If you're like me and love cooking you're always up to a challenge! But you may be in for a teat if you think that will be enough to get you through your Whole30 week smoothly and stress-free! I'm a stay at home mom and, even I, have to meal prep. I do need my time during the week days to get through daily routine things like running errands, cleaning the house, going to the kids' activities, making sure that everything runs as it's supposed to be during the week.
I need time for my blog - to create new posts, develop new recipes and cooking them, all during the school schedule, which can be sometimes overwhelming. It does take a lot of my time and I found out that, since starting my Whole30 I do have more time for my hobby! This is because I meal prep for the week during my Sunday afternoon. Usually this is my Sunday schedule:
That's a pretty good picture of what goes on in the house on Sundays! The kids are always entertained that evening so I can concentrate on my cooking job and make everything I planed for.
Not all weeks are equal and I try to have different meals every week so I don't get bored! I'm always talking about avoiding food boredom because, for me, this is the major obstacle for most people when we're talking about eating healthy. Focusing on the same ingredients over and over again makes you feel discouraged and fed up - that can lead up to cravings when you feel like that's the only way to get something that you satisfy you or that will taste somewhat more like a "proper"meal.
DON'T FALL INTO THAT TRAP!
If you feel like you're running out of ideas go online and search for Whole30 recipes, there are thousands out there! On blogs, like mine, on Pinterest, on Facebook groups or on the Whole30 cookbooks. Get yourself half an hour during the week, preferably at the end of the day when the house is quiet and you feel like you're mind is clear and ready to start choosing different and exiting options!
I always have a list of staples that I like to have but I'll change them every other week. For example, last week I just had potatoes with two meals and I was feeling like having them this week so I decided to roast a batch to use throughout the week. The first thing is choosing your favorite ingredients and, from there, search for recipes that don't usually fit in your daily diet so you can try something new!
"What do I need to have on my Whole30 plate?"
As anyone who's doing a Whole30 knows there is a meal template that we're supposed to use as a guideline to build each of our 3 daily meals. You are always advised to get in your plate:
When thinking about your weekly meal prep you must consider all these components and make sure to have each of them available for every meal. Being caught red handed without anything prepped may be an easy step to self sabotage and we want to avoid that, at all costs!
I'll give you some examples of the ingredients and meals I prep and then, at the end of the post I'll post up some links to useful posts with "egg-less breakfasts", which I think is a very requested item! I love eggs and I still haven't got tired of them but I usually do eggs 5 days a week, for breakfast, and 2 days off of them. At the end I'll also post my own alternative breakfasts.
There are many different options for protein sources for breakfast. I think the main issue is to stop thinking about "breakfast food". Think of the first meal of the day as exactly that! It's one of the three meals of the day and you can build it with whatever you build the other two. Don't limit yourself to sausage and bacon or you'll be having nightmares about them by week 2! These are some options that you can cook or have at hand - some of them you don't even have to cook.
This was one of my favorite breakfast so far! Grilled chicken breast, sauteed spinach, roasted sweet potatoes and a grilled pear with 1 Tbsp of "Spread the Love" almond butter. Remember when I told you that breakfast is my biggest meal of the day? There you have it! A breakfast like this makes me happy, so happy!
This is extremely important, to get your vegetables going so you don't end up getting shortcuts that wont make you benefit from a full and balanced meal! I always have fresh greens and cooked options so I can make an array of different meals that will keep the excitement for eating good food going!
These are just a few examples of vegetables to roast and use during the week. Choose the ones you and your family like and get creative with fresh herbs and olive/avocado oil. There as so many option: Brussels sprouts, potatoes (white, red, sweet), onion, zucchini, carrots, beets, peppers, kale, cauliflower...just pick some and toss them in a baking sheet to roast! If you feel like it, toss in the protein also, at the same time, and you'll have another meal cooked!
