Plan, Prep, Play

planHaving a plan is one of the most important things you can do to be successful during a Whole30. I would even argue that having a weekly plan for your eating, no matter what you choose to eat, can help you stay on track with your goals and keep you moving towards success.

Imagine coming home after work or running errands or however you spend your time and being hungry. You open the fridge and find…nothing. You start trying to find something to eat, and you really want to stick with your Paleo eating, but after a handful of carrots, you’re still hungry. And there isn’t anything that will really satisfy you.

Now imagine what happens under those same circumstances when you open the fridge and find carrots and guacamole, a few meatballs, and some roasted cauliflower. Suddenly you have a meal or snack that is delicious and that makes you feel cared for and strong. You eat well and feel healthy and ready to tackle anything else that your day holds.

The work on the front end is definitely more than just winging it, but truly it’s not that difficult either. It’s more about having a plan.

The Plan

I like to start my week with a few minutes and a pen and piece of paper. I also like to surround myself with cookbooks and ideas and anything that might inspire me. I will either consider what’s in the fridge and build a menu around that or, especially if the fridge is pretty empty, I simply go with what is seasonal and what looks good.

Then I make two lists: What am I cooking? And what do I need to purchase?

It’s important to consider all your meals because when doing a Whole30, you cook real food. A lot. If it comes from a box, it probably isn’t going to fit the plan. There are a few exceptions, and in fact more and more Paleo products are appearing on grocery shelves, but for simplicity, think fresh and whole.

Breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks all need to be considered. Don’t get overwhelmed, though. Consider the same breakfast for a week and then change it up the next week. For dinner, make more than you can imagine eating – then you have leftovers! They will save you from extreme hunger and can make the entire process easier. It’s time to love your leftovers.

The Prep

Once you have a plan, it’s time to get the prep taken care of. I’ll just touch on it briefly here because there are so many different ways to get yourself ready for the week. Here’s the thing – don’t let it make you crazy. I didn’t have a lot of time because today was a holiday and the whole weekend has been quite busy, but I took a few moments to do this:

  • Store: Cherries, berries, melon, canned tuna, eggs, salad, slaw mix, celery, giant pot roast
  • Cook: Hardboiled 8 eggs and peeled them, cut up melon, washed celery and stood it up in a container with water, cooked pot roast

There’s no great secret here. I bought and cooked whatever looked easy. It’s a busy week and I just need to eat right. So it’s not pot roast season, but it was on sale and I could put it in the oven while I was doing other things. Now there’s a couple pounds of meat that can be turned into any number of concoctions, from salads to omelets to snacks to stuffing for other veggies…all sorts of things.

Play

The idea is to get the job done without too much stress. It’s just food! This is easy, really. Hungry? Grab some beef, cook it briefly in a pan and add some chili powder and garlic and cumin, toss it with some slaw, add some bell pepper slices, tomatoes, and avocado. Splash on vinegar or olive oil or add in whatever veggies suit you. Have fun with it!

That goes for this whole journey. This isn’t a sentence to misery around food. Actually, I find that whenever I tighten things up, I usually end up feeling more engaged and energized in the kitchen. Something tasty comes out of it because I have to get creative. Just go with the flow and try new things and embrace the experience.

Eating the right things for your body is empowering so go after that feeling of radiant energy and enjoy!

 

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Whole30 – Transformation Plan

Whole30 2014For the next 30+ days, I will be eating meat, vegetables, healthy fats, fruits and nuts. I will not be eating processed food, sugar, dairy, grains or legumes, and I won’t be consuming any alcohol.

I’ve done a few Whole30 challenges before, but this time I’m looking for something a little different. I lost touch with my Paleo choices last year and I would like to reconnect with what it means to feel healthy, vibrant, and in tune with my whole self.

If you’re doing a Whole30 or other challenge, if you are living/exploring the Paleo lifestyle, or if you are simply looking for some tasty recipes to add to your repertoire, be sure to leave a comment to let me know you’re out there! I am so glad you stopped by!

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beginThere it is. I’m putting it out there that a new Whole30 will begin on January 2, 2016. I’m super excited because I know just how amazing it feels to be giving my body the fuel that it loves and craves and works best with. But I won’t lie, it’s also challenging. I have years of food addiction and deep rooted cravings for certain things, including filling emotional holes with food. But I feel ready to regain the strength and energy and well-being that comes with doing what my mind, body, and heart really need.

Because they do truly need to be fueled right. I can tell. When I think back to how I felt during previous challenges, but more specifically to when Paleo eating was engrained in my life outside of the challenge, THAT is when I felt like I could conquer anything. So I will return to the basics in order to move from there.

