Wine…

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That’s right, you can still enjoy a glass of wine while following a real food diet. The key is to look for a certified organic wine, rather than one just made with organic grapes. A slight distinction, but the latter can still contain sulfites.

The problem with sulfites is that it is a preservative that can cause allergic reactions and they are a micronutrient depleter. What that means in layman’s terms is that in order to digest the sulfites, some of the nutrients you just worked so hard to get in by eating your vegetables, will be used up. The same thing happens when you eat beans, by the way.

So, head to your local grocery store to see what they have to offer. Luckily, many varieties cost the same as non-organic wines. Our favorites are $11.99 and under and have even been caught on sale at Sprouts!

We prefer reds most of the time, though whites have their place. Our three favorite reds are :

Stellar Organics Pinotage
Frey vineyards: Agriculturalist, Green Truck reds
Pacific Rim Riesling

Be sure to avoid California wines as they are heavily sprayed with pesticides. French and Italian wines are often organic, but not certified. We also love to pair our glass with a square of Green and Black’s organic 85% dark chocolate. Pure indulgence with none of the guilt!! Cheers!

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How to eat clean on a budget

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One of the biggest barriers to eating clean is the idea of cost. One looks at what they are currently purchasing (box of Mac and cheese for $1 versus organic Applegate salami for $3.97). Depending on what you are comparing, it can appear like an extreme difference and well beyond what most people can spend. See below for some of the ways we cut costs while eating clean.

Seasons: produce is cheapest when it is in season. This was a hard one for me to overcome because I ate berries everyday before. I thought I would have to hibernate when they were unavailable in the winter. Now I am learning that the body needs the nutrients found in winter veggies in winter and summer fruits in summer. It is much cheaper to eat these foods in season and ensures you have variety throughout the whole year.

Sales: Sprouts has ground grass-fed beef on sale about every other month. When I see the ad, I run to the store and purchase several pounds each individually wrapped and freeze until I am ready to cook. I have also found my best priced olive oil there.

Bulk: WF has butcher bundles, farms offer half a cow or similar such quantities, Costco has vats of coconut oil and organic butternut squash now, even organic wine is discounted in bulk. There is not much in terms of fresh items that can be purchased in bulk, so take advantage where you can!!

Cuts of meat: we have learned about the joys of flat steaks! We can get 8 steaks for $10 at our local grocery store, which even allows for leftovers! Pair with a $2.99 head of cauliflower for roasting and you have dinner for 4 for under $15. Compared with Hamburger Helper, it may seem more expensive, but it is so much better for you!!! Tonight we cooked a $20 pork butt, but will have enough leftovers to feed at least 3 of us tomorrow!

Small simple steps can make the transition to purchasing quality ingredients a little less painful on the wallet. Keep your eyes on the prize and prioritize!!!

Unexpected perks of eating real food

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Do you think eating real food is only about losing weight or changing the world?

The key is to shift your mindset. How do the cheap dinners make you feel? Stuffed, sleepy, lethargic, only to be starving 2 hours later? Imagine not being starving, feeling full of energy, clear-headed and eager to tackle what life throws at you. It may sound like I’m exaggerating, but try it for yourself. A simple salad full of veggies with a hard boiled egg and cheese fills me up just enough that I can keep chugging through my day without feeling sluggish.

My salad from the salad bar at Whole Foods costs $2.50 on average. I add a 50 cent egg and about $1 of cheese. My complete lunch costs $4.50 if you overestimate the cost of olive oil and red wine vinegar I use as dressing. Going out to eat is usually $10 and leaves you cloudy for the rest of the day.

So, yes, we spend $6.49 for a dozen eggs from WF ($5 if we make it to the farmers market). We also spend $7.50 per block of cheese from farmers market and purchase 6 at a time. Astounding, right? Add in our $8 gallons of milk that we drink two of in a week. BUT, we eat every breakfast at home and almost every lunch and dinner.

While these may seem high, my kids are rarely sick and I drink far less coffee than I would otherwise, saving tons. We spend more for quality rather than quantity of food.

In 1950, we spent 20% of our income on food and 5% on healthcare. Today it is the opposite. Would you rather spend your hard earned money on tasty food or medicine for your family? Which leaves you feeling great, have clear skin, gives you lots of energy and reduces the amount of injuries you may experience?

Food for thought…

Meatza meal!

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One of my fave staples pre-primal eating was pizza. Letting it go was a bit painful until I received my Well Fed cookbook for my birthday and found Meatza. There are several variations offered, but last night’s was my best yet.