When you make a sheet-pan meal like the one you see above take advantage of the oven and cook extra veggies that will last you another couple of meals! Make the most of everything when planning and prepping!
Cooking fat and plated fat:
Two very important elements of your meal template!
Make sure to have enough of these in each meal in order to make you feel satiated from one meal to the next. I guarantee you that, if you do this right, you won't even remember to snack or "feel the need"to do it. I'm currently on day 21 and I have only felt hungry, after dinner, yesterday and it was for two reasons: I hadn't had enough for dinner because I was having a bit of a hard time having a migraine and didn't get enough food/fat at dinner and I was on my second day of my period which felt me feel hungrier after dinner. I got a small green apple with 1 Tbsp of almond butter and that was it - the only time I needed something and it was because my last meal hand't been built according to the template!
Make sure to always have a good stock of both these fats to guarantee that you stay compliant and that you're getting the right amounts of each in each meal.
Spices play a very bog roll on my Whole30, as well as fresh herbs! They make everything taste better and give you the change to play with different flavors so you don't get bored of eating the same thing allover again! Chang your spice game and start by trying out these Primal Palate spices! I just can't live without them!
It is recommended to eat fruit with moderation, mainly due to its the natural sugar content. I usually eat two pieces of fruit a day, one at breakfast and the other at lunchtime. It's also recommended to eat the rainbow - choose different fruits for different days and to make sure that you're getting a little bit of everything! One thing I usually try to do is, if I have a sweeter fruit at breakfast, like 1/2 mango, I choose a less sweeter fruit, like a green apple for lunch. It's all a matter of balance.
These are the main things I consider essential when I'm doing my meal prep, as I'm doing as I'm writing this blog post. This is the list of everything I'll be prepping between today and tomorrow - there is no school tomorrow so I get an extra day to prepare.
You can check all my meals on my weekly food journal posts but here are some ideas:
I have some very interesting suggestions for egg-less breakfasts, which I think is one of the "most wanted" Whole30 item! I hope that this post helps you to understand the Whole30 meal prep concept and importance. I really think is one of the main factors to get you going along, feeling excited about food and about this journey on which you decided to get into!
1 - Egg-less Whole30 breakfast ideas
Over on the Whole30 website, here, you can find new alternatives that will keep you excited about breakfast and, at the same time, keeping eggs out of the picture! (credit: Whole30 website)
2 - Kale, sausage and Pepper skillet (Primal Gourmet)
This breakfast is super easy and quick to make. Cook it during the Sunday meal prep and reserve in glass containers to use during the week. Just heat it on the microwave and go! Access the recipe,here. (Credit: Primal Gourmet)
3 - Plantain bacon fritters with avocado and poached egg (Paleo Running Momma)
A great suggestion that you can also prep ahead. If you don't have time to poach the egg in the morning just go with a hard boiled egg, I'm sure it'll be awesome too! Also, if you double the recipe you get to freeze extras to have at hand! Great recipe and super yummy looking! (Credit: Paleo Running Momma)
4 - Caramelized pork hash with brussels sprouts and sweet potato (I Heart Umami)
Another great recipe to cook ahead and to give you a fulfilling and tasty breakfast! Check it out here. (Credit: I Heart Umami)
5 - Warm pumpkin breakfast bowl (Jenny on the spot)
This really is a different and satisfying alternative to the meal template that we are used to. I'm trying this one out but I'm having some mini salad on the side so I can keep following the template. I'm all about rules if I see they work for me and the fact is that they have! Access the recipe here. (Credit: Jenny on the Spot)
As I've mentioned before, I haven't felt the need to snack but I've prepared myself for that event! I always keep a stock of Chomps meat sticks, Seasnax roasted seaweed and Wild Zora meat and veggie snacks. Also, almond butter and apples are something I always have and that is a perfect snack option too.
