Kitchen Stewardship | A Baby Steps Approach to Balanced Nutrition

A Grain-Free Life: Menu Ideas to Keep it Simple

September 28th, 2010 · 66 Comments · Recipes, Special Situations

I was so naive.

I thought I used to chop a lot of veggies in a normal day.

Q: What’s the quickest way to end up eating more veggies (and spending more on meat)?

A: Stop eating all grains and legumes.

salsa canning (4) It’s been about a dozen days so far for my husband with no grains and no dairy other than 24-hour incubated yogurt, and a week or so for me (I had to help the kids finish up some grain products we had as leftovers, which took a few days).

Some readers have been wondering what we’re eating. Grain free recipes? Really? Believe me, I wondered the same thing when we embarked on this challenge!

A world without bread? Without crackers, tortillas, or biscuits? What would go next to our soups? (A: Salad and more veggies.)

Even more daunting, a world without beans? What would I fix??? How would I stretch my meat? (A: Beanless dishes and more meat.)

The biggest surprise so far is that it hasn’t been nearly as hard as I thought to figure out what to have for dinner. We’ve eaten mostly salads and simple sides for lunch, and most of my husband’s lunches have been “raw” – nothing cooked at all – to mimic the “cleanse” Jordan Rubin recommends in The Maker’s Diet. Although it might not have been the best idea for a digestive inflammation like Crohn’s – raw vegetables are harder to digest and cause flare-ups for many – it seemed to have a good effect on him from day one, so we continued.

A Salad Every Day???

caesar salad 2 I figure, if you add enough fresh veggies to a salad, some crispy nuts, and a good selection of homemade salad dressings, you don’t really feel like you’re “eating light” or missing out on anything at lunch. We include:

  • lots of peppers
  • tomatoes
  • cauliflower
  • broccoli
  • carrots
  • cucumbers
  • avocado
  • fennel
  • water chestnuts
  • dried fruit
  • cut fruit
  • crispy walnuts
  • crispy sunflower seeds
  • I add cooked chicken, hard boiled eggs, or cheese when I need a little something extra and don’t feel like a raw lunch

These don’t go all in at once, but you can imagine the variety we end up with. I also vary the greens a bit, using fresh spinach and cabbage sometimes. This cabbage salad is simple and delicious:

cabbage salad Our favorite dressings:

Meal Planning in the 20th Century

Grain Free Meal Plans- Click Here to Learn More!

Now available! Grain-Free menu planners with complete recipes, shopping lists, and prep list from Health, Home and Happiness. If this lifestyle is new to you and you’re not sure where to start, having someone walk you through it for a spell is worth a million dollars. (Don’t worry, the plans don’t cost that much.) Click HERE for more information.

image I finally got the chance to experiment a little with the Plan to Eat program, an online personal meal planning tool that even makes automatic grocery lists, and I have to say my chin hurts. I was skeptical and thought it would be a major pain to format some KS recipes to fit the system, but when I copied them in, the program figured out how to sort out ingredients into categories for a shopping list and even knew the difference between the measurement, the food, and the notes (like “chopped”) without me having to tell it anything! Copy, paste, click. Jaw hits keyboard. It’s some powerful, well-written software.

I could then drag recipes into the weekly calendar, and a shopping list automatically appeared. I could quickly and easily tell the program what I already had as pantry staples, and they would remain off the shopping list until I told it otherwise. Honestly, it almost has me believing the system has a brain…a female one that’s one step ahead of me. I’m super impressed.

When I introduced you to Plan to Eat as a September sponsor way back around Labor Day, I didn’t realize they had a 30-day free trial. I’m sorry I missed that part! I’d certainly encourage you all to check it out now and play around with the functionality. Click here to start.

I inputted my Mexican Stuffed Peppers, Granola Bars, and Sausage, Kale and Bean Soup…although I guess I should have focused on grain-free recipes if I was working on my own meal plan. I was thinking about my favorites for you guys, I guess! (The soup is grain-free if you leave out the beans…) It took about 5 minutes to accomplish all three, and that’s only because I was writing this, too.

My Meal Planning for Grain-Free Dinners

The dinners around here have not left us lacking. We’ve fully enjoyed eating, and there are even some surprising household benefits to going grain-free. I’m planning an FAQ post for next week, including such topics as kids, cost, and snacks, so if you are curious about the reality of a grain-free life (temporary for us, by the way), fire away!

