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Weekly Food Prep Ideas

I love when I’m motivated and prep food for the week. Or at least for a few days. There’s something so satisfying about opening the fridge and actually having food in there.

Meal prep

 

This week I prepped a few things I had made in the past but added some new foods to the rotation. Here’s a little breakdown:

Chicken Salad- Why have I not made this before? Having chicken salad (or something like it) in the fridge is so nice. It’s perfect for lunches or a higher protein snack. I cooked 3 chicken breasts in the oven then chopped them up and added chopped green apple, slivered almonds, a little mustard, Paleo mayonnaise, and salt and pepper. You could obviously use regular mayo or no mayo. Subbing in hummus or mashed up avocado would be tasty too!

Hard Boiled Eggs-  The easiest and best snack to have around. High protein, portable, and delicious. Doesn’t get much better! I boiled 8 eggs to use throughout the week.

Homemade Lara Bars (or Paleo Brownies as I like to call them)- These were just so so easy and really satisfy the sweet tooth. Although yesterday I was majorly craving actual brownies so maybe they trigger the sweet tooth? Hard to tell. By the way, these do freeze well. I think next time I’ll double the batch and freeze some.

Paleo Tortillas (or wraps)- I followed a recipe from Against All Grain which uses coconut and tapioca flour (the original recipe called for arrowroot powder but I think tapioca is a pretty good sub). They are pretty good! Don’t get me wrong, they pale in comparison to Costco’s real deal tortillas, but they’re a pretty good substitute.  I made 6 (since I’m the only one eating them) and have used them at dinner and make chicken salad wraps at lunch.

Paleo Hidden Veggie Muffins-  Another Against All Grain winner! These are really delicious muffins. They have no sweetener in them, instead use dates. Dates are so incredibly sweet that it works, no problem. The “hidden veggies” are shredded zucchini and carrots. Nom.

Egg Cups- Are eggs the best food ever? I think they might be. These are a great snack and/or quick breakfast. I just bought some low sodium ham, placed one piece in a muffin tin, then cracked an egg into it. I cooked them for about 15 minutes at 375.  (I posted about these a couple years ago… can be found here).

Paleo Mayonnaise- This is just so easy to make I figured having it in the fridge for the week was a no brainer. I used it in my chicken salad but have also used it with tuna salad. Yum!

 

I heart food.

 

Do you prep food for the week? If so, what’s in your rotation?

30 Day Paleo Challenge: Week 3 + Breastfeeding on Paleo

Sort of a long title..sorry about that. I thought about making the breastfeeding topic a separate post but I think it would essentially be a one liner.

Breastfeeding on Paleo

(First and foremost, talk to you doctor if you have any serious questions regarding your diet and breastfeeding).

My experience with cutting back on processed carbs and dairy while breastfeeding has been pretty uneventful. Which is good. I haven’t found that lowering my intake of carbs has effected my milk supply. I think this is because two things: I try to eat plenty of food and get a decent amount of carbs from those foods.

My daily carbs intake is lowish but not crazy low. I usually come in around 150 grams of carbs a day-sometimes higher, sometimes lower. That is on the low side (most people eat 200 something), but very low carb intakes would be under 100 grams. If you are interested in cutting back on carbs, I think you just need to play around with your diet and see what works for you. 150 grams of carbs may leave you feeling sluggish so maybe you consume more?

I think the bottom line with breastfeeding is, eat enough food and find what works for you! My little chunky monkey seems to be growing so I think the milk is a-flowin’.

IMG_4792

Paleo Week 3

Well, the beginning of the week was pretty good. I didn’t feel as irritable as I had been so maybe my body was starting to adjust? My husband actually mentioned though that he was feeling irritable. He’s not technically doing this challenge, but because I make most of the food, he sort of is.  But again, maybe it comes back to not eating enough in general? It’s hard to tell.

yummy dinner of salmon burger, avocado, mashed cauli, sweet potato, and olives

yummy dinner of salmon burger, avocado, mashed cauli, sweet potato, and olives

My digestion has still been great so that’s good news. I’m not sure that’s all thanks to the Paleo diet but I think more to do with the whole foods I’ve been eating. Since starting the challenge, I’ve been consuming way more vegetables each day than I typically do. Maybe the lack of processed carbs helps too, but veggies definitely do a body good.

mashed cauli with chorizo meatballs from Practical Paleo and roasted brussels with more cauli!

mashed cauli with chorizo meatballs from Practical Paleo and roasted brussels with more cauli!

