Last week, I posted about my Whole30 Shopping Experience at Trader Joe’s. Well, this week I’m gonna share with you some of my finds (and disappointments) at Aldi, their sister store, and the store I need to avoid at all costs if I wanna get out of debt: Walmart.
I recently tried prosciutto for the first time ever, and I am happy to report that it is DELICIOUS! I could totally swap it out for bacon in just about any meal. At $2.99 for about 6 strips, it’s about the same price as the uncured bacon I was buying anyway. I’m still on the hunt for decently priced bacon or pork belly though!
Here’s Walmart’s prosciutto options, for comparison.
Organic Grass Fed Beef
Even with 15% fat, you don’t have to drain the grease when you cook this meat! It is wonderfully priced as well! Thank you Aldi!
Aldi has great prices on all of their fresh meats. Chicken is no exclusion. They even have an all natural, though not organic, option. All chicken is raised without hormones (due to Federal regulations), and most are raised without the use of antibiotics (unless they get sick), so I tend to just focus on the price tag and get whatever’s the best deal. Don’t be fooled by those “Never Any” labels. Do your research on what they mean! And if you check the weekly ads before you shop, you can make sure Aldi is offering the best price. They aren’t always the cheapest.
Organic Cage Free Brown Eggs
Remember when looking for the best eggs you want: pastured, Omega-3, organic, cage free, then conventional. The organic cage free eggs are a little cheaper than the ones you can find at Walmart, but I still think the Omega-3 cage free eggs at Trader Joe’s for $2.39 are a much better deal! I have seen pastured eggs at Kroger, but they are $5+ per dozen.
For comparison, here are Walmart’s egg options.
Salmon is really healthy (and one of my most favorite foods). I personally prefer fresh(er) fish and watch for Sprouts or Kroger to mark their fresh salmon to $5.99/lb, but I have tried all of the frozen fish at Aldi, and they’re NOT BAD, especially for the price. They do all come from China though, so if you’re funny about that, steer clear. Most nutritionists agree that wild Alaskan salmon is the best fish to eat.
Yes, even the super cheap frozen salmon is doable! I have heard too many negative things about tilapia, so I haven’t bought any of it in a long time, but again, it tastes fine and is very affordable.
They have great prices on shrimp as well. Shrimp is another one of those things you should try to avoid if imported. Shrimp from the Gulf is best.
Just do a little research, check your labels, shop around, and decide what’s best for you! (Walmart has similar options at a higher price.)
Did I mention Aldi has cold smoked salmon?
As mentioned, there were a few disappointing revelations made during my Aldi trip. I was surprised to find that some of the items I normally buy (and assumed I would be able to continue buying) have crazy stuff in them making them incompliant! The white albacore canned tuna has SOY in it! Boo! Same goes for the regular canned tuna.
However, they now have a new tuna that doesn’t have soy in it, although it does have vegetable broth made with yellow pea. I’m assuming that if I drain the liquid, I’m technically only left with tuna and salt. I’m still hoping to find an affordable canned tuna without anything on the no list.
My kids love hot dogs, but I’m not much of a fan. I was buying these uncured angus beef ones from Walmart, but they have DEXTROSE in them, which is sugar in case you didn’t know.
They do have another option for $1 more that does not have sugar in them! These are even from grass fed cows! You won’t see me eating them, but at least the kids can still enjoy one of their favorite foods!
Chicken Apple Smoked Sausage
It turns out that Aidell’s is not the only option for Whole30 sausage! Walmart’s is actually cheaper too!
Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Just look at that price! Need I say more?
The olive oil in a spray can has soy in it, so it’s no good. Wanna know a tip? Take a cooking brush and dip it in olive oil to coat pans or foods! Works just as well and you don’t have to buy another product!
Organic Coconut Oil
I buy a lot of this stuff! I like to use it in certain dishes were the coconut taste doesn’t come through, but my dog is addicted to it as well! She gets a spoonful with every meal, and she loves it! She won’t eat until I put her scoop of coconut oil on top of her food! It’s been great for her skin issues. You can even use it on your skin, or hair! I have a friend who puts it in her coffee too! Can’t beat Aldi’s price on it!
Organic Apple Cider Vinegar
Aldi has a great price on organic apple cider vinegar! A bottle of Bragg’s (which is slightly larger) is almost $6!
Almost all of Aldi’s dried fruit has sugar in it (with the exception of the apricots), but the freeze dried fruit is does not! This is another food that you aren’t going to just sit and eat, but you can add it to your grain free oatmeal, and other dishes. It would be great in trail mix as well, which would be a great on-the-go breakfast!
The prunes (dried plums) are [added] sugar free!
The raisins have no added sugar in them either!
While these fruit strips from Aldi are Whole30 compliant, they are another snacky food you really shouldn’t eat. They are however, a great alternative to fruit snacks if your kids are going Paleo like mine! They’re pretty easy to make on your own, but sometimes it’s nice to have something pre-packaged and ready to throw in their lunch box!
I don’t expect to find a better price on dates! These babies are used as a sweetener or thickening agent in a lot of Whole30/Paleo recipes! I don’t think they are a regular item at Aldi though, so you may wanna grab them while they have them!
In case you were wondering, these Aldi dates have rice flour in them.
Salsa is not hard to make, but it is pretty convenient to be able to get a jar of it for less than $3! The organic one on the left (that I used to buy from Aldi) has sugar in it. The one on the right, which I started buying as soon as they started carrying it, does NOT!
Sweet Potato Chips
Technically, you’re supposed to stay away from things like chips, but I figure these sweet potato chips from Aldi will be good to have on hand in case of emergency. I also will be converting my children to a Paleo diet, and let’s be honest: a life without chips is just no life at all! We won’t be eating them all the time, but we won’t be giving them up altogether either.
Seeds and Nuts
Aldi has fantastic prices on nuts and seeds, but you have to be careful and read the labels!
Most of them are perfectly fine, although remember nuts are supposed to be used sparingly (no eating a whole bag in one sitting anymore!).
Do not get these though! I can’t remember what they have in them (I think it may be peanut oil), but like I said, READ THE INGREDIENTS. Don’t just assume to know what’s in a product!
Almost all of Aldi’s seasonings have filler ingredients making them incompliant. They do have organic options for $2 that are compliant! And check Walmart for spices as well! I just got a bottle of organic chili powder for $1.50!
Same goes for their flax and chia seeds. So disappointing!
I was excited to see bone broth for such a good price at Walmart…until I read the ingredients and saw dextrose, BOO!
Aldi’s organic broths have sugar in them too.
Aldi and Walmart both have great prices on produce as well! They even have a few organic selections! I typically try to stick to the Dirty Dozen/15 Clean rule, but again, it depends on what I can find and what’s most affordable.
I hope this helps in your shopping efforts! As you can see, I didn’t do too thorough of a job at Walmart because I really am going to try and stay out of there as much as possible (I have a slight problem leaving there without buying something I don’t need, mainly clothes). I know that I can get everything I need elsewhere, it’ll just take some getting used to. I’ll be sure to share what I find at Whole Foods, Sprouts, and Kroger later this week! If you find a good deal on something, please share on the Facebook page!
Ok, so as promised, here’s my shopping experience from Trader Joe’s! If you don’t have one close to you, I’m sorry [insert crying emoji]. It’s an incredible little store! The closest one to me is in Athens. It’s about 35 minutes from my house, so probably not too much closer than the one in Atlanta, but it’s less than 20 minutes from my church, which I’m at 4 days a week (although not any more after this week). That’s still round trip time of nearly an hour, so it obviously isn’t a regular stop for me. In fact, the last time I went was over the summer. I just wanted to share some of the things they had there that excited me or that I bought in preparation for our challenge. I wasn’t able to get any fresh food since we were still 3 weeks away from our kick off, so I’ll most likely be making another trip, unless I find better deals at Sprouts, Whole Foods, or Kroger.