In the last ten days, we’ve feasted on such simple and delicious meals as:

  1. Cabbage Soup with Secret Super Food: This is the perfect recipe for this time of year, and although the white beans make it very filling and nourishing, it was absolutely delicious without them, and we never missed anything. I just added a few extra veggies and made sure it was nice and thick and spicy. We’re trying to incorporate as much homemade chicken stock as possible anyway, both for digestive aid and to stave off cold season (that didn’t exactly work, sniffle, sniffle). IMG_6208
  2. Hamburgers and French Fries: I used home-rendered beef tallow, and we just skipped the buns and wrapped the burgers in lettuce. “We’re really out of buns??” my 5-year-old exclaimed. But he was cool with cutting up his burger and just dipping it in ketchup and mustard. What kid doesn’t like to dip? hamburgers without buns
  3. Chicken Leek Barley Soup, without the barley: leaving the barley out and being heavy-handed with the leeks and carrots made for a surprisingly thick, very delicious and nutritious soup.leek soup 1
  4. Shepherd’s Pie: It’s pretty easy to make a meat and veggie heavy dish with some smashed potatoes on top. I had to leave out the sour cream and cheese for my husband (still off dairy), but we really didn’t miss them. Shepherds Pie (2)
  5. Beef and Cabbage Over Rice…without the rice: Kimi of the Nourishing Gourmet shared this super simple recipe that includes ground beef, cabbage, a big onion and salt and pepper. We usually wrap the filling in bread dough to make pockets or serve over rice, but it was plenty filling without grains. I threw in some garlic and fennel just because it needed to be used, and we’re generous with the soy sauce.
  6. Roasted Winter Vegetables with Fennel: recipe to come, but it looks like this:roasted winter vegetables (7)
  7. Cream-braised cabbage from A Homemade Life by Orangette. A photo would truly be ugly, but it was delicious. Butter, raw cream, fresh cabbage wedges, and a splash of lemon juice at the end. Amazing.
  8. Chicken Stir Fry without the rice. Never missed it.
  9. The first night, I already had black beans soaking for Black Bean Soup, so I made it for myself and the kids and simply omitted the beans for my husband. You would think that a soup without the main ingredient would be terribly insufficient, but he said it was really good. I did have about a half cup of leftover taco meat that went perfectly into it, so I suppose I created a taco soup, grain-free style. black bean soup (3)
  10. I already told you we went to Outback Steakhouse and managed to eat a good meal without feeling like we were sacrificing too much.
  11. For breakfast, we’ve had a lot of eggs, usually with copious amounts of vegetables mixed in, supplemented by bananas, homemade yogurt, and the coconut muffins from the newly expanded Healthy Snacks to Go eBook. (Mmmmm, seriously moist and yummy, and simple! I’ve made 3 batches in a week!) We also tried two grain-free pancakes in one day, these almond meal Paleo pancakes and these grain-free apple cinnamon pancakes. The latter had much more flavor, but the first, simpler recipe held together better. Next time I’ll combine them for flavor that stays in shape. I’ll probably skip the coconut milk altogether as it didn’t seem necessary. UPDATE: here are the two grain-free pancakes we love
  12. Next week: More grain-free meal ideas
  13. UPDATE: more on meal planning for elimination diets

I’m going to link into Donielle’s Wheatless Wednesday carnival tomorrow and check the other entries for ideas for next week!

Got any other great recipes without grains or legumes for me? Any questions about how it’s been going? I’ll address them in an FAQ post next week. UPDATE: Here are the FAQs.

Find all the new grain free recipe ideas as my family continues to dabble in the lifestyle HERE.

Test Your Grains Note: I’m planning on the Test Your Grains Challenge survey to be posted Thursday. You don’t have to go grain-free to sign up! Just eat all your grains prepared in the same way for about 10 days, then if you really want to be a good little science geek, switch to a completely different preparation style for the next 10 days. Keep track of your energy and digestion and share with the rest of us (anonymous survey). When you sign up here you’ll receive email reminders and tips once a week and can ask me questions about what you’re trying to do.

If you want to tackle sourdough, what better time to make all your cakes, tortillas, English muffins, crackers and bread in one way! GNOWFGLINS will teach you – I’m up next week with my cracker recipe. You only have two more days to get this month’s thank you gift for making a payment, a really cool “sourdough-while-camping” video from Erin, a master teacher. Click here for details. And yes, they seriously will teach you how to make sourdough cakes. And crepes. And cinnamon rolls. *drooling* When do I get to eat grains again???

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Follow all the no-grains and Test Your Grains Challenge posts!  Sign up for a free email subscription or grab my reader feed. You can also follow me on Twitter, get KS for Kindle, or see my Facebook Fan Page.

If you missed the last Monday Mission, click here.

Kitchen Stewardship is dedicated to balancing God’s gifts of time, health, earth and money.  If you feel called to such a mission, read more at Mission, Method, and Mary and Martha Moments.

Disclosure: Plan to Eat is a sponsor of KS receiving their complementary mention, and I am an affiliate of Health Home and Happiness so will receive commission on menu plans purchased starting here.

