Browsing Category: how to make this work

15 tips to make eating healthy easier

tips for success on Paleo, Whole30, keto, or any new diet

I recently read a “30 Tips” post on Rubies and Radishes that had some great suggestions to make eating Paleo easier.Most of them will apply to any real-food diet. Just substitute the name of your diet wherever you see the word “Paleo.”

But… compulsive editor that I am, I edited it down to what I thought were the best 15 tips for eating Paleo/real food, and add a few helpful items and notes of my own. Here you go!

1. When you’re just starting, plan out meals and snacks several days in advance. This keeps you from caving in on busy days. Once you get the hang of cooking and eating this new way, it will be easier to throw together meals from your well-stocked kitchen. (You might want to read about how I stock my kitchen for easy meals.)

2. If planning all your meals seems overwhelming, try it in phases. Most people don’t need a lot of variety in breakfast, so find one or two healthy breakfasts that work for you and get those nailed down. Figure out how to prep your breakfast so it’s a no-brainer in the morning. (Here are some no-brainer breakfast options.) Then find a few lunches that work for you. (If you eat out for lunch, check out my Eating Paleo/Whole30 When Eating Out post.) Then move on to planning dinners.

3. For encouragement and inspiration, join Paleo Facebook pages. Here are a few:

Also, if you’re on Instagram, follow me at @janalovesrealfood: I often post easy lunches and dinners there, as well as Paleo-friendly restaurant dishes.

For example, here’s a tip from my Instagram pages: a breadless BLT kit using romaine leaves as a wrap makes an easy summer lunch!

Paleo made easier - breadless BLT

4. Cook meat in bulk, but don’t freeze it in a huge chub: portion it out into easy-to-thaw portions before putting it in the freezer. Hamburger, pulled pork, chicken, and your favorite kinds of sausage are all handy to have ready to deploy. You can also cook bacon in big batches and keep it in the fridge or freezer. Have you tried cooking it in the oven? So easy!

5. Dedicate time to prep ingredients every week. Or, if it works better for you, every evening after dinner, prep what you’ll need for tomorrow’s meal(s). Thaw anything that’s frozen. Chop up ingredients. Pre-mix seasonings or sauces. I’ve collected a few tips on ingredient prep, too.

6. Paleo eating and meal planning takes time to adjust to. Give yourself time and grace. Keep at it — it will get easier! It’s only hard until it’s routine.

7. Read labels. Learn to recognize sugar in all its disguises. Yeah, it’s overwhelming and kind of depressing at first, but it’s a necessary education.

cool-whip-lies-480

8. Don’t spend too much time trying to figure out how to substitute or recreate the unhealthy food you once ate. Instead of mourning the loss of food that makes you feel yucky, celebrate new food discoveries that make you feel great! As you stick with this, your taste buds will change and junk food will become less and less appealing.

9. Explore Paleo blogs and books. The more Paleo knowledge you have, the easier it is to stick with your new lifestyle! (Check out my books page.)

10. When you make dinner, make extra. Enjoy it for breakfast (yes, you can!) or lunch the next day, or pack it in the freezer for an easy future meal.

11. One of the hardest things about eating Paleo (or your personal version of it) is the social pressure to eat junk. Always have a plan before going to social gatherings. And focus on how that food is going to make you feel tomorrow! Tell yourself, “When I eat crap, I feel like crap.”

Can you eat that? I can, but I feel better if I don't.

12. Eat a satisfying meal before you go to parties so you won’t be tempted by unhealthy choices. Drink plenty of water while you’re there. Focus on enjoying the people, not the food.

13. If it’s a pot luck, bring your own Paleo dish (or two), because that might be your only healthy choice!

14. Likewise, have a plan for how you’ll eat when meeting friends at restaurants. Study up on tips for Eating Paleo/Whole30 When Eating Out.

15. Remember to get the sleep you need every night, and drink plenty of water. And several times a week, if not every day, try to get a little sunshine and gentle exercise.

BONUS TIP: Expect ups and downs! Give yourself grace if you slip up. As Melissa Hartwig says in Food Freedom Forever, “Insulting yourself over your food choices is perhaps the most damaging behavior of all.”

