Tag Archives: paleo

Paleo Freezer Meals

Prior to starting my January Whole30, I spent a day doing some food prep to stock my fridge and freezer with Whole30 meals to help the month go smoothly.

One of the things I did was prepare some crock pot-ready freezer meals.  In about 1 hour, I had prepared 6 bags to freeze that could be taken out of the freezer later and popped into the crock pot to cook.

I made 3 bags of beef stew and 3 bags of African chicken stew.

You can do this with any recipe that you’d normally cook in the crock pot.  Just prepare all the ingredients and add them to a freezer bag instead of the crock!  After you freeze the bag, make sure to pull it out of the freezer the day before you want to cook it to allow it to thaw.  Dump the bag into the crock pot and BOOM…dinner is made.

My beef stew was made with beef, onions, carrots, sweet potatoes, a can of diced tomatoes, and a mix of spices with garlic, parsley, paprika, thyme, salt and pepper.  Sorry, I’m too much of a freestyler when it comes to things like stews to be able to have a specific recipe!

The African chicken stew was adapted from the recipe in Well Fed 2.  Here’s another blogger’s adaptation that you could use to guide you in making this delicious dish if you don’t have Well Fed 2 (I left out the vanilla for the Whole30).  Just add your raw chicken thighs and onion to the bag.  Mix the crushed tomatoes with all the spices and the sunflower butter and add that in too.  For my bags of this stew I also added cubed sweet potatoes, which I highly recommend.

To make the freezer bag prep lightening fast, put all your bags together assembly line style.  Get all the bags out and add the meat to each one.  Keep the open bags lined up and handy on the counter.  Then chop all the onions at once, adding them to the bags as you go.  Do the same for the sweet potatoes or other common ingredients.  If you’ve got a willing helper, they can do the tasks such as adding the meat to the bags, measuring spices or opening cans while you chop!

A quick and simple way to build up a little “freezer pantry” of bags like this would be to just double up the next time you’re prepping something for the crock pot.  You would make your one batch for the crock pot that day as usual, but as you’re prepping everything, you’d also be making one batch in a bag to freeze for later.

Having these pre-made bags really helped the Whole30 go smoothly.  It was nice to have them handy to pull out each week for a nearly effortless meal!  Don’t be afraid to experiment with different recipes for this…the crock pot is amazingly forgiving!

 

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Whole 30 – Days 21-30

As I explained here, I’m doing a Whole30 for the month of January.  See my recap of Days 11-20 here.

As an added challenge for myself, I decided to photograph and share all of my food intake for the duration of the Whole30.  I want to show a real-life glimpse into eating this way and hopefully give others some inspiration for their own food choices.  Below are all the meals I ate on days 21-30, along with some added information where applicable.

Day 21

Breakfast: egg salad and veggies. Lunch: gyoza meatballs from Well Fed 2 and sweet potatoes. Dinner: African chicken stew. Snack: walnuts and grapes.

Day 22

Breakfast was like this old photo. Chicken breast, eggs, veggies. Leftover African chicken stew for lunch. Roast beef and salad for dinner. Apple before the gym and pomegranate after dinner.

Day 23

Breakfast: chicken breast, eggs, veggies. Lunch: leftover roast beef and salad. Dinner: pork stuffing casserole (lots of veggies in there) and mashed sweet potato. Snacks: walnuts and a pomegranate.

Day 24

Breakfast: salad with chicken and avocado. Boiled eggs. Lunch: pork casserole and banana chia pudding. Dinner: beef stew with sweet potatoes. Grapes.

Day 25

Pre-gym snack: 3 boiled eggs, banana. Brunch: eggs, sausages, tomatoes, grapes. Dinner: steak, sweet potatoes, green beans. Snack: macadamias. Unpictured: munched on some fruit and veggies at a party.

Day 26

Breakfast: side pork, eggs, veggies. Lunch: chicken wings. Dinner: spaghetti squash lasagna, Caesar-ish salad (basically just a garlicky, lemony mayo). Snack: fried plantain. Also ate an apple and some grapes in there.