This post is happily entered in Slightly Indulgent Tuesday at Simply Sugar and Gluten Free, Tuesday Twister at GNOWFGLINS, Monday Mania at the Healthy Home Economist, Works for me Wednesday at We are THAT Family, Menu Plan Monday at Organizing Junkie, and Gratituesday at Heavenly Homemakers.

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66 Comments so far ↓

  • Michelle

    I am so glad you are trying out grain-free! Your site helped me get my family eating healthy, then I switched to grain and sugar free so some of your recipe’s did not work for me. I am so happy! We don’t do potato’s or corn so we eat a lot of cauliflower and coconut! I fry chicken tenders encrusted with shredded coconut in olive oil and we go crazy for them!!!! Lots of veggie stir frys and we made almond flour pizza crust yesterday. So tasty and nutritious! THanks again, love your site.

  • Deanna

    I’ve been experimenting with grain-free baking. There are several recipes on my site that fit the bill. Feel free to poke around and see what intrigues you.

    I don’t think of beans as “grains.” Is that something separate that you’re just not eating for digestive reasons? Or, do you consider beans to be in the same category as grains?

    Katie Reply:

    Deanna,
    I’m relying a lot on the advice of friends, and I guess the GAPS and SCD diet, as well as the intro to the Maker’s Diet, allow no legumes. They are similarly hard to digest, so for gut-healing purposes, best to stay away. The Maker’s Diet allows lentils during week one, so I might try some of those coming up soon here. :) Katie

    Julie Reply:

    Don’t nuts and seeds count as legumes, too?

    Katie Reply:

    Julie,
    There’s something different about nuts and seeds (except peanuts, which are legumes). I can’t remember the science behind it though. I do know that on the Maker’s Diet, you can eat lentils at phase one, then add some other legumes, and things like garbanzos are last. Why? Not sure! I’m just going by what others have told me. I can’t WAIT to get my beans back, and thank goodness nuts aren’t legumes or we’d have nothing to eat! :) Katie

    Eileen Reply:

    I’ve been on GAPS for over 2 years and just wanted to let you know that the GAPS diet allows soaked & sprouted lentil, navy, & lima beans. That opens up a lot more options for you!

  • rhiamom

    I’ve been experimenting with buckwheat, because it is low glycemic index, but it’s also gluten-free. The pancakes and waffles are amazing. You’d need to use xanthan gum instead of the gluten I add.

  • Jen @ Oh no! I really do need to eat my vegetables!

    You kept skipping the rice! I haven’t put up my updated recipe for cauli-rice, but it’s really easy. You shred cauliflower either with a shredder or just chopping in food processor, and cook it with a little oil in the pan for a few minutes, add a scrambled egg, seasoning, tamari sauce, and voila! We have “fried cauli-rice” with all our stir-fry meals – or with sloppy joes in a bowl.. or wherever else I used to use rice.

    Have fun being grain free. I feel as though it really makes meal planning easier. Veggies + protein. done.

    Katie Reply:

    Jen,
    That’s a pretty nifty trick, although one of the things I love best about just “skipping” is that it’s so much less work. This sounds like a bit of work, although worth it if I really wanted that texture. Thanks! :) Katie

  • Kate

    I can think of TONS of things to eat on your diet! We eat bacon and eggs for breakfast, along with smoothies (made with yogurt or coconut milk and raw egg yolks), a salad with crispy nuts and/or chopped chicken, or taco salad (when we did beans we’d sub those for chips). I made stuffed pepper soup out of chicken stock, tomato sauce, ground beef and chopped peppers (sometimes rice, sometimes not, liked it better without). Grilled potatoes and marinated chicken. You could try spicy chicken nuggets if you can bread in coconut flour (we didn’t like that too much). Uh…zucchini “noodle” soup.

    Might I say I like the OPTION of including grains? :) Although at our house, truthfully, breakfast is grain-free everyday, lunch has grains 50% of the times (today is hot dogs on buns; tomorrow is beef stew), and dinner usually has some grains, not too many. It gives us some flexibility, now that we CAN eat them, but keeps us from relying on them!

    Oh — mashed cauliflower can go in stuffed peppers or cabbage rolls too!

    Katie Reply:

    Kate,
    I just made mashed cauliflower last night, and I couldn’t believe how many servings my son had. That will be making an appearance much more often, for sure! I hadn’t thought of using it as stuffing, though, what a great idea. I wanted to make stuffed peppers and thought there just wouldn’t be enough stuffing without beans… :) Katie

  • Julia

    I think going grain free would be really hard. I am impressed with how well you are doing. Just be sure to check your soy sauce. A lot of them contain wheat as an ingredient.

    Katie Reply:

    Julia,
    You are so right. I forgot about that, and even though our soy sauce is supposed to be “good” stuff from the health food store, it’s not “just” soy. Aw, shucks. ;) Katie

    BlessedCP Reply:

    Braggs Liquid Aminos is a great alternative to soy sauce.