Remember the ONLY peas you can eat during the challenge are snow peas or sugar snap peas! This was the selection at TJ’s.
I love mushrooms! Look at all those glorious shrooms!
Wanna know how to keep your food tasting interesting? Use fresh herbs! These are great prices, if you don’t grow your own!
I actually enjoy chopping veggies when I cook, but sometimes it is quicker and easier if they’re already chopped, especially when it comes to potatoes since you have to peel them, and if you’ve never cut a butternut squash before, prepare to work. Those suckers are tough! They have pre-cut butternut squash at Walmart for about $3, but it’s not nearly this big of a bag.
Kale is super easy to cut, and you can get a BUNCH from Walmart for less than $1, but if cutting’s not your thang, here ya go! The pre-cut stuff at Aldi is almost $4, although it is a bigger bag, so it might work out to be cheaper, IDK.
Pre-Cut Cabbage and Slaw
Cabbage isn’t hard to cut, but it is a little more difficult to shred for things like coleslaw, so I will typically splurge a little and just get it pre-cut. I think bagged broccoli slaw is great because it has broccoli, cabbage, and carrots already shredded and mixed so you don’t have to buy and shred three different ingredients! Again, it’s up to you how much prep work you wanna do! I tend to take the help where I can since there’s plenty of prep work I either can’t get or don’t want help with (I’ll boil my own eggs, thank you very much).
They even have shredded Brussels sprouts! The only two ways I enjoy Brussels sprouts are roasted/sauteed with bacon or raw in salad.
Grass Fed Angus Beef Strip Loin Steak
I thought less than $10 was a pretty good price for a decent sized grass fed steak, but I don’t buy steak all that often. I’m not the greatest steak chef, so when I have steak, I like to leave it to the professionals ;). I will say that if you want to stretch your meat, and your dollars, don’t make meals with meat and sides. Try to make meals where the meat isn’t the star of the show. I actually prefer my food all mixed together, and I rarely cook anything separate so my kids have come to not be so picky about it as well. My 10 year old actually prefers her food mixed like her mama! Doing this allows me to cook 1 lb of beef or 3 chicken breasts and still fill all 7 of our tummies without even feeling like we’re being deprived! LOL! I love meat, I just don’t love buying so much of it!
Frozen Grass Fed Ground Angus Beef
I buy grass fed ground beef from Aldi for $5.99/lb. I love it! You don’t even have to drain the fat! I might give this one a try just to see what the difference, if any is, even though I don’t typically buy frozen meat (not that anything is wrong with that).
I thought this was a great price for ground chicken! I haven’t used it much before, but I plan on trying it in a couple recipes during the course of the challenge.
Spicy Italian Chicken Sausage
I know Adell’s Chicken and Apple Sausage is compliant, but I’m not sure about the price, so it’s good to know there’s another option!
When looking for eggs, it’s best to buy pastured. If you can’t find or afford pastured, go for the Omega-3 eggs, or the organic, or the free range/cage free, in that order. If you just HAVE to get conventional eggs, they are still one of the healthiest foods you can eat. If you want more info on which eggs are the best and why, go here. $2.39 for a dozen cage-free large eggs with added Omega-3 is a deal, let me tell you!
One of the things on my meal plan for Week 1 is mackerel lettuce wraps, so imagine my delight to find this!
Trader Joe’s has great prices on seasonings! I love their 21 Salute Seasoning, and I just ran out recently, so I restocked. I also got some garlic powder since the garlic salt I get from Aldi’s has SUGAR in it [insert angry red face emoji along with crying emoji here]. I will say that Walmart and Kroger have great prices on organic spices, so you may want to check there first!
I have no earthly idea what I’m gonna use these for yet, but I considered them rare finds! “Jelly” made from nothing but fruit and fruit juice has always come at a pretty price in my experience, so I went ahead and got 2 of these. I’m not a fan of raspberry (although I will eat it b/c I will eat just about anything), and the mango has sugar in it [more crying emojis here, mango is my favorite!]. I know I can use it with meatballs at least.
Hearts of Palm
Joe Daddy and I just went to Fogo de Chão and tried hearts of palm for the first time ever (at least we think we haven’t tried them before)! They reminded me of the taste of marinated artichoke hearts with the texture of a raw carrot. I had to look up what it was. They come from the inner core of certain palm trees! Neat, huh? Now, I don’t know if Trader Joe’s hearts of palm are as good as Fogo’s, but definitely worth a try, so I got some! They are great on salad!
Clarified Butter or Ghee
I don’t know how much ghee is elsewhere, but online it is astronomical! They have it on amazon.com for anywhere from$0.62/oz to $2.36/oz (maybe even higher, I didn’t price them all out! LOL)! Trader Joe’s option came out to $0.49/oz, which is obviously a much better deal. Remember that you can make your own clarified butter, but this is the only dairy you can have on Whole30! I might make my own someday, but I went ahead and got a jar to try.
If you do decide to make your own clarified butter, Kerrygold Butter is from grassfed cows and is pretty darn affordable! They even have it at Walmart!
These are the dates that are in a ton of the Whole30 recipes. They’re used as a binding agent in some and as a sweetener in others. I’ve seen them at Kroger, so I wanted to wait to get some til I checked prices, but then I found some at Aldi for $3.99 the day after I went to Trader Joe’s, so I ended up getting them there!
Almond butter is one of those things you gotta watch for sugar with. These had two ingredients: almonds, sea salt. I was skeptical, but I bought both the crunchy and creamy on a whim, and I gotta say, I don’t really mind it without the sugar! Now, my kids, might be a harder sell. This is another item you can easily make yourself. Just grind up some roasted almonds in your food processor til creamy!
The cashew butter wasn’t much more, and I do intend on trying some eventually (I LOVE cashews, but I’ve never tried cashew butter), I just didn’t want to buy $20 worth of nut butters in one day! LOL!
Tahini is ground up sesame seeds (again something you can totally make on your own). You can use it to make sauces and dressings, so it’s pretty versatile. I’ve never tried it, but I’m interested in trying it!
Red Boat Fish Sauce
I was equally surprised and excited to see this at TJ’s! Online it’s over $7 a bottle! I love fish sauce! I use it in a few of my Asian dishes so I had to have some!
Toasted Sesame Oil
This is another ingredient I use in a lot of my Asian dishes. Cold pressed oil is better for you. The one I bought from Sprouts was around $5, so I recommend getting it at TJ’s!
This is yet another ingredient I use in a lot of my Asian dishes. The rice vinegar I had in my pantry had sugar in it. Luckily, the bottle was nearly empty! This one is sugar free and less than $2!
Coconut cream can be used to make whipped cream (although you’re really not supposed to make stuff like that during this challenge)! You can also use it to make sauces or for creamer in your coffee, although I will warn: it has a coconut taste. I am opting to give up coffee entirely during this challenge because even with some sort of creamer, I can’t do coffee without a sweetener, but I did try it in my coffee (which I still love even though I gave up the caffeinated stuff over a year ago) and it was doable, which is good news for me since I am planning on going Paleo after the challenge.
I’m pretty sure this is the best price I’ve seen on organic coconut milk, but I’ll let you know if I find it cheaper elsewhere. Coconut milk is in tons of Whole30 recipes. I needed 3 cans for my first meal plan alone!
I haven’t ever tried it (I can get a bottle of olive oil that size for half the price!), but I have heard it has a milder flavor that’s good for making mayo and dressings. I’m going to try olive oil first since it’s cheaper and the mayo I buy is made with olive oil, but I have a feeling TJ’s is going to have the best price on this stuff.
