearly 10 inches from my waist alone. And about a third of that has been since I went paleo in September.
    I felt a lot better about that 3 pounds.
  4. I stopped my second Whole30 on about day 8 while I was watching my son make his lunch for school: cheese, saltines and an orange. I had a bit of a bit of a lightbulb moment that I need to work on what the rest of the family is eating, and it’s easier to do that if my eating is a little bit looser than what a Whole30 allows. I’m sure I’ll do another one (maybe summer?) but until then, there’s more important work for me to focus on.
  5. I’m doing Clean Eats in the Zoo’s 30 Day At-Home Cross Fit Challenge, in addition to a couch to 5 k trainer right now. For the first 3 or 4 months of eating paleo, I didn’t exercise.
    At all.
    I started back to the gym last month, and was just miserable there. I’m finding I really want to be outside and am surprised again by how much I like running. And how much I like strength training, especially my kettlebell workouts.

And a few quick goals for February – and hey, what do you know! They fit in with my 2012 goals too:

  • another 3 or 4 pounds and another 2 inches down would be awesome. 5 pounds would be even more awesome, but I know I’m building muscle with these workouts
  • 25 workouts – split between the challenge, running and the kettlebell
  • keep up with my daily devotional and prayer time

What are your Febrary goals?

paleo muffin tops

We love these.

We really love these.

Which is why I’ve only gotten an Instagram shot to share – they’ve been getting eaten too quickly to get the camera out for a proper picture.

I saw this recipe from The Foodie and the Family run through Facebook earlier this week and knew I had to try them. I’ve been searching for something other than scrambled eggs for the occasional breakfast for me, as well as better choices for the kiddos and these looked perfect – high protein, good fat, even portable if they need to be. I still haven’t had a chance to throw any in the freezer, but I think they should freeze okay.

As much as I liked the original version, I wanted to make a few adjustments – more spices, a few mix-ins and a little bit more liquid to make them just a bit more…muffiny.

I love recipes that are so easy to adapt to our personal tastes. I want to try taking a little bit more of the maple syrup out – I think with the additions of dried or fresh fruit, the batter could probably handle less sweet. And the mix-ins listed are just the ones I’ve tried so far. I think the options are pretty limitless. I’m hoping to try blueberries and almonds soon, and can’t wait to do a peach ginger variation in the summer. I’ll update this post as I try new ones.

Maybe I’ll even get a decent picture at some point!

Here’s how we do them at our house:

Paleo Muffin Tops
makes 16-20 muffin tops, depending on size

Prep: 5 – 10 minutes
Bake: 12-15 minutes, again depending on size

3 cups almond meal (unblanched works just fine)
2 tablespoons coconut flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
2.5 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
1/4 cup maple syrup
4 eggs
2 tablespoon coconut milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Mix-ins:
1/2 c unsweetened dried cranberries
1/2 c chopped macadamia nuts
or
1 small apple, peeled and diced
1/2 c chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a mixing bowl, combine all dry ingredients.

In another bowl, whisk together all wet ingredients.

Add wet to dry and stir to combine.

Stir in your choice of mix-ins.

Scoop onto the baking sheets.
I really like a cookie scoop (like an ice cream scoop) for this. It keeps the size consistent for easier baking.

Bake in the pre-heated oven for 12-15 minutes, until they turn slightly golden brown and are no longer mushy to the touch.

Cool for a few minutes before removing from the baking sheet.

Enjoy!

Linked to:

menu plan monday: 01.15.12

Lots of meals pushed from last week to this week and another recipe I want to try again and adjust seasonings on. I honestly can’t figure out what happened to last week’s meal plan – I don’t always follow it perfectly, but we actually only ate one of the meals on it and we didn’t eat out more than planned. It’s a mystery…

For the gluten-free menu swap, I’m sharing a smoothie I’m looking forward to trying. I’m trying to stay away from too much fruit while I’m on my Whole30…but as soon as I’m done I’m making this blueberry coconut one from Paleo Parents.

