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.
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???
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
- 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:
Our favorite dressings:
- Homemade Caesar (without the Parmesan, and it still tastes great!)
- Asian Toasted Sesame
- Donielle’s Spicy Dressing and Avocado Aioli
- Basic Italian dressing
Meal Planning in the 20th Century
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.
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:
- 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).
- 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?
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Roasted Winter Vegetables with Fennel: recipe to come, but it looks like this:
- 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.
- Chicken Stir Fry without the rice. Never missed it.
- 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.
- I already told you we went to Outback Steakhouse and managed to eat a good meal without feeling like we were sacrificing too much.
- 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
- Next week: More grain-free meal ideas
- UPDATE: more on meal planning for elimination diets
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???
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.
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.