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?

7 Tips For Saving Time And Money on Freezer Meal Prep

So you have heard great things about freezer cooking from your sister, your co worker and the man at the supermarket and want to give it a try? The first workshop that I hosted was over 5 hours and we only prepped 10 family sized meals! There wasn’t even any cooking required! haha (Not to mention, how high the grocery bill was!) I have learned so much this past year hosting whole food meal prep workshops, so please allow me to help you with your learning curve.
Organization and planning are ESSENTIAL for a stress-free prep day. Imagine having to make two extra trips to the store for forgotten ingredients or getting to the checkout at the store, only to find you went WAY over your budget. Neither of those things, would make freezer cooking worth the effort. In fact, they may send you running for the hills (or the nearest drive-thru)! To make things go smoothly, it is imperative for you to invest an hour or two into the planning stage. I promise it will be worth it!
1. Buy In Bulk Buying in bulk can save you tons of money and that is never a bad thing! There are two ways I achieve this with my freezer meal prep.
The first is to at least double all of the recipes I am making. There are times I make up to five bags of each recipe.
The second is to overlap ingredients when possible. For example, if I am using hamburger for recipe, I may try to find a second recipe with hamburger in order to get the hamburger cheaper per pound.
2. Stay Budget Friendly Aside from buying in bulk, there are a few other ways to keep the sticker shock a little lower for your prep day:
-Look at how many higher priced items you have on your list. If you are gluten-free or Paleo, you really need to keep an eye on things like coconut aminos, honey, maple syrup, fish sauce, almond flour, etc. as these can add up very quickly.
-Protein is always a large part of the bill, so always keep a close eye on this. Things like ground beef, ground pork, chicken legs or beef brisket are going to be less expensive than something like filet mignon, center cut pork loin, chicken breasts or a porterhouse steak. Making breakfast casseroles, using only eggs, also helps to cut down on the overall bill.
-Planning your meals around in-season vegetables and fruits can really save you some money as well. And in a perfect world, you would always purchase organic; however, many of my clients, as well as myself, use the dirty dozen verses the clean fifteen when deciding what we will purchase organic and what we won’t.
-When planning your meals, try to use up any rare ingredients that you may not use otherwise, so that they do not go to waste.
3. Cooking VS Easy Assemble Prep Some meals and entrees need to be cooked before you freeze them and some can be assembled without any cooking at all. If you plan for at least half of your choices to be easy assembly, your prep day will go much smoother! There are also some recipes which only need some cooking. For example, some casseroles will have you brown the meat, but not bake the casserole itself.
4. Variety If you are like most people, you will want to ensure that you have a variety of different types of meals. It is possible to overlap many of your ingredients and still have a variety of meals. It is all about the spices! Also, it can be helpful to have a variety of cooking types in your freezer as well, such as slow cooker, stove, oven, grill, etc. Often times I will prep one type each weekend for a month. The end result is a full variety in my freezer! It definitely helps to keep my family interested in healthier meals.
5. Check Out Your Pantry Building your meals around items that you already have on hand will allow you to use up old ingredients before they expire, as well as cut down your bill at the grocery store or farmer’s market.
6. Double Check Your Math Ensure you doubled, tripled or quadrupled the recipes correctly. If there are overlapped ingredients, ensure that you included all of them from each recipe and added the ingredients together correctly. Ensure that you converted your measurements correctly as well. Don’t forget about the storage bags or containers!
7. Triple Check Your Shopping List Needed to make extra trips to the store will not save you time in the long run. It may even cost you more money, if you are like most people, because you will pick up a few extra items while you are there, that you would not have otherwise purchased. To avoid this, simply triple check your shopping list to your recipes!
I know it is tempting to skip the planning stage, but if you just put a little effort into it, your prep day will go so much smoother (and be cheaper too)! If you would like for me to do your planning for you, check out a meal prep workshop if you are around Columbia, Missouri or email me at ashley@back2basicscooking.net for help via email/skype.
Are there any extra planning tips you would add to this list? Do you have any funny stories about results of NOT planning a meal prep day? I would love to hear about it below! Good luck and Happy Prepping!

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!

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!

Make Ahead Sausage & Veggies Breakfast

I am not a morning person. My toddler on the other hand loves to wake up at 5 or 6 am! He is ready to go as soon as his eyes pop open and he is ready to eat. He does not care that I am not ready to get up and he does not care that I do not feel like making breakfast. Since we are grain (and dairy) free, it obviously limits our breakfast options. On top of that, my son refuses to eat eggs unless they are mixed into something, so there really are no quick options.