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Want to cook more healthy at home, but daunted by the meal planning?

Check out my “Meal Plan for People Who Hate to Meal Plan

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* (Read the original Rubies and Radishes post here, if you have a few minutes.)

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Tips to make eating Paleo easier

How I stock my kitchen for easy, healthy meals: 30 ingredients

paleo meatballs, marinara, roasted cauliflower

Are you thinking about starting to eat Paleo, do a Whole30, or just eat cleaner, healthier, real food? If you’re going to change the way you eat, you’ll probably need to change the way you stock your kitchen. This can feel daunting, but I hope this list will help.

There are certain ingredients that I always keep on hand to make meals more doable. You know those articles in women’s magazines and blogs, where they show you eight articles of clothing that can be combined into 40 different outfits? This is the same principle! I’d guess that at least 90% of what I make for everyday meals can be accomplished with only these ingredients.

Your list doesn’t need to match mine, of course, but hopefully this post will serve as inspiration. This list is mostly Paleo, almost Whole30 except for a couple items, and completely whole, real foods!

And be encouraged: once you look over this list, you’ll probably realize that you’re already well on your way to a well-stocked kitchen.

10 things I always have in the fridge:

1. Chopped onions. I chop up yellow onions a couple times a week, enough to last two or three days.

2. Eggs. Always enough for a couple days worth of breakfast, at least, plus a couple to spare.

3. Good quality hot dogs or fully cooked sausage. Quick, hearty lunch when heated up with some sauerkraut!

whole30 paleo dinner; pork, sweet potato + cauliflower

4. Already-baked sweet potato. Add to scrambled eggs, soup, salads, hash; top with pulled pork or other meat. Or spread with butter or bacon fat, salt and pepper; or mash with butter and cinnamon for a quick, nutritious side dish!

5. Already washed baby spinach. Beyond salad: chop and add to soup or eggs.

6. Maple syrup. For glazes, sauces, and salad dressings.

7. Condiments: tamari (gluten-free soy sauce), mustard, sriracha, chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (or just a jar of adobo sauce), pickles

stock my kitchen - coconut milk

8. Full-fat coconut milk. A good sub, in many cases, for heavy cream. If you’re not avoiding dairy, stock real, unadulterated cream.

9. Lemon juice. I juice a couple fresh lemons once every week or so, keep it in a small jar in the fridge. For salad dressings, deglazing a pan to make pan sauce, adding to tea, etc.

10. Flours: almond, coconut, flax. Substitutes for wheat flour in various uses. Keeping them in the fridge helps them last longer. Info on almond and coconut flour.

Additional things that are usually (but not always) in my fridge, or are seasonal:

Sauerkraut, bacon, rendered bacon fat, avocado, hard-boiled eggs, carrots, celery, green onions, zucchini (to make zoodles), bell peppers, cabbage, apples, bone broth, homemade mayo, romaine (used for wraps in the summer), already-baked russet potato


Want more info about how I do meal planning for people who hate to meal plan?

Check this out!


10 things I always have in the freezer:

1. Chopped parsley, stored in a baggie with most of the air pressed out. It’s easy to scoop out a tablespoon or a quarter-cup as needed, with no additional chopping. This is more than a garnish; it adds a fresh, peppery zing and some bright green color to the party!

2. Hamburger; some cooked, lightly seasoned, and crumbled; some raw in 1/4 lb. patties. Sometimes, also fully cooked meatballs.

balsamic salmon, 3 pieces

3. Salmon & mahi-mahi, individual portions

4. Shrimp, deveined & deshelled

5. Bulk sausage, Italian and/or breakfast, stored in individual portions

paleo meatballs, marinara, roasted cauliflower
Paleo meatballs with marinara, and Italian cauliflower

 

6. Homemade sugar-free marinara, stored in 1-cup portions. If you don’t want to make homemade, go for the most sugar-free brand you can find or afford.