Sun Dried Tomatoes
Last time I went looking for sun dried tomatoes, I quickly said, “To hell with that!” Kroger wanted over $5 for a little jar! I know I won’t use them a lot, but I know one of the most important things about this challenge is finding ways to add flavor to foods to keep things interesting, so I splurged for the $3 jar.
Somehow, I deleted the rest of my shopping pictures without realizing they hadn’t uploaded to my album from my phone :(. TJ’s has a great section of nuts and dried fruits (without sugar) for pretty good prices. While these foods aren’t ideal for the challenge, I have to have something I can take with me to the gym so I can eat in the car on the way to the grocery store one day a week without having to go all the way home to eat. Of course, I could decide to go to Snellville to do my shopping each week (since they have a Sprouts, Aldi, Walmart, and Kroger nearby) and eat at Chipotle’s for lunch that day! Regardless, I wanted to have some snacky foods on hand for those moments when I’m close to failure. The good thing about chips and dried fruit is they don’t go bad fast (if they’re not opened). (Note: I got the sweet potato chips at Aldi, I just didn’t think about it when I took the picture. I also got dried apricots from Aldi, not pictured, which are the only compliant dried fruits they have.)
We found lots more, but these were the things I was most excited to share. I am still on the hunt for dijon mustard made without wine, compliant lunch meat, bacon, and sausage, and the best prices on fresh meat, produce, and herbs. I already visited Aldi, so I’ll be sharing what I found there soon. I’ll be visiting Whole Foods, Sprouts, and Kroger next week. Please share any deals or finds you come across!
There are still 26 days until our Whole30 Challenge starts, but 1) I don’t like to procrastinate and 2) I’m getting excited to start! It’s pretty easy to be excited about giving up sugar and alcohol all while still getting to enjoy those things, but I really feel like this challenge is going to help me get back to the healthy lifestyle I was rocking before my Crohn’s went into remission and I went on a crazy binge eating and drinking endless amounts of sugar all summer. I am definitely one of those people who sugar affects tremendously. Once I have a little, I can’t get enough, and then I get mood swings, gain weight, and feel like complete crap, but can’t seem to stop ingesting it, ahhhhh! I know that I have to take extra good care of my body now while it’s still in good shape or I’ll be in really bad shape down the road, it’s just been hard cutting out all the bad stuff now that my digestive issues aren’t making me completely miserable (just slightly uncomfortable). Anyway, I hope that you are reading up on all the benefits of this challenge and telling yourself, “I can do this! I need to do this! I want to do this!” It’s a lot like giving up cigarettes (which some of you may have to do for the challenge), you have to really want this in order to find the willpower and motivation to go way out of your comfort zone for 30 whole days (haha! See what I did there? ;)).
So yesterday, I scoured Pinterest for every Whole30 compliant (or easily made compliant) recipe in existence. We had a super chillax weekend at home, so what better way to veg-out than a 4 hour rendezvous with my mistress? 😉 I managed to find way more than 30, 60, or even 90 recipes! I’m not sure how much compliant stuff I’ll be able to find yet. I plan on going to Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, Sprouts, Kroger, Aldi, my local butcher, and Walmart (and checking out what Amazon has) before the challenge starts, but even then, I’m starting to realize there’s a good chance I won’t be able to find (or afford) some of the ingredients needed to make some of the stuff I pinned! So, I’m going to make my meal plan for week 1 to give you guys an idea of how to make yours, and I’m going to try and only include recipes with ingredients I’m sure I’ll be able to find. I’ll have a better idea of where to get what after I go shopping.
Try to remember that I stay home and make dinner during the day while my kids are at school, so if you work, you might have to look for more crockpot options or dedicate a day over the weekend to prepping for your weekday meals (which I’ll still be doing even though I don’t work outside the home). I also like a large variety of foods (like all of them, seriously), so what I might be excited about cooking, you might turn your nose up to. Don’t let that discourage you! Where there’s a will, there’s a way! If you need any help coming up with a meal plan, please don’t hesitate to ask! I’m not an expert by any means, I’m just willing to look for solutions because I truly believe there always is one. It might not be what you want to do, but it will be doable.
Day 1: Saturday January 7th, 2017
Breakfast: Zucchini and Sweet Potato Latkes with Fried Eggs
Ingredients: zucchini, sweet potato, coconut flour, eggs, ghee/clarified butter, cumin, garlic powder, parsley, salt, pepper
These are kinda like potato pancakes (with zucchini). I’ve had regular latkes made with white potatoes, so I’m excited to try this new take on them! Add a fried egg on top so when you cut into it, all that warm gooey yoke runs over it….OMG, I’m salivating just thinking about it! This is a breakfast I’m pretty sure my kids will enjoy! I wasn’t planning on having the entire family along for the ride, but after looking at all of the recipes, I think most of it is stuff my kids will eat. I still plan on keeping some Hot Pockets, Totino’s Pizzas, mac and cheese cups, and Eggo waffles on hand for the days when they give me hell about eating what Joe Daddy and I are eating, but a lot of these meals are similar to what we already eat. I’m hoping to be able to find some bacon for less than $.79/ounce, but just in case I can’t, I’m leaving off any recipes with bacon. If I can’t find any at the store, I’ll consider giving US Wellness Meats a try. They have Whole30 compliant meats, they’re just expensive (like double what I already pay for the all-natural uncured stuff I usually buy). I’ve heard it’s easier to find compliant prosciutto, so I may just have to stick with that and not have any bacon, sausage, or ham for a month (which I won’t be happy about, but I’ll survive).
Ingredients: ground beef (I buy the grass-fed organic from Aldi for less than $6/lb), multi-colored bell peppers, avocado, lime, cilantro, jalapenos (optional), salsa (or tomatoes), green onions, cumin, chili powder, onion powder, garlic powder, salt, pepper
I plan on eating soup throughout the week and making kid-friendly lunches on the weekends. We aren’t the biggest fans of ground turkey, unless it’s in something real flavorful like spaghetti, so I’ll be sticking with ground beef for this one. If you haven’t made your own taco seasoning before, it’s stupid easy and there’s a link on this recipe. I love bell peppers, but I never thought to use them as chips! I’ll probably get some real chips for the kids to eat with since they aren’t nearly as crazy about bell peppers as I am ;). For guacamole, I just mash an avocado, add a little salt, squeeze half a lime, and sprinkle in some (a LOT) of cilantro. It’s super easy! Sometimes I make it chunky by adding red onions and tomatoes (and jalapeno to spice it up). If you don’t like bell peppers, you could always turn these nachos into a salad or lettuce wraps!
Dinner: Grilled Salmon with Mango Salsa
Ingredients: salmon, mango, red onion, red bell pepper, tomato, cilantro, lime, greens (spinach, arugula, romaine), chili powder, garlic powder, salt, pepper, jalapenos (optional)
Salmon is one of my most favorite foods! Pair it with my other favorites (mango, red onion, red pepper, tomato, lime, and cilantro) and I’m sold! I might even make the mango salsa ahead of time to put on my nachos for lunch! While this alone would make a perfectly fine meal, I’m thinking I’ll add some greens and make it a salad!
Day 2: Sunday January 8th (my sister LuLu’s, and Elvis’, birthday!)
Breakfast: Sweet Potato Apple Bake
Ingredients: sweet potato, apple, raisins (sugar-free), pecans, coconut oil, full fat coconut milk (check ingredients), cinnamon, nutmeg, eggs, salt
Since I’m making a savory breakfast for Saturday, I figured I’d try a sweet one for Sunday. I made banana bread this past weekend and it was very well received! I don’t do a lot of baking, but I had 4 bananas getting ready to go bad and just enough gluten-free flour left over from last year’s Thanksgiving (yeah, that’s how often I bake from scratch! LOL!). Since my goal after this challenge is to eat at least 80% Paleo, I better get used to making more food from scratch! I just hope I can find sugar-free raisins! You can omit them, but I think they’ll be great in this!