I am calling this challenge 2016 Transformation because I can just feel that something profound has the opportunity to manifest in me this year. Who knows? Maybe it won’t. But since I feel something bubbling inside of me, I’ve decided not to suppress it just because it might seem silly or it might not work. Instead I’ve decided to embrace it. That’s something I see myself doing more and more in 2016 so what better place than my health and eating to first embrace that change?

For anyone also considering a Whole30, here are a few things that I’m doing this week to get myself ready for success…

Food Shopping

Being prepared with food, dinners, snacks, easy eats, etc. is essential to a successful Whole30. A few things I will purchase include:

  1. Cans of tuna and chicken for lunches and snacks
  2. Greens to cook that I will wash and put in a tub
  3. Salad greens that will make up lunches and wraps
  4. Zucchini for breakfasts and zoodles
  5. Cauliflower for “rice”
  6. Celery for salads
  7. Carrots, cherry tomatoes, and bell peppers to snack on
  8. Eggs! for everything

Food Prep

If I have a few things already cooked and in the freezer, I won’t be caught out and frustrated. So in the fridge or freezer, I will have a few things:

  1. Hard boiled eggs
  2. Washed greens
  3. Meatballs – perfect dinner or snack
  4. These chicken thighs – dinner, salad addition, or snack!
  5. Lots of veggies all ready to eat
  6. Steamed broccoli – it’s bulky so it satisfies my need for quantity and it can make a dinner side or a snack. Just like that.
  7. “Riced” cauliflower, steamed and ready to become something delicious
  8. Baked sweet potatoes – I know I’ll be craving carbs early on so it’s best to have some on hand to mix with tuna, avocado, and a squeeze of lemon after a workout. One of my favorite snacks.

Mental Prep

I know what this is about and I’m ready to feel amazing. But that doesn’t mean that it will be easy, so I have decided to spend a minute or so each morning just breathing and believing in my success for the day. There is a tremendous amount of benefit in picturing yourself achieving success. I remember years ago having a motivational speaker at one of my sales meetings who talked about practicing golf in his mind while he was a prisoner of war. I’m embarrassed that I don’t remember his name, but I hope to honor him with my thoughts about the sacrifice he made and his subsequent impact on a total stranger. He practiced his swing, his approach to the hole, every aspect of golf…but he did it all in his mind. When he was finally released from years of confinement, his golf game had actually improved.

This left an indelible imprint on me and I have since always believed in the power of the mind. We can accomplish anything! Sometimes we need to realize that it begins in the mind where it can be visualized, reworked, retried, even reinvented – whatever you need to do to reach your own, very personal goal. I have decided to dedicate a few moments each day to visualizing what my healthiest version of myself looks like and feels like so that I can then live that image.

This is It

As the final days of 2014 come to a close, I’m a bit sad thinking about what might have been. Really. I love my Paleo lifestyle and can’t fathom why I would get out of synch with it. But sometimes I do. For no other reason than I’m human. I can have the most deeply held beliefs and still spend time in a space that isn’t in line with who I am, what I believe, or the goals I’ve laid out for myself. My sadness is not for the mistakes made or choices that were off-target, but it’s really for this thought that if I had followed my Paleo dreams, I would feel strong and amazing right now. Not like I need to detox. But then, I enjoyed the wine and cheese. So is it balance? I honestly don’t know. That’s why I think 2016 is quite important for me in my own journey. I believe that I have an opportunity to see these two different years juxtaposed with each other and then to do something different.

I’m intrigued by 2016 and this energy I feel around transformation. What does it look like? Where will it lead? The unknown can either be scary or exciting. In 2016, I choose exciting. And here’s just one more thought that I’ll leave you with, something that occurred to me not too long ago – Just because you aren’t sure you can succeed, doesn’t mean you don’t start. So start.

Start with me. Make a change. Live differently. Find your definition of health. Believe in YOU. Just start.

5 Fantastic Fall Snacks

Fall Paleo Snacks

The other day, I had a bit of a snack attack and realized that I need to be better prepared for those times during the day when I am legitimately hungry but it’s not quite mealtime. That got me thinking: What are the snacks that satisfy me most?

Here are my five favorite snacks for fall…

Sweet potato, tuna or salmon, lemon and optional avocado – Not a catchy title, in fact kind of cumbersome, but this is probably my all-time favorite snack. It’s my go-to when I only have a few minutes to eat or I need some pre-workout fuel (with avocado) or post-workout fuel (without avocado) or a quick lunch on the go. It’s quite simply awesome.