7. Chicken thighs or breasts, prepped and frozen individually

8. Berries: sometimes mixed, sometimes single varieties

9. My veggies of choice: currently green beans, broccoli florets

10. Bone broth or plain chicken stock, stored in 2-cup portions

(Also: leftover chicken bones, onion ends, and parsley stems for my next batch of broth)

Things I always have in the pantry:

1. Bag of yellow onions

2. Head of garlic

 

3. Extra coconut milk

4. Vinegars: rice, balsamic, red wine, unfiltered apple

5. Oil: olive, coconut, and usually sesame for Asian dishes

taco-mix-montage

6. Homemade seasoning mixes: taco, chili, Italian, burger (and of course other individual seasonings)

7. Nuts: cashew to top an Asian stir-fry; almonds, pecans, and walnuts for salads & snacks

8. A little wheat flour or rice flour for pan-frying fish

9. Honey

easy lunch; tuna salad with tomato, avocado + peppers

 

10. Tuna in foil packets. I make this simple tuna salad several times a week in the summer. Here are more tuna ideas.

See? Not such an exotic list, for the most part. You probably have most of this on hand. It’s just a matter of learning to see new ways to combine these basic “wardrobe” pieces to create an infinite number of quick, easy, tasty meals!

Here are some menu idea starters.

Follow me on Instagram for more quick, easy healthy food ideas.

stock-my-fridge-600x1280

Breakfast on vacation: 7 tips for starting the day out right.

breakfast on vacation; eggs benedict

Also about: places to eat in Seattle.

We just got back from a five-day visit to Seattle. Our motto and mission on vacation always has been: “Go places and eat things!”

We succeeded.

If you’ve read my blog for long, you know I believe in eating healthy most of the time, but making allowances for the occasional bending of the rules. For me, vacation definitely falls under the rule-bending side of things, but I don’t want to completely throw all rules out the window, every meal. One of my main strategies is to start the day off with a decent breakfast. In other words, some protein and healthy fats, some fruit and/or vegetables, with a minimum of carbs and sweets.

It would be easy to rationalize cinnamon rolls and french toast for breakfast every morning — after all, it’s vacation, right? But I know that starting the day out that way will make me hungry (and probably cranky) by mid-morning, and set me up for bad decisions all day long. So here’s my advice for starting the day out right on vacation.

7 tips for eating a healthy breakfast on vacation

1. Eat well before you leave home. On our day of departure, I allowed myself enough time to get up and have my normal, healthy breakfast. For me, this is two eggs with sweet potato hash. Because I always have onions and already-cooked-sweet potato diced and ready to go in the fridge, this is quick and easy to throw together. (I didn’t actually bother with sausage and avocado the day we left. This is an old pic. #latergram)

breakfast on vacation - eggs + hash

 

2. Be prepared with healthy snacks. Before we left, I stocked up on my favorite version of trail mix: mixed nuts and diced prunes. Laugh if you want, but prunes are some of the lowest glycemic dried fruits — and that extra fiber can’t hurt when you’re traveling!

Oh, and by the way: most of these shots are not going to be beautiful. Part of keeping vacation relaxing for me means I don’t work too hard to get a perfect shot; one or two shots as-is. Case in point…

breakfast on vacation - snacks for the plane

This turned out to be my lunch on our flight there and my dinner on our flight home, so I’m glad I came prepared!

3. If possible, stay in a place with a kitchen. And 4. Eat what’s fresh and local. We found a great apartment on airbnb that was 9 minutes from the main attractions, at less than half what a cheap hotel room would have cost! On top of the great price, we had a fridge, microwave, stove and dishwasher. Enough equipment to have some eggs and fresh local fruit some mornings…

breakfast on vacation; eggs + fruit

 

Other mornings it was eggs and this amazing local yogurt…

breakfast on vacation; eggs + yogurt

If you’re ever in Seattle, track down some Ellenos Greek yogurt! It’s the mildest, creamiest yogurt I’ve ever had! My favorite flavor was marionberry, but the plain sweetened with honey was great, too. (This is not a sponsored post. I just truly love this stuff!)

ellenos yogurt

 