Lunch: Tuna Salad
Ingredients: canned tuna, celery, eggs, green olives, romaine hearts, homemade mayo
I already know I won’t have any salmon leftovers, so I’ll have to make lunch on Sunday as well. Keeping in mind that my kids’ll be home, I think tuna salad is the perfect lunch idea! I normally make my tuna salad with tuna (obviously), celery, eggs, mayo, and green olives and eat it on gluten-free crackers. I’ll have to make some homemade mayo, but that looks super easy, so the only other change I’ll have to make is the crackers. I’m thinking tuna salad lettuce wraps instead! Just get a head of romaine, tear off a leaf, and voila! Instant “tortilla” for the tuna salad! If you want other ideas for tuna salad, check out the recipe above!
Ingredients: Pork chops, olive oil, chili powder, paprika, cumin, smoked paprika, garlic, chipotle chili pepper spice, salt, coconut milk (check ingredients), cilantro, lime, parsnips, cauliflower, yellow squash or butternut squash, carrot, sweet onion, garlic powder, ground mustard, egg, pepper, homemade ketchup
Yes, that’s a lot of ingredients (at least compared to some of the other meals), but Sunday is the one day that I usually have nothing better to do than cook. It will probably be my meal prep day as well (I’ll probably change my shopping day from Tuesday to Friday to help with this). The only thing you have to omit is the liquid smoke. It has molasses in it. I looked up some substitutes and smoked paprika came up, which I already have on hand, yay! I am really interested in this Paleo Mac and Cheese! I can totally live without mac and cheese, but the way the lady goes on and on about how good it is has me intrigued! I love parsnips (they taste almost identical to carrots, only rootier), but I’ve never made them as fries! I’m also interested to see how my homemade ketchup turns out! It seems fairly simple! I’m most interested in what my kids will think! I’m fairly certain the pork chops will be a homerun, but it’ll be interesting to see what they think of the others!
Day 3: Monday January 9th (Back to School for the kids!!!)
Breakfast: Mini Frittatas
Ingredients: Eggs, onions, bell peppers, spinach, salt, pepper, bacon/sausage/ham or mushrooms
I love a good frittata! I’m sure these mini versions won’t be as good without milk and cheese in them, but I need something quick and easy to eat before I hit the gym Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday (and something easy for Joe Daddy to grab before he leaves for work), so I’ll be making these Sunday for the week! This recipe calls for bell peppers, onions, spinach, and some sort of breakfast meat. I’m hoping to find some kind of compliant meat, but if I don’t, I’ll just add in some mushrooms. The best part of a frittata is you can put whatever you want in it! I’ve made a loaded baked potato one, a Greek one, a BLT version, a Southwestern version, and even others and they’ve all been delicious! I usually have a protein smoothie before I head to the gym in the morning, but these will be just as quick and easy, and hopefully not fill my stomach too much.
Lunch: Healing Chicken Soup
Ingredients: Chicken, celery, carrots, onion, chicken broth, turmeric, ginger, garlic, cauliflower, Red Boat fish sauce*, basil, parsley, coconut aminos**, thyme, rosemary, olive oil, salt, pepper
I’ve decided that since Joe Daddy needs something easy to take to work, and I need something easy to heat up once I get home from the gym, and we probably won’t have many leftovers cooking whole foods like this, I’m going to make a big pot of soup every Sunday! I love soup, especially in the winter! For this soup, I’m going to cook a whole chicken in the crockpot by following these directions. Then I’ll add in all the other ingredients and divide it up into separate containers so Joe Daddy and I can just grab and go each day!
*Fish sauce is one of the foulest smelling things on Earth, but it’s salty like soy sauce. Unfortunately, most fish sauces are made with sugar, so if you’re going to use it on the Whole30 Challenge, you gotta get Red Boat, the only brand that is sugar-free. Of course, it’s $7 for a 8.45oz bottle on Thrive (and $16 for a 17oz bottle on Amazon), but I’ve heard they have it at Whole Foods and possibly Trader Joe’s so there’s a chance I might find it cheaper. I haven’t even started this challenge yet, and I’m already seeing how much sugar is being snuck into my body without me even realizing it! I mean, I know when I eat a candy bar or a donut or even a piece (or loaf) of bread, but it’s in everything! And to find sugar-free options, you gotta be willing to sell your soul...ok, that’s a little dramatic…but they do expect you to pay double or more! Uggghhh! But as frustrating as it is, I refuse to give up before I even start! It is totally possible to do this challenge without things like bacon and fish sauce, but as long as I can fit them into the budget, I’m going to get them, even if they are much higher than I would normally spend on them. I’m betting I will still spend less money overall because I won’t be able to eat out as much and I won’t be eating just for taste (which is really the only reason I ever over eat).
**I’ll talk more about coconut aminos on the next recipe.
Dinner: Teriyaki Chicken with Zoodle Stir Fry
I love, love, love zoodles! I dare say I love them more than regular noodles! I don’t cook them very long because I like it when they crunch! I am super excited to be getting a new spiralizer for Christmas! I have had this one for a couple years now, and I have put it to good use, but it can’t spiralize things like sweet potatoes or onions, so when I saw this one on sale at Walmart on Black Friday for $5 cheaper than usual, I grabbed it to open on Christmas Day :). While this recipe sounds fantastical, I’m thinking it could use some mushrooms, carrots, and chicken to make it a complete meal! You can’t follow the recipe because it calls for soy sauce, which is a no-no, and teriyaki sauce, which almost always has sugar in it. The good news is you can make your own teriyaki sauce without any sugar, but you need coconut aminos, which is a Whole30 version of soy sauce. My friend swears it’s good, but again, it’s costly. Amazon has a 3 pack of Coconut Secret’s coconut aminos, teriyaki sauce, and garlic sauce for $25. I’m not sure how cheap you can find it in stores (or where it’s even sold), but online, they go for $10-$20 per bottle! I did see that Bragg’s makes coconut aminos as well, but with shipping it costs just as much. Maybe it’ll be cheaper at a store!
Day 4: Tuesday, January 10th
Breakfast: Mini Frittata (already made!)
Lunch: Healing Chicken Soup (already made!)
Dinner: Garlic Margherita Chicken
Ingredients: chicken, zucchini, tomato, garlic, basil, olive/avocado/coconut oil, salt, pepper, greens (spinach, arugula, romaine)
I’ve made this before and it was good, but it needed something else…so this time, I’m making it into a hot salad!
Day 5: Wednesday, January 11th
Breakfast: Grain-free Oatmeal
Ingredients: apple, dates (be sure to check for sugar), coconut flakes (unsweetened), almonds (plain), chia seeds, almond butter (without sugar or homemade), coconut milk (check ingredients)
I have to at least try this grain-free oatmeal once! I’ve heard it’s really good, and I like all of the ingredients, and I’m not too funny about textures, so even if it’s not like regular oatmeal, there’s a good chance I’ll enjoy it. This recipe calls for a splash of cashew milk, but I can’t find any cashew or almond milk that is Whole30 compliant (unless you make it yourself), so I’ll be using coconut milk.
Lunch: Mackerel Lettuce Wraps/Cups
Ingredients: canned mackerel, cucumber, red onion, cilantro, lime, Red Boat fish sauce, romaine hearts
Wednesday is my day at home, so I’ll be skipping soup this day to make one of my favorite childhood dishes: mackerel lettuce wraps!
When I was 12, my mom married a man from Thailand. Oddly enough, the memory from when he posted this picture on Facebook last year of us from over 20 years ago just popped up yesterday! LOL! If you ever feel like you had bad hair in the past, just look at mine and know: mine was worse! LOL! Anyway, his mother taught my mother how to make a few Thai dishes. This is one of them. It’s so simple, but so good! It’s pretty similar to tuna salad, just different flavors! You add chopped red onion, cucumber, cilantro, half a lime squeezed, and a teaspoon or so of fish sauce to a can of mackerel and wrap it in a romaine lettuce leaf. That’s it!