  • Ginny

    On the GAPS diet potatoes are not allowed as they are grouped in with whole grains-they are starchy.

    My favorite breakfast is the banana pancake. Mash one banana with from 1 to 3 eggs and cook like a pancake in coconut oil. I then top with nuts or Lydia’s Organics Grainless Apple Cereal and raw honey. Dessert for breakfast!

    Katie Reply:

    Ginny,
    I know, I know…one of the reasons we haven’t started GAPS or SCD yet. ;) I so enjoy potatoes. We’re babystepping, one thing at a time. If potatoes are a problem, we’ll cut them loose, too, but so far, in moderation, we’ve been okay. Great pancakes! :) Katie

  • Susan Alexander

    I don’t know if you’re considering alternative butters and so forth, but Earth Balance spreads are awesome alternatives to butter, as is coconut milk for milk. I make my mashed potatoes with some of each and they come out yummy. Garlic really picks up the flavor too.

    I’m impressed that you’re eliminating dairy and ALL grains (I’ve done the gluten free, but you’re cutting rice too?!!).

    Katie Reply:

    Susan,
    I just realized that you may not have seen the comment from Ginny or myself below – I choose ghee or coconut oil as the replacement for butter, because the ingredients on Earth Balance and other spreads are always industrial oils and other fake foods. My post is here: http://www.kitchenstewardship.com/2009/10/10/butter-vs-margarine-vs-spreads-how-do-they-stack-up/
    :) Katie

    Susan Alexander Reply:

    Hmm, thanks… The one I mostly use is the soy-free (both because I don’t trust soy and because I prefer how it cooks) – here are the ingredients: “Expeller-pressed natural oil blend (palm fruit, canola, safflower and olive), water, contains less than 2% salt, sunflower lecithin, pea protein, natural flavor (derived from corn: no msg, no alcohol, no gluten), lactic acid (non-dairy source), naturally extracted annatto for color”

    I do like the coconut oil, but it just doesn’t cook quite right for me… Seems kinda heavy and a little greasy…

    Katie Reply:

    Susan,
    Those are better ingredients than some, but canola is iffy, as is safflower. Are you mostly talking for baking recipes or for sauteing vegetables? For baking, palm shortening might be another option, and for sauteing maybe tallow, or just olive oil? :) Katie

    Susan Alexander Reply:

    Mostly for baking – I generally saute in canola or olive oil. What’s wrong with canola – I’ve always heard it was a good oil just like olive oil??

    Where would I find palm shortening?

    Katie Reply:

    Susan,
    Canola is controversial – my article on it here: http://www.kitchenstewardship.com/2009/10/27/food-for-thought-canola-oil-a-unique-omega-3-thumbs-up-or-thumbs-down/

    Palm shortening is something I got from Tropical Traditions, and I’ve probably seen it in health food stores. Just be on your guard for hydrogenation.

    Fats are a confusing topic for many! I did a whole series last fall here: http://www.kitchenstewardship.com/2009/09/22/a-fat-full-full-introduction/

    Good luck! :) Katie

    Susan Alexander Reply:

    Wow, very interesting… Thanks for sharing!!! I’ve got a lot of heavy thinking about my fats/oils to do!

    Katie Reply:

    Susan,
    Another reader, Ginny, emailed me this response to your comment:
    This is an excerpt from an article on the Weston A Price Foundation “The Great Con-ola”. Canola is from an original plant named rapeseed:

    “Rapeseed has been used as a source of oil since ancient times because it is easily extracted from the seed. Interestingly, the seeds were first cooked before the oil is extracted. In China and India, rapeseed oil was provided by thousands of peddlers operating small stone presses that press out the oil at low temperatures. What the merchant then sells to the housewife is absolutely fresh.

    Modern oil processing is a different thing entirely. The oil is removed by a combination of high temperature mechanical pressing and solvent extraction. Traces of the solvent (usually hexane) remain in the oil, even after considerable refining. Like all modern vegetable oils, canola oil goes through the process of caustic refining, bleaching and degumming–all of which involve high temperatures or chemicals of questionable safety. And because canola oil is high in omega-3 fatty acids, which easily become rancid and foul-smelling when subjected to oxygen and high temperatures, it must be deodorized. The standard deodorization process removes a large portion of the omega-3 fatty acids by turning them into trans fatty acids. Although the Canadian government lists the trans content of canola at a minimal 0.2 percent, research at the University of Florida at Gainesville, found trans levels as high as 4.6 percent in commercial liquid oil.24 The consumer has no clue about the presence of trans fatty acids in canola oil because they are not listed on the label.”

    Definetly not something we want to eat. Stick with butter, coconut oil, lard (not from the grocery store shelf), tallow, ghee, palm, and some olive oil. Palm shortening is available at health food stores. Best price for all of these I think is to buy coconut oil by the gallon online.

