A Week of Real Food Meals and Tips for Eating Away from Home

I am so excited for this week I can barely contain myself.  First it is a short work week. We are taking a few days off to extend this long holiday week, and trust me we NEED it. With our extra time we will get to visit a few of our besties, including FoodRN. We will also get to cuddle with their babies, catch up with family and eat some seriously good food. There really is no other way I want to spend this time.
A notable menu moment for this weeks is that there are two recipes I did not make from last week’s menus. They made their way onto this menu though. One thing I think is crucial for real food budgets and time savings is to be flexible with menu planning and meal prep. We are NOT afraid of eating leftovers. I repurpose our food regularly.  It saves so much money and so much time. Last week we had leftover flat iron steak from Father’s Day, so we ate it one night in a huge entrée salad alongside hefty slices of grain free foccaccia bread, and another night in stuffed potatoes. Both meals took less than 30 minutes to prepare and saved us from having to buy a new meat bundle for one more week…win-win for me!
So here is what we are planning for this week:

Erin – egg bake and Great Lakes gelatin latte with Swiss water pressed decaf

    1. Heat oven to 350 degrees.
    2. Saute 1 pound mushrooms, half large onion diced, 2 small cloves minced garlic and 5 ounces arugula, then dish vegetables into 4 glass, oven-safe dishes.
    3. Beat 8 eggs and pour equally over vegetable dishes. Season liberally with salt and pepper.
    4. Put glass dishes into baking pan and fill with water about halfway up glass dish.
    5. Bake for 40ish minutes or until eggs are completely cooked through
     Nathan – high protein, green smoothie

      • Beef stew over zucchini noodles, recipe courtesy of Inspiralized
      • Salad
      • Freshly sliced bell peppers or carrots
      • Fresh fruit 
      • Organic whole milk yogurt for Nathan
      • Dark chocolate for Erin. This week I am trying Theo, and I am loving its rich, bitter flavor


      • Larabars for Nathan
      • Sunflower seeds for Nathan
      • Frozen berries for Erin
      • Bone broth for Erin
      • Hard boiled egg


      • Sunday – grilled polish sausage with grilled asparagus
      • Monday – grilled pork steak, roasted smashed potatoes, broccoli salad (I have not selected a recipe for this yet, but know that it will not contain traditional mayo. I will likely make it myself or use a bacon grease and rice vinegar dressing instead.)
      • Tuesday – leftover grilled pork stead, roasted plantain (current food obsession) and leftover broccoli salad
      • Wednesday – grilled wild caught salmon with cauliflower rice tabbouleh
      Even though we are not cooking meals at home beyond Wednesday, we will still honor our real food preferences.  While not all of my family makes the same real food choices as I do, they are accepting. There is always a grocery store close to our destinations, which means I have the ability to bring my own dishes for sharing.  Here are my top 5 tips for keeping it real away from home:
      1.  Take a real food dish as a contribution to the party.
      2. Build a plate that has more fresh vegetables than processed foods. This means raiding the relish tray before grabbing a handful of potato chips.
      3. Select protein carefully. I like to make bunless burgers wrapped in lettuce, and I prefer to eat chicken off the bone rather than gnawing on an overcooked boneless, skinless chicken breast.
      4. Avoid ewwwy-gooey side dishes with lots of creamy sauces – think potato salad, coleslaw, macaroni and cheese, and baked beans. These items are typically made with condiments that contain vegetable oils (read Confessions of a Real Food Dietitian post for my thoughts on those), added sugars (in about 14 different varieties) and other fake food (powdered cheese, preservatives and food dyes). Consider taking these as a way to follow tip #1 and ensure there is something real to eat.
      5. Have snacks stashed away in case there is not enough real food from which to choose. A few foods that travel well, oranges, beef jerky (I am loving Epic products right now), kale chips and bars (2 Moms in the Raw, Larabars, Kind bars.
      BONUS TIP: When determining if a prepared food or condiment is Grateful Guts worthy I always read the food label.  If it contains enriched flour, whole wheat flour, high fructose corn syrup, maltodextrin, modified food starch, soy sauce, food dyes or alternative sweeteners (acesulfame potassium or acesulfame K, aspartame, saccharin), then I put it back.  
      With all that in mind have a safe, delicious holiday weekend!

