7 More Side Dish Suggestions

You may have seen either of my posts 15 Grain-Free Side Dish Ideas or 10 More Side Dish Ideas. Since I do my best to keep new and exciting entrees in my meal prep workshops, it is always helpful to add in even more side dish suggestions also. So, below you will find 7 more side dish suggestions that are all grain-free, but full of flavor!

1. Bacon Wrapped Candied Butternut Squash Bites These amazing bites of heaven are worth the time it takes to wrap the bacon. You will want butternut squash at every meal after tasting this delicious side dish!

2. Asparagus Pesto I love to smear this on my burgers and fish for added flavor!

3. Sweet or Spicy Carrot Chips Rather you are in a sweet or spicy mood, there is an option for you! These tasty chips will help you to easily get more veggies into your diet!

4. Sweet Bell Pepper Saute I would add red onions (cooking for 4-5 minutes before adding peppers) to this sweet side dish and I would use sea salt, not table salt. This dish will add much needed color to your meal!

5. Oven Roasted Green Beans With Garlic A simple, tasty addition to your meal!

6. Beet Greens Sauteed with Garlic and Bacon Fat  A tasty, colorful side dish to get some beet greens into your diet!

7. Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes A great way to switch up the mashed potatoes on your plate to try something new! I mean is there really anything to cauliflower can’t do?!?

 

 

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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!

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!

15 Grain-Free Side Dish Ideas

Here are a few of my favorite side dishes for anyone who has taken one of my freezer workshops or just anyone reading who needs some fresh ideas! All are “clean” and super tasty! I hope you enjoy them as much as I do….

Roasted Carrots

Brussel Sprout Chips

Kale Chips

Roasted Potatoes

Rainbow Roasted Root Vegetables

Cucumber Dill Salad

Oven Baked Sweet Potato Fries

Plantain Chips

Roasted Broccoli Recipe

Mashed Garlic Cauliflower

Mashed Sweet Potatoes

Cauliflower Rice

Slow Cooker Sweet Potatoes

Roasted Butternut Squash

Zesty Side Salad

Side Salad Topped With Roasted Sunflower Seeds And Drizzled With Olive Oil & Lemon

Side Salad Topped With Roasted Sunflower Seeds And Drizzled With Olive Oil & Lemon

If you are in a hurry, you can also sauteed a bag of frozen veggies in coconut or avocado oil or just toss together a simple side salad full of leafy greens and top with extra virgin olive oil and fresh squeezed lemon juice in place of store bought dressings. Enjoy!

 

 

Simple Whole30 Shopping Guide

I host a semi-annual Whole30 and was asked to make a simple short shopping guide. I actually wanted to make a video instead, but there are only so many hours in the day, so maybe the next Whole30 I can make that happen. For now, please use the following when at the grocery store during the Whole30 (and remember that the Whole30 is stricter than Paleo, so there are things that aren’t allowed that even on Paleo).

MEATS

Buy local, pastured, grass-fed/finished, and wild-caught when it is available and fits into your budget. If you live around Columbia,MO, you can find all of this (except the fish) at the local Columbia Farmer’s Market on Saturday mornings. If you receive EBT and have a child under 12, you may be eligible for their swap program, which allows you to “cash in” $25 dollars of your stamps for $50 in tokens.

Many people think that red meat is unhealthy, however if you get it from a source that cared for the animal correctly, where it was allowed to eat it’s natural diet and wasn’t injected with hormones etc., then you don’t need to fear it! Check out this article from Chris Kresser.

You still need to avoid added sugar so watch you sausage and bacon (almost all have added sugar). Things like bologna, hot dogs, and most lunch meat are off limits. I was able to find a no sugar added turkey from the deli at Hy-Vee. If you ask them the ingredients they can print your labels if they are unsure. Many canned tunas have soy in them and should be avoid.

While eggs are not meat, I wasn’t sure where else to add them, so I will include them here. Eggs are also not to be feared! Locate a local source when possible. Cage-free does not mean anything so don’t pay extra for these.