    Ginny

    Susan Alexander Reply:

    Ok, thinking more about sauteeing/etc – Olive Oil is great, except it does have a bit of flavor. What can I use to spray on the grates for waffles or to put a layer of grease on my cast iron before storage?

    Also what do you recommend spreading on breads since I can’t do butter (particularly if I’m going to make garlic bread)?

    Thanks!

    Ginny Reply:

    Susan,
    Are you not doing butter because of milk allergy? If so then you can use ghee (butter with the milk part removed). The problem with using an oil that does not impart a flavor is that those oils are highly processed oils that you should not be eating. The healthy oils all have some flavor-like the olive oil you use for your pan and griddle(although there are healthier oils than olive oil-olive oil is in the “ok” category not the “great” category). I use coconut oil for those as they can take high heat better than butter or olive oil. A good blend is equal portions of coconut, sesame (unrefined) and olive oil. Gently melt them together and store at room temp. You can use this for high heat and also for the oil in your salad dressing. People who don’t like coconuts go crazy for salad dressing made with it!

    Susan Alexander Reply:

    Yes, my baby girl is allergic to all milk proteins – I can’t have more than a tiny trace. Hmmm, I can try ghee, but I’m nervous that there might somehow be a little milk protein left… :(

    So the coconut/sesame/olive mixture comes out not as strong of a flavor? Canola has been my go-to since it was supposedly healthy and it never imparted any extra flavor to dishes… :(

    Katie Reply:

    Susan,
    I understand being nervous! For a no-flavor oil, I use a lot of refined coconut oil, myself. :) Katie

    Ginny Reply:

    I can’t say for sure about ghee if all the milk solids are out of it. That’s the idea and why it is good for cooking but as far as if any is left then I don’t know. Have you looked into something like the GAPS diet so that you can eliminate food allergies? As for the oil blend, no, it does have flavor but canola is so questionable I don’t even risk it. I must say since I have changed my diet the food tastes better and I know one of the reasons is I use fats and oils with flavor and so the food has more flavor too! Sorry I’m not much help there.

    Susan Alexander Reply:

    Hmm, I’m not sure I’m willing to go on the GAPS diet – it looks pretty limiting! I am trying to eliminate some of our family’s consumption of processed foods and so forth, but it’s very difficult as my husband is not on board at all. In fact, he’s not even keen on my avoiding all amounts of milk and eggs, but he does understand it’s for the baby’s health.

    I’m trying to do the best for us, but it’s also difficult to balance the needs and desires of my husband. :)

    Ginny Reply:

    Susan,
    I totally hear you! If hubby isn’t interested it is near impossible to implement something like that. I started our change about 3 1/2 years ago based on the book Nourishing Traditions and then what I read on the Weston Price website. Hubby was skeptical at first especially about raw milk. Our first change was to get rid of cereal and to only drink raw milk. He couldn’t help but be thrilled when his “lactose intolerance” miraculously disappeared! That was probably a helpful event in my favor but it was a really long road. This many years later and he is finally fully on board. For so long he rebelled and ate whatever he wanted when he was out of the house and he complained a lot when I didn’t stock the house with enough snacks and stuff to please him. But after sharing with him everything I read he couldn’t help but to finally see the truth. All you can do is continue to educate him without being a nag! After following a Nourishing Traditions diet for the last few years helped in transitioning to GAPS because the food is the same and prepared the same only difference is no grains or sugar. It turns out to be NOT limiting at all! We miss nothing! But we didn’t realize it until being on it for a month. And we feel good too! Just continue to ask God for guidance in this. I asked Him for that for a long time to make sure I was doing the right thing. Now I know I am. Just make little changes. Don’t worry if it takes a long time.

    Susan Alexander Reply:

    Thanks Ginny! That’s my current plan – just to try and change a little at a time here and there… :) Last night we had tacos with home-made seasoning and home-made tortillas. Was it a perfect meal? Not by any stretch. But it was progress in the right direction. And the husband – he LOVED it – said it was way better than packaged foods. I called that a win. ;)

    It’s pretty frustrating to deal with him, but I know that if I let him come to this in his own time, it will be so much better for us. I wince every time he says “I’m an adult, I can eat what I want.” It’s true, yes, but being an adult also comes with knowing what you should eat and trying to stick to it. So I do as you say – a little here, a little there, a lot of prayer, and hope for a better diet some day. :)

    Ginny Reply:

    Gee, our husbands could be brothers! Even if you lived by yourself you would not be able to change everything in a week. It really is an evolution. And each change will only be made as you learn a new thing. And tacos can be great health food with the right ingredients. That is so great that you husband loved them! I’m curious to know your seasoning as I don’t have one nailed down yet.