Day 27

Breakfast: boiled eggs, apple. Lunch: leftover spaghetti squash lasagna (half eaten photo but not forgotten!). Larabar for an afternoon/pre-gym snack. Dinner: chicken thighs, tomato and cucumber salad. Snack: grapes and cashews (forgot that photo so using an older one. Let’s pretend those macadamias are cashews.)

Day 28

Breakfast: eggs, veggies, apple. Lunch: leftover chicken thighs and tomato and cucumber salad. Dinner: meatballs and veggies. Snack: grapefruit. Nope, I’m not sick of raw veggies.

Day 29

Breakfast: eggs, chicken, veggies, mashed sweet potato. Lunch: meatballs I inhaled before photographing and broccoli salad. Dinner: taco salad. Snack: grapes and macadamias.

Day 30

Breakfast: chicken, eggs, veggies. How fitting that I ate this on my final day. Lunch: taco salad. Dinner: pork roast and broccoli salad. Snacks: apple, grapefruit, strawberries. A fruity day.

Reflections

I kept feeling fantastic through the end of the Whole30!  My mood was great, my focus was great, sleep was solid, and gym performance was strong.  I kept the food simple all month to keep stress low, focusing on the dishes and foods we really love that are also Whole30-compliant.

We did baseline testing at the gym on January 25….

Since we last tested at the end of September, I took my time for the test from 6:59 to 5:54 this time.  I know my overall fitness and strength has improved since the fall, but I also know that fueling my body as well as I did throughout January played a role in this improvement.

As much as the task of photographing everything I ate wore on me by the end of the  month, I’m very glad that I did.  I had a lot of fun earlier today looking back at every meal I ate and seeing just how many times I ate that same breakfast of boiled eggs, chicken breast and veggies (9).  I was proud to see all the colourful fruits and veggies in my photos.  And the photos definitely helped with some of the accountability of making good choices throughout the month.

Finishing the Whole30 feels great. It reminded me of just how amazing I can feel and perform when I’m focusing on giving my body the best fuel.  I’m so thankful to my friends who cajoled me, err, encouraged me to join them in this challenge. 🙂

Coming soon….my life after the Whole30.  Today is Day 31 and the only non-Whole30-compliant food I’ve eaten has been pastured bacon.  I don’t plan on changing much, but I will write about what may change and why and what my “strategy” is moving forward to ensure I can keep feeling this wonderful.

 

Whole 30 – Days 11-20

As I explained here, I’m doing a Whole30 for the month of January.

As an added challenge for myself, I decided to photograph and share all of my food intake for the duration of the Whole30.  I want to show a real-life glimpse into eating this way and hopefully give others some inspiration for their own food choices.  Below are all the meals I ate on days 11-20, along with some added information where applicable.

Day 11

Pre-gym breakfast: 3 boiled eggs and a spoonful of almond butter. Post-gym breakfast: scramble of ground turkey, sweet potato, and apple. Dinner: steak and kale with garlicky mayo dressing and almonds. Snack: pistachios and grapes.

In December we tried a new restaurant in town – Craft Beer Market.  They served a surprisingly delicious kale salad.  I’ve recreated a version at home for myself that’s Whole30 compliant (the restaurant version had shaved parmesan). It’s the simplest dressing…homemade mayo with a clove or two of crushed garlic, lemon juice, and salt and pepper.  So tasty!

Day 12

Oh man. Day 12 was the start of a beautiful friendship with a new recipe – PaleOMG’s pizza spaghetti pie. Just stop reading now and go make that dish.  Pre-gym breakfast: boiled eggs and a random “Buddy Fruit” (coconut milk and fruit puree) from the fridge that had to be used before it expired. Post-gym breakfast: turkey, sweet potato, and apple scramble. Lunch snacks: leftover kale salad, cucumber, cashews. Dinner: pizza spaghetti pie with snap peas. Grapefruit after dinner.

