Tag Archives: healthy

20-day diet prep plan: Day 10 — Make a plan for Christmas!

Eating well is a form of self-respect.

Christmas is only two days away!

Decide NOW which sweets and carbs are most important to you, and commit to eating ONLY those. I encourage you to write this out, post it on Facebook, or tell a friend, to really crystallize it in your mind, and commit to it.

The idea is to hit a line somewhere between “I can’t have any sweets or treats,” and “I’ll eat whatever I want!” Plan on skipping the things that you don’t love so much, but enjoy and really savor the things you do! Maybe your friend can help you sort out what those things are.

Here’s a message I put on my calendar a few years ago; I set it to reappear every December 20:

Christmas sugar reminder

This is a gift you’re giving yourself, so that you’ll feel better afterwards! Remember…

Eating well is a form of self-respect.



But if you do “slip up” or “mess up,” think about this…

Saying I messed up so I may as well eat crap is like saying i dropped my phone so i may as well smash it.


But more importantly: lest we get too wrapped up in food and other material stuff, let’s also remember that Christmas is about something much more important…

Peace on earth, good will to men

A peaceful Christmas to you and yours;

may you recognize and thoroughly enjoy every blessing that is yours!

(See you here on the 26th.)


{ Christmas calligraphy by Anderson Inkwell }




20-day diet prep plan: Day 11 – Plan your lunch strategy

meal prep: freezer burritos

Next step in your ready-for-new-year-and-new-diet: Figure out now what your lunch plan will be.

storytime coffee seattle

If you eat out for lunch:

  • Research the online menus at your favorite restaurants and figure out what you can eat that’s as healthy as possible. Things to avoid:  sweet salad dressings (Caesar, blue cheese and, to some extent, Ranch are usually safe — unless you’re avoiding dairy — and Greek is usually low sugar or no sugar), anything “glazed” (will have sugar), anything breaded and/or deep fried (wheat and trans fats), fries, chips, an excess of bread or pasta, anything smothered in cheese or cheese sauce. And, of course, dessert and sweet drinks.
  • Chain restaurants with generally healthy choices: Chipotle, Jason’s Deli, Panera
  • See my post on eating Paleo when eating out. Even if you’re not doing strict Paleo, there are still good tips here for avoiding sugar and carb overload.

#mealprep - lunches

If you pack lunches:

If you’re up for some weekend meal prep, take notes from this guy.

antipasto salad

If you eat lunch at home:

Figure out a few lunch templates you can work from. I tend to develop two or three favorites and rotate them till I get tired of them, or the season changes. Lots of salads in summer (especially this mayo-less tuna), lots of soup and hash in winter. But there are endless variations! Here’s some inspiration:

Told you these days would be short and sweet!

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

20-day diet prep plan: Day 13 (Part 2) – The soup method

Easy meals; the soup method


Here’s another meal template that’s an easy way to get more vegetables in your life — and quick and simple to throw together, and a great way to use up leftovers.

Hopefully, you’ve bought your groceries, and read Part 1 – The hash method. The soup method is somewhat similar.

This time, you’ll need a saucepan. A 1-quart pan works nicely for one person. Scale up as needed.

Like the hash method, the soup method has a list…

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

  1. Diced white or yellow onion (and/or whole green onion)
  2. Already cooked meat of various kinds
  3. Vegetables: a changing cast of characters – bell pepper, green beans, carrots, celery, broccoli, asparagus, mushrooms, cauliflower, spinach… They can be raw, or cooked leftovers.
  4. Zucchini, if you want to make zoodles
  5. Good quality chicken broth
  6. Possible add-ins: spaghetti sauce or marinara, salsa, eggs, lemon juice, herbs

If you haven’t already read about the hash method, please do read the section under the headings “About measurements, part 1” and “… part 2.”

Sorry: I don’t have how-to pictures for this yet, but it’s not tricky — you’ll get it!

Okay, ready to cook?

Step 1:

Heat your saucepan 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.

Step 2:

Meanwhile, dice or slice any veggies you’re going to use. A small handful after they’re diced is a good ballpark measurement to use. Add them after the onions have been in the pan for just a few minutes. EXCEPT: For spinach and zucchini noodles, don’t add them in until the very end.

Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are done to your liking. If you think they’re drying out too much before they’re done, add about an 1/4″ of broth to the pan.

Step 2B – If you’re making zoodles:

How to make zucchini noodles (ignore the cooking part):

Place them in a paper-towel-lined bowl, to help absorb excess moisture.