    Susan Alexander Reply:

    I use this recipe from allrecipes: http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Taco-Seasoning-I/Detail.aspx

    I do the 1/2 Tbsp flour like the first reviewer and then use 3 Tbsp of the seasoning for my 1 lb of beef and 2/3 cup water. Comes out very yummy. You could probably omit the flour and it would still be very yummy. :)

    Thanks, I do feel it’s a slow iterative process – otherwise you’d slide back too easily. ;)

    Ginny Reply:

    Oh, I’m sure it would be just fine without the flour. I will try it next time I make “taco” salad! Thanks!

    Katie Reply:

    I use the taco seasoning from http://www.simplysugarandglutenfree.com/, which has only arrowroot starch to thicken. It’s great! :) katie

    Mydnight *yes really* Reply:

    @Susan, In response to your hubby’s I am an adult and I’ll eat what I want comment, you might want to point out that yes, he is an adult, but no…he won’t eat what he wants, he’ll eat what the processed food companies want. There is lots and lots of research out there about how to get him, and you and me, hooked onto and consistently buying more and more processed foods. The only way you can truly ‘eat what you want’ is to first break the addiction. Similar to meth, yet harder to break, if you are currently ‘on’ white refined sugars, super salty foods, and super fats, and have never had a break, and then *chosen* to return to them, you are addicted – and not by your choice. The list of companies that sneaks salt, fat, and most notably sugar, or any of their macro-nutrient derivatives into their processed food is a very long list.
    Perhaps if you are able to convey this to your hubby, that might help him adjust easier to allowing more changes. Maybe get him to try just a week, after all what’s a week in his life? He might just feel better for it.
    Also, instead of ‘eliminating’ things, you could try what we do in our house. We’re fully gluten and sugar free, but to get here was a road of pit stops and backwards driving. We’ve chosen to say “Instead of …, we get …”. I never once allowed myself to say I am eliminating gluten and sugar from my diet, because if I even thought it, my mind would start this panicky round of “but that means I CAN’T have this, and this, and this…etc” and I’d get stuck in all these things I felt that I couldn’t do without. Using the instead of comments let me choose to be happier about it. Instead of a chemical puff (orange puffy ‘chip’), I get to have fresh strawberries (YUM!). Instead of mac and cheese(sugar, salt, fake cheese ‘sauce’), I get homemade Ratatouille (vegetable numminess!). Instead of soda (confession-I HATED water…tasted nasty to me, so I was drinking nearly a 3 liters a day of soda and bottled iced teas), I get to have herbal tea over ice, flavored with my own stevia plant’s leaves. In this way I was able to ‘sidestep’ if you will, the feeling of doing without that often accompanies a new ‘diet’ in my house, and it was the one way I got my Other to try it.

    So, long response short, thank you for the blog Katie, and if you even made it here in my ramble, thank you for reading.

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    I love this twist – yes, challenge someone who thinks they are “eating what they want” to choose to eat no processed foods for a time and THEN decide what they really want. That’s awesome.

    Also, “this…instead of…” is such a great philosophy – I think almost anyone trying an elimination diet has that panicked “I can’t eat…!” feeling. This comment should be an encouraging blog post all in itself! Thank you!! :) Katie

  • Barb @ My Daily Round

    I can’t wait to hear what you have to say next week about this topic. My mil is self-diagnosed as a celiac, and she’s also a diabetic. My mom has been using the food guidelines for celiacs to help reduce her allergies. One of my bils has celiac disease. I tried using less grains over the summer, but found that we rely on grains, particularly whole grains a lot. My kids couldn’t live without potatoes either.

    Now that September is almost over, and life may be less hectic, I want to dive back into getting more veggies into our diet. I know I said it before, but I can’t wait to hear what you have to say! I like coming to your site because I know I will read well-thought out, well-researched positions and thoughts.

  • tonya

    I’m curious to see the financial impact going grain & bean free will have, cinsidering they’re used to “fill in” for meat & going meat-less is suggested to spread food dollars further.

  • Ronnie

    I second the concern mentioned above about using potatoes. They are high in starch, making them comforting, but they may nourish undesirable bacteria in the gut. Sweet potatoes are better than white potatoes, but all below-ground veggies are starchy.

  • Ginny

    Susan, If you look at the ingredients of Earth Balance you will see there is not one good thing in it. If one is worried about dairy then a good butter alternative is ghee or coconut oil. Think “What did God put on the earth for me to eat?”. He knows what we need!

    Katie Reply:

    Ginny,
    Thank you – absolutely agree. God is even so good that I got some ghee/coconut oil blend from a company from it was completely unexpected. I’ve been using it to fry lots of things in! I also find the coconut oil works in almost every recipe I would use butter in. :) Katie

  • Diana

    I just want to say that I was so encouraged by this post. The very day you wrote about going grain free my husband was complaining to me about digestive problems. (And to quote you, was that a coincidence?) I mentioned this to him, thinking that he would blow it off, but he was very interested. We’ve been grain-free (except for corn tortillas) since last Thursday! Actually, that’s not quite true. He ate Atlanta Bread Company at work one day and got a headache and bloating about an hour afterwards. Now he’s motivated to keep to our experiment–we’ll see what happens next time!