Day 13

Breakfast: egg salad over mixed greens. Lunch: leftover pizza spaghetti squash, roasted caulflower. Dinner: African chicken stew with more roasted cauliflower. Snacks: peas, Larabar (no I wasn’t driving, just sitting in my car), banana, grapes.

Day 14

Breakfast: chicken breast, 2 boiled eggs, raw veggies. Lunch: leftover African chicken stew with roasted cauliflower. Orange for an afternoon snack. Dinner: pork “stuffing” and salad with avocado. Pistachios after dinner.

And now for a game of how many days of the Whole30 can I eat the exact same breakfast….

Day 15

Breakfast: I enjoyed yesterday’s so much, I did it again. Chicken breast, eggs, veggies. Lunch: leftover pork “stuffing” and an apple with almond butter. Pre-gym snack: coconut milk chia pudding with banana. Dinner: taco salad and fried plantain. Snack: cashews.

Day 16

Breakfast: Again! Chicken breast, boiled eggs, carrots and cucumbers. Sick of seeing that yet?! I’m not sick of eating it!Lunch: taco salad with avocado. Dinner: pork roast and broccoli salad. Snacks: coconut milk chia pudding with banana, pistachios, pear.

Day 17

The best part of leftovers is that I can reuse pictures when I forget to take a photo of my lunch! Breakfast: chicken, eggs, cucumber, celery with almond butter. Lunch: leftover pork roast and broccoli salad. Dinner: chicken thighs and cucumber. Snack: pistachios.

Day 18

Pre-gym: chicken thighs, apple. Post-gym: chicken thighs, salad, tangerine. Lunch: egg salad and sweet potato. Dinner: spaghetti squash lasagna (I can’t bring myself to keep calling this “pizza spaghetti pie”…it’s practically noodle-less lasagna anyways. So delicious I went back for a second piece. Larabar for an after dinner treat, along with unpictured grapes.

Day 19

Breakfast and lunch were both leftover spaghetti squash lasagna. Dinner: chicken thighs and garlicky kale salad. Snacks: carrots and celery, grapes, macadamias.

Day 20

Breakfast: chicken thighs and veggies. Lunch: chicken thighs and garlicky kale salad. Apple before the gym. Dinner: gyoza meatballs from Well Fed 2 and kale salad. Snack: banana chia pudding.

Reflections

The photos definitely became a challenge in Days 11-20.  I was completely in the stride of the Whole30 and just thinking about food less in general so I forgot to take photos more and more. (Spoiler alert: I’m writing this on the evening of Day 23 and this is still a problem….)

Also a symptom of thinking about food less…all the repetitive meals!  I did discover a couple of really tasty things in these days, but it’s just been so much easier to keep eating the stuff that we’re really enjoying rather than trying too much new stuff.  Work is busy, life is busy and it’s quicker and easier to just go with the stand-bys.  I’m very fortunate that I don’t quickly get bored of food.

There have been no thoughts of quitting the Whole30, no major cravings that I just can’t shake, and no perceivable negative effects.  I started feeling the “tiger blood” right around the end of the first week and have kept feeling amazing ever since.  The energy has helped me to tackle projects at home and at work that I’ve been putting off for quite some time.

The non-Whole30 foods that I miss the most are white potatoes and white rice.  I enjoy sweet potatoes sometimes, but I just don’t LOVE them enough to eat them multiple times per week.  I actually usually find them too sweet to eat with meals.  White potatoes and rice are usually my go-to starches.  I haven’t craved them, I just miss their starchy blandness.

The structure and goals of the Whole30 helped me conquer a big old demon this month.  On the 17th-19th my husband was out of town.  Usually this would have lead to some sort of binge and junk-food-apalooza while I was alone.  This time, nothing changed from the Whole30 eating I was already doing.  I honestly think it might be the first time in my life that being home alone for an extended period of time didn’t lead to a binge.  Pretty excited and proud of that!

Bring on the last 10 days!

Whole30 – Days 0-10

On January 1 I started a Whole30.  This is actually the first time I’m completing the program, however this really is not too far off from how we eat year-round.