This is one of my favorite egg free breakfast recipes, but I usually brown the meat and veggies in a skillet and then place that with seasoning and the apple into the oven. This time though, I said “Hey self. Why not just trying throwing this into the crockpot before you go to sleep and see what happens.” Not only did the house smelling absolutely amazing when we woke up, but the recipe was even better than when I used a skillet and the oven….

Ingredients

  • 1 pound ground sausage
  • 1/2 medium head of cabbage-shredded
  • 1 medium yellow onion-diced
  • 1 medium honeycrisp apple-diced (you can substitute for other sweet apple types)
  • 2 carrots peeled-sliced or shredded
  • 1/8 tsp sea salt
  • 1/8 tsp black pepper
  • 1/8 tsp garlic powder

Slow Cooker Directions:

  1. Crumble the ground sausage at the bottom of the slow cooker.
  2. Add the vegetables and seasonings.
  3. Cook on low for 6-8 hours or high for 3-4 hours.

Please note, if you prefer your apples to be crispier, do not add until the last 1-2 hours of cooking. And remember locally sourced meat is always the best option! If you are in or around Columbia, Missouri like I am then be sure to check out the Columbia Farmer’s Market, where you can find locally raised Sullivan Farms (pastured, non-gmo) and Crocker Farms pork products!

The recipe will half, double or triple great! So try any of those combinations if feeding more or less people. You can add baked sweet potatoes as an excellent side dish to make this meal go farther (which also cook excellent in a crockpot).

Check out the Back 2 Basics Cooking resources page for tons more whole food resources!

What is your favorite go to breakfast choice?

Trying to Lose Weight? Focus on Your Diet, Not A “Diet”!

Say hello to the person who motivated me to start this business- My mother!

mom wow

Not only has she lost tons of weight, dropped several pant sizes and lowered her blood pressure and cholesterol over the last 9 months, but for the first time I can ever remember she is HAPPY with her body. I have watched her struggle with her body imagine my entire life. It is so awesome not to hear her putting herself down. I love that she is getting healthier, but even more so I love that she is happy!

If you are struggling with your self imagine, please don’t say you’re fat. I do not care what the scales says. You are simply a skinny person, who needs to lose a few pounds. Until you correct yourself imagine you will NEVER be skinny enough! Please check out this old post of mine.

Also, after being on almost every diet there is, she says this is the first time she hasn’t felt like she needed to go eat an entire package of Oreos. She is staying full and has tons of energy. No counting calories or points, just eating real food. For her, it is no longer a “diet”, it is a lifestyle!

Remember your diet matters (but not being on a “diet”)!! back2basicscooking.net

Mini Chef Cooking Classes

Back in June of 2014, I started Back 2 Basics Cooking. One of the services that I offer is cooking classes for children between the ages of 18 months and 12 years old (13 years and up attend the adult classes). For this mini chef class, we made the Flourless Zucchini Brownies from Lindsey over at Delighted Momma and we had children from 4-8 years old. I know that some people in the Paleo community are not fans of Paleo Desserts, but I think this is one of the amazing examples of a great use for them! Anytime you can get children to cook with (and eat) more whole foods is a win in my book. Even if that food happens to be a brownie.

We had such a blast! One of the little girl’s actually said, “This is the BEST time I’ve ever had in my life!” And while I suspect that to a 7 year old, a lot of things are probably “the best”, this completely melted my heart and reaffirmed my decision to start my business in the first place. Since we had so much fun, I thought I would briefly go over the class for anyone who might be wondering what a mini chef cooking class at Back 2 Basics Cooking looks like.

Set-Up & Zucchini Prep

After we all put on our nametags and aprons, we washed our hands. I explained how I had already preheated the oven. Then each mini chef got their own zucchini. They then washed, peeled and cut their zucchini into large chunks. And don’t worry, they used a knife I purchased from Pampered Chef that will cut, but will not cut them. The kids all did such a great job and really enjoyed this task!

brownie2brownie4brownie1

Zucchini Shredding

After this we all took turns pushing the button on the food processor (because we, of course, ALL had to push it!) and then scraping the zucchini into the bowl. The kids were very excited to see how we were going to make a brownie out of zucchini. They did not think this was possible.

brownie 5         brownie 6        brownie 7

Remaining Ingredients

We then took turns again, adding in the remaining ingredients. We talked about how we were doubling the recipe, and took the time to figure out what the doubles of each ingredient were.