      Welcoming Summer and Previewing a Week of Real Food

      It is officially summer. Today is the summer solstice, which is also the longest day of the year. Of course there is science and a solar system that explains the positions of the sun and earth and why the amount of sunlight is longest on this day, but I really prefer to focus on its symbolic representation. Om Times posted an article that really resonated with me this year, and within it stated, “Sun represents the soul and when it is at its northernmost elevation, the light within the consciousness is also shines brilliantly, opening possibilities of tremendous growth and evolution.” I find so much inspiration and optimism in this line; especially as I embarking on new personal and professional endeavors that will allow me to align passion with profession. 
      There are innumerable rituals surrounding both the winter and summer solstices. Today I completed my own version of a yoga mala during which I performed 108 sun salutations. One hundred eight is evenly divided by three, which is representative of mind, body and spirit. In addition to connecting movement with breath, I also focused on affirmations. The first 36 sun salutations included mind affirmations. The next 36 were body affirmations, and the last 36 were spiritual affirmations. I also took advantage of technology and used the laps on my stopwatch app to keep count. In all it took me about an hour and a half to ease into practice, then finish with restorative yoga poses. It was a powerful practice that serves as my personal reminder of how important it is to stay balanced and connected with my passion and purpose.    
      Turning the tables now…Happy Father’s Day to all of men out there. This weekend turned out to be a mostly sunny change of pace from the previous week’s daily deluge. We were grateful that the weather reports from earlier in the week were wrong. Of course more sunshine means more grilling. I can certainly appreciate a perfectly grilled morsel of goodness. In fact we planned our Father’s Day celebrations around our grill. It was so simple, and had so much flavor. Grilled flat iron steak from our local butcher, avocado tomato salad, grilled corn, spinach and berry salad, and roasted smashed red potatoes. It was 80% locally sourced, real food, made with love.

      I would like to address, and effectively debunk, the myth that quality, real food is unaffordable. Let it be known that I live on a budget. I eat really well, and my husband never goes hungry. My most important budgeting strategy is planning. On Fridays I create a menu for the week. We tend to have the same breakfast and lunches all week because we make them in bulk on Sunday evenings. This saves us so much time during the week. On Saturdays we shop, first at the farmers’ market for 90% of our produce. Anything that I cannot get locally, like quality fish or coconut milk, I typically buy at Whole Foods. My grocery bill for this past week amounted to $105, and that included the extra items needed for hosting Father’s Day. Another very important money and time saving strategy is sourcing quality animal products locally. I am so grateful for a local butcher shop that sells meat bundles. Our bundle has beef, pork and chicken and provides around 40 pounds, which averages approximately $4.25 per pound. I can stretch this bundle out for three months with careful planning. 
      Our meals for the next week are detailed below. I linked recipes when I plan to use them, otherwise recipes include the ingredients listed and eyeballing quantities and cook times.
      Breakfast this week:

      • Erin: spring mix salad with two over-easy eggs, homemade oil/vinegar dressing and high protein Swiss water pressed decaf coffee
      • Nathan: green protein smoothie

      Lunch this week:

      • spaghetti squash with bacon, ground cube steak, mushrooms and roasted broccoli
      • spring mix salad with tomatoes and homemade oil/vinegar dressing
      • carrot sticks
      • full-fat, organic yogurt for Nathan
      • fruit for both of us
      • dark chocolate for Erin

      Snacks this week:

      • fresh fruit
      • homemade pickles
      • homemade roasted plantain chips
      • sunflower seeds for Nathan
      • a cup of bone broth for Erin

      Dinner this week:

      • Tuesday:
        • sweet potatoes stuffed with leftover flat iron steak and coconut oil
        • roasted asparagus
      • Wednesday:
        • Grilled sausages served over zucchini noodles
        • leftover grain free focaccia bread
      • Thursday – eating out at Chipotle for work fundraiser

      Hope you have a great week, and cheers from my cup of gelatinous bone broth to yours!