“Against All Grain” Paleo Meal Plan – Week 1

So, I got Danielle Walker’s “Meals Made Simple” paleo cook book because it had an 8 week meal plan with shopping lists and I like following lists, and need to randomly try new things with cooking, since it gets old.

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I decided to buy exactly everything on the week 1 shopping list. (I made a copy of the page from the book instead of ripping it out.) I went to Meijer AND I decided NOT to buy everything organic. With the paleo diet, the most important thing is quality, as organic, local and natural as possible. I do try to eat many things organic, but I just can’t do it all the time as sometimes the prices are ridiculous or they don’t exist in organic at certain stores. So, here was my shopping list and Eva had fun helping me go down the list and search for each item. It was actually a lot of fun for her to help me out. We checked off each item as we found it.

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Here is a picture of what I got. I went to Meijer instead of Costco like I usually do, because I didn’t want to buy in bulk. I wanted to buy exactly the amount that was on the list and no more. And they do have a good selection of organic foods as well. I was happy to have only spent $118 for a weeks worth of food. I was surprised. This seems like a lot of food. BUT, then I came home and reviewed the meal plan and found out the plan is only for dinners! I was disappointed, but then felt that this was still a lot of food, and I can do leftovers for lunches, or just eggs or simple stuff for breakfast. I was hoping to not have to think about anything and just follow the list, so was a little sad.

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One thing I could not find was pancetta, which is an Italian bacon, so I just bought extra regular uncured bacon instead. A jicama was on the list and that is something I’ve never eaten. It’s a Mexican tuberous root, maybe like a potato? I’m not sure, but we’ll see how it is. Other new foods on the list were a fennel bulb and fish sauce! I’m looking forward to trying a week of “almost” paleo. I know the purists will say it is blasphemy since everything is not completely organic (gasp!), but I did my best.

By the way, I love this simple quote. Give yourself (and others) GRACE:

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Squash, Carrot & Ginger Soup

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  • 8 cups of homemade chicken bone broth
  • Large winter squash
  • 4-6 carrots
  • 2 pieces (about 1 inch each) fresh ginger, peeled
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • salt, pepper

Roast the whole winter squash in the oven at 350 for 1 to 1.5 hours until soft. I roasted the squash one day and then made the soup the next day, since it takes a while. After the squash cools, it’s easy to remove the skin and seeds. Add squash, chopped carrots, ginger, garlic, salt & pepper to broth. You can leave everything in big chunks since it will all be blended later. Let veggies cook in broth for 2 to 3 hours on low. Use immersion blender to blend everything together. Add coconut milk, blend a few moments more and serve. I wasn’t sure how much ginger I should use, so I added one piece, blended it, then tasted it, then added another and felt it was a good amount. This was so good. Sweet and a little spicy.

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Mung Bean Noodles, Veggies & Parm

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This meal took 10 minutes to make. Simplest thing ever. I’m liking these new gluten-free noodles I found. They don’t have much of their own taste, so they take on the taste of whatever you add to them.

  • Mung Bean Fettuccine (only 1 ingredient: organic mung beans)
  • 2 carrots shredded into long ribbons
  • 5 stalks of kale chopped
  • 1 cup cabbage chopped
  • 1 cup of real Parmesan cheese

Saute veggies in coconut or olive oil. Boil fettuccine for less than 5 min. Toss everything together with Parmesan.

Water Kefir

I’ve made milk kefir for a long time now, but this week I am trying water kefir for the first time. If you are looking for the similar health benefits of milk kefir, but want a dairy-free option, water kefir is the next logical step. I have resisted trying water kefir because the culture feeds on sugar and I was worried about how much sugar this would contain, but I understand that the kefir grains feed and consume most of the sugar and create enzymes, B vitamins and beneficial bacteria, and this fermentation process reduces most of the sugar. The end result will be a probiotic beverage that could taste like juice, or it can be fermented further to create a carbonated drink.

I bought the water kefir grains from Cultures for Health and followed their simple instructions. Learn about the importance of eating fermented foods here.

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Super-food Yogurt Parfait

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This looks a little strange, but tastes great as a sweet breakfast or snack.

Mix 2 cups of full-fat organic plain yogurt with 2 spoonfuls of chia seeds and 2 spoonfuls of raw cacao powder. Add some honey or stevia for sweetness. Sprinkle on some organic gluten-free granola or some seeds and walnuts and then top with blueberries.