Fresh Farm Eggs

Fresh Farm Eggs

Pure Vanilla Extract

Pure Vanilla Extract

Ground Cinnamon

Ground Cinnamon

Almond Butter

Almond Butter

brownie 11

Raw Honey

Enjoy Life Dark Chocolate Chips

Enjoy Life Dark Chocolate Chips

Baking Soda

Baking Soda

Mixing

And then we stirred, stirred, stirred it all up!

  mixing2                                                stir2   mixing4                                                stir

Greasing the Pan

And while some where mixing, others were taking turns greasing the pan with extra virgin coconut oil:

mixing 3greasinggreasing 2

Pouring

Then came the pouring:

pouring3pouring1pouring

Fun Activities While Waiting for Brownies to Bake

While the brownies were in the oven, each mini chef got to decorate their very own cookbook. We talked about how this was their own very special cookbook, and that if they did not like a recipe then they did not have to leave it in their book. They each gave their cookbook a personal touch with some stickers and a few markers.

bronwies24bronwies 23bronwies22brownies22

The kids were each proud of their personally designed cookbooks!

The kids were each proud of their personally designed cookbooks!

We also played simon says, red light-green light and talked about our favorite foods! Then these amazing kids all lined up at the sink and worked together, as a team, to wash all of the dishes (except the sharp food processor blade off course). All I did was get them set up and then they did the rest!

Teamwork

dishes

The teamwork that these children displayed was nothing short of impressive and better than many adults I have seen!

Are they done yet?!?

brownies23

Before we opened the oven, we talked about how hot it was and how careful we all needed to be so no one would get burned.

After much suspense, the brownies were finally finished!

done done2

Since we doubled the batch, we should have stirred once about 10 minutes into baking and the middle wouldn’t have been lighter than the outside. Lesson learned. However, the taste wasn’t affected in the least. These kids make some super yummy brownies!  The two “eye” holes are from me making sure the brownies were done with the knife and the “mouth” baked into the brownies itself. Some of the kids thought the brownies looked like a face and found a lot of humor in this!

We did not get any pictures of eating the brownies, because everyone was busy filling their tummies! All of the children and parents said the brownies were very tasty.

What Did The Parents Think?

So, by now you can probably tell that the children had lots of fun and enjoyed themselves. But you may be wondering what the parents (grandparents,etc) thoughts were. Let’s take a quick look:

“We did our first kid’s class today and it was GREAT. Ashley was engaging, friendly, and knowledgable. The recipe was delicious, and the kids had fun! We’re looking forward to next month’s class!” -Rebecca Johanning QA/Control Technician

“It was lots of fun and very well organized. Fun for kids.” -Leanne Lake, Administrative Associate

I love how hands on it is. The entertainment during the cook time was great. I love the personalized cookbooks. This is a hands on event, full of family value. It is a great way to spend some one on one time with your child, and you get a healthy tasty treat at the end!” -Jenifer Smith, Mother of 3

Other Mini Chef Classes

I hope that this post has helped answer any questions you might have about the mini chef classes. If not, please do not hesitate to ask me! Also, some classes won’t require such a long baking time so the extra activities will be less.

Please Note:At the time of this class, I have all the mini chef’s (ages 18 months to 12 years) in one class; however, as enrollment continues to pick up, I will be added an junior chef classes. At that point the mini chef classes will be for children ages 18 months to 6 years and the junior chef classes will be for children 7 years to 12 years old. If your child is 13 or above they will attend the adult classes (unless they wish to come to a junior chef class).

leanne

Conclusion

Getting your child (or grandchild/niece/nephew) excited about eating whole foods is only one of the many benefits of the mini chef cooking classes at Back 2 Basics Cooking. In this class alone, in addition to the actual cooking, the children worked on teamwork, sharing, fractions, fine motor skills, and patience! So if you want your child to learn a skill that will last a lifetime, along with practice of many other skills, sign up for a mini chef class today! Seating is very limited.

BIG THANK YOU to Jenifer Smith for taking all of these awesome pictures while her daughter was attending this class.