This week’s menu plan:

Monday
Chipotle Beef Chili
Savory Almond Muffins

Tuesday
Quick and Easy Crock Pot Brisket
Roasted Broccoli

Wednesday
Pineapple Glazed Chicken Skewers (Make It Paleo)
Chipotle Lime Roasted Delicata Squash

Thursday
Southwestern Flank Steak
Guacamole (mashed avocado, diced onion, lime juice, salt, pepper, a bit of garlic, maybe some tomatoes – super easy!)
Baby Mixed Greens

Friday
Red Curry Glazed Chicken Skewers (from Make It Paleo, but double the red curry paste)
Cauliflower Rice

Saturday
Grilled Chicken
Paleo Zucchini Alfredo-ish (dairy free, grain free and super yummy! recipe coming to the blog tomorrow – my absolute new favorite…we ate it two days in a row this past week)

Sunday
Chicken, Leek and Mushroom Soup (sooo good! made it as directed the first time, but this time I’ll replace the cream with coconut milk)

Shared at Org Junkie’s Menu Plan Monday and the Gluten Free Menu Swap at Celiac Family.

five things friday: getting started with paleo

I’ve gotten quite a few questions over the past few months about what it means to follow a primal diet, and even more about how to get started.

The best description? That little black box up there. I did my version here, but I’ve been reading pretty extensively for the past few months. It’s up to you to decide whether you’re going to transition slowly or jump in feet first, but here are five of my favorite resources for getting started:

  1. Paleo Diet Lifestyle – simple, concise articles. Love their Paleo 101 - I think it was the first thing I stumbled on when I started searching. And while we don’t follow a strict paleo diet with all pastured meats and organic produce due to budget constraints, it was a huge help in getting me pointed in the right direction.
  2. Robb Wolf – his was the book I read that made it all click, and he continually puts out so much info it makes my head hurt. I think you could easily go paleo just off his FAQ’s page alone – love the shopping list, the quick start guide and the meal matrix.
  3. Balanced Bites – her FAQ’s page and her helpful Useful Guides are beyond compare. When I have a nutrition question and need the best (aka: easiest for me to understand) answer, this is one of the first places I look.
  4. Paleo Parents - I’ve mentioned before that Stacy’s before and after was the final push to convince me to go paleo, but what I really love is their family focused approach to paleo. They have so many great tips about how to make paleo eating a family way of life.
  5. The Food Lover’s Primal Palate – authors of my favorite cookbook ever, I love this blog. Love the recipes and I especially love this basic as basic can be What Is the Paleo Diet? from their book.

Whole30, Day 1: take….

ummm…

well….

today is the 12th?

Let’s make that take 12.

I wish I were joking.

I’m pretty sure the beginning of January was even more diet-bomb ridden than December – two birthdays (celebrated over 3 days), a New Year’s day gathering, eating out lots, an ear infection for me, a day trip to Monterey and another to Sonora, and the kids don’t go back to school until next Tuesday.

It was ridiculous.

And while I didn’t really do *that* bad (we won’t talk about that donut I ate yesterday)…and I could probably make the case that I didn’t stray *too far* from paleo (again, pay no attention to that donut I ate yesterday)…it wasn’t Whole30.

And my goal for this Whole30 – from the start – has been perfection.

Today, we’re finally through the birthdays…we’re through the having to eat out and the fun stuff…we’re finally through the holiday hustle and bustle and can find our way back to our everyday normals.

Today is Day 1.

I have a couple of specific goals for this Whole30:

  • 30 days of perfection
  • at least 20 days in the gym (the last one, I didn’t work out at all – in fact, I haven’t worked out since the beginning of October. this morning at the gym? painful.)
  • evening walks 2 or 3 times a week (looking toward a 5k goal in the fall

My measurements are done, I weighed and I’m putting the scale away until at least February 12th.

ready. set. go.

menu plan monday: 01.09.12

Long time, no plan!

