Tag Archives: easy

Easy summer meal: Fish tacos

fish tacos - easy summer meal

I love fish tacos because:

  • They taste great!
  • They’re easy to prep ahead of time, leaving you just a couple easy things to do at the last minute.
  • They’re so customizable. Depending on what ingredients you provide, they can be gluten-free, dairy-free, Paleo, Whole30, nightshade-free — pretty much whatever! If you have a vegetarian in the crowd, they can even leave off the fish and still have a nice variety of flavors to fill their taco with.

Find my original post here. It explains how to make the spicy crema sauce, and how to prep and set things up for a fish taco bar — great for a party, or a big picky family!

20-day diet prep plan: Day 12 – No-brainer breakfast options

9 easy no-brainer breakfast options with protein

hash with chicken apple sausage

I hope you enjoyed experimenting with the hash method and the soup method yesterday! If you ran out of time (or energy), feel free to continue the experiment today.

I also encourage you to spend some time today doing some thinking and research — and maybe also, possibly some more cooking — in order to figure out what your breakfast plan is.

Breakfast is so important! One successful Paleoite says:

Ever since I started taking breakfast seriously, I have really grown to enjoy it and it’s now my favorite meal. I try to set myself up for success by eating the most nutritious meal first thing in the morning. Since I started eating this way, I’ve found that I have more energy during the day and I’m less hungry for snacks, and sometimes even have to remind myself to eat lunch (coming from someone who used to suffer from chronic hunger, this is huge!).

I think that sums it up well. Starting off with a nutritious, filling breakfast sets you up for food success the rest of the day. Your blood sugar rises slowly and ebbs slowly over the next three to four hours, carrying you through to lunch.

In contrast, starting out with a small, carb-filled breakfast, your blood sugar first spikes — which feels good, because you get energy — but then it bottoms out, leaving you foggy and hangry, and reaching for more sugar or carbs, so your day ends up looking like this:

cravings all day long

If you’re doing the 21 Day Sugar Detox or a Whole30, protein at breakfast is going to be part of the plan. Also, for those who are trying The Sugar Addict’s Total Recovery Program, Step 1 is eat breakfast every morning, making sure it has protein in it. So this is a good idea for everyone!

If you’re like me, though, you need breakfast to be a no-brainer! So that’s why you need to plan ahead of time and figure out what your no-brainer breakfast will be. If you wait to figure this out on Jan. 1, you’ll shoot yourself in the food right at the start!

Experiment with breakfast and find one to three you can live with for a month. One is sufficient if you’re the type of person who is content to eat the same thing for breakfast every day. Find more if you want more variety.

It should contain a protein (eggs, meat, or protein-y broth), some healthy fat (butter, avocado, coconut oil, olive oil), and veggies and/or fruit. Use fruit sparingly. Some 100% whole-grain bread is fine, too, if you’re not cutting out grains. Keep it as sugar-free as possible, too.

No-brainer breakfast options

paleo breakfast options - protein smootie

Protein shakes

I’m not a huge fan of protein powder as an everyday ongoing habit, because I don’t consider it real food. But if a protein smoothie is all you can manage at this point, by all means, do that! Progress, not perfection, is what we’re after. (Just make sure it’s sugar and sweetener free.) Use banana slices or apple juice for sweetening. Don’t go too crazy on the fruit. A small amount of vanilla or almond extract can add to the sweetness, too.

Here are some recipes:

Strawberry Banana Protein Shake – protein comes from protein powder

Paleo Breakfast Smoothie – here’s one where the protein comes from whole eggs

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paleo breakfast options - makeahead

 

Traditional breakfast proteins

Try fried, scrambled, or hard-boiled eggs. Bacon and sausage are fine if they’re nitrate free, with minimal sugar. (Though I recommend using bacon as a condiment, not a main protein source day-in and day-out.) Good smoked salmon can be a delicious breakfast option, too, if you can get some!

