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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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!

 

8 Tips For Helping Positive Diet Changes To Stick

David Ramsey says, “Change is very hard and we change only when the pain of same is greater than the pain of change.”  Let’s face it, for many people, cleaning up your diet is hard! I mean, unhealthy foods are EVERYWHERE and not to mention addictive (and cheaper). It seems so much easier to just deprive yourself for a few days or weeks, instead of actually trying to make long lasting positive diet changes. Really though, we are not talking about going on a diet, but instead about replacing nutrient poor foods with nutrient dense foods. I have rode along on the journey as several people have went through this process, as well as gone through it myself, so I know first hand how much some people struggle with it.

Any positive diet change is not going to be just for a few weeks or months like so many “diets” out there, but instead should be a lifestyle change, a whole new mindset if you will. I have had the pleasure of meeting some people who seem to make this lifestyle change with what appears to be very little effort. After reflecting on what these people had in common, I came up with the following tips:

  1. It has to be YOUR idea. Any major change can not be your wife’s idea or your father’s or even your doctor’s. It has to be YOURS, if you are going to have enough motivation to stick with this long term, YOU have to want it. When people that come to me say something like, “my doctor says I need to give up gluten, but I just don’t know”, I already know their chances of long-term success are minimal, because they lack the personal motivation to stick with it through the tough times, which are inevitable. That is not meant as a judgement of any kind, but I see it happen quite often.
  2. You must have some kind of plan. In the land of convenience foods, pizza parties and donuts at the office every friday, it is critical that you make a plan before starting your diet change. You are going to be tempted, you are going to get busy, things are going to come up, you will not always be eating at home and sometimes there will be no options available. All of this will undoubtedly happen when your motivation has already left the building! It can really help to know what you are going to do in these types of situations before you reach them. You need recipe ideas and to know what you are going to buy at the store. You simply can not wake up one day and say “I want to clean up my diet” and instantly do so perfectly 100% of the time. (And if you somehow did, please email me and tell me how!) Freezer meals, weekly meal prep, doubling meals and help from my boyfriend are the main way that we make it work in our house. It took us a few years to get to this point though, so be patient.
  3. Only wanting to lose weight is not enough. In my experience, there tend to be two types of people that make the effort to clean up their diet. People who are trying to lose weight and people who are sick and in pain, and of course many people experience both reasons. Those people who are only trying to lose weight will eventually go back to eating unhealthy if that is their only motivation. That is not to say that many of the people who try diets like Paleo for weight loss reasons, do not eventually change their mindsets, because so many do. They feel so much better eating nutrient dense foods that their bodies were craving, that they don’t even worry about the weight loss anymore. Those people who are sick and in pain tend to do a better job of sticking to the path out of necessity. Having a gallbladder attack or migraine will quickly remind you that “cheating” is not an option for you!
  4. Focusing on what you can eat, instead of what is “off-limits” is crucial. When I first started eating Paleo, I really focused on some of the things that I could no longer eat and drink. It made it really difficult. When I eventually stopped focusing on things I was suppose to be avoiding, I realized that there is actually more things that I eat now than when I was eating a Standard American Diet. I mean really, when you really open your mind, there are soooo many things you can make out of meats, vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds and healthy fats! For example Beef and Broccoli Cashew Stir Fry, Beef Bourguignon, Pineapple Meatballs and Ground Beef Stroganoff are use a few amazing Paleo friendly recipes just for beef. Cherry Chocolate Chip Cookies, Sweet Potato Pie, Mexican Chocolate Pots de’ CremeEskimo Pies and Flourless Zucchini Brownies are just some of the amazing Paleo “friendly” desserts. (Of course, these desserts are not healthy if you eat them all the time, but they are great options for those people who can’t or do not want to eat bad oils, flours and fake foods when they want a treat.) Another way to look at this is to start adding in good foods, instead of focusing on removing the bad ones. This can be the kick start that some people need in order to achieve their goals.
  5. Doing what works best for YOU can give you the extra step up that you need to succeed! When some people enter a swimming pool, they dive in, and take in the full shock of the temperature change. While this can be very uncomfortable for a moment, it doesn’t last long. When other people enter the swimming pool, they ease their way in, little by little. This makes for less of a shock, but it does drag out the process. The point is, that either way both people eventually are adjusted to the temperature of the water and in the pool….  Gretchen Rubin discusses the difference between abstainers and moderators in this episode of Underground Wellness Radio (start at 33:00). Moderators are the ones who can eat one tiny square of chocolate a day but the thought of no chocolate is too much for them, while abstainers, by contrast are the ones who can’t eat any chocolate because they will eat the entire bar! Neither strategy is right or wrong, you just need to find what works best for YOU! If one way is not working, maybe you need to try the other way.
  6. Know your triggers and act accordingly. When I was finally able to kick my soda pop habit for good, I couldn’t eat any fast food, because when I did it would send my cravings through the roof! I am sure it was partly the addictive foods themselves, causing me to craving my glass of Dr. Pepper, but I also think it was the memory of always consuming it with my fast food meals that made it worse. Personally it was too hard for me, so I just avoided fast food for a few months (that is really never a bad idea, is it?!?).
  7. Persistence. Persistence. Persistence. When I quit smoking cigarettes several years ago, it took me 9 tries before I finally kicked the habit for good. I tried the patch, the gum, Chantix (prescription medicine), cold turkey and the list goes on and on. You want to know why I finally was able to quit? Because I stuck with it! I made a goal and nothing was going to keep me from it. I kept that same intensity for a few years until I finally figured out what worked from me (which goes back to tip #5). The ability to stick to your goal (remember it must be your goal) is one of the top traits that will ensure success when transitioning to a healthier diet. These are the people who are able to adjust their plans and make things work through all the bumps in the road. These are the people who despite failing 197 times, they keep trying until they find what works, because they are determined at all costs to reach their goals!
  8. Forgiveness. Being able to forgive yourself when you make a mistake or when you fail is possibly the most important trait to have when trying to make a diet change. People who beat themselves up for failing are, in my experience, not going to make the change long term; however, those who frown, brush themselves off and move on, are more equipped to make the a lifestyle change instead of just “dieting” for a few weeks. Winston Churchill once said, “Success is going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.” Failure is not permanent and you must never let it steal your hope. Forgive yourself and move on.