With the holidays and an extra long Christmas break, we’ve been eating out more than usual (never good) and I’ve been doing a lot of day to day planning (also never good). We’ve still got one more week of vacation, but meal planning is back in progress.

I’ll probably add in some salads with most of these meals – I’m craving mixed greens right now. Lunches tend to be leftovers. I’m starting to feel a bit desperate for new grain and dairy free breakfast ideas…eggs are starting to get a bit old. Any ideas?

Monday
Red Curry Glazed Chicken Skewers (from Make It Paleo)
Cauliflower Rice

Tuesday
Hanna’s birthday – dinner out with her friends

Wednesday
Quick and Easy Crock Pot Brisket
Roasted Broccoli

Thursday
Southwestern Flank Steak
Guacamole (mashed avocado, diced onion, lime juice, salt, pepper, a bit of garlic, maybe some tomatoes - super easy!)
Baby Mixed Greens

Friday
Pineapple Glazed Chicken Skewers (Make It Paleo, again)
Sauteed Kale with Bacon

Saturday
Bacon, Red Pepper and Onion Frittata
Elana’s Pantry Pancakes (replacing the agave with half the amount of maple syrup and cooking in coconut oil instead of grapeseed oil)

Sunday
Chicken, Leek and Mushroom Soup (sooo good! made it as directed the first time, but this time I’ll replace the cream with coconut milk)

A few new recipes and a few old favorites – my favorite sort of week.

menu plan monday: it’s Christmas!

I  have one goal for this week’s meals:

easy!

We’re still in school until the 22nd (seriously nuts). Tom’s heading to San Francisco on Tuesday for a check-in with his cardiologist. We’re heading to Grandma’s house Thursday to celebrate with his side of the family and it’s just going to get crazier after that. I’m thinking soups, crock pot and maybe even soups mader earlier in the day staying warm in the crock pot. Anything to bring a little sanity to this week.

Also, this week’s plan isn’t strictly paleo – more primal. I’ll probably end up adapting the mushroom soup to be dairy free, but this cold, foggy weather has me craving broccoli cheese soup.

Here’s my plan:

Monday
Chicken, Leek and Mushroom Soup (just discovered this blog – stunning and yummy all at the same time! If I can’t find organic cream – always a possibility in my small town – I’ll use coconut milk instead. either way, I’ll halve the amount called for)
Savory Almond Flour Muffins (love these!)

Tuesday
Roast, Sweet Potatoes, Carrots, Onions and Mushrooms in the crockpot

Wednesday
Roasted Broccoli Cheddar Soup (same on the cream and I’ll probably halve the cheese as well)
Herbed Almond Crackers (if I get crazy)

Thursday
Christmas Dinner out with family

Friday
No idea. I’ll be helping get ready for Christmas Eve at my grandparent’s, so I’m thinking fast and easy like brinner or tomato soup.

Saturday
Christmas Eve – my grandmother assigned me a vegetable. I’m thinking roasted carrots since they’re easy and will be quick to reheat after church.

Sunday
Breakfast:  Paleo Monkey Bread, Scrambled Eggs and Bacon
Dinner: Prime Rib at my parent’s – I’m bringing roasted cauliflower and I think the carrot cake from Make It Paleo.

Have a great holiday week and a very Merry Christmas!

Oh, and if you have any favorite soup recipes – especially if they’re paleo or primal friendly – please share =)

menu plan monday: 12.12.11

Better late than never, right?

I’ve got a lot of new recipes this week – I discovered Health-Bent last week, and just happened to have lots of the needed ingredients for several of their recipes in the freezer. I’m struggling with some serious lack of wanting to cook anything at the moment, and new recipes usually get me excited again.