5. If you can’t get a kitchen, try for a mini fridge and microwave. Then pick up some pho the night before. Our first night in Seattle, we went to Ba Bar, where they have phenomenal Vietnamese pho (pronounced “fuh”), a bone broth featuring various ingredients; mine had ramen noodles, duck confit, mushrooms, and lemongrass. The broth and ramen noodles were so delicious, I ordered extra to take “home,” and had this for breakfast the next couple days. (This photo is terrible, but the breakfast was not!) On the side, I had peaches and strawberries with a drizzle of cream. So, slight bending of Paleo rules – noodles, cream – but still a whole-foods, low-carb, no-sugar breakfast. And quite delightful! I did not feel one bit deprived.

seattle-brkfst-pho-fruit

If you can’t find pho, egg-drop soup would probably work well, too.

6. When you’re in a pinch, just make the best choices you can. One day, we were stuck with nothing in the fridge and no ride for a couple hours, so we walked to the nearest place — which happened to be a Starbucks. (No surprise, in Seattle!) This is the best I could do there: a low-glycemic KIND bar, and water. Not a great breakfast, either from a health or satisfaction standpoint, but it was enough to get me by till we could get something more substantial.

breakfast on vacation; KIND bar

7. Bend rules: sometimes a little, sometimes a little more! One of the days, we ended up having “second breakfast” at a place called Oddfellows. While there were lots of bready things on the menu — even gluten-free biscuits — avocado toast sounded delicious to me. It came on whole-wheat bread, sprinkled with pepitas and sprouts, and shaved radish. I removed the latter (not a radish fan), then cut up the bacon I ordered on the side, and added that on top. Yum!

breakfast on vacation; avocado toast

Our last day, we ate at Glo’s Cafe; a very small mom-and-pop diner type place. One of my MOST favorite things to order for breakfast is eggs benedict, not just because I love it, but also it’s something I never make myself. The white bread English muffins that come standard with bennies are definitely not Paleo. I’ve tried benedict without any bread at all, but then so much of that yummalicious yolk-and-hollandaise sauce goes to waste on the plate! So my compromise is to order it on whole wheat toast — which works out quite nicely. I also order a side of avocado to healthy it up a bit. Glo’s has really good eggs benny, and it comes with a heap o’ hash browns…

places to eat in Seattle; Glo's Cafe

 

I’m not the huge hash brown fiend my husband is, but I do enjoy them if they’re crispy. So bending the rules a little more, I enjoy the crispy bits, and leave the rest behind.

places to eat in Seattle; Glo's Cafe

This was a fully satisfying, delicious, treat of a breakfast, but still with no guilt.

Some other places to eat in Seattle

Just to be real, I DO bend the rules more during the rest of the day on vacation! On this trip, I enjoyed street tacos at Tacos Chukis, creme brullee at Ray’s Boathouse, Molly Moon’s ice cream, and more!

My husband really enjoyed the coffee and quiet at Storyville Coffee. I may have had a sip or two. Cream and sugar included.

places to eat in Seattle: storyville coffee

Although it wasn’t a meal, my favorite food discovery was the Quintessential Gourmet tasting room, where you could taste wines, hard ciders, olive oils, and — the thing that made me giddy — almost 20 different flavors of balsamic vinegar! Strawberry, blueberry, espresso, chocolate, cranberry-pear. Mix them with orange-infused or lavender-infused olive oil, or any of the several other flavors. Oh, we had fun, and walked out with a ridiculous amount of small bottles!

places to eat in Seattle: vinegar tasting room

My favorite meal of the week, though, was a picnic we enjoyed at Gas Works Park, feasting on smoked salmon that tasted like bacon (from Pure Food Fish Market), nothin’-paleo-about-it pastries from Peroshky Peroshky, and drippy-ripe slices of nectarine dipped in my aforementioned new love, Ellenos! (All of which we discovered on the Seattle Bites Food Tour — also highly recommended!)

seattle picnic

I do confess to pigging out on the yogurt. It was our last night, and we couldn’t take it on the plane!