Step 3:

Add the meat. A good guideline is for your meat to approximately equal the size and thickness of the palm of your hand. Then add enough broth to cover all the meat and veggies; it should come about halfway up the pan, in a 1-quart saucepan. Bring it up to a boil, then turn down to a simmer.

Step 4:

Now you can add anything else you want in it. Stir in a big spoonful of spaghetti sauce or salsa. Add a few pinches of your favorite herbs. If you want a mostly-clear soup, you can thicken and enrich it by first whisking a splash of lemon juice into one egg yolk, then slowly whisking this mixture into the soup.

Step 5:

Add the spinach and/or zucchini noodles (if using), and simmer for three or four minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning. Does it taste bland? Add salt and/or black pepper a little at a time, taste, and add more as needed till it tastes good. Sometimes a little splash of lemon juice helps the flavor, too.

And your soup is done!

Here are some soup combos I’ve enjoyed…

Simple chicken soup, with diced carrots and green onion.

healthy lunches: chicken soup


Sausage or hamburger, green beans, carrots, and marinara make for a minestrone-inspired soup. A little shaved Parmesan on top!

quick easy minestrone


Here’s a great example of using up leftovers! Leftover french onion soup from one day’s restaurant lunch + half a large burger patty from the next day’s restaurant lunch + a little diced squash + chopped spinach = one quick, easy, hearty soup.
easy lunch: onion soup + burger


One day, I was lucky enough to have a little leftover steak; threw it in at the last moment so as not to overcook it. There’s also bell pepper and diced zucchini in there. The green blob is from a Wholly Guacamole mini — another thing I keep on hand for easy lunches.

easy lunch: leftover steak soup.

Some cooked, crumbled sausage, chicken bone broth, and assorted veggies; I don’t know what you call this soup, but it’s delicious!

easy soup: sausage and veggies

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

Balsamic-glazed salmon

balsamic glazed salmon

balsamic glazed salmon

If you like balsamic vinegar, you’ll love this salmon recipe! This one has been in my meal rotation for years, and for good reason. It’s a really simple dish — and like most really simple things, it’s also beautiful!


For the balsamic glazed salmon recipe, visit my guest post at Faith, Food and Fitness!

(The green beans and pine nuts are another one of my long-time faves — also super easy! Recipe here.)

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

Green beans & pine nuts

easy green bean side dish with nuts

easy green bean side dish with nuts

This is one of my favorite veggie dishes, and if you’re looking for an easy green bean side dish, you found it! This is SO easy to throw together, I actually sometimes make it for a snack! (nom nom nom!)

But it feels just a bit more elegant than an everyday dish. There’s something about the mingling of these four simple ingredients that just works. And it goes great with so many main dishes: fish, grilled steak, pork chops, roasted chicken. Plus, if made with ghee, it’s Paleo and Whole30 friendly!

And when I say it’s simple to “throw together,” I mean it. You won’t need to dirty a single measuring cup or spoon!


Green Beans and Pine Nuts (or Almonds, Pecans, or Walnuts)
Serves 2; scale up as necessary

2 generous handfuls of fresh or frozen green beans

a splash or two of olive oil

a tablespoon or two of butter or ghee (just eyeball the amount)

1 handful of pine nuts — or your choice of slivered almonds, pecan or walnut pieces

several shakes of salt

If using fresh green beans, snap off the ends and break them into pieces of whatever length you like.

Pour water into a small saucepan, to a depth of about 1″; bring to a boil. Add the green beans. If they’re frozen, stir till the water returns to a boil. Turn the heat down a couple notches and simmer until the beans are done to your liking. Recommended: while they are still bright green, but pleasingly tender when you bite one.

Tip: To safely test whether they’re done to your liking, pull one out, lay it on a dish or cutting board, and tap it a couple times with the back of a spoon or another flat utensil, before you taste it. This will force out the steam that may be on the inside and keep you from burning your mouth!

Drain the beans and leave them in the colander for the moment. Return the saucepan to the heat and pour in a bit of olive oil; add the butter and the pine nuts to that. Stir over medium heat, until you can smell the pine nuts, or until they begin to turn toasty brown.

Add the beans back into the pan and stir to coat them with the sauce and the nuts. Add a little salt. Serve immediately. Enjoy!


Ginger chicken skillet

ginger chicken recipe

ginger chicken recipe

This Ginger Chicken recipe is from Kelly Bejelly at agirlworthsaving.com. She does a bang-up job of making comfort food that meets Paleo and/or AIP requirements.