Chicken Marbella

This is one of my favorite chicken recipes. I love sweet and salty things, and the sweetness of the prunes and saltiness of the capers go amazingly well together. I first discovered this recipe in Elana Amsterdam’s “Paleo Cooking” recipe book, which I love. I usually make it a little different each time, depending on what is in the fridge.

I recently learned how to properly cut up a whole chicken (I liked this video demonstration), so I prefer that method since it is easier to marinate and easier to serve and eat. But, you can make it with a whole chicken or whatever chicken pieces are your favorite. We usually buy whole organic chickens from Costco, so now that I can properly cut them up prior to cooking, I won’t even bother buying individual pieces going forward. You save money and you get more meat for what you buy when you buy the whole bird. I also prefer the taste of chicken when it’s cooked on the bone, and I save the bones to make chicken stock, so it’s a win-win all around.

Marinate a 2-3 lb chicken overnight in the fridge with the following ingredients:

  • 1 c prunes
  • 1 c olives
  • 1/2 c olive oil
  • 1/4 c capers
  • 3 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 5 cloves chopped garlic
  • sprinkle of sea salt & pepper
  • drizzle honey over the tops of the chicken

I sometimes add some chopped carrots or fresh parsley if I have it. After overnight marinating, bake at 350 for 1 hour or so.

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Here is my nicely, properly cut chicken in the baking dish, and the leftover back in a pot ready to make chicken stock. I added some salt/pepper and a splash of apple cider vinegar to the stock and simmered for 2 hours. I then transferred the chicken stock to a few mason jars and put in the freezer for later. There was some leftover chicken meat stuck to the bones, so I picked that off and saved for the next day (about 1/2 c of chicken) and added the cold cooked chicken to my salad.

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This picture above is before baking. I have a hard time getting a picture of a finished product, since Eva and Danail are usually ready to eat right when it’s done.

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I was out of olives this time around, so I omitted those but added some carrots.

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This is the latest quinoa we tried and really liked from Trader Joe’s. If you saw my Miso Soup post, I mentioned that I used the leftover miso soup instead of water or broth for the base and it turned out really well. I liked the taste of the soup with the quinoa even more than the soup on it’s own. I like quinoa because it takes on the taste of whatever you cook with it. You can use it with savory dishes or you can eat it like oatmeal with nuts and honey. It’s also gluten-free.

Miso Soup

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This was fun to make since I used some different ingredients that I’ve never used before. I never eat soy of any kind, but I read that organic fermented soy does have health benefits and is a probiotic food, as long as you don’t boil the miso (fermented soy), and just add it at the end and mix it in to the hot soup.

Eva and Danail both really liked it and I thought it was okay. The seaweed had a strong smell while I was cutting it up and then cooking it, so that sorta turned me off to the soup when it was finished. It did taste much better than it smelled, and maybe that was just my super sensitive nose while pregnant issue, but I can’t say it was my favorite thing. I did end up using the leftover soup the next day instead of a broth base for quinoa, which I loved so that was an interesting way to use up the leftovers. I found the Nori and miso at a store called Plum Market, which is similar to Whole Foods.

It was very simple. Heat the broth, add mushrooms, green onions and seaweed, simmer for 20 minutes. Add a few splashes of water to the 4 tbsp of miso in a separate bowl and whisk until more liquidy. Add to soup and turn heat to very low and simmer just a few more minutes. Do not boil after adding miso or the heat will destroy any probiotic benefit that is in the fermented soy. Most recipes add cubed tofu, but I thought the miso was enough soy for me, so I left that out.

Coconut-Rolled Bananas

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I’ve been experimenting with healthier sweet snacks and this one was so simple to make.

One serving:

  • 1 sliced banana
  • coconut oil
  • sprinkle of nuts/seeds (anything would work, I used walnuts and sunflower seeds)
  • raw honey
  • shredded coconut
  • cinnamon
  • nutmeg

Melt coconut oil in pan on top of stove. Throw in sliced banana. Drizzle honey over banana. Sprinkle nuts and seeds and spices. Sprinkle coconut at the end and stir until coated for about 1 minute. Simple and sweet.

Garbanzo Bean Chili

This is another thrown together meal that turned out good. I wasn’t able to look up a recipe because we had an installer here installing a fan and dimmer lights, so he had turned off the power to the part of the condo where my computer was, so I couldn’t look anything up. I knew I had to cook chili with soaked beans a long time, so couldn’t wait until he was finished. But, this turned out really good, so had to share.