    Here’s a suggestion for pasta that you probably already know: slice zucchini with a vegetable peeler to mimic fettucine noodles. Saute onion and garlic, then add zucchini. Cook about 5 minutes. Serve your favorite sauce over it. I was skeptical, but willing to try it for the sake of not eating salad every day. It was delicious! Highly recommend it :)

    Please keep updating! It’s encouraging for those of us who are just starting off on this path, like you are. Helps me know I’m not the only one! :)

    Katie Reply:

    Diana,
    I did not know that one, actually! I wish zuchs were still heavily in season at the Farmer’s Market – that would have been such a cheap thing to do. What an awesome confirmation for your husband that you’re doing the right thing! :) Katie

  • Cherish

    I’m avoiding grains right now and so I appreciated this post! I’m definitely eating more veggies now and eggs are awesome!

  • Mareth

    Very curious to see how the kiddos are doing with so many veggies…and no crackers. :o)

  • Brittany

    Now I’m wondering how this grain-free switch has affected your food budget. I would like to eat fewer grains due to some adrenal fatigue symptoms, but am always concerned that it will increase our already stretched food budget…especially with my three ravenous boys. But if I’m not buying the grains would make up for some of the cost? I thought I could ask a honest, frugal girl like you without feeling like a cheapskate! :)

    Katie Reply:

    Brittany – You bet you can ask! I’ll definitely address this in next week’s FAQ post…but I can tell you it’s probably not great frugal news, and there’s just no getting around that. –Katie

    Llama Momma Reply:

    I’ve got the same issue…3 very hungry boys! Without the breads and pastas, there’s no way we could fill them up! Thank goodness for oatmeal! (Seriously…I have to cook a dozen eggs for breakfast…plus toast…plus fruit with yogurt.

    These boys can eat.

  • Melissa

    When I went wheat and dairy free for a few months, this was my favorite dessert. We had some tonight with whole cow’s milk.

    Chia Pudding
    1/2 c. chia seeds
    2 c. milk (any kind)
    dash vanilla
    honey to taste

    Seriously easy and delish!

    Katie Reply:

    Melissa,
    Do you cook it or blend it up? I’ve never used Chia seeds, so I’m kind of clueless (getting used to the feeling, believe me!) :) katie

  • Melissa

    Just stir it all together and let sit for about 15 minutes. Chia seeds gel when they get when which makes a pudding type dish. It is really good and chia seeds are high in Omega 3s.

    You’d be proud of my frugality tonight. I just used up the last of my raw honey but there were still some dregs I couldn’t scrape up. I swished my milk in the jar first and then added the chia seeds and vanilla. Yay for using every last drop!

    Melissa Reply:

    I meant to say “get wet” not “get when” :)

  • Stephenie

    I am wondering about that Black Bean Soup recipe you linked to…did you follow the recipe precisely? Thanks!

    Katie Reply:

    Stephenie,
    I have, and I have also messed with it. I should really post this recipe coming up this fall after we’re back on legumes for real. I usually add red peppers and some spicy peppers and up the seasoning a little. :) Katie

  • Emily @ Live Renwed

    This is such an encouraging post Katie! I have been tossing around the idea of going gluten free, or possible grain free, for the same reason – helping my hubs digestion. But, I’m so afraid of it – I didn’t know what we would eat, and my hubs *loves* grains, and also does not like most veggies. So I didn’t know how to make food that he would like and eat and feel satisfied. I’m still a little unsure, but now I feel like I can go to him with some options and see if he wants to give it a try or not. How long to do you plan to be grain free?

    Also, I’m wondering about food for younger kids. Neither of my kids can eat salad. They don’t really like it and they can’t really chew the lettuce, they just kind of gag on it. Hubs and I like salads, but that doesn’t work for the kiddos. Would love to hear lots of options to feed kiddos!

    Ginny Reply:

    Emily,

    My husband and I are on the GAPS diet and our daughter, 7, is pretty much on it only because we are. I really am not a salad fan so I want to assure you grain-free is not about eating salad although we do sometimes have taco salad but without the tacos! We have things like hamburger patties with avocados, fermented salsa, fermented pickles, homemade ketchup, dijon mustard and lettuce for the bun. Or beef stew with onions and carrots, winter squash. Or pork chops with sliced avocados and green beens. You get the idea. And we almost daily have homemade bone broth. Breakfast is eggs any way -like the banana “pancakes” mentioned above. Or homemade kefir with nuts and fruit. Lots of bananas and yogurt and raw honey. We are pretty full around here once we got the hang of it! Bake a salmon filet at 350 for 5 minutes brushed with a little olive oil and some salt and pepper-kids love that! We’ve had “tacos” with lettuce leaves for the shell. We’ve boiled a big salmon head and sat around and picked that head to bits it was delicious! What kid doesn’t want to say they ate fish eyes for dinner?! Anyway there is lots to eat. And grain-free does not need to last forever but you may find that if you feel better you may want to continue it to some degree for life.