And while I decided not to add it to the list, because I have seen many people accomplish their goals without it, support can be very necessary for some people so I thought I should at least mention it. It never hurts to know that you have some people on your side! Of course, many people have also used the motivation they get when everyone doubts them. Either way, other people opinions can help add fuel to your fire and give you the extra incentive that you need to accomplish your goals.

I also have to add making the right diet changes are extra important for long term sustainability. If, for example, you try to go on a low fat diet, I suspect you will be hungry all the time and it will be near impossible for you to sustain with all the unhealthy tempting choices that we are bombarded with on a day to day basis. Check out The Paleo Mom or Robb Wolf if you would like to understand more about how Paleo can be a great starting point for you to find out what works for your body. Check out Nourished Kitchen to get started with real food. If you are in the Columbia, Missouri area, join us for a Meal Prep Workshop to set yourself up for success! And hopefully this blog will be helpful to you on your journey as well!

Are there any tips you would add to this list?

Strawberry Lemonade

I help a lot of people clean up their diets and one thing that I know for certain is that each person is on their own stage and does things in their own time. Some people must do the all or nothing approach, but most people have to do the teeny tiny baby step approach. While the all in approach certainly gets you from A to B faster, some people will be too overwhelmed and instead of just falling off the wagon, they will blow the entire wagon up! So really I do not think there is any one “right” way to clean up your diet, both methods get you to the same place eventually.

If you are one of the baby step people, then this recipe will be useful for you. Especially if you drink any sweetened beverages like soda pop, juice, gatorade, etc… Like making your own tea, this recipe is great, because you add the sugar (in this case raw honey) yourself; therefore, it is gives you the control to cut it back slowly, so that you can allow your taste buds to adjust to less sweetness without such a “shock”.

Ingredients

  • 16 ounces (1 lb.) Organic Strawberries and 6 Ice Cubes or Frozen Organic Strawberries
  • 2 Cups Filtered Water
  • 1/4 Cup of Raw Honey
  • Freshly Squeezed Juice from 2-3 Lemons

Directions

  1. DSCN0393

    If using fresh strawberries, wash, cut/remove ends and cut strawberries in half and place in blender. (If using frozen, you can simply put into the blender.)       

  2. DSCN0398

    Using a juice press or your hands, squeeze the juice from 2 medium lemons into the blender.

  3. Add 1/4 cup of raw honey. (Locally sourced is best.)

    Add 1/4 cup of raw honey. (Locally sourced is best.)

  4. If using fresh strawberries, add the ice cubes to the blender.

    If using fresh strawberries, add the ice cubes to the blender.

