How to Eat Clean and Still Enjoy Thanksgiving

When it comes to what’s already on the Thanksgiving dinner table, what’s our best bet to eat allergen-free?

Depending on how many allergies or intolerances you may have, you may need to bring a side dish or two along with you. If you have a wheat or gluten issue, you will need to ensure that no one added broth containing wheat starch to the turkey as well as avoid the stuffing, macaroni and cheese, homemade noodles and most desserts. If you have a dairy issue, the green bean casserole, macaroni and cheese, any ranch-style veggie dip, sweet potatoes with butter or milk, anything with cheese, any bread or most desserts will need to be avoided unless someone prepares them with allergy-friendly ingredients. They do make dairy-free chocolate!

Anyone with corn issues will need to watch anything that may contain high-fructose corn syrup. Those with egg issues will need to check ingredient labels on any breads, pastas, stuffing and most desserts. People with issues with soy will want to check the ingredients on any bread products. The nut allergy crowd is probably the luckiest when it comes to Thanksgiving dinner because some desserts are probably all that they have to avoid. If you have more severe issues, then you will most likely already be checking all of these things. If it is your first year, do not stress. Bring an entire plate with you if you have to; just be sure to enjoy your time with your family and loved ones.

Read my full interview, with Lauren Rutherford, from Feast Magazine . Always keep in mind at social events such as Thanksgiving, that having the expectation going in, that some people may ask silly and sometimes rude questions but not really listen to your responses is a game changer. I think your expectations make more of a difference than anything, and it’s important to understand that you aren’t going to get through to everyone.

Happy Thanksgiving! How do you navigate all of the food filled holidays when eating clean?

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Whole30 Breakfast

One of the biggest issues that many people (including myself) seem to have when they are getting the hang of the Whole30 is breakfast! Believe me when I say I get it. Just switching to Paleo showed me how often we rely on refined carbs and sugars for breakfast.

Oddly enough, these two energy sources are actually burned up very quickly by the body. This, and the lack of healthy fats, is what leaves you feeling like you are starving a few hours later. When you eat the correct amount of protein (1-2 palm sized portions), healthy fat (a thumb size portion) and veggies (the rest of your plate), you will be amazed at your energy levels, as well as your hunger levels (or lack thereof). Remember, the Whole30 is not about restricting your calorie intake! Starving yourself may help you lose a few pounds short term, but you will not feel your best. And odds are you will eventually go back to your old way of eating and gain that weight (and then some) back!

If you find that you are getting hungry within a few hours of eating breakfast, then you should look at your choices and ask questions. You may need to make some adjustments. Please note: It may take your body a few days to fully adjust to having adequate fat intake for breakfast, before you see the full effects; however, some difference should be noticed even with the first breakfast.

Here are a a few tips that I use to get me through a Whole30 breakfast:

  1. Find some quick Whole30 approved breakfast options that you like. Here are some of the big hits at our house:
    1. No-Egg Breakfast Bowl
    2. Butternut Squash, Kale & Ground Beef Breakfast Bowl
    3. Egg Cupcakes– If you do not have complaint bacon, then you can sub the meat for homemade sausage or any meat of choice. There are many veggie substitutes that will work as well.
    4. Throw some veggies and a meat/eggs in a skillet with some fat like in the picture above! Just make sure that if you use bacon or sausage that it is complaint.
  2. Keep it simple when you need to! A few hard boiled eggs, some avocado slices and some sauteed or raw veggies and you are good to go.
  3. Find some Whole30 approved breakfast options that you can freeze, preferably into individual portions. Two of my favorites are:
    1. Slow Cooker Breakfast Meatloaf– I omit the maple syrup and add 2 peeled and lightly sauteed apples, as well as 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary. I also cut the red pepper flakes in half, because I am not super big on spicy. Since I am not awake 3 hours before breakfast, I prefer to make this ahead and freeze it into individual portions.
    2. Carrot and Apple Hash with Cinnamon & Ginger– I love to cook these ahead and flash freeze them for easy access on serving day.
  4. Lose the breakfast label all together. It took me awhile to prefer “dinner” for breakfast, but one of my favorite things to do is to put a meal into my slow cooker at bedtime and wake up to a tasty breakfast. I often eat roast and soup for breakfast! Pan-Seared salmon and veggies is one of my favorite things to eat when I first wake up.
  5. No matter what you eat, know what you are going to eat before you are hungry, especially when it comes to breakfast! I personally plan my breakfast the night before. I know if I wait too long to eat or eat an inadequate breakfast, it can really make the rest of my day a struggle.
    Breakfast Tip

    Always know what you are going to eat BEFORE       you are hungry! Especially for breakfast!

    I know that mornings can be hectic, even without adding in preparing a healthy, balanced breakfast, but I promise you won’t regret it! What is your favorite Whole30 complaint go-to for breakfast?

    DISCLAIMER: I am not a nutritionist or here to give you any health advice. Nothing that I say is meant to diagnose, treat or cure any disease or illness. Always seek advice from your trained medical provider. I am simply a whole food advocate and food lover, that wishes to help you get back to cooking with whole foods, in hopes that it will help you as much as it has me. I believe the things that I share to be true, because I have lived them! Everyone’s body is different and there is no one size fits all diet for anyone.