The second part of the week was not great. I got a stomach virus so was throwing up quite a bit.  I ended up eating a tortilla (the horror!!) for dinner last night. I just didn’t know what else to eat that wouldn’t upset my tummy. Besides the sick part though, week 3 went well! Only one more week left!! I am feeling a little better today so I think tonight will be another tasty Paleo dinner courtesy of the WellFed cookbook.

I’m not sure if I’ll add processed carbs and dairy back to my diet or not. Sometimes I miss them, so maybe I will but just watch my intake. One more week to decide!

Sick Day

I got sick! What?! How inconvenient. Like, stomach bug sick. The worst. So, today’s post will be postponed. I feel like I might be on the upswing? So maybe I’ll try to post about my 3rd week of paleo eats later.

In the meantime, enjoy some Wednesday motivation courtesy of Quest nutritions instagram page:

 

Motivation

Happy Wednesday!

Paleo Brownies *Recipe*

This title is a little misleading. I’m not sure you can call these brownies, but seriously, they taste just like them so why not? They’re basically a brownie flavored Lara bar. That’s probably more accurate. But let’s just call them brownies because that sounds more fun.

One of my good friends texted me her go-to Lara bar recipe when she saw mine were basically a failure (a delicious failure though). I knew I liked her…here’s the recipe:

paleo brownie ingredients

paleo brownie ingredients

Can you tell we shop at Costco? Lifetime supply of dates! (and cashews…and hemp seeds).

Paleo (Lara Bars) Brownies

  • 1 cup pitted dates
  • 1 cup of walnuts (I used mostly cashews because I ran out of walnuts)
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter (Yes. Yum. I used Nutzzo nut butter)
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder (I think she said cocao but I only have cocoa)
  • 2 Tbsp cocoa nibs
  • 2 Tbsp hemp seeds
  • sprinkle of cinnamon

I added the cocao nibs, hemp seeds, and cinnamon because, why not? If you don’t have those available though it’s certainly not a big deal. They just add a little more fiber and crunch.

The key (I think) to achieving the correct consistency is process everything until it starts to form a ball in your food processor (or high speed blender).

Once my ingredients formed a ball, I pressed the mix into a 9×9 pan lined with parchment paper and refrigerated it for 30 minutes.

paleo brownies

Then I took it out and cut it into squares. That’s it! Easy peasy.

yummmm

yummmm

paleo brownies

They are delicious. Like really good. Super fudgy. I’m going to try and freeze them because I’m scared if I don’t, I’ll eat them all tomorrow. I’ll report back on whether or not they freeze well.

God bless dates. Nature’s candy.

I’ll Take Butter With My Coffee, Please. (Bulletproof Coffee)

Bulletproof coffee

Have you heard of Bulletproof coffee? Oh…where do I begin?

I had heard of Bulletproof coffee a couple months back and shrugged it off as being a little over the top. The basic premise is adding 1-2 Tbsp butter and 1-2 Tbsp MCT oil to your coffee and blending it up. Yes, butter. No, Paula Deen did not come up with Bulletproof coffee.

Bulletproof Coffee

Bulletproof Coffee

Why Grass Fed Butter

*Technically, Bulletproof coffee should be made with unsalted butter but we bought salted. I’m not sure if it’s for taste reasons or what but it tastes yummy :) *

Okay, so let’s start with the butter. The Bulletproof brand recommends grass fed, unsalted butter. The reasoning behind choosing grass fed butter is because the cows it comes from produce healthier fats than their corn fed brothers (they have a good ratio of omega 6 to omega 3 fats). The butter is also a good source of Vitamin K which can potentially help reduce the risk of heart disease. Potentially. Everything has potential.

sorry for the reflection...butter stats

sorry for the reflection…butter stats

Why MCT Oil?

What is MCT oil? MCT oil is a compound that can be found from coconut oil or palm oil. When I looked it up, I found that there is very little research backing up claims that MCT oil is a super food. Coconut oil obviously has a fan base, but even it has very little research supporting claims about it.

coconut oil stats

coconut oil stats

Anyway, the idea is MCT oil will help improve brain function and aid with weight loss. Yes, that sounds awesome. Too good to be true? Maybe.

