Thursday, June 30, 2011

Lunchbox #99

Today, my husband's lunch featured (left to right):

  • Four paprika garlic roasted chicken drumsticks
  • Some baby bok choy, sauteed in a little avocado oil, tamari, and garlic powder, with toasted sesame seeds
  • Fresh quartered strawberries


Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Lunchbox #98

Today, our lunch at home featured (left to right):

(I had packed it for my husband but he ended up having lunch out with coworkers on this day! His loss, our gain. :-p)

  • A banana
  • Wasabi beef kebabs with thinly-sliced carrots and baby bok choy
  • A kale salad with shredded carrots and lacto-fermented Sauerkraut, topped with chopped Brazil nuts


Monday, June 27, 2011

Lunchbox #97

Yum! This dinner turned out really well - my husband was so glad to have leftovers packed for his lunch.

I threw the potatoes and Brussels sprouts into the oven at 400. (The Brussels sprouts had some pastured butter spread on them.) They were in there about an hour before I served them.

About half an hour before serving, I started to reduce some tamari, pastured butter, taragon vinegar, and some other seasonings like garlic powder and crumbled dried tarragon in a pan on medium-high heat. I added fresh chicken breasts into the pan and turned them periodically; once they were white on both sides I reduced the heat to low and allowed the sauce and the breasts to simmer (continuing to turn them) for another 10-15 minutes.

The sauce was drizzled on the chicken and potato.

Also threw some leftover chilled spaghetti squash with a sesame dressing into the lunchbox. :)

Friday, June 24, 2011

The July Whole 30 Challenge!

In the realm of brilliant ideas, today Jules of Queen of the Stone Age proposed a July Whole 30 challenge, and I impulsively said, "YEA!"

I'd been looking for an excuse to cut away some excess - but especially sugars and natural sweeteners (like honey), having celebrated two family birthdays this month. So, two web-friendly ways to follow the July Whole 30 challengers:

A lot of the Whole 30 challenge I've already had lots of practice in tackling; for example, I very rarely eat grains. The big challenge for me will be foregoing my beloved pastured butter and coffee with heavy cream since dairy is out - but then again I've been thinking about doing a trial dairy exclusion for a while. I'm the only one in my family doing this for July; my husband and girls will soldier on with their usual lineups and packed lunches.

In lieu of butter, I'll be cooking with leftover bacon fat, extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, and other high-heat-stable fats.

Another challenge for me will be going a whole month without weighing myself - as the Whole 30 Challenge guidelines suggest. I'll do initial weigh-in and measurements on July 1, and a final weigh-in and measurements on July 31.

So are you in? Are you going to try doing the Whole 30 Challenge in the month of July? Join us on Twitter (with hashtag #JulyWhole30) and at the Facebook group and say "Hi!" Hope to hear from you soon!


Bonus Lunch: Mama's!

Today, my lunch featured:

  • One soft-baked sweet potato with a pat (~1/2 tbsp.) pastured butter
  • Veggie medley: Yellow squash, mushrooms, and red onions, sauteed in leftover bacon fat with a bit of chili powder and paprika
  • An egg, also fried in the corner of the same pan as the veggie medley

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Affording Yourself 30 Extra Pounds of Grass-Fed Ground Beef, the Easy Way

I am the first to admit that our household doesn't eat all pastured animal products; in fact the vast majority of our meat is still conventionally produced. I could spend a lot of time writing up excuses about this, but I think that my time is put to better use by instead devising ways to carve out chunks of our budget that make room to eat pastured animal products more often. It may well be years before we're able to afford to buy nothing but pastured meat, but until that point I am comfortable with making slow gains in the proportion of pastured meat that we consume.

Which brings me to one of the most affordable budget building blocks of a budding primal / paleo eater: 100% grass fed ground beef. Yes, if you are exceptionally resourceful and already have a good scoop on a local pastured beef source, you can ask your butcher to grind the beef for you - or grind it yourself at home. However, I'm talking about something like the 1 lb. packs that you can pick up at Trader Joe's or Whole Foods, usually for about $6 (though occasionally you can get it on sale for $4/lb. at Whole Foods!). do you budget yourself to a gradually increasing proportion of pastured meat?

The answer is: one $6 savings at a time.

Ask yourself, Where can I save $6? Sometimes, the answers can be stunningly simple.

  • Bring a loyalty coupon for your car's oil change or car wash.

  • See what changes you can make in your phone's voice and data plans. As a personal example,  I text so rarely (instead relying on Gmail chat and emails), that a texting plan isn't worth it for us; the odd texts I do get or send barely amount to a couple of bucks a month without a texting plan.