So I did not live a regimented life while we were there. But I just find that making the effort to start the day with some good protein and minimal sugar keeps my energy and mood up all day long. And who wants to spend vacay tired and cranky?!

How do you bend the rules on vacation?

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Changing your diet starts with changing your mind… and then your kitchen

change the way you think to change the way you eat

Changing your diet comes down to some really practical things. And if you can break it down and look at it as a series of small changes, it becomes much less daunting.

I love these seven strategies that Dr. Mark Hyman suggests for revolutionizing your eating habits. And I think the number one item is especially smart:

1. Change your mind about cooking. When you view cooking as an act of love that you share with your family, you strengthen bonds, teach important life-extending skills to your children, and enrich and nourish your bodies and your souls.

How would it change your kitchen if you saw preparing food as an awesome privilege?

This has certainly been the case for me! I used to view cooking dinner as drudgery; now I see it as a creative outlet, and a way to thank my husband for working hard all day! And to bless any friends or family who might be joining us.

(Yes, I work too, but I have more freedom in my schedule than he does, and I’m incredibly grateful for that. Creating a healthy, enjoyable meal is one of the ways I show that gratitude. When he retires, there will be more sharing of the load!)

2. Keep staples nearby. …3. Choose frozen. While fresh foods in the produce aisles are ideal, frozen berries, vegetables, and other foods make longer-lasting alternatives. You can stock up and have [them] on hand in your kitchen for healthy, easy meals when you can’t get to the market or these items are out of season.

Some items I try to always have stocked in my kitchen: a bag of onions, fresh spinach and/or romaine, carrots, celery, cooked/diced sweet potato, tuna, one or more kinds of already-cooked meat, eggs, avocado (or Wholly Guacamole singles), and coconut milk. In the freezer: more meat (cooked or not), mahi mahi, shrimp, frozen berries and/or cherries, green beans and other veggies. More detail in my how I stock my kitchen post.

4. Reclaim your kitchen. Establish your kitchen as the ground-zero family meeting place and establish it exclusively for cooking and socializing.

clear off the kitchen table!

This one challenges me! I think we (me and the hubs) need to kick the laptops out of our kitchen. The clutter we accumulate nearby quickly takes over. (True confession: I tidied up a bit before taking the above picture of my end of the kitchen table!)

5. Re-evaluate your time. Time is the biggest excuse why many of my patients don’t cook. Keep a journal for one week to monitor your time. You might be surprised at how you spend your time.

I highly recommend this! I think most of us would find ourselves much happier and healthier if we gave up a few rounds of Candy Crush or a couple hours of TV or internet or “retail therapy” on the weekend to spend a little more time planning and prepping meals for the week.

6. Make mistakes. If you’re new to cooking or your skills have gotten rusty, don’t aim for perfection with your first recipe—aim for experimenting and practicing. Start with… basic recipes with few ingredients and work your way up to something more complex.

Yes, yes, yes! Just try stuff! Don’t beat yourself up if it doesn’t come out great. Learn and move ahead!

7. Get everyone involved. Enlist help from family members—drag your kids away from their video games and ask them to measure ingredients, pull food from the fridge, or even chop veggies if they’re ready to take on this task. Decide on meals together to get everyone excited about what’s in store.

Again — Amen! If you don’t have kids, make it time with your spouse, friend, or sister. Or, if you’re an introvert, choose your favorite music, crank it up, and relish the alone time!

If you do have kids, and if having all the kids in the kitchen at once is a sure recipe for chaos and bickering, take one kid at a time and make it a special one-on-one time for the two of you. Let them choose the music. Infect them with a love for preparing good, healthy food! (Spoken from one who wishes she’d done it this way early on. Oh well, maybe with grandkids.)

Start kids (or yourself) off with something fun and easy, like cookies (they could be Paleo! like these coconut cookies), and work your way up to healthier, more complex stuff. My daughter’s love for cooking began early — mostly in her grandma’s kitchen!

changing your diet starts in the kitchen!

 

By the time she was twelve, she was able to make chicken noodle soup from scratch, all by herself. Ten (fast!) years later, she’s now married and easily handles the day-to-day cooking. (I’m so proud of you, Sweetie!)