There's my coffee creamer, from Nutpods. I've tried the vanilla flavor and will go through the Original and Hazelnut over the next weeks. I like the flavor but I guess it must feel really soft/bland if you were used to having really sweet beverages or coffee drinks. Just give them a try and see what you think of them!
Any question that you may have, feel free to email me or reach out through my social media channels. I'm always trying to find out what specific information people are looking for so I can do my part and help a little!
Now, I'll get back to my meal prep!
Is there a more fun food holiday tradition than baking cookies with the kids?! I guess not!
My kids love cookies and I usually buy some packages of the "usual suspects", like Oreos, ChipsAhoy and our beloved Maria cookies. Back in Portugal, Maria cookies are always a success and kids are used to eating them since they are toddlers. Although the pre-packages cookies are, indeed, convenient we also like to bake our own cookies once in a while.
Chocolate chip cookies are a must but for the holiday season I think butter cookies are the best! They are crunchy, sweet, flaky and simply delicious! I have to control myself and the kids to not eat a whole batch of butter cookies at once! The recipe I used is the most simple ever and I can't even remember where I got it from...probably just browsing on the internet trying to find something sweet, easy to make and fast to get on the plate!
1 - Preheat the oven to 350 F.
2 - Cream the butter and the sugar on the mixer, until the mixture is pretty fluffy. Add the flour and mix well.
3 - Roll the dough in a log form and wrap it in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for about 15 minutes just for the dough to harden a bit.
4 - Roll the dough on a working surface sprinkled with flour and work the dough, pressing it and rolling it with a rolling pin. Cut the cookies in the preferred shapes - we used Christmas cookie cutters, which the kids absolutely adore!
5 - Bake the cookies for about 10-12 minutes and let them cool on a baking rack so they get crunchy and flaky.
You can also decorate the cookies with icing if you feel like it or if your kids like it but we prefer the cookies plain and golden, just like the ones in the picture. I always try to make sure that we have, at least, two cookies of the same shape so the kids won't get into a fight over the cookies! If you've got kids you know how it goes, right?!
As you can see, this is a pretty easy recipe and I guarantee that you'll get some happy guests if you serve them up some of these cute treats. Who can resist a sweet lovely reindeer, like this one?
I've been trying out some recipes for the holiday season and I'm so excited to be sharing this recipe with you! I love puff pastry because it really is one of the most versatile ingredients you can use - you can use it to make sweet treats, savory appetizers or delicious pot pies, like the ones I did last week. here. For appetizers I've been thinking about these pesto and bacon roll ups that I'll be trying out next week and, if they turn out perfect, I'll be sure to post them on the blog and social channels so you'll be able to try the recipe yourself.
This time I was thinking Brie and nuts and the fact that I had some fig preserve with Earl Grey, from Rare Birds preserves sitting around in my fridge, I decided to incorporate it on the recipe too and it was the perfect addition!
Salty, flaky pastry, nutty and lightly sweet, this was a total success on the appetizer front!
1 - Get the puff pastry on a working surface, like a wooden board and, if necessary, mark the round shape and cut it so that it will be your puff pastry crown base.
At this point it is ideal that you transfer the puff pastry, with some parchment paper on the bottom, to the baking sheet so it doesn't loose its shape, in case you decide to do this step later. I forgot to do this and it was way more complicated afterwards!
2 - Mark the inner circle and the triangles of pastry that you will need to make the crown. If necessary scroll down to the last pictures so you can get the idea of what I'm talking about.
3 - Distribute the fig preserve, evenly, on the borders of the bigger circle.
I'm in LOVE with these preserves! They are certainly unique and they've got a unique texture and smoothness that makes you want to try them all at once. Please, look them up and try them, if you haven't already done it!
4 - Distribute the Brie, cut in small wedges, by the border of the puff pasty, like shown in the picture.
5 - After getting the cheese on board, sprinkle some of the crushed walnuts on top of the cheese and fold the sharp end of each puff pastry triangle and folded it inside in order to create a pocket to keep the cheese inside. Use a bit of water to get the bits of pastry to glue to one another.