As an added challenge for myself, I decided to photograph and share all of my food intake for the duration of the Whole30.  I want to show a real-life glimpse into eating this way and hopefully give others some inspiration for their own food choices.  Below are all the meals I ate on days 1-10, along with some added information on the recipes used.

“Day 0”

Planning and preparation are key!  I’m calling the whole preparation phase “Day 0”.

A few days prior to starting, I sat down and planned out our meals for the entire month.  I did this via a Google Calendar so I could also see what other things we have going on that impact meals.  I didn’t worry about coming up with 30 distinct dinners, rather I filled the month with stuff that I’ve made before, we enjoy eating, and fits with our busy weekdays.  I also tried to plan meals that would make the most of the freezers we have freshly stocked with beautiful, pastured pork and grass-fed beef.  Keeping it simple!

Also a few days prior to starting I did a big food prep day (with some major assistance from my husband) to stock the freezer with things like pre-cooked meatballs and pre-mixed bags of slowcooker meals.  Within a few hours, I had about 10 meals already stocked in the freezer and ready to go!  I’m going to post separately about how I prepared 6 crockpot bags in 60 minutes which will each feed us for 6 servings.

Heading into the first few days of the Whole30, the fridge and pantry were stocked with everything needed for the first few days of meals.  I made a batch of compliant mayo and some vinaigrette to have quick and easy salad dressings.  The meal plan for the week was posted on the fridge (like always around here).

Day 1

Breakfast: Eggs, spinach, avocado, tomato. Black coffee and banana on the side.  I have black coffee every morning, even though it’s not mentioned.

Lunch: Pork casserole inspired by stuffing. My recipe is here.  Dinner: Meatloaf and broccoli salad with homemade mayo, sunflower seeds, red onion, and raisins.  Snacked on almonds.

Day 2

Repeat of yesterday’s breakfast, leftovers for lunch, fruit and unpictured almonds for snacks, Moroccan chicken stir fry from Everyday Paleo for dinner.

Day 3

Egg salad and an apple with almond butter. Grapefruit I forgot to photograph. Leftover Moroccan stir fry. Chocolate chili and salad. Cashews and grapes.

Day 4

Breakfast – leftover chili. Lunch – egg salad and blueberries. Snack – veggies and homemade ranch. Supper – smoked paprika chicken thighs and sweet potato.

Day 5

Breakfast: salad and leftover chicken thighs. Lunch: egg salad and veggies. Dinner: pork chop, roasted beets, and veggies. Snacks: grapefruit, chia pudding made with coconut milk and banana, macadamia nuts. A very snacky day.

Day 6

This was the first day back to work after vacation. I noticed how being at work made me feel like snacking more throughout the day.

Breakfast: egg salad and veggies and an apple. Lunch: pork chop, beets and a pear. Snacks: almonds and grapes. And finally…dinner brought to you by the letter P: pork, parsnips, and peppers. And salad to combat the beige/brown of the plate.

Day 7

Breakfast: leftover pork and parsnips with unpictured veggies. Lunch: roasted chicken salad with guacamole. Dinner: beef stir fry. Snacks: grapes and spicy sweet potatoes.

Day 8

The day I really started struggling to remember to take the photos during the day at work!

Breakfast: boiled eggs, pear, unpictured snap peas and cucumber (so much tougher to remember these photos for the meals I eat at work). Lunch: leftover beef stir fry and a mandarin. Pre-workout: apple. Dinner: meatballs, sweet potato, carrots and broccoli. Almonds for a snack.

Day 9

Day 9 photos were just not meant to be… Breakfast: leftover meatballs and carrots. Lunch: spinach salad with chicken breast, eggs, tomatoes, and guacamole. Dinner: crockpot beef stew (one of my pre-made bags from the freezer) and roasted cauliflower. Snacks: orange, grapes, macadamia nuts, and a special evening treat of fried plantains.