What I Have Learned After The 1st Week Of Hosting a Whole30 Challenge

On October 1, 2014, me and 25 other people started out on a Whole30 challenge, which my business Back 2 Basics Cooking is hosting. Even though I have been eating (95%) Paleo since April of this year, this will be the first Whole30 program that I personally have completed, as well as the first time I have hosted a challenge. I put a lot of effort and time into organizing this event, and was worried that no one would sign up or that no one would complete the challenge.

Sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, coconut flakes, and rasiasns.

Sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, coconut flakes, and raisins.

While it has given my business some positive exposure, I did not organize this challenge to raise profits. Therefore, it would have been quite the bummer if no one signed up, or if everyone only participated half heartedly. Not only have many of the participants continued to participate, many of them are taking extra time out of their day to help support each other!

Chicken sautéed with some spinach and coconut oil and tomatoes with roasted brussel sprouts-all covered with fresh lemon juice~Submitted by Jessica

Chicken sautéed with some spinach and coconut oil and tomatoes with roasted brussel sprouts-all covered with fresh lemon juice~Submitted by Jessica

On top of that, I have been learning a lot myself from hosting the challenge. I am already figuring out ways to make the next challenge more helpful. Considering that about a week before the challenge I was very down and ready to throw in the towel, this is very exciting to me! A few people have dropped out of the challenge, but I am still very happy that they even attempted it. I hope that the time they participated helped open their eyes to how food affects them, which will help them to make more whole food choices in the future. There are even people who have asked to follow the group, so that they can learn more!

Apples, almond butter, and kombucha~Submitted by Jen

Apples, almond butter, and kombucha~Submitted by Jen

Since we have officially made it through the one week mark, I thought I would take a moment to write a quick post about some of the things participating and hosting this challenge has taught me:

Hamburger mixed with carrots, zucchini, and onions ~Submitted by Ambra

Hamburger mixed with carrots, zucchini, and onions ~Submitted by Ambra

1. Support is CRUCIAL for some when it comes to change. I am one of those someones. If I had not put together this challenge I know I would have given up on this already, even though I am 100% aware of how much it will help my health. But it would be kind of messed up of me to give up now though, since I am encouraging everyone else to continue. haha

Batch cooking some roast, potatoes, carrots, and onions~Submitted by Jessica

Batch cooking some roast, potatoes, carrots, and onions~Submitted by Jessica

2.I thought that since  I have been grain, soy, dairy (with the exception of grass-fed butter), and food-dye free since April, that I would not have much to learn from participating in the program….silly me! Sugar is a hard habit to kick, and just because you are eating honey instead of table sugar it still doesn’t mean you aren’t still addicted to sugar.

Tuna, celery, and raisins over spinach ~Submitted by Jen

Tuna, celery, and raisins over spinach ~Submitted by Jen

3. I need to have my own kitchen by the time I have the next challenge, so that I can have the support meetings there. Then I could give small demonstrations also. I also want to have a meeting either the day before or the first day of the next challenge. My sister was in from Canada and I had to take her to the airport in KC on Oct 1, so that just wasn’t an option this time.

Baked sweet potato chips with cinnamon and ginger~Submitted by Jerale

Baked sweet potato chips with cinnamon and ginger~Submitted by Jerale

4.Having a support group on Facebook, has really helped some of us out. For example, I was not aware that we couldn’t have any extracts on this program (even though I am the “leader”), but because of the facebook group I was able to find out before we were too far in. Others have thought they needed to be low carb, but I was able to explain that isn’t necessary. You CAN be low carb, but you do not have to be. Simply eat the RIGHT carbs. It has also helped out with people asking me the same questions. This way I can just refer them to the post instead of saying the same thing over and over.

Baked pears, coconut milk, and walnuts ~Submitted by Cassandra

Baked pears, coconut milk, and walnuts ~Submitted by Cassandra

5.Being able to share recipes and meal ideas is also great! I would have never thought to put apples, tuna, and cucumbers together on my own. Someone else shared the idea so I gave it a shot and wow!  I was already aware of what a wide range of meals and snacks would be available, I talked about it in this post. But I believe sharing ideas with each other has helped to speed up everyone’s learning curve. As you can see by all of the food pictures that I took from our Facebook group, we haven’t had a shortage of meal ideas. 🙂

Tuna mixed with cucumbers, onions, apples, olive oil, and avocado.

Tuna mixed with cucumbers, onions, apples, olive oil, and avocado.