6 - Brush the puff pastry with the egg wash and sprinkle some extra walnuts on top and between each segment.
7 - Bake the puff pastry crown at 400 F for about 25 minutes, or until the puff pastry turns golden.
This was so delicious that I wanted to eat almost half of it as son as I took it off the oven! Seriously!!!
I tried one piece and I decided to freeze the rest of it, in two separate foil packs. I was having people over the next week and that would be the perfect appetizer. After serving it I guarantee you that it was an utter success and everyone enjoyed it. I should have made it bigger!
I'll be serving this again and I'll try different combinations of cheese and preserves to get different flavor combos going on! Let me know if you try this in your home!
This cake turned out to be quite an adventure! Do you know when you're trying to get a quick cake baked for a relaxed Saturday afternoon, just staying home and cozy up with the family? Well, that was the goal but it ended up being an "adventure" cake!
I got this recipe a while ago when I was browsing for cake recipes without eggs. This Saturday I ran out of eggs so I immediately referred to the said recipe. It's a quick method and pretty simple one too: get all the ingredients on the blender, give them a blitz and bake the batter in the oven!
I went to get my Nutribullet, which is what I use as a blender, and the poor thing just didn't work! Apparently one of the pieces is broken so I'll have to figure out if I can replace it or not. I was so sad! I use it almost everyday, to make my smoothies, tomato sauce, soups and smoothie bows.
Well, with all the stress of it not working I ended up using my immersion blender to mix the cake batter up...I even forgot about using the Kitchen Aid to do it - talk about loosing your marbles! Anyway, the adventure didn't stop here. Now that I'm writing it down it seems pretty funny, not so much on Saturday afternoon!
I turned the oven on at 200 F and had the cake baking at that temperature for about half an hour until I realized it wasn't rising properly...then, I remembered! I was thinking about Celsius (which we use in Europe) and should have turned it on 400 F! Oh, my! It was such a stressful cake to bake! After getting the oven at the right temperature it sure turned out great and it'll have me checking for the oven temperature twice, from now on!
Now, for the recipe! I used the yogurt cups as the measurement unit for all the ingredients. It makes it even more easy and quick to get this cake going. It's a super simple and delicious cake, topped with date chocolate spread that will have you craving an extra slice at the end of your first one.
Even without the chocolate drizzle it's a perfect tea cake. Simple and moist. However, your sweet tooth will love the delicious spread coating and will be asking for seconds, for sure!
It looks and tastes amazingly and I had almost no effort at all cooking it! It made up for the adventures I stumbled upon to getting it ready!
I've been slacking on my meal prep so I decided to start getting back on track by making some breakfast reinforcements. I usually have toasted bread with butter for breakfast, paired with a good old cup of coffee. That usually gets me through the morning and keeps me "closer to home" - in Portugal bread and butter is practically the staple for any breakfast!
I've been using the Clever Foodies scrambles to help me on my egg based dishes. They're super practical to use and perfect for when you're needing some veggies even though you didn't have time to run to the farmers market!
This recipe is extremely simple and quick to make. All you need is to scramble your eggs with the veggie mix and get the rest of the ingredients on an assembly line - get everything stacked and you're done with 6-8 breakfast sandwiches. It's always possible to double or triple the recipe to adjust it to the amount of sandwiches you need to make! After that you can freeze them or eat them right away, like I did! I had one of these for lunch paired with a soup and I can attest that it was delicious and it will make up for some seriously tasty and quick breakfasts for next week.
1 - Make the scrambled eggs: melt the butter on a pan and then add the beaten eggs. When they're still runny but half way cooked add the ranchero scramble and mix it well with the eggs until everything is cooked through. Add the chopped cilantro at the end to give it a fresh taste.
2 - Let the eggs cool down on a plate so you can assemble the sandwiches without it running from the sides!
