So, my meals for a month turned into meals for 3 weeks, as I was out of town for the last week. Overall, I found it worked pretty well. I don’t think I’ll be planning my meals a month in advance all the time, but every once and a while it seems like it’d be a good way to solve the “what am I going to eat this week” dilemma all at once.
Week 1 of my Meals for a Month plan went really well. I ended up with just the right amount of food, and didn’t need to spend a lot of time thinking about about what I was going to eat, as I had already made most of those decisions.
So what did I eat during week 1?
Apple Dijon kale salad with cornbread
Creamy beet salad
Pineapple fried rice
Veggie burgers with these buns
Home made pizza (using this cast iron pizza dough recipe/method)
Black bean brownies (okay, not part of the ‘meal plan’, but I still made ’em and ate ’em)
Slow cooker black bean soup
Both the veggie burger and the black bean soup were from my freezer and were only eaten one time. The other items were made “fresh” during the week and were eaten at several meals. As you can see, I’m not including breakfast (or snacks) in the meal plan, but I most certainly am eating breakfast every day (and snacks too), I just wanted to keep the plan simple to start out.
Overall, week 1 was a success. Week 2 starts today and I am realizing that the three main meals I have planned all use curry. Might need to switch one of them up if I can find a substitute meal that I happen to have the ingredients for.
I love home made food and I generally like cooking, but what I don’t like is all the prep. No, I don’t mean chopping up veggies (although I could do without onion chopping), I mean deciding what to make, scouring recipes, figuring out ingredients, and doing the grocery shopping. If a suitable menu could magically appear with all the appropriate ingredients, that would be great. Unfortunately, that’s not going to happen. Well, at least not for free. But I digress, because I’m not some fancy-pants who hires someone to make their food (okay, sometimes).
Although nothing magical is likely to happen, I think I can create a menu plan that would at least lessen some of the daily or weekly food decision making I need to do. I’m going to try pre-planning my meals for an entire month. Over the past few days, I’ve been working on putting together a four-week menu plan. It’s a bit of a challenge trying to figure out how many meals of leftovers I’ll get from each meal and how many recipes I need to make, but I’ve got at least a rough plan for four weeks. I’ve also tried to sketch out when I can do some of the advanced prep for various meals. So if I know I’m making two or three things with onions (oh the dreaded onions), I can chop them all on Sunday and use them throughout the week. It should also simplify grocery shopping. I’m already pretty good about making a grocery list of what I need, but I could be better, and this should hopefully reduce the amount of times that I’m scrambling to decide what I’m going to make five minutes before I get groceries.
As a follow up to my post about a eubiotic diet, I thought it might be helpful to share a couple of sample meal plans. If you don’t want to be hungry, you might need to eat several of these foods at each meal to be full. Enjoy! (if that’s possible)
- Quinoa Porridge: quinoa, almonds, pumpkin seeds, chopped apples, cinnamon, nutmeg
- Smoothie: berries, plain yogurt, avocado, cinnamon, vanilla
- Yogurt Parfait: yogurt, berries, nuts, seeds, cinnamon
Lunches or Dinners
- Scrambled eggs: 3 eggs, tomatoes*, green peppers*, spices, goat cheese
- Salmon: baked with spices
- Salad: spinach, greens, pecans, goat cheese, olive oil and spices
- Noodles: brown rice noodles, tahini, Bragg’s soy sauce substitute, olive oil, red peppers
- Brown rice and veggies: add in some spices and tofu (if soy is allowed)
- Tomato soup: roasted tomatoes*, wheat/gluten/sugar free veggie broth, roasted onions, roasted garlic (all ingredients pureed)
- Mint tea
- Almonds or other nuts (no peanuts!)
- Pumpkin seeds
- Apple (with almond butter for extra deliciousness)
*a strict eubiotic diet might not include these veggies
In November I went to see a naturopathic doctor. I’ve been experiencing digestive issues for years, and after being unable to figure out what the heck is causing the problem (through seeing my regular family doctor or through self-directed food experiments), I decided it was time to try a more holistic approach.
The naturopathic doctor put me on a eubiotic diet, as she suspects I may be suffering from dysbiosis, which is an over growth of normal flora and/or a growth of flora that is not normally found in the body. So the basic point of the eubiotic diet is to clear out the microbial overgrowth. When I read the symptoms of dysbiosis, it does sound plausible, but, most of the symptoms are pretty generic and I’m sure a lot of people would say they have them. At this point though, I’m willing to experiment.