Dinner: Breakfast Hash
Ingredients: Aidell’s Chicken and Apple Sausages, sweet potato, white potato, onion, red bell pepper, olive oil, salt, pepper
I really love the taste of sweet potatoes with salty white potatoes! I haven’t had Aidell’s Chicken and Apple Sausages before, but they are a compliant sausage I know I can easily find!
Day 6: Thursday, January 12th
Breakfast: Mini Frittata (already made!)
Lunch: Healing Chicken Soup (already made!)
Ingredients: boneless lamb loin, mint, parsley, garlic, red wine vinegar, butternut squash, ghee, beef broth
I’m pretty excited to try this butternut rice! I love butternut squash! I’m also eager to be making condiments and sauces from scratch! I can’t believe how easy it looks! I started making my own dressings about a year ago, and I am amazed at how much more I like them than the store bought stuff! Hopefully, I can find some affordable boneless lamb loin, otherwise, I’ll probably just make steaks.
Day 7: Friday, January 13th
Breakfast: Mini Frittata (already made!)
Lunch: Salami, Almonds, Cashews, Berries, Sweet Potato or Plantain Chips
Ingredients: salami, almonds, cashews, fresh berries (blueberries, blackberries, raspberries), sweet potato chips, plantain chips
I plan on going shopping right after I leave the gym on Fridays, so I’ll have to pack a lunch to eat in my car on the way to the store. I don’t think a Larabar will cut it since I lift weights on Fridays, so I’m gonna bring some salami and nuts so I get plenty of protein. And so I get a little fruit and veggies, I’ll pack some sweet potato or plantain chips and some sort of berries (blue, black, or raspberry…or maybe a mixture!). Joe Daddy might be sick of soup by Friday, so maybe he’ll take something like this as well.
Dinner: Beef Brisket with Onions, Tomatoes, and Potatoes
Ingredients: beef brisket, onion, tomatoes, beef broth, garlic, olive oil, salt, pepper
Since I don’t get home and finished unloading groceries until right before the kids get home, I plan on throwing some potatoes, a beef brisket, a sliced onion, some diced tomatoes, minced garlic, and beef broth (in that order) in the crockpot before I head to the gym. That way, dinner will still be ready by 4pm! I can’t let my kids come home to no dinner. They’ll snack til they’re stuffed and refuse to eat again!
Let me just go ahead and say, starting out, it has taken a lot of effort trying to plan 3 meals a day for 7 days, even though most of my breakfasts and lunches are the same! Hopefully, it’ll go quicker for the 2nd week! Do not wait until the last minute to start planning! It took me several hours to find recipes, research Whole30 approved options, and setting up a meal plan that is fairly simple but with plenty of variety that works with 7 people’s schedules! I hope that the extra hours I put in to share it with you helps shave some time off your efforts! If not, at least all of my planning is easily accessible (and won’t get misplaced like it would if I wrote it all down on a piece of paper, haha!) ;).
Once I get my shopping list made, I’ll share that as well, and then my shopping experience of course! If you have any tips, please feel free to share on the Facebook group page!
Well, it’s been 2 weeks since my last What’s For Dinner post, so I thought I’d share some of the meals we’ve had since then! I’ve been doing really well eating better, drinking a gallon of water a day, making it to all of my fitness classes (7 hours last week and 8 hours this week!), staying away from alcohol (for 24 days now!), soda (I went 4 days, then 7, then caved and had one with my pizza last night, but I’m still not drinking them every day like I did this summer, and now that they’re out of the house I might be able to give them up completely again!), and cutting out as much sugar as I can stand (which is probably the hardest part). I can tell that doing all of these things has dramatically decreased my bloating and lethargy, which isn’t something I notice during the summer when I’m sleeping in and being lazy all day, LOL! I gained 7 lbs this summer and then gained 6 lbs over the last couple of weeks while my body was getting adjusted to all the dietary and exercise changes I’ve made! Thankfully, I’ve already dropped those extra 6 lbs that was probably just water weight! I’m not really focusing on losing weight this year, but increasing my muscle tone. As my husband so eloquently stated to me, I need to “build my muscles up so they push through the fat.” Already, I’ve increased my heavy weights to 15 lbs! Last year, my heavy weights were 8 lbs! I upped them to 10 lbs 2 weeks ago, then 12 lbs last week, and upped them again this week since I wasn’t hitting that exhaustion point on some of the exercises. I think a huge part of being able to do that is due to all the supplements, vitamins, and minerals I’m taking, along with eating right (cutting out the alcohol and sugar), drinking plenty of water, and getting 8 hours of sleep each night. I’ve been getting sore, but only a little for a day or two after, not enough to where I have to miss class because I can barely move. I’ve never consistently worked this hard before, so I’m hopeful this is the year I finally reach my goal! Ok, back to the food!
Cilantro-Lime Chicken and Quinoa with Avocados
This was one of my favorites over the past couple of weeks! I got the inspiration from a one-pan cilantro-lime chicken with black beans and rice recipe on Pinterest and just subbed quinoa for the rice (although, not in the one pan like the recipe instructed; I cooked the quinoa on the side and added it in). I love rice, but I like the white stuff, so I try to limit it to once a week, if at all, and I made red beans and rice that week, which I have to have with white rice. I added some diced avocado on top because, well, avocado. Need I say more?
One-Pan Creamy Lemon Chicken with Pasta and Asparagus
I love lemon, and cheese, so I knew this dish would be a hit! It was super easy and all of the kids enjoyed it. I use brown rice and quinoa pasta instead of the traditional because gluten makes me bloat like crazy (probably from the Crohn’s and not because of an allergy). I think it tastes the same, but maybe that’s just because I’ve gotten used to it.
Spicy Shrimp, Cauliflower Mash, and Garlic Kale with Bacon
This recipe caught my eye because of the way they made the cauliflower mash, using white beans and cornmeal! Well, somehow, the only cornmeal I had sitting in my pantry expired four years before I moved into my current house (which I moved into eight years ago!!!), so I had to come up with an alternative. I figured grits have a similar texture, so that’s what I used, and it turned out ahhhmazing! It’s so much better than your typical cauliflower mash. I also really loved the sautéed kale with garlic and bacon. Of course, my plate didn’t look like this for long! I mixed it all together and it came out similar to shrimp and grits!
Red Beans and Rice
In case I haven’t told you before, red beans and rice is my all-time favorite dish! My father’s side of the family is from New Orleans, Louisiana, which is where I was born and where I lived til I was 6, so I grew up eating creole dishes like red beans and rice, gumbo, jambalaya, and crawfish ètoufèe. Those are my comfort foods. My hubby’s from Georgia, so his are things like chicken and dumplings, chicken pot pie, mac and cheese, and fried chicken (all of which I also love since I have lived in Georgia 27 years of my life, but they’re just not the same). I can’t get the Blue Runner red beans my Gramma and Mama used to make theirs with (unless I wanna pay $3 a can to have them shipped), but I have found some Camellia dry beans that are really good (for only $2/lb, which makes way more than 2 cans of cooked beans). I just cook the beans in water with salt and bay leaves for a few hours, sauté celery, garlic, and onion in olive oil, add them to the beans, then sauté chopped uncured beef smoked sausage and add them as well and serve it all over white Jasmine rice. Those of us who like a little spice in our foods at Tabasco and Tony Cachere’s.
Chicken Zoodle Caprese
My hubby actually cooked this one! It was really good, he just should have drained the zoodles a little better. It was just chicken, tomatoes, zoodles, and fresh mozzarella seasoned with oregano and basil. Super easy and delicious! I can’t complain anytime I don’t have to cook!