“Benefits”

Okay, so you’re adding your MCT oil (or in my case, I just add some coconut oil) and butter to your coffee. Why? Well, according to the Bulletproof crew this coffee will eliminate hunger pangs (therefore aiding with weight loss), and improve mental focus and overall brain power.

Something important to note, the Bulletproof brand emphasizes this coffee as a breakfast substitute. 

mmmm butter baby

mmmm butter baby

I have been drinking a form of this coffee for a couple weeks and have continued to eat breakfast. This coffee is more filling than my usual cup so perhaps I am eating less overall, but I get hungry. I’m still breastfeeding too so if I’m hungry, I eat. I’m also not so sure about replacing an otherwise healthy and nutritious breakfast with something lacking so much nutritional value. You can easily get your “good fats” with some eggs in the morning. A 400 calorie cup of coffee or a 400 calorie nutrient dense breakfast with actual food? Hm.

The lesson here is, take it all with a grain of salt. Yes, it has come out in the world of nutrition that fat is not near as bad as it was thought to be. That includes saturated fat. Even saturated fat plays a role in proper brain function. But ask any Doctor and I think they would agree: moderation.

The Bulletproof diet folks go way more into it with their specific “Bulletproof” coffee and their own MCT oil called Brain Octane. That’s all well and good, sure. I, personally, do not buy their coffee claims. They basically say that all the coffee in the world (except theirs) is toxic. I’m sorry I just can’t believe that.

My Experience

So, I mentioned I have been drinking it. I haven’t bought the official Bulletproof coffee beans nor have I bought Brain Octane/MCT oil. My version has been 1 Tbsp of butter and 1 Tbsp of coconut oil.

bulletproof coffee

I’m almost upset I tried it because it is good. Duh. So, 2 Tbsp of fat blended up. It is frothy and delicious.

Since I’m eating Paleo right now, it is a great replacement for my half and half I normally use. Maybe when I’m off Paleo I’ll try blending cream with my coffee? I love how frothy it gets mmm.

So, I guess I’m kind of “drinking the cool-aide?” The butter filled cool-aide? Yeah, it’s delicious. I appreciate the idea from the Bulletproof folks, but I’m not planning on purchasing their coffee or other products any time too. Apparently there is a whole Bulletproof diet that goes along with it. It’s all intriguing stuff, but…grain of salt. When someones trying to sell you something….grain of salt.

it's delicious...why am i not surprised?

it’s delicious…why am i not surprised?

 

What do you think about Bulletproof Coffee?

Dining Out: Paleo Style

As much as I try to prep food for our days out, some days it just doesn’t happen. Like I’ve said before, lack of prep= bad news. It’s ridiculous to just not eat because I don’t have food prepped. Eating is sort of crucial (or so I hear).

We live in a pretty rural community so we really don’t have a lot of “fast food” options. When I say “fast food” I guess I mean “to-go” restaurants? Not Mcdonald’s fast food but not sit down dinner. Those in betweeners.

I knew I would be out and about today and honestly just didn’t want to prep a ton of food so I got to thinking about what my choices were. I’m currently between Jimmy John’s and Subway for my lunch today…hmm decisions. I’m thinkin’ Subway.

Here are a couple chain restaurants that have some Paleo-friendly options:

Subway:

We will start with what I’ll be chompin’ on today: Subway! So, obviously Subway is a sandwich place so that sort of limits your options right there. Subway and restaurants like it are great because you can customize your meals. Paleo-wise, at Subway you might be stuck with a salad. I have no problem with that though because you can add whatever veggies you want and double up your meat. Originally, I was thinking I would have a problem with dressing but I’ll opt for vinegar and oil: problem solved!

Jimmy John’s:

Jimmy John’s is great because they an “un-wich” option which means they will wrap whatever sandwich in lettuce. Just ask for no cheese and maybe mustard instead of mayo and you’re good to go! I would double up the meat on this too because it can be a little slim in my opinion.

Starbucks

The ‘bizzle! The one item I look for at Starbucks is the Protein Bistro Box. This does come with cheese and peanut butter which are not paleo, but it also has a hard boiled egg, apples, and grapes. It’s a pretty good option. They also typically have nuts available for purchase: almonds, cashews, etc. Just check for added sugar.

proteinbox

(source)

Chipotle/Q’doba:

Chipotle or Q’doba are great Paleo options. This is another example of a place where you can customize your order. I typically order a burrito bowl sans rice and load it up with veggies, meat, and guacamole. I love it because it’s really not skimpy. Sometimes ordering a lettuce wrapped sandwich can be a little skimpy and I’m hangry!