  • Buy fewer treats. Even if the ice cream parlour you're hitting up for post-workout carbs serves ice cream only from 100% grass fed cows and sweetened minimally only with white rice glucose syrup (insert your own proclivity/requirement here...but by the way...if you do know of such a place...tell me where it is!) -- a $12 family trip for ice cream translates into a meal with 2 lb. worth of grass-fed ground beef! That's a massive pan of spaghetti squash with meat sauce, or 8 1/4 lb. burgers! So, consider cutting out the occasional ice cream run in favor of another nourishing, quality protein meal.

  • I saved $11.70 on these leggings for my toddler.
    That buys about 2 lb. of grass fed ground beef!
  • money on clothing! Now, don't get me wrong. I understand the value of a few investment pieces - especially for a grown adult. Don't skimp on a quality, well-fitting pair of minimalist shoes - or a dress for date night that makes you feel like a million bucks.

    Guess what, though? Your kids' clothes are a whole different story. If your kids are out and about playing in the sunshine with you (as they well should be!), they'll have a new outfit go from "new" to "used" status in about 0.045 seconds.

    Another reason to save on kids' clothes is the fact that you'll be getting one season's wear tops out of most articles of clothing.

    So, there are five completely painless ways to save a bundle on your kids' wardrobes:

    ::: Ruthlessly shop the clearance racks. Look for savings of at least 75%. The best way to do this is to wait for seasonal items to go on clearance as the season closes. Right now (the heat of summer), you can still find some leggings and jeans on the clearance racks; I bought my older daughter some jeans a last week at Target for $3.24, and today I found my younger daughter some leggings at Kohl's (above, 90% off $13.00 at $1.30). Knowing that fall weather is a good three months or more away, I bought a full size up for them. (You can always do a quick hem job on slightly long pants but lengthening too-short pants requires magical powers.)

    ::: Shop clearance online, and stack coupon codes. Same principles as above, seeking at least 75% off savings, only you monitor your favorite retailers' sales via email subscription to their deals and coupon sites like You should rarely, if ever, pay for shipping using this method and can often get the best selection from clearance (that is, your needed sizes in stock).

    If you first click to your favorite retailers' sites through ebates, you'll also earn cash back when you're shopping online - I was recently cut a $22 cash back check from ebates simply by clicking through the site to the sites I routinely buy from online...a $22 that I otherwise wouldn't have, which could buy about 3.5 lb. of grass fed ground beef!

    ::: Buy used. Thrift stores, yard sales, consignment sales, eBay! There are so many resources, and often the clothing looks new or even has the original retail tags still attached.

    ::: Enthusiastically solicit and accept hand-me-downs. Save the best items for special occasions, and let your kids run themselves ragged outside in the more well-loved items.

    ::: Request clothing as gifts. Grandmas and grandpas (and aunts and uncles! and friends!) love picking out outfits for kids. If you put a bug in their ear that you're looking for Christmas outfits, or other special occasion outfits, or some more durable (and therefore more pricey) basics (like jeans or new comfortable shoes), you're likely to save on some of the more expensive elements in your childrens' wardrobes.

    As a parting thought on this point, say that with the above methods combined you save $180 per child on wardrobing annually. That's 30 lb. of grass fed ground beef - or in our family's case, about 15 dinners, plus leftovers!

What savings have you built into your budget lately in order to upgrade the quality of the food your family is eating?

Disclosure: This post contains an ebates affiliate referral link. Thanks for supporting Primal Kitchen at no additional cost to you!

Lunchbox #96

Today, my husband's lunch featured (clockwise):

  • A fully loaded bacon Greek salad: Pieces of nitrate free bacon, feta cheese, carrots, zucchini, cucumbers, tomatoes, salt, pepper. (I picked out the red onions, which my husband doesn't tolerate well. Also, had I packed it for myself, I'd have added a drizzle of balsamic vinegar.)
  • A big bowl of fresh blueberries

Note: My husband said that he would love to have this salad again and again, though maybe with some other animal protein added to make it more filling - chunks of chicken for example. I love constructive criticism. :)

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Lunchbox #95

Today, my husband's lunch featured (clockwise):

  • Oven roasted chicken thighs
  • Steamed broccoli
  • Fruit salad
  • Two Clementines

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Lunchbox #94

Today, my husband's lunchbox featured (clockwise):

  • Leftover grilled steak
  • Leftover disassembled veggie kebabs: Yellow and zucchini squash, carrots
  • A banana

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Keeping Your Kitchen Cool While Preparing Paleo / Primal Summer Meals

Though it doesn't really bother me personally, the extra heat in our kitchen from a running oven gets to my husband when the summer temps are at their peak. There are several ways that you can avoid heating the kitchen on the hottest days of the year. Here are some:

  • Crock potting! - All you need is some meat, veggies, and seasoning combo of your choice to get started on a crock pot meal. My model of crock pot is the Hamilton Beach 6-Quart Slow Cooker, which has a simple digital interface, optional meat thermometer, clip closed gasket, but most importantly it can cook a whole lot of meat - even two whole chickens! or 10 lb. of pork loin! - at once.