1# grass-fed ground beef
1/2 T turmeric
1 T Italian seasoning

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Mix those together and form into patties on a foil lined cookie sheet. I did attempt to not touch the meat, so made patties with a spatula. Pretty obvious by their so-not roundness. Whatever, it’s not like I’m taking a picture of it ;-).

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Place in a 400 degree oven for 15 mins. Meanwhile, sauté your favorite or available vegetables. Today I had leftover pepper slices. Throw some grass-fed butter in a skillet, add the peppers and toss to cover with the melted butter. I then add some salt and pepper and turn down the heat a bit.

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After all of that, top the meatzas with your choice of marinara sauce. My friend Jen would go off that I was using something from a jar, but oh well. After the sauce, top with your veg and throw in the oven until heated through. Voila!

I also had a head of cauliflower that needed eating, so I rough chopped it up and placed on a foil-lined cookie sheet with olive oil, salt and pepper drizzles over top. I threw on the top rack of the oven while the meatzas cooked and kept in for 25 mins or so.

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That was a successful weeknight meal!

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Beef Jerky

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I always saw those packs of beef jerky in convenience stores and was completely turned off. That seemed so far from actual food. That is until we became primal/real food eaters. In an attempt to find different lunch ideas for my kids lunches, I came across a picture of grass-fed homemade beef jerky. I thought I’d give it a go for the other members of my family.

First things first, the butchers at Whole Foods are ridiculously knowledgeable and helpful. I told them what I was trying to do and they gave me the option of London broil or flank steak. They then cut it in 1/8 in strips for me. I came home Saturday and began creating my marinade, it is tasty!! Here is the recipe:

2# grass-fed London broil
1/2 c coconut aminos (substitute for both soy sauce and Worchestire sauce)
1 tbsp liquid smoke (optional, I happened to be out this round)
2 tbsp chili powder
1 tbsp cumin
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 tsp Celtic sea salt
1 tsp ground pepper

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I mix all of the marinade ingredients in a large zip top plastic bag and squish it to mix. Then add the strips of meat and lay flat in the fridge for 36-72 hrs (that’s right, time got away from me this time. Whoops!)

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Then foil line 2 cookie sheets and top with a wire rack. Lay out your meat strips so no pieces touch. Heat your oven to 170 F or it’s lowest temp and prop oven open with a wooden spoon. Cook for 4-6 hours, flipping halfway through.

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Put in a container and refrigerate for up to 2 weeks. Enjoy!!!

This week’s meal plan

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Last week was crazy out of sorts with a last minute trip with the kiddos to New York, so our meal plan went out the window. Luckily, all of the meat we purchased was freeze-worthy. So, this week’s meal plan was slight easier as I had a framework already in mind.

Sunday: crockpot pork tenderloin with sage and garlic rub with a balsamic maple glaze and parmesan roasted green beans. Love being able to spend 10 minutes prepping a meal and get to play outside/get housework done while it cooks.

Monday: I will be attempting my first whole chicken and am cooking it in a crock pot. Love coming home from work with the only decision being which fork do I use? I found organic cauliflower on sale and have baby carrots on hand. One of those will be turned into a side, depending on my mood.

Tuesday: Home basketball game, food there.

Wednesday: Meatza! One gem of a recipe from my Well Fed cookbook. Instead of dough, the base of your pizza is ground beef. Lucky for me, the meat patties can be cooked in advance. You just add some marinara sauce and veggies of your choice and bake. Voila!!

Thursday: pesto eggs with bacon and mozzarella. We eat A LOT of eggs, the homemade pesto just gives it a fresh new look (fresh, get it?!). Breakfast for dinner always a hit.

Friday: Applegate the great organic hot dogs (hubby out of town, I’m off the hook!).

Saturday starts the meal planning process all over again. What are you all having for dinner this week??

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Eating away from home

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The hardest part for me of eating different than the ‘norm’ is traveling with others. This week, the kids and I have been on the road visiting family with very little say in where or what we ate. This can easily be a stumbling block for those trying to eat healthy, as it is really tempting to just give in to what you have available. Knowing I was coming into this situation, I packed a few Epic bars, apples, Artisana coconut, almond and walnut butter packets, my ‘cereal’, Fiji water, raisins and dark chocolate.

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These simple staples provided breakfast for 3 mornings (nut or coconut butter on an apple or ‘cereal’ dry in a bowl). We certainly did not eat perfectly, but we worked with what we had and utilized our snack bag as the first option before resorting to something else.

The key to maintaining this way of eating as a lifestyle and not just a quick method to lose weight is thinking ahead, taking control of what you can and not beating yourself up when you cannot be perfect. I will say that I so look forward to the crockpot pork tenderloin and brussel sprouts I have planned for tomorrow and will be sharing on here soon!! Happy eating!