But if cooking up a couple eggs in the morning is not enough no-brainer for you, here are some make-ahead breakfast options:

Bacon deviled eggs – these are delish, and you can make them as hot or as mild as you want. (And they are mustard-free, for you mustard haters.)

Easy breakfast casserole – make one big batch to last you days!

Slow-cooker breakfast meatloaf – basically, sausage by another name.

Sausage-egg cups – there are a million recipes like this; experiment to find your favorite combo of veggies and meat.

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Paleo cream of pumpkin soup with cinnamon, ginger + turmeric

Nontraditional breakfasts

I’ve come to love clear broth as a breakfast option, especially when my guts are not happy. Use homemade bone broth if you’ve got it! If you’re buying ready-made broth, get it from a carton, not a can. And buy the best you can afford. Check the labels, and get the one with the most protein.

Also, you can always heat up last night’s leftovers, if you like! Have a favorite (healthy) food you love so much you want to marry it? Have it for breakfast! Why not?

Cream of pumpkin soup – I love to make this creamy soup ahead of time, then heat it up and add some diced ham or already-cooked sausage. Diced bacon is a yummy topper, too!

My “get well soon” soup recipe – super simple!

My hash method – a great way to use up leftover veggies and meats

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So there you have several possibilities. Pick one or two and experiment with them this week. Breakfast really can make or break how your eating goes for the rest of the day!

The assignments for the next couple days will be short and sweet, then we’ll take off the 23rd, 24th, and 25th. Take time to enjoy your loved ones while you have them near!

9 easy no-brainer breakfast options with protein

20-day diet prep plan: Day 13 (Part 1) – The hash method

how to make breakfast hash

 

A few months ago, I did a cooking demo for some friends of mine, and the theme of the class was, “Easy ways to get more vegetables in your diet.” Because the only other thing that ALL diets agree on (beside eat way less sugar, and no trans fat), is that we should all probably be eating more vegetables!

This sweet potato hash was the hit of the night! They all loved it, not just because of how great it tastes, but also because it is SO easy to put together. (One mom of three little ones said she made it for breakfast the next two days!) Another great thing about this dish is that it’s a great way to use up leftovers.

And it’s a simple, tasty way to get three or more vegetables on the table, in one dish!

About measurements, Part 1

The pan I’m using here is an 8″ nonstick frying pan. A well-seasoned cast iron one would work, too. Also, it’s important to note that I’m cooking for one here — as you probably should while you’re experimenting. But once you’re cooking for real, and if you’re cooking for more than one, just scale the measurements I give you up accordingly. Double them for two people, triple for three, etc.

About measurements, Part 2

I used to not EVER cook anything without a recipe, and always measured everything. Baking definitely requires that you stick to some important ratios, but dishes like the ones I’m going to show you today are a lot more forgiving. And part of what makes these dishes so quick and easy is that you don’t have to pull out the measuring cups/spoons, then scoop, pour, and level. You just get an approximate amount in the pan and — trust me — it’ll come out okay!

You may have some mishaps as you learn. But as my childrens’ first grade teacher Mrs. Maxwell often said, “It’s okay to make mistakes!”

That’s why you’re doing this food lab today. You’re going to test this method in small batches and get a feel for what works with your equipment, and for your taste buds. You may singe one batch or put too much salt in another; that’s okay. There are no food police patrolling your neighborhood. Make the mistake, learn from it, and move on! (Good advice for life, too!)

Okay: you ready?

So, you got your groceries bought, right? And you have your two or three already-cooked meats. And if you didn’t dice your onions up already, go ahead and do that. (How-to here.)

Also, prep one or two sweet potatoes according to my method here. But you can go ahead and cut all the way through the skin for a complete dice.

If it’s not already in bite-sized pieces, you might also want to chop your already-cooked meat. (Optional, if you want this to be a side dish, or you’re vegetarian.) Sausage, ham, pulled pork or carnitas, grilled or roasted chicken, cooked seasoned ground beef, smoked salmon — all legit candidates!