So don’t make changing your diet overly complicated. Start with learning a little more about prepping and cooking food, with simple dishes, and with changing your mind about creating meals!

(One way to learn? Follow me on Instagram. I often shoot a quick pic of my easiest meals and post them there with brief notes about what went into them. @janalovesrealfood )

“Changing your mind” typography by dudebeawsome on Instagram

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Ready to cut refined sugar and/or grains out of your diet –

but still want to enjoy sweets?

Check out my cookbook…

 sugar-free dessert cookbook now available

Make-ahead roasted sweet potato

Whole30 Paleo breakfast: easy with make-ahead prep!

One of the biggest challenges in eating clean and healthy is putting together meals. And one of the most important tips/tricks for making healthy meals super easy is to have some food “building blocks” ready in your fridge and freezer at all times. I plan to do a complete post on this soon, but for now, here is one of my favorites: sweet potatoes. They’re easy to prep, keep well in the fridge, and very versatile at playing well with other foods.

Plus, when you’re looking for nutrient-dense foods, sweet potato is a super-hero source of Vitamin A! This chart shows amounts for a whole 5″ potato, but even half this is good! (nutrition data source)

sweet potato nutrition chart

I learned this prep method from the ladies at Layers of Happiness, but their recipe was for a complete dish. I’ve just borrowed the method, and adapted it for the ready-t0-go-ingredients tray in my Whole30 compliant fridge. (A post for another day.)

I start with a medium-sized sweet potato. What I’m calling “medium”  is about 5 or 6″ long and roughly 3″ wide at the widest point. Give it a good scrubbing with a vegetable brush under running water, then pat dry. Poke several holes in it with a fork. I usually make three or four pokes on one side, then turn it over and repeat.

Then I put it in the microwave on high for one minute and 45 seconds; turn it over and repeat. (Please note that all microwaves are different and you will probably need to experiment to find the timing that works with yours.)

If you learn better by watching, here’s a short video:

Next, I take it out and cut it in half. It should be somewhat soft all the way through. It doesn’t need to be thoroughly soft, and you really don’t want it to be. But if it’s still hard in the middle, you can put the halves cut-side-down on a microwave safe plate and zap it for another 30 – 45 seconds.

Then, using a sharp paring or steak knife, cut the flesh of the sweet potato into cubes of about 1/2″ — but don’t cut all the way through to the skin. You may go ahead and cut all the way through the middle, if you like. (Note/update: I used to leave them semi-cut, like this, but I found that I usually use them diced, so now I just cut all the way through the skin and store them diced.)

cubed roasted sweet potato - whole30, paleo

Just stash this in an airtight container in the fridge, ready to deploy for all kinds of easy Whole30/Paleo meals. Such as…

A breakfast stir-fry with eggs, sausage, spinach, and sweet potato.

whole30 paleo breakfast eggs sausage sweet potato spinach

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Another breakfast option — and one reason you don’t cut all the way through the skin. Scramble your favorite eggs and meat combo, and serve it on top of a reheated sweet potato half or quarter. Add snipped chives, if you have ’em, for color and flavor:

whole30 paleo easy meal: egg + bacon scramble on sweet potato

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A super-easy side dish: Spread some bacon fat (or other healthy fat of your choice), salt, and pepper on top, and reheat. Sweet potato and pork were made for each other:

whole30 paleo dinner: pork, sweet potato + cauliflower

.

Another easy meal is to top a prepped, reheated sweet potato with some pulled pork or carnitas — then top it all off with some caramelized onions. I haven’t shot a photo of that exact dish, but here’s a similar combo from Free the Animal:

carnitas on sweet potato, by freetheanimal.com
image by freetheanimal.com

 

(Mashing your sweet potatoes is another option.)

One of my favorite easy lunches is to throw some leftover pork or sausage in some bone broth — either chicken or ham — and some veggies from my make-ahead tray; here, I used sweet potato, onion, and zucchini:

sausage, sweet potato, zucchini soup - make ahead paleo whole30

 

This soup is thickened with an egg yolk. On this particular day, I was lucky enough to have some local eggs from a friend. The yolks were almost orange, and it gave the broth a lovely golden color!