Dump a can of tuna or salmon in a bowl, mash in about 1/4 or 1/3 of a cup of cooked sweet potato, add a squeeze of lemon juice, and salt and pepper to taste. Pre-workout (or other random times), I will also add 1/4 of an avocado. That’s my favorite way to have it. If it’s post-workout, I might skip the avocado because the fat can slow the absorption of the nutrients my muscles need. (I confess, though, since I am not a performance athlete, I have been known to throw caution to the wind and just eat it how I like it!)

Hard-boiled egg, veggie sticks, olives – Another quick and easy snack, especially if your eggs are already prepared for the week and you’ve taken a minute to cut up some vegetables as well. Grab whatever veggies you have on hand (carrots, celery, cucumber, cherry tomatoes, bell pepper, jicama, etc.), slice an egg or two in half and put salt and pepper or a dollop of mustard (my favorite) or paleo mayonnaise, and throw in a handful of olives – any kind – and you’re good to go! Veggies, protein, fat – a perfect combination!

Warm apple with coconut butter – In truth, I do this cold or hot. Cut your apple into slices, any variety is fine, and spread a couple teaspoons to a couple tablespoons of coconut butter on it and eat it like you mean it. In the evenings, this is delicious as a treat! Just cut your apple and cook it in the microwave until it’s soft – a minute or two. Put a spoonful of coconut butter in so it begins to melt and get all gooey, sprinkle with cinnamon and enjoy this totally healthy indulgence.

Cauliflower hummus with chicken strips or veggie sticks – No chickpeas for the paleo eater so we’ve had to come up with something different to give us that warm, earthy, fantastic dip that so many of us love. Super-nutritious cauliflower works amazingly well as a chickpea stand-in and quickly absorbs the garlicy-lemon-tahini combo in hummus. I like dipping veggie sticks in my veggie dip, but it is also terrific with some leftover grilled chicken cut into strips. Once again, the protein-veggie-fat combo rules.

Check out my recipe for Cauliflower Hummus and get snacking!

Leftovers – I would be remiss if I didn’t say at least once that leftovers make a fantastic snack. When you’re listening closely to your hunger and satisfaction cues, sometimes there’s just a little bit of dinner or lunch left over – not enough to make another meal, but too much to waste. And frankly, eating like this is so tasty that I don’t want to throw stuff away anyway. When you have that little 1/2 serving left, just box it up and save it for the next day when the munchies hit. There’s no set breakfast-lunch-dinner meal ingredients anymore. This is paleo! If your beef stew was delicious for dinner, then it’s great for a snack too!

How to Open (and roast) a Spaghetti Squash

Spaghetti squash is a great vegetable, especially once you stop eating noodles from grain sources. It works as a fairly neutral base, taking just about any flavored sauce and making you feel like you just had pasta. Super comforting! Here’s the catch…the thing is a pain to cut open! I have often thought that if it were easier, I’d eat more of it. And then Halloween came along.

You know those cute little serrated mini-knives that are sold for less than a dollar around this time of year? They are AMAZING at cutting squash open! Guess what else? If you get the fancy (under $3) pumpkin scraper with the teeth to go along with it, you’re in business! Quick and painless. Trust me. Stock up – I did!

Spaghetti Squash tools 2013

Roasted Spaghetti Squash

1 medium spaghetti squash

A few pinches of salt

Directions

1) Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

2) Use the small serrated knife to cut all around the squash, lengthwise. Then crack it open to reveal the seeds. It should be really easy since the little knife has already done all the work. Use the serrated scraper to remove the seeds.

Spaghetti Squash cutting 2013

Spaghetti Squash breaking

Spaghetti squash scraping 2013

3) Sprinkle a little salt on the cut sides and place face-down in a large glass baking dish. Add water to the dish to measure a little less than a 1/4 in. deep. Bake the squash in the oven for about 35-40 minutes. If you squeeze the outside of the squash with tongs, there should be some give, but not squishy. I like mine to be pretty al dente because I will invariably cook it again. BUT if you want yours a little softer, go ahead and leave it in another 5-10 minutes.

Spaghetti Squash with water 2013

4) Let squash cool cut-side up until you can handle it easily. I often bake it whenever I have a moment and leave it to cool – even for a couple hours. Scrape the squash with a fork to make spaghetti-like strands. Reheat before serving.

Spaghetti Squash - Shredding 2013 (2)

Note: This is a great vegetable to roast on the weekend, shred, and store in the fridge. Now you have noodles ready to go. I will almost always microwave, sauté, or otherwise cook them before eating, which is why I like them still firm when I roast them.