Sausage and Squash Skillet with Pasta
The inspiration for this meal came from a Publix recipe, which they have in their ads each week (it’s on Pinterest too!). I love pasta and rice, despite the fact that they’re “processed foods,” so instead of eliminating them altogether, I just limit them to once a week or less. The Publix recipe didn’t have pasta in it. I enjoy pasta with tomato or pesto sauce, but my kids really like it with just butter and garlic. So I threw some sausage and squash in with some buttery garlic pasta, onions, and peppers and called it a meal!
Pork Carnitas Salad
Pork carnitas is one of the easiest things I make. You just toss a pork loin rubbed with chili powder, cumin, salt, pepper, garlic, oregano, and cinnamon, add a bottle of salsa (I like the chunky organic one from Aldi for less than $2!), and cook for several hours on low til it’s ready to pull apart (see the recipe for “Easy Crockpot Carnitas” for amounts on the seasonings, not the one linked with the “Chipotle Lime Carnitas Salad,” although you’ll still want to check that recipe out for the dressing recipe!). The dry rub really gives the pork an incredible flavor, and the salsa keeps it juicy and gives you some tomatoes with the pork. If you can believe it, I grilled 4 corn cobs to use with this recipe and another one and forgot to put them on the salad (they are still sitting in my fridge!). I also didn’t get enough bell peppers, so by the time I made this recipe, I was out. 🙁 It was pretty plain compared to the one pictured with the recipe, but it was still ridiculously delicious because of the dressing! It was so simple, but sooo good! It was just olive oil, honey, garlic, lime juice, salt, pepper, cumin, and cilantro (I omitted the adobo and chiles because my kids are wimps when it comes to spicy foods and will refuse to touch their food if they can even tell I put pepper on it). It was probably the best dressing I have ever had, let alone made!
Grilled Corn and Kale Cobb Salad
This was the other meal I made the grilled corn for, only since I cooked it on the night I made this, I actually remembered to use it! LOL! I ended up going way off the reservation on this recipe and turned a simple grilled corn and kale side dish into a family sized Cobb salad with chicken, bacon, eggs, radishes, red onions, tomatoes, avocados, and croutons (omitting the squash and zucchini the recipe called for). I liked the other cilantro-lime dressing so much that I just used that recipe again, even thought they were both pretty similar. I really love kale, but I forgot it’s a little hard to eat uncooked if you don’t chop it real good. That was my family’s only complaint.
Chicken Gyros with Tzatziki
I’ve probably mention a few several hundred times how much I love Greek food, so I’ll spare you all that, but let me tell you, this was the best tzatziki I’ve ever made! My tomatoes for this recipe went bad before I could use them (I’ve just had bad luck with veggies lately! LOL!), but it was still great without them. It was just Greek yogurt, red onion, cucumbers, feta cheese, oregano, lemon juice, garlic, vinegar, parsley, salt, and pepper (which isn’t exactly what the recipe says, but you know me and following instructions!). The sauce was amazing, but the chicken was great too! I marinated it over night in Greek yogurt, lemon juice, olive oil, vinegar, garlic, salt, pepper, and oregano. It was so juicy and full of flavor after I cooked it in the pan! I wish I would have had the patience and time to make homemade pita bread, because the store bought stuff did not do it justice. I ended up just eating the chicken and the sauce without the bread. I served them with home fries, which the kids loved since I don’t serve fries too often!
Coconut Mango Verde Chicken with Black Beans and Rice
Caribbean foods are another one of my favorites, so I was really excited to try this sauce made of coconut milk, mangoes, green chiles, brown sugar, cumin, chili powder, smoked paprika, and cilantro! Aldi just so happened to have canned mangoes on sale, so that’s what I used in the recipe. They were gross. They smelled all can-y and made the sauce taste pretty yucky straight out of my Ninja, but I had hope that once it was combined and cooked with the rest of the food it would be edible. It actually turned out great! Joe Daddy went on and on about how good it was! Next time, I will definitely use fresh mangoes (or at least some of the frozen ones I keep on hand for my smoothies). I added black beans, which weren’t on the recipe, just because I love them and thought they’d go nicely (and of course, I was right!).
Y’all know I love zoodles (which are noodles made from zucchini, in case you’ve been living under a rock ;)), but oddly enough, I never even thought about slicing them long ways for lasagna noodles! Now I love pasta, and there are gluten-free lasagna noodles out there, but I don’t know if I’ll ever make lasagna any other way! It was sooo good! I opted not to cook the zucchini because I was afraid it would get too soft, so it came out a little crunchy, but everyone agreed it was better that way! Next time, I’ll have to add some mushrooms (which I normally put in my lasagna but didn’t put on the grocery list since I made it from the list of ingredients in the recipe)! Ironically, my friend posted that she was making zucchini lasagna roll ups the same night I made this! I need to try those too!
This was the recipe that started my “Recipes I Didn’t Love“ Pinterest Board. I really liked the idea, but none of us cared for the Chinese 5 Spice (which really stinks considering I paid $5 for it!). I’m willing to give it one more try, in another dish. I wanted to keep this recipe around though, because I think it would be really good with different spices.
Crispy Skin Salmon with Potatoes and Asparagus
This was another recipe that made it onto the “Recipes I Didn’t Love” board. I don’t know why I didn’t realize when I first read it that there was no way I was going to be able to fit enough potatoes, asparagus, and salmon to feed my large brood on one baking sheet, but that wasn’t even the worst part of this recipe. The mustard sauce was awful. It’s pretty much just 2 different mustards and vinegar, so I guess I should have known it wasn’t going to be any good, but I just followed the recipe like an idiot and was very unhappy with the result. I kept this recipe because I do like the idea of a one-pan salmon dinner with mustard sauce. I think I’ll just save it for a night when the kids aren’t around so I only have to feed Joe Daddy and myself. I’ll probably cut all that mustard and vinegar with some olive oil, or look for another mustard sauce recipe to try!
Remember, you can find the inspiration to these meals on my Pinterest Board: Recipes I Love!
I’ve had quite a few people tell me they miss my food posts, so I thought I’d start my What’s For Dinner? series up again. It’ll be a little different, but there will be food and pictures of food involved! LOL! If you ever want to see the inspiration for some of the meals I make, check out my Recipes I Love board on Pinterest.
This post is dedicated to some of the amazing meals we had over the summer!
Pan Seared Pork Chops with Garlic Butter Carrots with Herbs and Crispy Brussels Sprouts with Bacon and Garlic
This dinner is pretty self-explanatory. I pan-seared some pork chops with butter and fresh herbs (and sugar, that’s the secret ingredient!), whipped up a mustard sauce using Dijon and whole grain mustard, white wine, and rosemary, boiled some baby carrots and dressed them with garlic, butter, and herbs, and pan-seared some Brussels Sprouts with garlic and bacon. To say this dinner was delicious is an understatement. I seriously made out with my plate that night. Ahhh, memories…
Thai Crunch Bowl with Salmon
Y’all know I love to eat my food all mixed together, so I looooove me some bowls! This bowl had some broiled salmon on a bed of quinoa, edamame, dry roasted peanuts, shredded carrots and red cabbage, dressed with a mixture of peanut butter, soy sauce, sesame oil, rice vinegar, and lime juice. It was delightFULL!
Quinoa Bowl with Salmon, Zucchini, and Butternut Squash
I enjoyed the salmon bowl so much, that I made another variation with zucchini and butternut squash that I roasted together. For this salmon I just baked it in the oven in soy sauce. All those foods together= YUM!
Chicken Salsa Burrito Bowl
Like I said, I love me some bowls. We eat burrito bowls pretty often (which is like twice a month since I make so many different things). I’ve come to love using the crock pot to cook the chicken for this meal. All you do is put chicken with a jar of salsa in the crock pot and let it cook on low for several hours! Easy peasy! I made rice, black beans, and corn to go in this particular bowl, which I topped with cheese, avocado, black olives, and sour cream. Yuuuum!