The healthy breakfast and soup options are really endless — even within Whole30 restrictions! Once you have some mostly-cooked, mostly-diced sweet potato in the fridge, you’ll find all kinds of new ways to use this flavorful, healthful, versatile veggie!

Like this post? Please pin it!

whole30 paleo sweet potato tips

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New to eating gluten-free? Or thinking of going Paleo?

Check out my 20-Day Countdown to a New Way of Eating!

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Eating Paleo/Whole30 when eating out

jason-s-deli-salmon-salad
Eating Paleo/Whole30 when eating out can be a challenge. My husband is getting ready to try the Whole30 thang, and needing some Paleo-friendly lunch options, so this post is especially for him. And as such, it focuses mostly on his tastes. So there may be a lot of other options out there, but this list caters to someone who’s not crazy about chicken or salads. And its scope is also limited to restaurants on the west side of Wichita, KS. But there are a few national chains here, as well as guidelines for any Mexican restaurant, or any burger, so there should be help here, no matter your locale.

(Please note: this list may not be 100% Whole30 compliant; I was not able to track down which oil most things are fried in, for example. But it seeks to avoid grains, dairy, sugar, and legumes.)

Applebee’s

Beef: The Ribeye and NY Strip are the only two steaks that aren’t cooked in soybean oil.

Seafood: Garlic Herb Salmon

Sides: steamed vegetables; or sweet potato fries??

Burger places, or any place that serves ’em

Bunless burger topped with grilled onions and mushrooms. Or grilled onions and jalapenos. Served on spinach? Or get a side of broccoli, cauliflower, or sweet potato, if available.

Chili’s

Beef: Cajun Ribeye, Guiltless Carne Asada Steak, Flame Grilled Ribeye, or the Classic Sirloin – ask for no savory steak butter as this contains gluten. If you want a burger, the Bacon Burger or the Old time Burger (ask for no bun or onion strings) are good choices. I also like the burger that comes with guacamole and peppers; it’s quite tasty even without the bun!

Seafood: Guiltless Grilled Salmon or the Salmon with Garlic & Herbs

Fajitas; skip the tortilla, sour cream and cheese.

Chipotle

Order two sides of steak or carnitas with guacamole, and any salsa you want, except for the one with corn and beans. Depending on how much food you want, you can order extra sides at $2.25 a pop.

Note: Occasionally you’ll get a new employee who might put the sides in a sides container. If they do this, ask them if they can put it in a bowl. If they do that, they’ll often realize it’s not actually that much meat and give you more for free.

Jason’s Deli

Pollo Mexicano, without cheese and sour cream, – add guacamole; try to eat less of the white part of the potato

Mighty Wild Salmon Salad, without beans, with Italian dressing (NOT Leo’s fat-free Italian)

McAlister’s Deli

Your best bet: the grilled chicken salad, hold the croutons (and the cheese, if you’re avoiding dairy). Here’s the nutrition info for the entree-sized grilled chicken salad, as well as the only salad dressings with less than 20 grams of carbs and less than 1000 mg of sodium.

nutrition info for mcalister's deli: salad

 

Mexican places (go local, not chain)

Ask for no chips when you’re seated. (If you order carryout, specify no chips.)

Fajitas; skip the tortilla, sour cream and cheese.

Order a tostada topped with meat of your choice, guacamole, salsa, lettuce, tomato, and/or onions. Eat everything but the tortilla.

Panera

The Greek dressing is the only sugar-free dressing, but you can request it on any salad.

(I need to do more research into the broth bowls. They’ve changed the menu since my original post.)

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General guidelines

Always ask for NO SEASONING SALT in restaurants. MSG is often added to this, as is sugar.