Pei Wei:

We don’t have Pei Wei around here, isn’t that sad? We do in Scottsdale though so when I visit the ‘rents I can knock myself out. Pei Wei has a gluten free menu so that is a great start. I’m sure most of their sauces (if not all) are not technically Paleo friendly so watch out there if you’re strict. Lettuce wraps are a great option too.

Paradise Bakery:

Another sandwich heavy place! Luckily, they have lots of good salad options. Grab a chicken cobb salad (minus the cheese and ask for oil/vinegar dressing) or a fuji apple chicken salad.  They also have some breakfast options like omelets-just ask for no cheese!

Panera Bread:

So, Panera appears to have lots of good options!! I guess there’s a secret menu? Why do restaurants have secret menus? Why don’t they just put it on the menu? Make all our lives easier! Anyway, check out their Power Menu. They have a couple different “power bowls” for breakfast. For example, Power Breakfast Egg White Bowl which has roasted turkey, egg whites, baby spinach, roasted peppers, and basil pesto…yum. If you’re there for lunch, try a Power Steak Lettuce Wrap.

power-steak-lettuce-wraps.desktop

(source)

 

So, Panera’s menu sounds pretty awesome. We need one here please. In the meantime, Subway will do…or maybe Q’doba.

 

Any good restaurants recommendations for Paleo-friendly meals?

Sauteed Red Cabbage

I don’t think I’ve ever bought cabbage before: green, red, whatever other colors. There are certain vegetables that I suppose I like, but I have zero experience with for whatever reason. Cabbage is one of those. Eggplant is too by the way. I like eggplant…but have never bought it. I guess it’s a little intimidating? I don’t know…anyway, on to the cabbage.

I took the plunge last week and bought Practical Paleo:

pp

This book is amazing. It has tons of great recipes, of course, but besides that it also has an incredible amount of information on different foods for different diets. For example, if you had digestion problems, there’s a meal plan for that…if you were an athlete, meal plan for that, weight loss, etc. Pretty nice you can customize your Paleo meal plan specifically for you lifestyle and goals.

This recipe was really easy and turned out great. I chopped up half a red cabbage, added sliced onions, apple cider vinegar, some rosemary, and chopped green apples and cooked it for about 20 minutes. Easy and delicious (here is a link to the recipe).

Can you tell that I’m having fun over here in the kitchen lately? There are so many more recipes I want to try too!

red cabbage

red cabbage

IMG_4717

I added the apples after the cabbage softened up.

I added the apples after the cabbage softened up.

I added some raisins to my cabbage dish because I just thought they would work well with the ingredients…and they did!

final product mmm

final product mmm

So, the recipe uses half of a head of cabbage and that was plenty. We had leftovers for a couple days after which was pretty nice.

 

I’m off to enjoy my Thursday toddler free! Miss Brooke has daycare today :). Would it be weird to hit the bars right after I drop her off?

Baked Plantain Chips Recipe

I needed something crispy in my life. I saw on the list of “approved foods” for Whole30 that indeed, plantains were good to go. I love plantains. Why don’t I buy them more often? They always take me back to Miami and their amazing Cuban food.

I’ve played around with plantains before but every time we’ve had them, we’ve fried them. Don’t get me wrong, those are delicious, but I wanted chips this time. Crispy, crispy chips.

If you want to make plantains chips, look for plantains that are green.

IMG_4737

Plantains look a lot like bananas, yes. They are very different though. It’s actually a little bit of a struggle to peel a green plantain. In order to “peel” it, I made 3 cuts all the way down the plantain then carefully peeled it. It will make your life a little easier if you cut off the ends of the plantain and go from there.

IMG_4738

In order to make sure my chips were actually chippy, I tried to cut them as thin as possible. Then, I mixed them with about a tablespoon of coconut oil and a little salt.

IMG_4739

Next, placed them evenly on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Usually, I’m lazy and just dump them on a baking sheet, but I really wanted them to be cooked evenly. So, spreading them out is crucial.

IMG_4740

I baked them for 20-25 minutes at 350. I basically just started checking them around the 20 minute mark to make sure they didn’t brown too much.

These were so easy. Another easy, easy recipe: I can’t get enough!! These definitely satisfy the need for a salty crunchy snack too. We had them at dinner along with elk steak and mashed cauliflower. I dipped them in guacamole…mmmm fats.

plantains chips!

plantains chips!

dinner is served!

dinner is served!