    One terrific blog resource for some crock pot inspiration is A Year of Slow Cooking. The blog's author, Stephanie O'Dea, keeps things gluten-free, so you're sure to find lots there.

    If you don't have a slow-cooker, an alternative is to slow-cook your food on the back burner of your stove top on low - just remember that you can't leave a hot stove-top alone for longer stretches the way you could with a crock pot.

    A bonus to slow cooking meat in bulk is that it provides you with extra meat to add to your meals throughout the week, or to freeze for later.

  • Toaster oven - Even the simplest models of toaster ovens are very capable in terms of broiling and baking. Toaster ovens can also do some pretty short work of cooking quiches. Clear Pyrex is a great option in a toaster oven, because a personal-sized quiche (or other dish) in the rectangular Pyrex dishes fits in the oven and cooks pefectly. (Example of one personal quiche I cooked in my standard oven here.) After cooking something in the toaster oven in a Pyrex dish, you can let the dish cool, and then place the plastic lid if you're packing the dish into a lunch. Since the Pyrex is microwave and dishwasher safe, it's very practical.

  • Stovetop staples. - Yes, you'll still get a little warm, but only for a few minutes tops. Scrambled eggs, stir-fries, and marinated thinly-sliced meats all cook up in a jiffy with minimal temperature impact on the kitchen.

  • Grilling! - No better way to keep your kitchen cool than by grilling out. Kebabs, ribs, burgers, chicken tikka masala...the possibilities are truly endless. One of our household's favorites is a basic butter-glazed shrimp.

  • Go raw. - This option is admittedly for more adventurous palates, but it will definitely not pose a risk of overheating your kitchen! Consider sashimi (ask your grocer if the tuna or salmon sold is sashimi grade to be safe), prosciutto added to an insalata caprese, smoked salmon, or even ceviche.

  • Prepare ahead. - Make extra for a cold-from-the-fridge treat - chicken or egg salad, cold cooked bacon, leftover roast beef with a bit of horseradish sauce.

  • Liverwurst! - This one is a bit of a silly bonus, but we love chilled liverwurst at our house! And since I know that liver is a healthy and even essential element to our diet, it's that much more enjoyable.

What are ways that you keep your family and kitchen cooler during the summer heat while preparing your meals?

Disclosure: This post contains Amazon affiliate links. Thanks for supporting Primal Kitchen at no additional cost to you!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Lunchbox #93

Today, my husband's lunch featured (clockwise):

  • Eggplant lasagna (I had chunks of dark meat chicken throughout in this one)
  • An apricot
  • Baby carrots


Menu Plan

It has been so hot lately. I mean 90s, brushing 100 F the last couple of weeks. I am dying here because I am such a colder weather gal. The scorching weather really dampens my appetite for protein and fat, too, and increases my fruit cravings. On the hottest days all I want to do is curl up with a big bowl of frozen blueberries and an iced coffee. And going outside to exercise? When it's already over 80 degrees before 8 a.m.? Let's just say I'm feeling less than motivated. (Yes, I'm a wimp.)

Here's how the menu is shaping up for this week:

Breakfast - Larabars (out of almost everything grocery-wise this morning, eep...)
Lunch - Leftover chicken, fruit salad
Dinner - Grilled marinated pork chops, butter sauteed curried yellow and green summer squash
My husband's lunch - Leftover eggplant lasagna, apricot, baby carrots

Breakfast - Cold veggie quiche
Lunch - Leftover pork chops, steamed broccoli with butter
Dinner - Crock pot chicken and veggies
My husband's lunch - Veggie quiche, fruit salad

Breakfast - Sweet potato pancakes
Lunch - Leftover chicken, watermelon
Dinner - Eggplant lasagna rolls with meat sauce (I still have some eggplant to use up!)
Packed lunch - Leftover chicken and veggies, banana

Breakfast - Egg salad
Lunch - Liverwurst, baby carrots, cheese
Dinner - Leftover eggplant lasagna rolls
Packed lunch - Egg salad, fresh veggies, Larabar

Breakfast - Onion and cheese omelette
Lunch - Leftovers
Dinner - Pizza night! Veggie scraps and sausage to be used with paleo/primal-friendly Victoria sauce, shredded organic mozzarella, and Chebe's simple gluten-free grain-free tapioca flour based crust
Packed lunch - Leftovers

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Lunchbox #92

Today, my husband's packed lunch featured (clockwise):

Disclosure: This post contains Amazon affiliate links. Thanks for supporting Primal Kitchen at no additional cost to you!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Lunchbox #91