When you see the following adjectives on the menu, ask lots of questions and be prepared to take a pass on foods that don’t meet your standards:

  • Deep fried
  • Crispy
  • Battered
  • Coated
  • Breaded
  • Sauced
  • Meatballs/Meatloaf/Croquettes (probably include breadcrumbs)
  • Sausage
  • Fritter
  • Dumpling

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Sources:
http://thepaleomama.com/2013/01/the-paleo-mamas-guide-to-dining-out-paleo-style/
http://fentresscrossfit.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/FAST-FOOD-OPTIONS.pdf
http://theclothesmakethegirl.com/2015/02/26/paleo-tips-eating-restaurants/
https://www.panerabread.com/en-us/menu-categories/salads.html

Mealprep: 40 recipes to stock your freezer and free your mind!

Tacos-1

One of the best ways to eat healthy is to eat at home more. But for any busy person, this becomes a real challenge when it’s 4:30 and you have no idea what to make for dinner. Prepping some ingredients and/or dishes ahead of time to stash in the freezer can save the day. Not only does it save you cooking time, it also saves you brain effort at the very time of day your brain is most overtaxed!

Sure, these mean a little more work on the weekend — but you can do it at a leisurely pace, when you’re rested and not rushed. Which I’ve found makes cooking so much more enjoyable!

NOTE: not all of these are real food/Paleo/Whole30.

Mealprep: taco kit from The Kitchn
A week of dinners in the freezer, from The Kitchn. Recipes for: Baked Manicotti – Freezer Taco Kits – Twice-Baked Potatoes – Chile & Sausage Oven Frittata – Cranberry Pork Chops – Chicken and Wild Rice Bake. (Also includes side dishes, not listed here.) You can also find this same list of recipes with additional notes on how to turn prep day into a Freezer Meals Party.
Mealprep: stocking the freezer

Here are tips for stocking your freezer with precooked and seasoned meats, which gives you more versatility than already-assembled dishes. Includes instructions (but not exact recipes) for twice-baked potatoes, two different ground beef mixes, a teriyaki marinade that you can use on any meat, poultry or seafood (lots of sugar in it, though), and shredded chicken plus broth. Also has a few nifty tricks for neater packaging.

ingredient prep, + why i like it better than meal prep

For the past several months, I’ve gotten into the habit of ingredient prep. This works really well for me! It’s less labor-intensive on the front end, and more flexible at go-time! (I was originally inspired by this post by Mel Joulwan at Well Fed.)

Mealprep from Pioneer Woman

Here’s Pioneer Woman’s freezer cooking post. Not a lot of healthy stuff on the list, but I do love her tip for grilling whole chicken breasts and freezing them to have on hand for dozens of uses. I count about 11 main-dish recipes on her list, skipping the carb-laden ones.

Mealprep: chicken breasts
I also like this method for an easy way to cook boneless, skinless chicken breasts, from Small Home Big Start.
Mealprep from New Leaf Wellness

Eight healthy freezer crockpot meals in 75 minutes, from New Leaf Wellness. Well, really four different meals, double batch of each. Beef Roast and Carrots – Chicken Fajitas – Mexican Chicken Soup – Garden Veggie Soup with Ground Beef.

Mealprep shopping lists

10 meals in 1 hour – super organized and detailed; even includes shopping list! Really just five recipes; double batch of each. Honey Lemon Garlic Chicken –  London Broil – Quick Taco Soup – Orange Glazed Pork Chops – Creamy Italian Chicken

Mealprep - more shopping lists

10 meals in 1 hour, take 2; the no-bake version; includes five warm weather recipes that are cooked either on the grill or in the crockpot—no oven required!

More about the method…

Here are a couple resources that aren’t recipe lists, but more of a how-to go about mealprep and make it work for you.

From Mealime: Meal Planning: The Definitive Guide to Planning Your Meals Stress-Free. This is an exhaustive collection with tons of tips — how to plan, how to shop, how to cook, etc.

Mealprep - the non-planned approach

A planned/non-planned approach. No recipes here, but some pointers for stocking your freezer with ready-to-go meat and cheese portions, then how to plan meals the weekend or night before, taking into account your schedule, the weather, and what’s in your fridge that needs to be used up.

 

And here are a few ingredients to have pre-cooked and ready in the freezer:

And a few things to know about food safety and quality:
Mealprep: freezer recipes