I actually couldn’t find a lot of information online about a eubiotic diet (what? something a million people haven’t blogged about? It cannot be true!), so I thought I’d write a little bit about it in case other people are searching for information.
The diet is pretty restrictive (and a bit hard to understand), but the main “no”s are:
- sugar (which is in almost everything, including most store bought sauces etc.)
- grains (with the exception of brown rice and quinoa)
- fruit (except berries and apples, although on a strict eubiotic diet, these are out too)
- mushrooms or corn
- beans, lentils, chickpeas
- peanuts/peanut butter (what!? apparently peanuts have some sort of mold-toxin coating)
- fermented foods such as pickled foods, vinegar (which is in a lot of condiments), wines, and alcohol
The list of “yes”s:
- vegetables such as asparagus, broccoli, brussel sprouts, cauliflower, kale, lettuce, spinach, and zucchini
- most spices, as well as garlic and onions
- olive oil
- goat cheese (yes!)
- brown rice and quinoa
- various other meats (not helpful for me, as I don’t partake in the meat-eating)
- apples and berries (see above, not normally allowed)
- tofu (again, a strict eubiotic diet does not allow soy)
- plain yogurt (dairy is a general no-no, but I could have yogurt)
- almonds and almond butter (yes!)
- most nuts and seeds
The above lists are not comprehensive, but they generally reflect my understanding, and what I did and didn’t eat. I was on the diet for 20 days. It was definitely really hard the first 4-5 days. I did get somewhat used to it after that, but around day 10 I got really bored of eating the same foods over and over. On day 13 I ‘cheated’ and had a regular meal as it was my work’s Christmas lunch celebration, but other than that, I stuck to the diet strictly.
Speaking of cheating, I should also mention that ‘cheating’ on the diet is really, really counter-productive (I know, I know, I just told you I did it). The reason is that as the diet progresses, the ‘bad’ gut flora begins to die off, but more resistant ones take longer to die. So if you cheat (especially with sugar), it gives the more resistant bacteria food to survive, making it more difficult to get rid of.
It’s only been a few weeks since the diet was over, so I’m still evaluating my symptoms and trying to determine if I feel any better. I’ll be sure to update if any miracles occur.
This is my favourite macaroni and cheese recipe. It’s a combination of various other mac and cheese recipes – taking (what I think is) the best parts, without making it overly complicated. This recipe can likely be adjusted to your liking (different cheese, different spices), but this is a good starting point. Best enjoyed by a lake after a day of swimming and sunbathing, but almost equally as good when eaten while watching an episode of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia or Real Time with Bill Maher. Whatever floats your boat. Pairs well with Merlot. I should mention that Jackson Triggs Merlot is my go-to wine, so I’m probably going to tell you that it pairs well with everything. Everything.
2 1/2 cups (dried) pasta
1/4 small onion, chopped/minced
3 tbsp flour
3 tbsp butter
1-2 tsp dried mustard
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp nutmeg
2 -2 1/2cups milk
2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
a few handfuls of breadcrumbs
1. Cook pasta.
2. Cook onion with butter over medium heat.
3. Add flour to the butter and onion mixture . Using a whisk, stir and cook the roux for 1-2 minutes.
4. Add the milk and whisk well. Add mustard, nutmeg, and garlic powder. Bring to a simmer until it thickens.
5. Remove from heat and whisk in cheese, setting a bit aside for the top of the dish. Stir until completely melted.
6. Combine with cooked pasta. Put in 9 X 13 glass dish, add parmesan, add extra cheese (optional), and breadcrumbs. Bake 20 minutes @ 350.
With the end of summer comes the end of peach season. In honour of the end of a delicious season, here’s a roundup of some of my favourite peach recipes.
Balsamic Glazed Peaches (from Budget Bytes): This is really good, really easy, and a great way to use up peaches if you have peaches that are about to go bad. You basically cook up some peaches in butter, and then add balsamic vinegar. The outcome is slightly odd, but really tasty. I used some of them to make a sundae and this salad. I also used the peaches in the Grilled Peach, Brie & Basil Sandwich below. I highly recommend you give this recipe a try.
Grilled Peach, Brie & Basil Sandwich: This tastes a little fancy, even though it’s really just a pretty simple sandwich. I made it on homemade whole wheat bread, but I think it’d be really good on a sourdough bread.
Substitutions/Additions: I used the Balsamic Glazed Peaches above rather than just regular peach slices. I also think this is one of those situations where you absolutely need to use fresh basil, rather than dried.
Peach Salsa: It’s got peaches, it’s got tomatoes, it’s got lime juice and it’s got deliciousness.