    Katie Reply:

    Thank you so much for the encouragement for ALL of us, Ginny! I’m getting some serious beef stew on the menu for next week as I have a bunch of packages of stew meat in the freezer! Thanks – Katie

  • Testing grain-free « Local Nourishment

    [...] A Grain-Free Life: Menu Ideas to Keep it Simple by Kitchen Stewardship [...]

  • Sarah W

    At some point, I’d love to get a nutshell version of the various “diets:” GAPS, SCD, Makers, etc. I see them referenced a lot (not just on this blog) and I know a little bit about them, but I know you’d give a concise honest summary if you feel up to the task some day!

    A question about the Plan to Eat meal planner… is there a way to input your “prep steps” like when you need to soak something or ferment something or whatever? I also buy a lot of stuff in bulk, so I only need “beans” on my shopping list once every several months, for example. Just wondering how the program goes with those things.

    To Emily – I share some of your apprehensions b/c even though DH is doing the grain free experiment with me, there are a lot of vegetables he doesn’t like. And the only things he will eat raw are romaine lettuce, bananas and apples, so when I make salad he only eats the leaves with dressing and cheese (and meat if it’s a main course salad.) My LOs also do not like salad too much. For my 4 yr old, I used to make him eat more, but now I make him a REALLY small salad, and give him about 3 dime sized pieces of lettuce and then the chopped veggies with dressing. (mostly I am tired of MAKING him eat his salad for half an hour before he eats the rest of his meal, so he gets a “token” salad.) My 21 mo old likes a lot of veggies and what not, but can’t chew lettuce leaves, so I give him salad without the lettuce, but he gets everything else usually. Maybe you could do lettuce free/light salad for your kiddos too.

    Sarah W Reply:

    oh yeah, for my 4 yr old, I also try to put as many of his favorite things in the salad to make the other stuff go down easier. e.g. he loves hard boiled, eggs, avocados and cheese. he’s not so keen on tomatoes or other raw veggies, but when it’s all together, it goes down easier. I’m also generous with the ranch dressing, which he loves.

    Katie Reply:

    Sarah,
    That is an awesome idea for a post, and one I should have had already. Good thing I have great people like you filling in my gaps. I am planning that one – for my own benefit as much as everyone else’s! – in the next couple weeks.

    re: Plan to Eat, also an excellent question. I went in to see what I could do, and although there’s not a perfect automatic “day-before-prep” system, I just created a “new recipe” called “soak dry beans” with nothing in it but “soak dry beans” in the directions. Then I can drag that to the “other” category the day before a recipe with beans. I also emailed the boss to share your idea, because I think it would save make-from-scratch people like you and me a TON of time if you could just drag “Mexican Stuffed Peppers” to Thursday night and it would automatically plop “soak dry beans” and “thaw ground beef” to Wednesday night.

    On the pantry items, yes, you can just tell the program that you have dry beans on hand, and it won’t bother with them on your shopping list until you tell it otherwise. I really liked that feature, almost like the program was listening to the human.

    I also noticed upon heading back in to answer your question, that it remembered that I had already used the stuffed peppers recipe and told me I had planned it “recently.” That’s kind of cool so people don’t have the same thing every week if they prefer variety.

    And salad – that was just our response to grain free. You’ll see in tomorrow’s FAQ post a bit more about what my kids are really eating. (It’s not salads!)

    Great questions, Sarah! Thank you! :) Katie

  • John Valenty

    Good for you! It is a difficult and challenging lifestyle change but well worth it. Best of luck!

  • Diana via Facebook

    Perfect timing – I’m weaning myself off the grains & sugar (I’m down to about one ‘serving’ a day, although some days are none. Life is just too crazy to be super strict about it.) I haven’t had the time to look up all the resources I’ve seen for grain-free stuff. Now I don’t have to search as hard! :)

  • BlessedCP

    I have the bestest tasting alternative to rice with stir fry, it is sauteed/stir-fried cabbage flavored with a couple drops of sesame oil and or sesame seeds. MMMMM. Most of the kids now prefer this over brown rice. :-)

Welcome!  Meet Katie.

I embrace butter. I make homemade yogurt. I eat traditional real food – plants and animals that God created, not products of plants where food scientists work. Here at Kitchen Stewardship, I share how I strive to be a good steward of my family's nutrition, the environment, and our budget, all without spending every second in the kitchen. Learn more about the mission of KS here.

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