Quiche, cherries, carrots.
Near-midnight lunchbox photographs invariably
lack the pretty look of ambient natural light.
Today, my husband's lunch featured (clockwise):
  • Quiche! Last night at about 10:30 p.m. it dawned on me that I hadn't yet pulled together my husband's lunch. I threw some already cooked sausage patties on the bottom of a 2 c. rectangular Pyrex dish. Next into the dish went some full-fat shredded cheese, a few small spoons of salsa. I filled in the gaps with a blend of 3 beaten eggs and about 1/4 c. half and half. 350 F for about an hour - until it was golden brown and firm.
    (And yea, the menu plan had burgers on it, but we got by on salmon and sausage yesterday...)
  • Fresh cherries
  • Baby carrots (bagged)


Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Lunchbox #90

Today, my husband's lunch featured (clockwise):
  • Banana
  • Apricot
  • Chicken, green beans, tomatoes, peppers slow-cooked with chili spices
  • Butter-roasted asparagus


Monday, June 6, 2011

Lunchbox #89

Today, my husband's packed lunch featured (clockwise):

  • Steak salad with spinach, sugar snap peas, cold leftover steak, and cooled oven-roasted pepper strips
    (My husband isn't much of a salad dressing guy, but if he were I'd have packed some balsamic vinaigrette separately. The pepper strips were coated in lots of Kerrygold and seasoning while roasted under the broiler for about 10 minutes, though, so that adds a nice bit of fat.)
  • Some raw almonds
  • Sliced strawberries and blueberries (oh, how I love seasonal produce!)

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Menu Plan

Here we go! I'll try to lay out rough sketches of my husband's lunches, though the freshness of the produce and quantities of leftovers will always trump the written menu plan.

Here's what's on the menu in the coming week:

Breakfast - Fried eggs, asparagus with pastured butter
Lunch - Chicken chili (chicken + assorted random veggies and chili seasonings, slow cooked for ages)
Dinner - MORE chicken's hopin' my batch is a good one, amirite?
My husband's packed lunch - Steak salad, fruit salad

Breakfast - Onion and black olive omelette
Lunch - Purple Japanese sweet potatoes slow-baked, with Kerrygold - got these at my local Asian grocery superstore and am stoked to try them out!
Dinner - Burgers and salmon fillets (separately) marinated in lemongrass and garlic, grilled, and steamed broccoli with Kerrygold
My husband's packed lunch - Monday night's leftover chicken chili, banana pudding

Breakfast - Mashed boiled eggs, plus bananas for my girls
Lunch - Leftovers
Dinner - Gluten-free chicken schnitzel, roasted Brussels sprouts
Packed lunch - Leftover burgers tossed with mustard vinaigrette and fresh veggies

Breakfast - Sausage and veggie quiche (made the night before)
Lunch - Leftover Brussels sprouts, bacon
Dinner - Eggplant lasagna
Packed lunch - Leftovers, whatever they may be

Breakfast - Fried eggs, fresh fruit for the girls
Lunch - Finger foods - fresh cut produce, Babybel cheese, etc. My girls and I meeting up with a friend and her daughter for lunch!
Dinner - Coconut lime stir fry
Packed lunch - Leftover eggplant lasagna

Post Vacation Bearings, Regained

I've had a bit of blogging break this past week. We were on vacation, but it was a staycation in that we were still local. But it was the best kind of staycation: where you still get to spend lots of quality time with people that you love. My brother-in-law and sister-in-law and their kids came for a visit!

My sweet nephew blew out four candles on his birthday cake. There was a piñata (with candy, of course). I made some gluten-free treats for people to share: a batch of coconut almond macaroons and dipped the bottoms of the cookies in melted semisweet chocolate, and a couple of batches of ice cream. Speaking of which, I'm getting ever-closer to my ideal batch of home-churned vanilla ice cream. There are still a couple of tweaks, but I will probably post it some time in the next month. Also on my docket of promising recipe developments, which I took a stab at making for the first time this week: green tea ice cream.

Now that we've reluctantly said our goodbyes for now (and my four year old has already complained about having nobody to play with, ha!), I'm left a little overcaffeinated and a little oversugared (though I did manage to avoid getting gluten-sick). Top of my agenda is getting back into simplified naturally lower-carb eating.

And...this means...back to menu planning. I took a few weeks' break, and it was nice to be willy-nilly for a while and cook up stuff on the fly, but I also think that not planning leaves me a lot more vulnerable to eating technically legal junkfood. This means the menu plans will be back to a heavy emphasis on lower-carb whole foods meat, veggies, and eggs, all cooked in healthy fats.

So, look out for the return of the menu plans  - and starting this coming week, packed lunches for my husband!
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