Short Version: Pork, Beef, Chicken, Lamb, Bison, Duck, Deer, Sugar Free Deli Turkey, Canned Salmon and Tuna, Fish/Seafood, Eggs

PRODUCE

Depending what your diet looked like before, you will probably be buying somewhere around double the amount of fruits and vegetables. Always purchase local and organic when possible. Check out the dirty dozen if you are on a budget. Eating in season is always a good idea, but isn’t a must. A local farmer’s market is always a good option.

Fruits do need to be limited to some extent, especially if weight loss is a goal; however, if you are coming from a sugar and carb heavy diet, the first week or two, it will be easier if you eat more fruits. Then the last 2-3 weeks you can cut them back. The only canned items that I personally can use are tomatoes. Avocados are an excellent fat source. If you are having trouble losing weight though, they should be limited.

Frozen vegetables are also a great option. Being so busy I use them a lot. Just cook some protein and throw some frozen vegetables and spices with it. Bam! Dinner is served. Also, after the first week do your best to try some new thing you haven’t or didn’t like before.

Dried fruit is ok, but shouldn’t be eaten alone. For example, instead of eating a handful of raisins, add them with some tuna, spinach and olive oil for a quick salad. Larabars are a great on the go option (just avoid the ones with chocolate chips), but they need to be limited, because they are made with dates. I personally am going to limit myself to no more than 3 a week this Whole30.

Short Version: Get tons of vegetables and some fruits. Maybe even double of what you typically buy. Grab a few larabars in case you need something quick.

NUTS AND SEEDS

Nuts and seeds are a healthy addition to your Whole30, but should be limited also. Adding a handful to a salad adds a nice texture though, so don’t be afraid to use them sometimes. You want to purchase raw nuts and seeds. The bulk section is a good place to get these if your store has one. If you buy them from a package just be sure to check the label for added ingredients! Almonds are high in Omega-6’s so do not overdo them especially.

You can also purchase nut butters like almond and cashew butter or even sunbutter. As always, be sure to read the labels as many of these have added sugar. Many stores have a machine that will grind the almonds right there so you know exactly what is in them. Hy-Vee and Clover’s in Columbia have these machines.

Nut flours are a great option for replacing all-purpose flour. While you are not allowed to make things like pancakes on the Whole30, you can use nut flours to bread chicken etc.

Please note that peanuts are a legume, not a nut, so they should be avoided.

Short Version: Almonds, Walnuts, Cashews, Sesame Seeds, Sunflower Seeds Etc.(Raw), Nut Butter, Nut Flowers

COCONUT

I know that coconut is a nut, but I decided to list it separately because it offers so many great options! The coconut offers us oil, chips, flours, and milk. Be sure to get extra virgin (or virgin) coconut oil and full fat coconut milk. I purchase Nature’s Valley in a can. Yum!

The oil is awesome because it has a high smoke point, so you can cook with it. You can use it on your teeth, hair, and body also!

Short Version: Extra Virgin Coconut Oil, Coconut Flakes, Coconut Chips, Coconut Flours, Coconut Milk

OILS

Since we are no longer using vegetable oils, you need to know what to use in place of them. There are lots of great options. As mentioned above coconut oil is one of them. Avocado oil is another one. Olive oil is great, but should not be heated much and is better used for dressings.

Beef fat and duck fat from quality sources are great options. This one might make you think I am crazy, but lard is also an excellent and tasty option. If you are in the Columbia area check out Sullivan Farms at the Columbia Farmer’s Market for some high quality lard that I personally use. You do not want to use store bought lard, since those pigs were probably not taken very good care of. Since fat stores toxins, this lard would be full of them.

Short Version:Coconut Oil, Avocado Oil, Olive Oil, Duck Fat, Tallow (beef fat), and Lard (pig fat)

EXTRAS

There are items that do not fall into any of the above that are Whole30 approved also. Mustard and balsamic vinaigrette are two of those. I did not cover everything, so be sure to check your labels. If you are unsure, screenshot the label and post it to the group to find out.

Short Version: Mustard, Balsamic Vinaigrette, and READ YOUR LABELS

Check out these posts if you are wondering what a Whole30 meal looks like or what our first week of the challenge was like last time. This post may be helpful also! And if you think you are fat, please check this post out! The first week or two might be rough, but you will feel better when they are over!