This recipe is one she says her mom used to make weekly — and I can see why! It’s both easy and delicious.

My only changes to her recipe are to use thighs instead of drumsticks — I think they’re easier to eat, and we both prefer that meat. Plus, I eliminated the chopped red onion. It adds a little color, but there’s so much flavor happening I think they’re not totally necessary, and it simplifies the prep a bit. And I’m all about that!

One-Pan Ginger Chicken Recipe

4 chicken thighs

salt and pepper

about 1 T. coconut oil

1 yellow onion, coarsely chopped

1 fat piece ginger, about 2″ long, peeled and sliced pretty thin

1 green onion, white and green parts, chopped into thin slices

Make a slit in the meat that runs along the bone on the skinless side of the thighs. (There’s a line of fat and/or membrane there; just cut along that.) This isn’t absolutely necessary, but it makes the meat easier to cut off the bone later on while you’re eating it.

Trim off any skin that extends beyond the meat. Season the meat generously on both sides with salt and pepper.

In a large skillet over medium heat, warm the coconut oil, then add the chopped onion and ginger and cook for 3 minutes.

Place the chicken thighs in the skillet, skin side up, and cover with a lid. Turn the heat to low and allow to cook covered for 30 – 40 minutes, until meat is done. The juices will run clear, and the interior temperature of meat is at least 170 F.

Optional: For more color on the chicken, remove them from the skillet and broil for 3 – 5 minutes at the end.

Spoon the pan sauce over the thighs after plating, then sprinkle sliced green onions over them.

Mmm, that’s tasty!


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

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


Dairy-free Ranch Dressing (Dump Ranch)

Dairy-free Ranch dressing - dump ranch

If you’re not avoiding dairy, my Buttermilk Ranch Dressing recipe is a delicious option. If, however, you have a milk allergy, living the Paleo diet, or doing a Whole30, this Dairy-free Ranch Dressing is a fantastic alternative. And in fact, I think I might just like it better than the traditional recipe!

This was inspired by and is a slight variation on what the blogging duo Whole Sisters call “Dump Ranch.” As in, you just dump it all in a blender and mix!

Made with the lesser amount of coconut milk, it makes an addictive veggie dip…

veggie tray with dairy-free ranch dressing


I’ve added it to one of my variations on tuna salad

tuna salad with ranch dressing


It’s also great drizzled over fresh summer tomatoes, sprinkled with bacon!



And schmeared on a burger!

burger with ranch dressing


I don’t have a pic but it’s aMAZing drizzled over hot broccoli! It melts quickly, blending the flavors into every tiny crevice. Yum!

I’m sure it’ll be great on salad, too; just haven’t got to that yet!

Here’s my spin on it…

Dairy-free Ranch Dressing or Dip

(aka, “Dump Ranch”)

• 1 & 1/4 c. mayonnaise

— (OR 1 c. light olive oil, 1 egg, 1 T. lemon juice and 1/4 t. salt)

• 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar (or other light-colored vinegar)

• 1 teaspoon black pepper

• 1 teaspoon granulated onion or onion powder

• 3/4 teaspoon salt

• 3/4 teaspoon granulated garlic or garlic powder

• 1/2 cup full-fat coconut milk, or other milk of your choice (1/4 c. for dip)

• 1 handful fresh or frozen parsley, coarsely chopped

• from 1 pinch up to 1/8 t.  dill, fresh or dried (adjust according to your love for dill)

• optional: snipped fresh chives and or fresh basil to taste


Note: Do NOT use less vinegar. I tried that once, and the mixture did not emulsify.

If you have a stick blender / immersion blender, just blend everything together in the carafe till well mixed. (Chop the basil coarsely before adding. I use one large leaf.)

I use this stick blender and the carafe that came with it, and this works great. I don’t bother to bring the egg to room temperature.

If you don’t have a blender, use already-made mayo, mince the herbs fine, then just whisk everything till well blended.

Refrigerate for one hour at least, if possible. Four is better. Taste, and adjust seasonings if needed.

Makes about 16 oz of dressing, or 14 oz of dip. Lasts in fridge up to one week. (But it’ll probably be long gone before then!)

(Stick blender link goes to my Amazon store; I get 4% – which doesn’t affect your price at all. I only list products that I actually use and love.)

Pin it!

Dairy-free Ranch dressing - dump ranch


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