 

I will definitely be making these again!

30 Day Paleo Challenge: Week 2

Week 2 is over! Thank God. I’m halfway done..the end is in sight….there is a light at the end of the carb-free tunnel. Here’s how I’ve been feeling:

Days 9-11:

The first few days of week 2 were okay. Sort of the “same old” meaning I was tempted by carbs, but held back. My energy levels were okay, nothing to report about.

One thing I have noticed is my digestion is doing a lot better. I won’t go into details (you’re welcome) but if you have questions, feel free to email me.  All I can say is, I am loving my healthy gut!

mustard chicken thighs from practical paleo

mustard chicken thighs from practical paleo

Days 12-15:

The last part of the week I felt extremely agitated at times. I’m not sure if this is because my sleep is still a bit out of whack (some nights are good, some aren’t), or because of lack of carbohydrates, or (and this is what I suspect), I wasn’t eating enough. I had at least 3 days where I’m pretty sure everyone in my family feared me. I was being pretty snappy and impatient which doesn’t work out well when you live with a toddler.

It’s something that’s hard to measure but I’m thinking it comes back to my lack of prepping on those days. Yes, I stuck to Paleo, but I also found myself not eating for like, 5 hours which would be okay if I had eaten enough beforehand. All about prep. 

 

I did, however, look up Paleo and irritability and found a couple articles on it so obviously I’m not the only one with this problem. One article stated that irritability can be a side effect of a transition to low carb-whether it’s been a few days or weeks. They suggested increasing fats by 1-2 Tbsp per meal and increasing salt by 1/2 tsp a day (article can be found here). 

delicious spaghetti squash bolognese

delicious spaghetti squash bolognese

So, going forward with the second half of my little Paleo experiment, my goals are to a.) have enough food prepped and available, and b.) to increase my fats. 

yummy Paleo breakfast

yummy Paleo breakfast

I am still really enjoying trying new recipes. That has been a huge plus to this Paleo experiment. I feel like every recipe I’ve tried has been amazing too. I’ll report back with my favorites!!

 

If you’ve gone Paleo, have you experienced “mood swings”?

 

Homemade Apple Pie Energy Balls (Paleo)

First of all, forgive me if I ramble or straight up make no sense…my 6 month old has decided sleep is for suckers so I’m pretty darn tired right now. Okay….on to the balls!

Energy balls

I have a confession to make: I wanted to make Lara bars but they turned out too crumbly. One of my friends later pointed out that I needed to process the ingredients until they form a ball in the food processor. I did not do that…therefore, no bars, just balls.

Anyway, I’m okay with the balls. They taste exactly like Apple Pie Lara bars so I have zero complaints. I love this recipe because you can really use whatever dried fruits/nuts you’d like. I love the apple flavor so I added dried apples. The basic recipe is nuts (walnuts, cashews, almonds-all or 1 or 2), dates, plus whatever else you’d like if anything.

I had a tough time finding dried fruit that didn’t have any added sugar. I finally found dried apples at Walmart of all places. I’m sure you could find more options at a health food store or Whole Foods-anywhere with bulk bins.

I got the recipe from a friend of mine…easy peasy:

Apple Pie Energy Balls

(about 115 calories each- makes about 10 balls)

  • 1 cup walnuts
  • 1 cup dried apples (no sugar added)
  • 1/4 cup dates, pitted
  • 1 1/2 tsp of cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp salt

applepieenergyballs

applepieenergyballs

Everything in the food processor and blend, blend, blend! Easy. Like I said if you wanted to make bars, blend the ingredients until they form a ball in your food processor.

After mixing the ingredients,  I formed them into little balls and stuck them in the fridge. All done!

I attempted to calculate the calories in each ball and I believe they’re each about 115 calories (I say about because it is certainly possible my math is off…it usually is..but I’m thinking it shouldn’t be off by too much).

apple pie energy balls!

apple pie energy balls!

I’m excited to try other flavors and see what I come up with! I’m curious if you actually save money by making your own Lara bars. I’ll try to figure out the math on whether it actually makes sense to make your own bars versus buying. I’ll check the prices of the nuts I used next time I’m in the grocery store. It’s hard to say…Lara bars are a little pricey…but buying nuts are too.

 

Have you made your own Lara bars or other types of bars? Any good recipes you want to share?