Things I always have prepped and ready in the fridge, that are essential to this dish:

  1. Diced onion
  2. Diced cooked sweet potato
  3. Already cooked meat of various kinds (optional)
  4. Baby spinach
  5. Other vegetables: a changing cast of characters – bell pepper, broccoli, asparagus, mushrooms…

(See what that looks like in my fridge here.)

So, once you have those ready, you’re ready for the method.

Step 1:

Heat your pan to medium (or medium-low, if your stove runs hot), add just enough fat (olive oil, coconut oil, or bacon drippings) to evenly cover the bottom. Add some onions, about a small handful. Leave that on the heat, stirring every so often, just enough to keep them from getting brown in some places but undercooked in others.

hash-1-onions+spinach

(Sorry for the fuzzy pictures. I was actually cooking my lunch for this, and the dish goes fast, so there’s not a lot of time for second shots.)

Step 2:

Meanwhile, coarsely chop one or two handfuls of baby spinach, and dice any other raw veggies you’re going to use. (A small handful after they’re diced is a good ballpark measurement to use.) Bell peppers are a nice addition, and one quarter of a good-sized bell pepper should be about right. If I were adding other uncooked vegetables, I would add them after the onions were in the pan for just a few minutes. But if the only vegetables you’re adding are spinach and already-cooked sweet potato — as I am in these photos — wait until the onions are fairly translucent before adding anything else.

Step 3:

Add the coarsely chopped spinach. Salt it lightly — this helps break down the cell walls, and also flavors the spinach, which is sort of bland. It will begin to cook down quickly. Once it’s about half-wilted, add your meat. A good guideline is for your meat to approximately equal the size and thickness of the palm of your hand.

Today, I had one leftover chicken thigh, and one taco’s worth of carnitas, so I diced those to bite-sized pieces and threw them both in. Stir that around and let it warm for a minute or so.

Step 4:

Add your sweet potato, and leave it just until the potato is heated through, stirring once or twice, gently. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper — or another seasoning mix or herbs according to your taste. On this day, I added a little taco seasoning.

sweet potato hash

I often make this dish with sausage and/or bacon for the protein. In those cases, you really don’t need any other seasoning besides a lighter sprinkle of salt (since there’s a lot of salt in the meat) and black pepper to taste.

Another thing I like to do is serve this with a Wholly Guacamole Mini on the side. (This isn’t a sponsored post; but hey, WG, if you’re reading, let’s talk! 🙂 )

sweet potato hash - the hash method

Now, what makes this dish so versatile is that you can add any number of veggies and use various meats, and come up with numerous combos. Here are just a few I’ve done…

breakfast on vacation - eggs + hash

With diced breakfast sausage for the meat, chopped avocado, and a couple of fried eggs, this makes a hearty breakfast — or any meal, really!

 

hash with broccoli

Broccoli, broken into small florets, is another yummy addition. Chopped asparagus would be another nice option.

 

Is fat healthy? Yes - eggs + bacon for breakfast!

Here, the hash is in the background, and includes some bacon and mushrooms!

 

Whole30 Paleo breakfast: easy with make-ahead prep!

Sometime, I scramble an egg or two, chop that up and add it to the hash.

 

hash with chicken apple sausage

And yes, you can make it without sweet potatoes. In the photo above, chicken apple sausage is bringing a slight sweet note to the mix. Sliced avocado (in the background) adds some healthy fat.

 

hash with a side of green beans

As you can tell by all the eggs, I’ve made this for breakfast a lot, but with enough meat and maybe another side, it’s also hearty enough for dinner. Sausage and mushroom, show above. (Find this simple green bean dish here.)

I also sometimes make this with just the onions, bell pepper, and sweet potato; season with taco seasoning (or just a bit of cumin and ancho powder); and serve it as a side dish when the main dish is Mexican-ish.

So, I hope you’re inspired! Get out your frying pan, and start experimenting! I’d love to hear your comments or questions.

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