  5. Add the water and place the lid on the blender.

    Add the water and place the lid on the blender.

  6. Blend for 1-2 minutes. Be sure to hold your hand on top of blender while blending, so you don't end up with a mess!

    Blend for 1-2 minutes. Be sure to hold your hand on top of blender while blending, so you don’t end up with a mess!

  7. Try not to drink it all at once!

    Try not to drink it all at once! (If you prefer it more tart, squeeze the third lemon in and if you prefer it sweeter, add more honey.)

The Potential of a Healthy Diet

When it comes to cleaning up your diet, it is not about perfection, but instead about potential. Potential to minimize or eliminate the symptoms of many chronic illnesses, potential for increased energy, potential to lose unwanted weight and keep it off without starving yourself, potential to add years to your life.

This potential is what motivated me to make a career change and start my business. It is why I run this blog and my webpage. It is why I maintain a Facebook and Instagram account. And it is why I answer dozens of food related questions via e-mail, text, phone, on my sites, and in person every single day.

Bacon Avocado Chicken...I bet this isn't allowed on most "diets". Good thing Paleo is a lifestyle!

Bacon Avocado Chicken…I bet this isn’t allowed on most “diets”. Good thing Paleo is a lifestyle!

It is my hope to help everyone. Not because I am a know it all who wants to take away your pizza; but, because I look around and see diet related health problems everywhere. However, I also understand that many people are in a comfort zone when it comes to food. The thought of stepping out of that comfortable place, even if it means their joints will no longer ache or their diabetes will no longer be an issue or whatever problem could benefit from a diet change, is just too much for them to get started. As I said, I used to be that person, so I completely understand. Food can often times be an addiction, and I believe many more people suffer from this addiction than we are willing to admit.

Take the first step, to getting control back. Don’t be a slave to food any longer. Try a Whole30 or 21 Sugar Detox Diet. Even just 30 days of Paleo eating will help.

Stop drinking diet soda, or soda all together. Stop eating fast food multiple times a week. Stop counting boxed cereal towards your daily fiber intake.

Get educated. Take Control. Start somewhere. It is up to YOU!

Back2BasicsCooking-Final_2

What do you do to keep healthy eating less complicated and more fun?

5 (More) Helpful Things To Have Around During a Whole30 Challenge

I previously wrote a post about 5 things that were helpful to have around during a Whole30 challenge. Since I am in the middle of hosting a Whole30 challenge through my business Back 2 Basics Cooking, I thought I would write another post about helpful things to have around during a challenge. So,here are they are:

1)Lard

LARD

I have been without Lard for a few weeks, because the farmers that I like to purchase Lard from sell them in tub that are around $20 each. While it is large and worth every penny, it can still be hard to afford when on a limited budget. Roast some vegetables in Lard and you will get a small taste of heaven. It is also a cheaper cooking fat than coconut or oil olive.

2)Red Boat Fish Sauce

red boat

Seriously, this stuff is amazing! It is pricey but a little goes along way. I can not even remember what life was like without it. I will be doing some free video demonstrations soon with ways to use this fantastic stuff. Add a little usami to your food today!

3)Cauliflower

Chicken Fried Paleo Rice

Cauliflower rice anyone? Need I say more?

4)Larabars

Beware of certain Larabar flavors, as some of them do not have approved ingredients. Always check your labels!

Beware of certain Larabar flavors, as some of them do not have approved ingredients. Always check your labels!

These bars of fruit and nutty goodness are great emergency foods to keep you from making bad choices when you are hungry and without a plan. However you must be sure not to use them to satisfy a sugar craving, as sugar=sugar=sugar. Even when it is natural sugar.

5)Support

whole30 funny by us

This is one thing that is not just helpful to have around, I believe it is, in almost every case, essential to have. For the majority of people, they need some kind of support to sustain something like the Whole30 for the entire 30 days, especially if this is their first time cleaning up their diet. I myself do not feel as if I would have made it through this Whole30 (I am not done yet, but I can see the light) if I would not have had the support of the group who came together to participate in the program with me. Because while a Whole30 is not hard, it IS hard. The support groups (both on-line and in person) have provided encouragement, meal ideas, some fun and time/money saving tips. It really has been an invaluable resource!

There are so many awesome foods that was difficult to only pick 5. This “diet’ has so many options once you stop focusing on what you can’t have!

What is your favorite thing to have around during a Whole30?