And I’m kind of bummed I don’t have anything planned with citrus on the menu for this week’s Gluten Free Menu Swap, but I do keep a great big bowl on the kitchen table during this time of the season. My mother-in-law grows amazing mandarin oranges and I’m anxious for my grandfather to decide it’s been cold enough for his navel oranges to taste good. I’m also looking forward to experimenting with some citrus vinaigrettes for my salads.

Here’s this week’s paleo-ish dinner plan:

Monday
Primal Philly Cheesesteak in a Bowl (lighter on the cheese)
Tossed Salad

Tuesday
Smothered Pork Chops
Mashed Potatoes
Roasted Purple Cauliflower (olive oil, salt and pepper in a 400 degree oven for about 20 minutes)

Wednesday
Seriously Tasty Meatloaf
Roasted Sweet Potatoes
Sauteed Kale (probably with a little bacon and some beef stock)

Thursday
Balsamic and Rosemary Chicken (from the Make It Paleo cookbook)
Roasted Baby Carrots (also from Make It Paleo)
Roasted Broccoli (same as the cauliflower)

Friday
out of town for the evening to see Christmas lights – not sure what we’re eating yet

Saturday
Grandy Ky’s Chicken Soup (yep, Make It Paleo strikes again!)

Sunday
Paleo Chipotle Beef Chili
served with cheese for the kiddos and chopped avocado

Shared at Org Junkie’s Menu Plan Monday and the Gluten Free Menu Swap at Glutenfree Goodness.

an imperfect Whole30: at the end

It’s hard to believe this 30 days is over.

There were a few days scattered throughout that were tough, but really?

It flew.

And at the end of these 30 days of strict paleo eating?

I lost 9.4 pounds and 6.75 inches, bringing my total loss from my highest weight (after I got sick and gained 70 pounds in 4 months) to 61 pounds.

Side note: how well does a paleo diet work for weightloss? It took me almost 2 years to lose the first 30, and 8 months of very strict calorie counting and hard working out to lose the next 15. In the past 10 weeks of eating paleo, I’ve lost another 15…with no calorie counting, no obsessively writing food down and very little exercise.

It works.

It wasn’t a perfect Whole30 – there were a few very minor bobbles, nothing major – and I chose to push through for one reason:

I’m seeking good and not perfect.
Perfect leads me to dark places, frustration and giving up.
Good is something I can sustain and build on.

The best parts?

I stayed away from the scale and the tape measure for the entire 30 days.

I remained dairy free the entire 30 days, something I’ve never been able to do for more than a week.

No refined sugar and almost no unrefined sugar. My one sugar failure was during a sinus infection last weekend, when all I wanted was hot cocoa. I made do with coconut milk, a really good cocoa powder, a drop of vanilla and another drop of pure maple syrup. It was so rich, I drank about a third of a cup and was good.

In all honesty, I should have started over…but again, my goal wasn’t perfection and I chose to focus on the good.

I’ll shoot for perfection when I do it again in January.

Most of all – and this really is the biggest success for me – I feel awesome. Even after fighting a nasty sinus infection for a few days, I feel great. My energy levels have been consistently high. Other than the hot cocoa, I’ve had no food cravings…or mood swings…or crazy hunger pains.

My relationship with food has been completely changed through 10 weeks of paleo and even more so after 30 days of Whole30 – it’s just food. And the scale addiction I’ve fought for so long – often weighing myself 2 or 3 times a day is done. I weighed last Wednesday at the end and haven’t stepped on the scale again since.

And I need to point out, again and again – not once did I feel deprived. Never. Eating out was the most difficult, but even then I was always able to make Whole 30 appropriate choices, regardless of the restaurant we were at by asking lots of questions and…well…my orders were just weird sometimes. I got over my insecurities and made the requests I needed to take the best care of myself.

I am going to give myself a little slack for the next few weeks – I’m going to add in a little bit of dark chocolate and a few baked goods…once in a while…as a special treat, which is what they should be for all of us.

Other than that, I don’t really see any other changes I’ll be making.

This feels too good to muck it up.