6.Food can be very addictive and we should not downplay that. In my opinion, it is like a drug for many of us and should be treated as such. (Only drugs don’t line the shelves of every gas station and grocery store around!)

Chicken topped with mango and tomato with a side of roasted potatoes ~Submitted by Jessa

Chicken topped with mango and tomato with a side of roasted potatoes ~Submitted by Jessa

7.People are noticing how much better they are feeling, how they are staying full longer, and how amazing whole foods taste when you clean up your body much faster than I had anticipated. This is awesome to me!

Hamburger with greeen beans, onions, and green peppers with roasted broccoli and sweet potato fries~Submitted by Kara

Hamburger with green beans, onions, and green peppers with roasted broccoli and sweet potato fries~Submitted by Kara

For all of my Whole 30ers who are reading this: Please take a moment and comment below. Give a short explanation of how the first week has went for you. what you have learned and why you are continuing with the challenge. It is ok to add the good and the bad. I am hoping to help motivate others to start eating more whole foods and your feedback will help tons!

Ground turkey, marinara sauce & spaghetti squash ~Submitted by Jessica

Ground turkey, marinara sauce & spaghetti squash ~Submitted by Jessica

(If you are not part of our challenge, but have completed a Whole30 Program before, please feel free to comment as well.)

Frozen Grapes

Frozen Grapes

The W’s of the Upcoming Whole30 Challenge in Columbia, MO

 

 The Whole30 Challenge-Columbia, MO 

Hosted By:

Back2BasicsCooking-Final_3

 

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If you have heard about the upcoming Whole30 challenge that Back 2 Basics Cooking is hosting then you might have a few questions. So in case you missed the meetings or are out-of-town and will be participating only online (forfeiting all gift bags and prizes), here are some answers to the w’s of the upcoming challenge. If you haven’t already, check out my webpage about the challenge.

Who is this challenge for? Anyone who wishes to follow the Whole30 Program for 30 days with the rest of the group.

What will people be doing? Short version-Eliminating inflammatory food groups such as dairy, grains, legumes, sugar, and alcohol. So they will be eating meat, lots of vegetables and healthy fats and some nuts, seeds, and fruits. There will be support groups, as well as online support, and a party at the end where everyone who participated for the full 30 days and follows the rules will receive a gift bag. There will also be drawings for grand prizes. Best of all, thanks to all the wonderful sponsors, this event is FREE!

Where will the support groups and the party be located? Ingredient in Columbia, Missouri. It is located downtown so parking isn’t the greatest, but you can park in the parking garage to the east of the building. Dates and times to be announced.

When will this event take place? October 1,2014-October, 30, 2014-Support groups and party dates TBA

Why on earth would people want to give up their pizza? Well I don’t think very many people actually want to give up their pizza, but many find that when they do, they feel better. For some people, whatever medical condition or symptom they are suffering from is enough to motive them to ditch their favorite slice. For me it was migraines (horrible, horrible migraines) and my entire body was constantly itchy. A dairy allergy was to blame. We took our son off of grains when he tested low on iron despite the fact that he got plenty of iron in his diet. A month later (and with no other changes) his levels were normal again.

Still have questions? Of coarse you do. Read all 8 steps here. Please note on step four that we will be each others support network. I would suggest to find a “buddy” for the challenge. One person to help support you. Preferably someone in your household, but if not possible, then that’s ok too. If you can not find a buddy, send me an email and I can help with that.

So why can’t you just give up things slowly instead? Great Question! You can do that, but don’t you think if you were going to do that you would be doing it already? (If you are doing it already then good for you! Keep it up, you probably don’t need to do this challenge. If you want free and discounted stuff then feel free to join in, I mean it is only 30 days.) I completely understand and support that this is not the way for everyone. There is a reason I recommend that everyone at least consider the idea though.

I believe the Whole30 is a great way to kick start a healthier eating campaign, because it will allow people to do what has taken me 2 years to do, in just 30 days. To be honest, even taking it slowly, I still need to do a Whole30. I eat mostly a Paleo diet; I have eliminated grains and diary (except grass-fed butter), I don’t eat most legumes or processed foods. But I am far from perfect still. I have a horrible addiction to dark chocolate almond milk and larabars. I do not think larabars are a problem in moderation; however, four of them in one hour is a different story.

So I believe you could compare it to getting into a swimming pool.

You can:

A)Ease your way in slowly and draw out the torture of the cold water feeling.