Substitutions/Additions: It’s my own recipe so, no substitutions or additions for this one.
Peach Carrot Bread (from Delightfully tacky): This bread is more like a cake, but that didn’t stop me from eating it for breakfast. It was also great with vanilla ice cream for dessert. Another good way to use up peaches that might be close to going bad.
Substitutions/Additions: I mostly stuck to the recipe, although I think I added a bit of vanilla and some ground flaxseed (which I add to a lot of baked goods)
I’ve been buying a lot of peaches lately. A lot. Although peaches are delicious just own their own, I wanted to try something a little different. Enter peach salsa (inspired by Chipotle Peach Salsa from Budget Bytes).
3 peaches, chopped
2 small tomatoes -or- a large handful of grape/cherry tomatoes
2-3 stalks of green onion, chopped
1/2 of a chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, finely chopped, plus some of the sauce (adjust to taste, chipotle peppers are hot)
1 tbsp lime juice
1/2 tsp ground pepper
1/2 tsp ground ginger
cilantro (to taste)
1. Mix it all together in a bowl
2. Serve with tortilla chips or your salsa-vehicle of choice
Keeps well in the fridge for several days
Here’s where I share with you my favourite recipes from, well, “the internet”. About 90% of the recipes I use these days are found online, so this is basically the equivalent of me putting sticky notes in a couple of my favourite cookbooks and lending them to you to flip through at your leisure.
Yellow Jasmine Rice (from Budget Bytes): Beth from Budget Bytes claims that this is the best rice she’s ever had. That’s a bold assertion, but holy-yum this rice is that good. It’s also easy and goes with so many different dishes.
Substitutions/Additions: You can make this with water if you don’t have broth on hand (or just don’t want to use broth). It will still be delicious.
Substitutions/Additions: I don’t usually (ie. ever) have yellow mustard seeds, so I’ve only ever made this without them. I’ve made this with and without the raisins and both options are fine. Also, I don’t make this recipe with a whole pound of tofu, I usually just make it with whatever tofu ‘leftovers’ I have after making something else, and adjust the quantities accordingly. Honestly, I don’t really even follow the directions, I just kind of eyeball the ingredients and stir it all together in a bowl. This is more of a situation of being inspired by the recipe, than actually following the recipe.
Substitutions/Additions: I like to scramble/fry up an egg and then mix it into the rice once it’s done. It makes the dish a bit heartier, especially if you’re going to eat it as a meal, rather than a side dish.
Substitutions/Additions: I use ‘regular’ (white) onions and caramelize them first. Also, the recipe calls for way too much oregano and garlic – I just use a generous sprinkle of each. You should also probably just go ahead and double the recipe and make two pizzas. You will thank me.
Our Perfect Veggie Burger (from Oh She Glows): These really are perfect. Nutty, crispy on the outside, a bit moist on the inside, and full of healthy goodness. They also freeze pretty well, which is important because this recipe makes a fairly large batch. This recipe seems a bit complicated, and it kind of is (lots of ingredients and several steps), but it’s worth it.
Substitutions/Additions: I use 2-3 eggs in place of the ‘flax eggs’ called for in the recipe.
Iron Woman Gingerbread Smoothie (from Oh She Glows): I don’t typically use recipes for smoothies – I’m more of a dump whatever you want into blender type of smoothie maker – but this recipe is quite tasty and is worth the extra time it takes to actually follow a recipe. It’s also a good way to get some blackstrap molasses into your diet, which contains vitamin B6, and minerals such as magnesium and iron. Word on the street is that it’s good for you.
Substitutions/Additions: It’s not exactly a substitution, but I don’t usually use a frozen banana. A non-frozen banana will do.
This is my “go-to” banana bread. It doesn’t have any oil or butter in it, and the sweetness all comes from the bananas, applesauce, and honey – no need for added sugar. It’s more of a breakfast banana bread, rather than a desert banana bread, which is just the way I like it.
2 cups whole wheat flour
1/4 cup oatmeal (optional)
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup applesauce (or pumpkin puree)
3/4 cup honey (or maple syrup)
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs, beaten
3 mashed, overripe bananas
1. Preheat oven to 350. Lightly grease a 9X5 inch loaf pan.
2. In a large bowl, combine flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. In a separate bowl, mix together applesauce, honey, and vanilla. Stir in eggs and mashed bananas until well blended. Stir banana mixture into flour mixture (and add walnuts if using). Pour into loaf pan.
3. Bake for 60-65 minutes. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn onto wire rack.