There was a couple weeks at the start of summer when I got really lazy and didn’t make a meal plan (or even a grocery list)! We ate things like pizza, Stouffer’s frozen meat loaf, fried chicken with boxed mashed potatoes (which I hadn’t bought in years and will never buy again! Gross!) and a salad kit, and this dip. It’s a recipe Joe Daddy’s family introduced me to back when I lived with them for a couple months while I was pregnant with Jules (15 years ago!). You layer cream cheese on the bottom of a baking dish, then canned chili with beans, then shredded cheese, top it with green onions, and eat it with tortilla chips. It is so simple, yet so delicious, and probably not the least bit healthy (even with those green onions in it, haha!).
Pesto Chicken with Asparagus, Tomatoes, and Mozzarella on Quinoa and Brown Rice Fussili
I absolutely love pesto, and since I can get a jar for less than $2, I’ve been using it in our dinners much more often (at least once a month). For this dinner, I simply combined cooked chicken, pesto, grilled asparagus, tomatoes, gluten-free pasta, and mozzarella cheese. It had pesto in it. Need I say more?
Red Pesto Chicken Spaghetti
Aldi also has a red pesto sauce that is really good too! I paired it with chicken and tomatoes and served it over brown rice spaghetti.
Teriyaki Chicken and Pineapple Stir Fry
I just love hot pineapple! Whether it’s on a pizza, on a kabob, or in a stir fry, I love the clash of it’s sweetness with other foods! I kept things simple by buying premade teriyaki sauce (shhhh…don’t tell the “Nutrition Police” ;)).
I am slightly obsessed with fritattas, and even slightly more obsessed with Greek inspired food! I’d eat a turd if you put red onion, tomatoes, olives, feta, and basil on it. Not really, but now you have a better idea of just how much I love this stuff! Hahahahaha!
You won’t find this recipe on my Pinterest board, but if you’re interested in how to make a fabulous fritatta, I’ll tell you what to do: Mix 12 eggs with half a cup of milk and one cup of shredded cheese (I like sharp cheddar). Cook your veggies in an oven-safe pan, like a cast iron skillet (which is what I use), then add the egg mixture. For this fritatta, I only put spinach and mushrooms inside it, the others I used as toppings once it was cooked. Bake in the oven at 350° for 20-30 minutes and enjoy!
I’ve made a Greek inspired fritatta before, but I put all of the veggies and feta on the inside. This time, I used the tomatoes, Kalamata olives, basil, and feta as toppings (I forgot the red onion, dangit!). It was sooo much better this way! I was fortunate to get the last piece the next day for lunch, so I got all the extra toppings that had fallen off of the other pieces as they were extracted for consumption. Score!
Loaded Baked Potato Fritatta
That new Greek fritatta gave me an idea for another: Loaded Baked Potato Fritatta! I cooked some diced potatoes in my cast iron skillet, poured my mixture of 12 eggs, 1/2 cup milk, and 1 cup shredded cheddar over them, baked it all in the oven at 350° for 20-30 minutes, and then topped it with green onions, bacon, shredded Mexican cheese, and sour cream.
It was just as delicious as it sounds!
I got giddy when I found this recipe for quesadillas made into nachos! We had just eaten salsa chicken bowls the night before and had enough leftovers to make another meal, so instead of leaving the inside of these quesadillas plain cheese like the recipe called for, I loaded them up with salsa chicken, black beans, and corn as well as plenty of shredded cheese. Then I cut them into 8 slices and topped them sour cream mixed with lime juice and zest, black olives, tomatoes, avocado, cilantro, queso fresco, green onions, and radishes (which are my new favorite veggie to hide in food!). They really came out more like Mexican pizzas (I made 2), but they were sooo freaking delicious!
Philly Cheesesteak Quesadillas
Speaking of quesadillas, my family enjoyed these so much that we had them three times this summer! I would have never in million years thought to put a Philly Cheesesteak into a quesadilla on my own (which is why I go to Pinterest for dinner inspiration weekly), but boy was it awesome! The first time, we followed a recipe that called for deli roast beef, onions, and green peppers with swiss, cheddar, and pepper jack shredded cheeses.
It was really good, but for the 2nd attempt, we added mushrooms, a sauce made from ketchup and mayo, and used Steak-Umm instead of roast beef. Ummm, don’t use that greasy crap. The roast beef was sooo much better…and cheaper…and easier to cook with! We also decided that we liked the sauce for dipping instead of inside the quesadilla. Third time was a charm in this case!
Chicken Parmesan Wraps and Quesadillas
If there’s one thing I learned this summer, it’s you can pretty much turn any meal into a quesadilla! Haha! This one was actually a wrap, made with shredded chicken, marinara, spinach, and mozzarella, but because the Flatout Bread I bought only came with 6 wraps (and I made this on a day when the big kids each had a friend over), I made The Littles a quesadilla (using the last spinach tortilla!). I bet this would be even better with actual chicken parmesan, but it was still great with plain shredded chicken!
One of my favorite meals to make (mainly because it’s so simple and delicious) is what I call “Sausage Skillet.” It’s just smoked sausage (I get the less processed uncured beef one), green bell peppers, onions, and potatoes cooked together in a skillet (I recommend cooking the sausage first then the other veggies, then mixing them together). I also like to make a “Cabbage Skillet” that is made with smoked sausage, onions, and cabbage, again because it’s so easy and delicious!
Amish One Pan Ground Beef and Cabbage Skillet
This is another one of those super simple, but super yummy skillet dinners (with the food all mixed together, yay!). It’s just ground beef, cabbage, onions, garlic, diced tomatoes, and a little tomato sauce (which I actually omitted this time around). It tastes like spaghetti, only with cabbage instead of pasta!
Eggplant Parmesan with Grilled Parmesan Zucchini and Brown Rice Spaghetti
Joe’s dad gifted us lots of goodies from his garden over the summer (which was especially nice since I killed everything except the herbs in our garden, whoooooops!). In one haul, we received 2 gorgeous eggplants, so naturally, my mind started dreaming of eggplant Parmesan.
Taylor was all about wanting to fry up some eggplant, so I salted them to draw the bitterness out, and once they drained, she dipped them in an egg and milk mixture and coated them with gluten-free bread crumbs and then handed them off to me to be fried in oil.
She did a pretty good job!
We put the fried eggplant on top of some gluten-free spaghetti, which we topped with spaghetti sauce, and then covered it all with Parmesan and mozzarella cheeses and fresh basil from the garden.
Pa also gifted us a bunch of zucchini, which we ended up grilling and topping with Parmesan. It was a cheesy-good night! Haha!
Pork Chop and Squash Skillet
We also got a bunch of squash from Pa, which I ended up throwing in a pan with diced pork chops, potatoes, and onions. Taylor said it was the best squash dish I’ve ever made!
Honey Mustard Chicken Salad
Salads are another favorite meal of mine. They’re easy, full of veggies, and all of the food mixes together! This salad had chicken, bacon, avocado, radishes, corn, tomatoes, cucumbers, and a honey mustard dressing I made from scratch! It was really good…and yes, I ate that entire bowl all by myself!
Greek Chicken Salad
I love Greek food and I love salads, so you know I love Greek salads! What’s not to love? Grilled chicken, cucumbers, red onions, tomatoes, Kalamata olives, feta cheese, and basil! Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, YES!