Or

B)You can jump right in, experiencing an intense but much quicker burst of the cold water feeling.

Consider the Whole30 as option B.

Whether you choose option A or option B, I hope you choose one of them. Your body will thank you!

So for those of you who are still with me and wanting to participate in the upcoming Whole30 challenge, here are the rules:

1)Follow all of the Whole30 rules, which again can be read here. Yes, even the no weighing yourself rule!

2)Request to join the “Whole30 Challenge-Columbia, MO October 2014” group on Facebook. Once accepted, make a post in this group saying why you are doing the challenge. *

3)There will be one support group each week. You must attend at least one, but are welcome at all. Dates and times are to be announced soon.

4)You must sign up no later than midnight on September 30, 2014.

5) You must attend the party. If you know you can not at least 2 weeks ahead of time and you e-mail me, it is possible we could work around this. No last-minute cancellation will be allowed. The date and time will be announced soon.

6)You must take at least one picture of a meal you are eating and post it to the Back 2 Basics Cooking Facebook page during the challenge. Feel free to say how you are feeling, what you are missing, what you are loving, etc…*

*If you do not have a facebook account, please send me an e-mail.  ashley@back2basicscooking.net

What can you do between now and then to prepare?
1)Clean out your kitchen, car, desk, etc…. If there are members of your household who are not participating try to designate cabinets so you don’t have to look at all of their off limit foods each time you open the cabinet. The fridge/freezer area is a little harder, but you can designate an area “yours”, where “off-limit” foods are off-limits.

2)Adjust your mindset. If you say you can’t do this then you can’t. Check out my blog about this here. It is about losing weight, but you can apply it to diet changes also.

3)Start “practicing” eating Paleo meals. For example, Eat some pork chops, eggs and veggies for breakfast. Have a big salad with homemade dressing for lunch. Have some homemade soup for dinner.

4)Find one or two good take out dishes and 5-10 go to meals for the Challenge. Seriously. Knowing what you can eat before you are starving can mean the difference between success and failure. Those of you who are super organized could actually plan out the entire month of meals and snacks. Personally I am nowhere near that organized, but kiddos to those who are!

5)Getting a chiropractic adjustment is highly recommended. I got one the day I gave up soda and never got a caffeine headache! (My head was a little sore, but nothing like the normal headache that I usually get from stopping Dr. Pepper cold turkey.)

6)If you are on regular medication, see your doctor and let him know about you upcoming diet change. If you are on blood pressure medicine for example and your blood pressure gets too low you will get very dizzy and this can be dangerous. Check out this post about talking to your doctor about a Whole30.

7)Get others to join! I started this challenge to help people so the more the merrier!!

8)Consider subscribing to the Whole30 Daily, just remember to set your start day as October 1. It is $14.95 and not required; however I feel it will be invaluable for those of you making major diet adjustments. (Please note: I do not recieve any money if you do sign-up, I just really think it is a good resource.) Read more here.

Still have questions?

No problem, just post them below. Or feel free to shoot me an email: ashley@back2basicscooking.net

Chicken Fried Paleo Rice

Eating Healthy on a Budget

Saturday, while on a radio show promoting Back 2 Basics Cooking’s upcoming Whole30 Challenge, a caller by the name of Karin asked me how she could afford to eat healthy if she was on a very limited income. She is on disability, which if anyone else knows someone who lives off this income, they know that they don’t have any wiggle room when it comes to their budget. I answered her question, but I did not feel like I gave her enough ideas. So this post is for Karin.

During our conversation yesterday, I explained to her that when you are on a very limited income you have to go all in when eating healthy. You simply can’t afford to eat healthy AND eat junk food. Also, if you quit the junk food, you will be amazed as to how long you can go without food. It takes sometime, but your body will adjust.

You are not suppose to feel like you’re starving a few hours after a meal.

I also suggested using some good quality lard. Karen said she cut pork out of her diet, so I suggested getting some beef fat (tallow) from the Columbia Farmers Market and rendering it herself. Rendering your own beef fat is cheap, easy and has great health benefits. Here is a great video about how to do this.