Day 10

Had much better success with remembering photos today! Breakfast: 4 boiled eggs, a bunch of veg, almond butter on celery. Lunch: leftover beef stew with yams. Snack: blueberries. Dinner: the best chicken wings ever…Eleanor’s Wings from Quick and Easy Paleo Comfort Foods (recipe isn’t online…just go buy the book. It’s worth it, I swear!) Snack: grapefruit and some almonds.

Reflections

Overall I’m feeling GREAT.  As I mentioned, our regular food routine really isn’t too far off of the Whole30 standards, so this is getting us back into the normal swing of things after Christmas indulgences.  Just a few days in I really felt the extra energy kick in!

It’s also been interesting to see how my food habits differed from the days spent at home on vacation versus the days when I returned to work.

One way our regular diet deviates from the Whole 30 is that we usually include white potatoes and white rice for some additional carbohydrate as both of us tolerate these foods well.  I’ve been making a conscious effort to keep our carbohydrate intake up through things like the yams, plantain, parsnips, beets, and fruit.  So far I’ve felt like my performance in the gym has been stronger in all areas with the cleaned up food after Christmas, but that’s to be expected with returning to fueling myself with real food instead of gluten-free cookies.  I am curious to see how I feel in the gym for the remainder of the Whole30.

bread-free paleo stuffing

Thanksgiving was a month ago here in Canada, but it’s still a few weeks away in the US so I think that still makes this a timely recipe.  Plus, it’s nice and early for those who do turkey for Christmas!

Stuffing is one of my favourite Thanksgiving dishes.  When I set out to re-create and paleoize this dish, I didn’t even consider doing so with some kind of grain-free/gluten-free bread substitute.  Instead I thought about the key flavours of stuffing from herbs and spices and focused in on that element of the dish.  Using the mushrooms added a nice flavour, but also a similar texture as the chewy bread in a traditional dish.

It may seem like a long list of ingredients, but they’re largely spices and herbs and this recipe actually comes together fairly simply with a little bit of chopping and prep effort.  You could use a food processor to make the vegetable prep quicker and easier!

photo(2)

Covered in turkey gravy this stuffing was a fantastic addition to our Thanksgiving meal this year.  It hit all the flavours and textures of a bready stuffing and no one was longing for the old bready stand-by.  Sorry, bread…you weren’t even missed!  Since then we’ve made it again and just eaten it as a main dish for dinner.

Bread-Free Paleo StuffingMakes 8-10 servings as a side dish or 4 servings as a main dish.

1 lb ground pork

Sausage seasonings:
2 tbsp paprika
2 tbsp onion powder
1 tbsp crushed garlic
2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp fennel seeds
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp dried oregano

2 tbsp butter
1 large onion, diced
2 large carrots, diced
6 stalks celery, chopped
2 small leeks, chopped

Stuffing seasonings:
5 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary
2 tbsp chopped fresh thyme
2 tbsp chopped fresh savoury
2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
1 tsp poultry seasoning
1 tsp dried sage
Salt and pepper

3 tbsp butter
4 cups sliced mushrooms

1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts (optional)

Mix the raw pork very well with sausage seasonings.  Add to a pre-heated skillet over medium-high heat and cook until pork is browned.  If your pork was quite fatty, drain off excess fat before adding to the crockpot.  Remove from the pan and add to a large crockpot.

In the same skillet, melt 2 tbsp butter.  Add onion, carrots, celery and leeks and sautee for 8-10 minutes, until vegetables just begin to caramelize slightly.  Add the stuffing seasonings and cook with the vegetables for about another minute.  Remove from the pan and add to the crockpot with the pork.

In the same skillet, melt 3 tbsp butter.  Add the sliced mushrooms and sautee until mushrooms are browned.  Remove from the pan and add to the crockpot with the pork and vegetables.

If using, add the nuts to the crockpot and stir to combine all ingredients well.

Cook in a crockpot on low for 3-4 hours.  Alternatively, you could bake at 400F for 45-60 minutes, stirring once or twice during baking.

Pic

Substitutions (untested) for the butter could be: ghee, lard, or coconut oil.  You could also use a pre-seasoned pork sausage instead of seasoning your own ground pork.  Just read those ingredients carefully before buying!