How to Make Simple, Delicious, Healthy Meals Without All of the Extras

When I asked people on my support group, “What do you struggle with the most when it comes to your healthy eating goals?” I received a variety of answers. Several of them were similar in nature, in the fact that they all were struggling to find affordable, simple recipes:

“$ (Money) it’s hard to find things here and when you can it’s marked up double or triple what it was back in CA.”

“Money-it’s so much more expensive to eat healthy.”

“Finding good recipes that aren’t overwhelming.”

“Quick, easy recipes that don’t require 30 different specialty ingredients. I know I need to be better about prepping on the weekend, but we only have so many hours in the day to get things accomplished!”

This was certainly a struggle of mine as well, when I first started out eliminating so many foods and cooking from scratch. Things like coconut aminos and toasted sesame oil are amazing, but they are also hard on my budget if used too frequently! So why don’t I struggle with this anymore?

Along with starting freezer meal prep, these five things keep simple, delicious, healthy meals on our table (with a little time and effort):

  1. Fresh Herbs
  2. Fresh Spices
  3. Dried Herbs
  4. Fresh Spices
  5. Practice

Learning to cook with herbs and spices has taken me from someone who used recipes every time I attempted to cook anything, to someone who can just throw “whatever” together! In fact, this is when I have created some of my tastiest dishes that so many people enjoy in my cooking classes and workshops. And as an added bonus, the ability to improvise using herbs and spices, can save you tons of time and money in the long run!

The most amazing thing about herbs and spices, is that they can make the EXACT same ingredients taste like completely different meals! Example, saute some chicken and veggies with:

  1. A Mexican Seasoning Mix
  2. A Thai Seasoning Mix
  3. An Italian Seasoning Mix

Even if you use the same vegetables for every dish, you will end up with 3 completely different tastes! This is why I feel the key to long-term diet change (for those who bore easily) is to know how to use herbs and spices. This does not even get into all of the health benefits of these amazing creations! (Which there are a TON!)

I am working on my first cookbook, which will have a more comprehensive guide for those who do not have the time to experiment in the kitchen. However, I don’t want to leave everyone hanging until then, so I thought I would type out a few herbs and spices to get you started on your journey!

Fresh Rosemary, Apples and Pork are always a winning combination. Also, be sure to try it out with some roasted lamb!

Cinnamon is most known for adding sweetness to your dish; however, it can also add a savory flavor that your dish is needing!

Fresh Basil is a useful herb to get to know as well. It is used to flavor things like sauces, soups and salads and goes particularly well with tomatoes.

Cumin can add a Middle Eastern, Mexican, Indian, North Africa or Southwestern US flavor to your dish; however, it is also used by some to sweeten their dish and even as a pickling spice. If you have never used this tasty spice, I highly encourage trying it out!

Fresh Parsley should be found in every refrigerator, since it can go into just about any dish you prepare! Flat leafed parsley is preferred for cooking since it holds up to heat the best, while curly parsley is used for decorative purposes most of the time.

Turmeric will add a yellowish color to your dish, as well as a mild woodsy flavor. It can be used in place of saffron for those on a budget and is great for making tea. Just be careful, as it can stain your dishes and clothes!

I prefer fresh herbs when possible, but here a great rule of thumb when they may be hard to find or if you are trying to use up what is in the cabinet:

1 teaspoon of the dried herb = 1 tablespoon of the fresh

Don’t be afraid to experiment and if you mess up, it isn’t the end of the world! I know it is hard to waste food, but it is all a learning experience! (And trust me, if you have to throw the food away, you will learn! I know. lol) Throw in some citrus fruits from time to time for that extra zest and you will be unstoppable! In the long run, it will save you money AND time, since you will be able to throw an amazing meal together from what you have on hand without all of the extras!

 

 

10 More Side Dish Ideas

I often refer to my post 15 Grain-Free Side Dish Ideas during my meal prep workshops for Back 2 Basics Cooking, but I wanted to add some more options. So here are 10 more ideas for clean and super tasty grain-free side dishes.

1. Mango Avocado Salsa-You can always use this salsa to top salmon with as suggested in the post, but I love to use it a simple side dish that my with happily eat.

2. Brussels Sprouts with Bacon, Red Onion and Avocado This is one of my favorite side dishes, except I typically roast everything in the oven except the avocado and add it last.

3. Amazing Homemade French Fries You have never had french fries until you have had fries made in lard!

4. Watermelon Fruit BowlA quick, fun idea for fruit salad!

5. Green Olive, Walnut and Pomegranate SaladCan we say yum?

6. Paleo Apple ColeslawColeslaw made Paleo with a little twist!

7. Apple Bacon ColeslawBecause everything tastes great with Bacon!

8. Carrot and Parsnip FriesGreat way to get in more veggies!

9. Strawberry Spinach Salad with a Berry DressingTasty, simple side dish! Sub raw honey for the agave nectar.

10. Bacon Wrapped Caramelized Sesame Asparagus –A nice spin on the classic bacon wrapped asparagus side dish!

If you are around Columbia, Missouri and would like to learn some simple, but great tasting entrees to accompany these side dishes, check out the meal prep workshops! Happy Cooking!