Here are some more tips that I did not get to when speaking to Karin:

  1. Meal Plan Meal planning can save you extra trips to the store, help you avoid impulse buys while there, and keep you from being hungry with no idea of what you are going to eat. Always check out what you already have and try to meal plan around that, especially if it is something that will perish quickly. The less you waste, the more you save. Which leads me to me next tip….
  2. Clean Out Your Refrigerator Often The more you clean out your refrigerator, the less leftovers you are likely to waste. Eating for health can get pretty expensive, so don’t waste any of those nutrient dense foods. I often make what I call “Refrigerator Soup” to help us eat up our leftovers (especially in the winter months).  I got the idea from this amazing book http://www.amazon.com/Long-Way-Little-Companion-Deliciously/dp/0979439124
  3. Buy in Season Vegetables and Fruits Buying things like exotic fruits for example, (I live in Missouri) can add up very quickly. Stick to what is in season and local if you are trying to eat healthy on a slim income.
  4. Utilize Bones and Fat As I mentioned above, you can get high quality animal fat from your local farmers market. You can also get bones. Both animal fat and bones are cheap, so they are a must for anyone trying to eat healthy on a limited income. Animal fat will help to keep you feeling full longer. Use the bones to make bone broth for amazing health benefits and taste. Save your vegetable scraps for added nutrient and flavor. Check out this simple explation of how to make it: https://wordpress.com/read/post/id/71388992/32/
  5. Make Things Yourself Obviously making your food instead of eating out will save money. Making things such as baked apple chips, condiments, larabars, salad dressings, and beef jerky can also save  you tons of money. This is also an great option, because you know exactly what is in your food and how it was prepared.
  6. Keep It Simple You do not have to make a 5 star meal every day. Here is an example of a cheap, yet affordable meal. Example:Can of Wild Caught Salmon Sauteed with Diced Onions, Mushrooms, Peas and Peppers or Hamburgers (No Bun) Topped with Avocado, Baked Sweet Potato Fries, & Roasted Brussel Sprouts
  7. Starchy Vegetables As the title of my blog implies, I do not feed my family grains. Doing so eliminates the filler foods that help stretch your dollar a little farther. Including plenty of starchy vegetables such as sweet and white potatoes, carrots, parsnips, and yucca root for example will help fill you up for less when you don’t have grains as an option.
  8. Participate in a CSA program CSA stands for “community supported agriculture”. At the beginning of the farm season you can purchases shares of the crops. Each week (or whatever is designated) you will be given a box of extremely fresh fruits and vegetables at a price lower than you would get them from the store. Read more and find a local farm to sign up for a CSA here: http://www.localharvest.org/csa/
  9. Grow/Raise Your Own Food One sure way to save some money is by planting and growing your own produces & herbs. If you don’t have a yard or the space for a garden you can use pots and window boxes. Here are 10 tips for gardening without a garden: http://www.apartmenttherapy.com/gardening-without-a-garden-10-ideas-for-your-patio-or-balcony-renters-solutions-167221 In Columbia, you are allowed to have up to 6 chickens (only hens, no roosters) as long as they are locked up at night, so you could have fresh eggs straight from your yard.
  10. Eggs Farm fresh eggs are an excellent food source. If you buy them directly from the farmer or at the market you will save more (if you don’t raise them yourself). You can make several meals per dozen, so even if you pay $5/dozen at the store, it is still a cheap protein source. Remember to keep your cartons and take them back to be used again.
  11. Buy a Whole or Half Cow/Pig/Lamb Buying a whole or half animal is a great way to save on the price per pound. For someone like Karin, who is on a low fixed income such as disability, this is probably not an option as you must have a lump sum of money to pay for all of this meat ahead of time. However, if you get a decent tax refund, you can use this to fill up your freezer. Lucky for us, that is when our beef guy takes his cows in to be butchered, so it works out perfectly.
  12. Organ Meat I will be perfectly honest in telling you it is taking me some time to get use to liver. Along with being extremely healthy organ meat are also cheap, even for high quality. Try this recipe (my son loves it!) http://hillarystarbright.wordpress.com/2012/04/23/going-paleo-this-is-the-best-liver-recipe-ever/
  13. Go Fishing/Hunting Food sources from the wild are typically an extremely healthy option. My dad brought me some morel mushrooms this year and every time I ate some I felt AMAZING for several hours! Animals in the wild are leaner because they are more active. This is obviously a cheap food source also. If you don’t personally hunt/fish, you may be able to find someone who enjoys it to sell you some at a discounted rate compared to the store/market.

These are just some of the ways you can afford to eat healthy on a limited low income. I hope they have helped you.

What ideas would you add to this list to help others like Karin who want to eat healthier on a low income?