3 - Get your assembly line going - open the English muffins and lay them on a flat surface to build your sandwiches. Add a slice of cheese and ham to each muffin half and top it off with some scrambled eggs.
4 - Top it with the muffin top and press gently. Wrap each sandwich in freezer paper and place them on a thigh sealing bag with the date of making on them so you can keep track of your meal prep date.
I'll be getting my meal prep for the week going on around here! I'll be sharing some of my strategies to make week meals simple and stress free on a future post. It really pays off to have some time on Sunday to get everything organized and half way prepared so you can feel comfortable about feeding your family during the week without having a nervous breakdown!
Now, doesn't that look delicious?!
This is the perfect snack for when you're craving something salty and satisfying! Finger food that you eat on the go and that pleases the whole family. My kids love pizza and we usually make our own at home. They like to keep it simple, just plain old cheese pizza and that's a treat already. For this one I stepped up and upgraded a bit on the ingredients!
This time I had a frozen pizza dough that was hanging around in the freezer just waiting for the right recipe to come along. All I had to do was thaw it for a while and pile up the ingredients on top of it. Yes, that simple! After that I made a roll and cut several rounds of pizza bites.
Are you needing something super tasty and quick to cook?
Just head on to the ingredients list and check if you have everything you need in the pantry or fridge. Even if you need to buy something a quick run to the store is worth the while, I promisse!
1 - Brush the pizza dough with the pesto sauce. Be careful not to brush to the edges so it doesn't overflow when you're rolling the pizza before putting it into the oven.
2 - Evenly distribute the sun dried tomatoes and cover with the slices of ham.
3 - Cover with the shredded mozzarella cheese.
4 - Roll the pizza in a thigh roll like you would do for cinnamon rolls, for example. Cut slices of the roll and put them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper so they won't stick. Brush with the melted butter mixed with some garlic powder.
5 - Bake the pizza bites at 400 F for about 20 minutes but keep an eye on them because, as you know, ovens have their own ways and times can be a bit different to each oven.
6 - Remove the pizza bites from the oven and let them cool down for a while. They're really pretty hot on the inside, so be careful! We know kids want to eat as soon as something comes out of the oven but they'll wait for 5 minutes for sure!
I served the bites with a great quality ketchup from Montana Mex. It's all natural, none of the fake stuff and you can really taste it and feel like you're eating a product made from tomatoes that tastes like tomatoes! I'm loving this ketchup and will be buying it whenever I need it. Once you try it you really don't see yourself going over to fake flavors and ingredients. It's worth every cent you pay for it, believe me,
I hope you'll try the recipe out because it's just so easy and tasty that it'll become a staple snack around here! Just look at that melted cheese infused with the pesto flavor...delicious!
I don't know about you but I LOVE nuts! My son does too but, unfortunately, he can't have one of his favorite snacks at school because, usually and by default (!), granola bars contain nuts and at school snack time those are not allowed.
Nowadays with the widespread range of allergies that our kids are exposed to, food can be dangerous and put them at risk. My kids don't have any allergies but we know that a lot of their friends have them and so we also have to be very attentive about the subject.
There are some nut-free alternatives that we can by either at the supermarket or online. One of the latest brands we've come to know at our house was Don't Go Nuts - the brand is a division of Pinto Barn Inc. , a company that was founded by Lily Pinto's parents with the purpose of creating products that will help people healthier whole lives. The company does this by creating delicious nut-free, gluten-free, organic foods for both kids and adults.
Let me tell you a little bit more about the origins of the brand. Lily Pinto is the inspiration for the brand. When she was 3 years old she was diagnosed with severe peanut and tree nut allergies. Being born in an entrepreneurial family, allowed Lily to see her family create this company for children like her and the world around them.
Great solutions for back to school snacking: pair the bars with a yogurt or some fresh fruit and your kids will have a satisfying and nutritious snack to much on!