Happy Tuesday! O the summer, it is finally here! Over 80° yesterday and I think it will be that hot again today! I actually had to get my dad to put my air conditioner back in my window. Good-bye sunlight...But it's warm out so can I complain? I just have a few more weeks of school left and I am jumping out of my skin! My last AP test is today too! This year seems really slow, but really fast. Everything is just crazy! I also have to tell you all to head over to Sara's blog and check out my Blogger on the Run Feature from yesterday! Thanks Sara! 🙂
Before the Gluten-Free Challenge gets underway, I want you to have a solid base to build your meal plan off of. At first you may think that overhauling your whole diet and meal plan will be the greatest headache. But let me assure you that with just a few simple swaps, you can be eating essentially the same exact meals and even your favorite recipes, just with a few different substitutions and modifications! The first gluten-free meal I had was pasta! I remember that day, we went out and bought my first box of gluten-free pasta, the first gluten-free product I ever had. I went for De Boles Rice Penne. I came home and made my dinner of a bowl of penne in chicken broth. A light meal for my still healing digestion. With my first bite I knew that this was going to be doable! I thought the pasta tasted pretty good and pretty similar to normal wheat pasta. Not bad! This would be easy, and I was right. Over time my diet has gone though many more overhauls, but through it all I keep learning so much about cooking, health, and new foods. Switching to a gluten-free diet was one of the best things that happened to me. If I never had, I would never have developed my strong love and appreciation for food and my absolute love for creative and adventurous cooking!
You really want to focus on non-processed whole foods. When you do that, gluten-free eating is so easy! You can have any fruit, vegetable, gluten-free whole grain, bean, nut, meat, dairy, and eggs! As long as it isn't a packaged marinated or processed meat, additive filled yogurt, granola bar that contains barley malt, well, you get the picture. Eating food straight from the Earth is best. You won't have to worry about hidden gluten. This is the diet I always advocate. Real food, clean and simple. Of course even when you eat this way, you need to be vigilant about cross-contamination. When preparing your gluten-free meals, make sure all utensil, pots, pans, and counter tops or clean and free of crumbs and other food remnants! You could prepare the best gluten-free dinner only to end up doubled over in pain because of an unclean counter top. Don't let that happen! This can be the most difficult part about a gluten-free diet and one that leads to the most slip-ups. But with practice and time you will get the hang of it and it will be second nature.
This may seem like the hardest one especially if you are vegan. But have no fear! Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day and I look forward to it every night, haha! The possibilities are endless. Here are some of my go to's:
Pancakes + Fruit + Nuts
Waffles + Fruit + Nuts
Cold Cereal with Almond Milk + Fruit + Nuts
Granola (I like to add a simple cereal to bulk it up too!) + Fruit + Nuts
Quinoa Flakes + Fruit + Nuts
Buckwheat Cereal + Fruit + Nuts
Smoothie + Nuts
I keep my lunches very simple and easy. I rotate between a nut butter sandwich and a hummus tortilla sandwich. Other great options though are to use left over from dinner the night before. Here are some ideas:
Protein Packed Smoothie + Granola or Crackers
Large Salad Bowl (think veggies, beans, gluten-free grains, nuts, etc.)
Bowl of Homemade Soup + Toast/Crackers
I love cooking dinner! This is my time to go all out and create magic in the kitchen! I usually keep things pretty simple during the week, but when the weekend rolls around and I have more time to play around in the kitchen, things get pretty amazing! Here is where you have the easiest time I think. All you need is a protein + grain/starch + veggie to make a perfect healthy gluten-free meal. I'll give you some vegan options and some options that contain a meat source as the main protein:
Essentially I base my dinner around a protein (chicken, fish, beans/lentils) a starch (potatoes, plantains, quinoa, rice, kasha, millet), a fat source (nut butter, coconut butter, avocado, nuts), all rounded out with a huge side of veggies (greens, raw veggies like zucchini, beets, celery, etc).
Smokey Avocado Coated Chicken + Baked Sweet Potato Fries + Salad (greens, veggies, anything you have on hand)
Slow Cooker Salsa Chicken + Baked Plantain Fries + Salad (greens, veggies, anything you have on hand)
Dijon Coated Tilapia + Cheezy Roasted Vegetable Quinoa
Lentil Quinoa Meatball Bolognese and Zucchini Noodles
Sprouted Lentil and Butternut Squash Tortilla Pizza + Side Salad
Vegan Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms + Baked Sweet Potato + Salad (greens, veggies, anything you have on hand)
Grilled BBQ Portobello Mushroom Burgers (on Homemade Buckwheat English Muffin Buns) + "Baked" Beans + Side Salad
Dinner Bowl! (a protein (beans/can of tuna/etc., tons of veggies like greens/zucchini/celery/beets/sprouts/peas/etc., add a grain like quinoa or kasha or go with cut up baked potato. Then add toppings like salsa, avocado, nuts, vinegars, mustard, nutritional yeast, etc.) A Crunchy Cinnamon Tortilla is also a good side option!
I usually workout later in the day, so I don't typically pre-fuel. But some good options would be:
Fruit and Nuts
A piece of Gluten-Free Toast and some Nut Butter
Options for post-workout:
Apple and Nut Butter
Granola and Almond Milk
I snack on real food, not processed foods. They better fuel me and give me nutrients, not just empty calories. Here are some of my favorites:
Raw Unsalted Nuts (Cashews, Pecans, Almonds, Pistachios)
Veggies (Celery, Cucumber, Carrots, Snow Peas) + Hummus
Carrots + Nut Butter
Apple + Nut Butter
Glass of "Protein Milk" (Almond Milk + Plant Fusion)
Of course, you can never go wrong with just some simple crackers!
I am not a big sweets person, but some good healthy options are pretty easy to whip together:
Soft Spiced Cocoa Pumpkin Cookies
Wink Frozen Dessert
So that is a look at the types of things a gluten-free eater eats! Check out my Recipe Page for even more delicious and healthy eats! And for a list of product/brand recommendation check out this page! See, it is not so hard to eat gluten-free. These meals are all quick and easy to whip up. Plus, it isn't like they taste "special", meaning everyone in the family will enjoy them with no problems or disappointments!
So tell me:
+ If you have dietary restrictions, do you cook a separate meal for yourself? Since I basically live alone, I only have to make dinner for myself. But if you are cooking for your family, and your making say a pasta dish, either make it all with GF pasta, or make a small side of GF pasta for yourself! It will only take an extra pot 😉
+ Do you meal plan? I do not write out a full meal plan. I go to the grocery every Saturday and pick up my things for the week. I always just make sure I have my essentials, tons of produce, chicken and fish (I may already have this frozen at home though). I do have a general idea of what I will be making and if I have time to try out a new recipe that week.
Remember to sign up for the Gluten-Free Challenge starting next week! Just leave me a comment on this post or shoot me an email at strengthandsusnhine (at) gmail (dot) com!
*Recipe linking up for the week! Allergy Free Wednesdays, #RecipeFridays, #RecipeOfTheWeek, #StrangeButGood, Gluten-Free Wednesdays, Healthy Vegan Fridays, Real Food Friday, Gluten-Free Fridays, Tasty Tuesdays, Whole Food Fridays, #Foodie Friday, Real Food Recipe Roundup!*
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