  • 1 lb garbanzo beans (soaked overnight)
  • 1 lb northern beans (soaked overnight)
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • coconut oil
  • 1 sweet onion, chopped
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped
  • 1/2 garlic head, chopped
  • 2 red peppers, chopped
  • 2 small cans tomato paste
  • 2 c water
  • 1/4-1/2 c chili powder
  • cumin (I’m not sure measurements of all spices, just shake in some, then taste)
  • garlic powder
  • salt/pepper
  • cinnamon
  • turmeric (I threw this in just because it’s good for you, I couldn’t taste it at all)
  • 2 tbsp cacao power
  • few squirts of honey

I used this dutch oven again on top of the stove. I cooked this for a long time, 6 or more hours. I started at 11am and sauteed the onions, garlic, peppers and celery in coconut oil until soft. Then added ground beef and browned it. Then added tomato paste and water (you can use beef broth instead, but I didn’t have any) and all spices. After stirring well, I added all the beans, they just fit. This simmered all afternoon on low heat and I randomly checked on it, stirred and added more spices along the way.

I liked the spicy and sweet combination. I made some black rice, but didn’t even eat any, since the chili was so good by itself. I garnished with some cheddar and avocado. Eva loved the black rice, so at least someone ate it. She also liked the chili, but liked the rice more.

I know I could have made this in my slow cooker, but I haven’t had success with meals in the crock pot. The 3 meals I’ve done in there have turned out very bland and just wet tasting, so I must not be adding enough spices or I just don’t know how to use a slow cooker.

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Diet & Exercise During Pregnancy

I wrote before that I was trying to eat more of a Paleo type diet, especially during pregnancy. I’ve done pretty well mostly eliminating grains. I still am eating some rice every once in a while, like tonight I’m making chili so I will eat some rice with it. I’ll try to eventually stop them all, but I need a transition period. I haven’t been eating pasta or bread or any of those processed grains. (Oh, I also ate some popcorn the other day and corn is technically a grain, not a vegetable.) I am not going to completely give up dairy right now, which some Paleo diets require, because I feel like I need it. I think if you follow more of a “primal” diet, they allow raw, whole, organic dairy, so that’s sorta what I’m doing. I’m not drinking cow’s milk, and have mostly switched to coconut milk for making kefir which I use for smoothies, and I don’t really need “milk” for anything else. I’m still sometimes eating yogurt and cheese, which I feel okay on, so I’ll stick with that for a while unless I feel it’s too much. It’s important to listen to your body and how it feels after eating certain foods and decide what is best for your body type. If you read Dr. Mercola’s “Total Health Program“, he talks about being a “protein type” or “carb type” or somewhere in the middle, and I am definitely a protein type and do better with higher protein and less carbs.

One healthy snack I forgot that I really liked was red peppers with cream cheese.

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We bought this cool looking cream cheese made in Norway that was on sale at Whole Foods and I love it on sweet peppers with a little sea salt. Salt can be a very healthy food, if you buy unprocessed sea salt, which is full of minerals. Eva also loves red peppers, which is great, I give her a whole one and she just eats it like an apple.

Buying high quality meat is expensive. I have been craving steak a lot during this pregnancy and grass-fed beef is the most nutritious but also the most expensive. We can usually get organic chicken for a little more than conventional, but I’m waiting to find a grass-fed beef sale to stock up. We also try to eat wild caught shrimp and salmon every once in a while.

I have been doing much better with exercise this past week. I’ve been doing the workouts from this prenatal exercise DVD that I bought used somewhere. There are multiple workouts for each part of pregnancy. They are short, so I can do 1 or 2 depending on how I feel. Eva sometimes tries to do them with me, or she just sits on my belly and laughs if I lift my legs or something. It’s quite an experience trying to exercise with a 2-year old around. During college, I used to work out every day for an hour or more, I was crazy! Life is so different now that being able to get even a 15 minute short workout in does wonders for my energy and well-being.

Regarding my supplements during pregnancy, I am taking this prenatal vitamin . The regular dose is 4 capsules a day, but I’m only taking 2 because my midwife said my iron was so high that I probably didn’t need a prenatal. (This could be because of the red meat I’m eating, or because I cook in a cast iron pan, which adds iron to your food.) But, I thought I’d keep taking it and just take less. I also am taking fermented cod liver oil, which is an amazing superfood and quite necessary especially during winter months when you cannot get outside in the sun for adequate vitamin D. It also of course supplies DHA and EFA, which are vital for baby’s brain development. I was taking a probiotic and a calcium supplement, but I won’t need those anymore since I am making kefir again with coconut milk. I had stopped making kefir for a while, so wanted the extra probiotics.