Jambalaya with Riced Cauliflower and Garlic Bread
I’m from NOLA so Cajun food has been my favorite since birth. Unfortunately, my family doesn’t share my love for it, so I don’t make it nearly as often as I would like. If I had my way, we’d eat crawfish étouffée, gumbo, jambalaya, and red beans and rice every week! In this jambalaya, I omitted the chicken (to keep the cost down) and used riced cauliflower instead of white rice. It was good, but I missed the rice. Just another reason why I shouldn’t eat it very often. 😉
Spinach and Artichoke Dip with Chicken
For some reason, I was seriously craving spinach and artichoke dip. I decided to add some chicken to make it a meal. Some of us had it with bread chips and some of us had it on top of gluten-free pasta. I cooked the pasta and the dip in my new cast aluminum pots I found on clearance at Aldi that week for less than $25 (for both)! Not only are they bright green (which is awesome all by itself), but I have never boiled water so fast!
Mackerel Salad Lettuce Wraps
From the time I was 12 until I was 16, my mom was married to a guy from Thailand. His mom taught my mom to make a couple authentic Thai dishes. My favorite was this mackerel salad with lettuce wraps! My mom hasn’t made it in a while, and recently I just got a hankering for it, so I asked my mom for the recipe. My mom’s a lot like me (or I guess I’m a lot like her), so she didn’t have a recipe. She just said, “Mix some canned mackerel with some cucumber, red onion, cilantro, lime juice, and fish sauce and wrap it in some lettuce.” Thanks Mom. No really, thanks! I managed to find the perfect balance of those ingredients when I made it for the first time! My hubby loved it, but the kids weren’t impressed. Taylor doesn’t like any seafood, except canned tuna, which I thought would be similar enough, but I was wrong. Oh, well! Mama’s definitely going to be making this a lot more often! It’s just as good as I remember!
Garlic Butter Cheeseburger Sliders with Mexican Street Corn Style Grilled Zucchini
I tried Mexican street corn for the first time this summer and fell in love instantly! I’ve always thought the sound of mayo slathered on corn sounded DEEsgusting, but man am I a fan now! If you too think it sounds gross, just try it. You can’t taste mayo, just awesome goodness! We had a bunch of zucchini to use up, so what better way than to grill it up and top it with butter, mayo, queso franco, chili seasoning, cilantro, and lime juice? I assure you, I ate more than those 2 pieces pictured! Yuuuuuummmmm! And those cheeseburgers topped with butter, garlic, and parsley were mouth watering good too! They weren’t quite as good as the ham and cheese sliders I made one night when our friends (the kids’ Godparents came over), but they were really really good.
Bahn Mi-Less Rice Bowl
I really love pho (a Vietnamese noodle soup), so when I found this recipe for a bowl-take on the Vietnamese sandwich (bahn mi), I knew I had to try it, and boy am I glad I did! I cooked half a pork loin in the crock pot covered in a marinade made with garlic, soy sauce, and brown sugar. Then I pickled some radishes, carrots, cucumbers, and cabbage in white vinegar and sugar. Then I served them all on a bed of white rice and topped it all with chopped jalapenos, cilantro, and more of the pork’s sauce. It was heavenly! I liked it even more than pho! And my kids, who totally turned their noses up at it when asked what we were having for dinner, not only ate what I gave to them, but asked for more! I’m really interested in trying it in sandwich form now! “Bahn mi” actually means bread, which is why this bread-less dish is called “Bahn-Mi Less.“
And there you have 24 of the dishes I cooked over the summer! So next time you find yourself at a loss for what to make for dinner, give one of these meals a try!
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: I can eat anything I damn well please! If you don’t even know what the Low FODMAP Diet is, or why I’m on it, go here first.
Instead of running away scared like a little b!*#&, I pulled up my big girl panties and accepted the Low FODMAP Diet as a personal challenge. Now, I have in no way stuck to this list-of-suck, but I have done good enough that my symptoms are fewer and farther between than ever before.
First, I made a list of all the things I can eat, according to the diet. There are a lot of fruits, veggies, meats, and grains I can have without issue. There are a few that I have to eat minimal portions of or less frequently. I have found that by sticking to the list as much as possible, I can actually eat some of the things on the avoid list occasionally without paying the price. I try to limit the times I stray to situations where I don’t really have any other option than to eat something I shouldn’t, say a birthday party or if we go out to eat (which we rarely do now).
For breakfast, my go-to choices during the week are Multi-grain Cheerios with almond or organic lactose-free milk; oatmeal (rolled or steel cut) with bananas or blueberries, flax and chia seeds, sometimes pecans or walnuts and maple syrup; or boiled eggs with fruit and almonds. On the weekends, I’ll make wheat-free pancakes or waffles with maple syrup and minimally processed sausage and/or scrambled eggs with kale, grits, hashbrowns and uncured bacon.
I make a big fruit salad with strawberries, blueberries, pineapple, and kiwi that I can eat with my breakfast, lunch, dinner or snacks. My kids love it too! I also like to keep bananas, grapes and clementines on hand and will sometimes buy a cantaloupe or honeydew melon. With 7 people in my family, we eat a lot of fruit. Fruit is sweet and definitely kills my sweet tooth cravings whenever I get them.
Other snack choices include cucumber slices or baby carrots with homemade ranch that I make from Tofutti Better Than Sour Cream or lactose free sour cream mixed with dill, parsley, lemon juice and salt (which I also have with plain potato chips on occasion); tortilla chips with salsa or homemade guacamole (I just mash an avocado and add a little salt, fresh lime juice and fresh chopped cilantro; it’s so good!); hummus and GF crackers; block cheese; a spoonful of natural peanut butter; simply salted popcorn, nitrate-free deli meat, hard boiled eggs or Fage Greek yogurt (they aren’t kidding; it really is the best!).
For lunch I usually eat whatever leftovers we have from dinner. My husband is not a fan of eating leftovers for dinner, but he’ll take them for lunch too, so at least we’re not wasting any food. Sometimes we don’t have any leftovers. In that case, I’ll usually whip up some tuna salad: canned white albacore tuna, a little olive oil mayo, a little celery, a boiled egg, and some chopped green olives. Sometimes I eat it on toasted wheat/gluten-free bread or wheat/gluten-free crackers.
For dinner, I try to include one red meat meal, one vegetarian meal, one seafood meal, one pork meal and three chicken meals. I don’t always stick to that formula exactly, but it keeps me from overdoing it on the red meat, which isn’t on the avoid list, but does bother me when I have too much. I like incorporating vegetarian meals even though it usually means I have to use beans because it keeps our grocery costs down, expands my children’s palates and gives me an excuse to eat beans! LOL! I don’t typically cook a lot of the same meals. I look for new recipes every week and only when I run low on inspiration do I pull out a recipe I’ve used and loved previously. My kids don’t always like everything I cook (nor do I), but they have all been eating better and commenting on how much my cooking has improved!
I no longer drink coffee, sodas, or green or black teas, but I do have a cup or two of herbal tea each day. I no longer drink wine every night either. I’ve pretty much decided to drink on special occasions, like New Year’s and Girl’s Night Outs (which I do maybe twice a year). I pretty much drink water and nothing else.
Eating on such a strict diet has posed it’s challenges. There are definitely days when I think, “This sucks!” Overall, I’m actually thankful that I’ve been forced to pay attention to the foods that are going into my body. As a result, my family has had to eat healthier too, which can’t be a bad thing. Not only are we eating healthier than ever, but I’ve lost 15 lbs over the past 3 months! It’s ironic that as soon as I had come to accept that I was never going to lose another pound, I lost fifteen! LOL! If you’d like to read about my entire weight gain and loss journey so far, go here.
You should not go on this diet unless you are suffering from digestive issues and have been recommended by a doctor to go on The Low FODMAP Diet. It is not a weight loss diet. While I have lost weight, it has been a combination of exercise, eating more whole foods, eating less processed foods, and reducing the bloat in my body by avoiding foods that my digestive system is sensitive to. This post is intended to inspire hope and creativity to anyone trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle, not to suggest that anyone do exactly what I have done.