Amazing Homemade French Fries

If you love french fries then you must try cooking them this way! It takes some time to get each fry cooked evenly, but it is completely worth the effort. Once you have fries cooked in lard, you won’t want them any other way! (I get my lard from Sullivan Farms if anyone is around Columbia, Missouri.)

Ingredients

  • 2-3 Organic White Potatoes
  • 1-2 Tbsp Lard or Bacon Grease from Pastured Pigs
  • Sea Salt, Black Pepper and Garlic Powder (To Taste)

Directions

  1. Heat enough lard or bacon grease to cover the pan.
  2. While it is heating, wash, peel and cut potatoes into french fry shapes.
  3. When the grease is hot turn to medium heat and carefully place the fries into the pan. Make sure there is only a single layer of fries so that they cook evenly. It takes a little longer, but is totally worth it!
  4. Season while cooking and flip as needed.
  5. When all sides are crispy, remove the fries onto a paper towel to remove excess grease.
  6. Enjoy! We don’t even use ketchup, not even our toddler! For an extra treat, top with bacon pieces and sliced green onion!

 

Watermelon Fruit Bowl

My son’s 3rd birthday was last month. Since he can’t have gluten or dairy, it really limits what we can serve at his parties. I do not like to serve things he can’t have, since it is his party. The only exception to that is the cupcakes or dessert. I get “regular” and gluten free options, as many of the children won’t eat the gluten-free kind and quite frankly it is pretty expensive.

Since fruit is something he can both have and other people all seem to like, we decided to have serve some fruit. I did not have the time to do some awesome food art, but I did want it to look more “fun” than just fruit in a glass bowl. The watermelon fruit bowl was the result. It took less than 15 minutes total and was a hit! Making the “bowl” itself only took an extra minute or two.

Watermelon Fruit Bowl

Ingredients

  • 1 Watermelon
  • 1-2 Lemons
  • Mix of other fruits you like such as grapes, kiwi, pineapple, strawberries etc.

Directions

  1. Cut the watermelon in half.
  2. Using a large knife, go around the outside edge (closest to the rhine) as far down as you can go while staying by the end. Then cut through the from one side to the other in the middle, going both directions, making a plus sign.
  3. Using a large spoon, scoop out the pieces into large chunks. They don’t need to be perfect shaped or anything, so do not spend too much time on this. Scoop out the remainder with a spoon and eat!
  4. Repeat with the other half of the watermelon.
  5. Wash and cut all the fruit into ready to eat pieces. You can use small cookie cutter to make shapes if desired.
  6. Mix the fruit in a big bowl and then scoop into the empty watermelon rhine. Squeeze the lemon over the fruit. You only need a little to help keep it from discoloring, but depending how much fruit you have, you may want to use two.
  7. If there is any leftover fruit, move it to a storage container in the refrigerator.

No-Egg Breakfast Bowl

Those of us that can’t or choose not to get grains can get pretty bored with eggs EVERY morning, plus many people are allergic. Here is a simple breakfast bowl that I created from what was in my refrigerator one morning. I am not a fan of “breakfast”, “lunch” and “dinner” labels, so feel free to cook this anytime like I do! Also, feel free to use bacon or ground sausage in place of the links.
Ingredients
  • 2 Large or 6 Small Sausage Links (I got mine at Sullivans Farms near Columbia, MO)
  • 2 cups Broccoli, Cut into Chunks (Stem and Florets)
  • 2 cups Spinach
  • 1 Yellow Onion, Peeled and Diced
  • 1 cup Mushrooms (I used Baby Bellas), Sliced
  • 1/8 tsp Sea Salt
  • 1/8 tsp Black Pepper
  • 1/8 tsp Roasted Ground Coriander
  • 1/8 tsp Garlic Powder
  • 1-2 Tbsp Good Quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Directions

  1. Brown links over medium heat in skillet on stove for around 4-5 minutes, turning as needed. Do not cook through. (I prefer using my cast iron.)
  2. Remove from skillet and set to the side.
  3. Place the onions and broccoli into the skillet and cook for 5 minutes over medium heat, stirring as needed. Add a 1/2-1 tbsp of olive oil if needed. (There may be some left over from the sausage.)
  4. While the veggies are cooking, remove the casein and cut the sausage down the middle, splitting the sausage into two long halves. Hold the two pieces together, while slicing into 1″ slices.
  5. Mix in the spinach and 1 tbsp olive oil to the skillet. Stir around and the spinach should cook down after 2-3 minutes.
  6. Next, add in the sausage, mushrooms, and spices. Continue to cook for 10-12 minutes, stirring as needed. Ensure that the sausage is cooked through.
  7. Enjoy!

I always recommend organic, local, pastured and non-gmo whenever possible! If you are looking for more egg free recipe ideas and are around Columbia, MO then check out Back 2 Basics Cooking!