Five Things You Can Do This Weekend to Make Easy Paleo Meals All Week
By Riki Shore of Three Squares
Eating healthy Paleo meals takes some planning and preparation, but the rewards, as most of you already know, are huge. You’ll feel leaner, enjoy smoother digestion, increase your performance at the gym, and have extra energy to spend on all the things that bring meaning to your life.
Here are five things you can do this Sunday afternoon that will give you a great foundation on which to build Paleo meals all week.
ROAST A CHICKEN
Buying a whole chicken and roasting it at home saves you money at the butcher counter and provides protein for several meals. Ask your butcher to cut the chicken into six pieces. Follow these steps to roast the bird:
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Place the chicken on a stainless steel baking sheet. Rub each chicken piece all over with olive oil, then sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper. These ingredients bring flavor to the cooked bird, so be generous with them.
- Bake the chicken for 30 – 35 minutes, until the internal temperature is 160 degrees in the breasts and 175 degrees in the thighs. Don’t have a thermometer? I recommend buying a digital one, but for now, the chicken is done when the juices run clear when you pierce the meat with a sharp knife.
Once the chicken is done, eat some of it right away with a sauce of your choice. Good options are aioli, guacamole, salsa, or even fresh chopped herbs with a drizzle of olive oil.
I like to use the leftovers to build up a lunch salad, make a classic chicken salad, or chop very fine and mix with braised swiss chard. To make these preparations easier, after you’ve had your roast chicken dinner, peel away the skin from the remaining chicken and “pick” the meat – using your fingers, break the meat into bite-sized pieces. Store in a covered container in the fridge for easy use on a weeknight.
MAKE HOMEMADE SALAD DRESSING
Making your own salad dressing is a no brainer. It allows you to control how much and what kind of oil goes onto your salads, and you can choose what flavor you’re in the mood for each week. You can even go creamy one week, then oil and vinegar-based the next.
If you’ve never made your own salad dressing before, start with a simple vinaigrette. Put a tablespoon of Dijon mustard in a small bowl, along with 3 tablespoons of red wine vinegar, a pinch of salt and a shake of pepper. Whisk everything well, then drizzle in 4 tablespoons of olive oil. Whisk until well combined, then taste and add more vinegar or oil as needed to suit your taste. Store in a glass jar in the fridge for 5 – 7 days.
KNOCK OUT A BATCH (OR TWO) OF PICKLES
One of the keys to maximizing the nutritional benefits of the Paleo diet is to eat plenty of vegetables, in all their incarnations. Having homemade pickles on-hand means you have an easy snack, a terrific lunchbox addition, and a flavor booster for prepared salads and meats. Pickles couldn’t be quicker or cheaper to make at home. This recipe shows how to pickle both cucumbers and carrots. Delicious.
PREP VEGGIES FOR EASY SNACKS
Another way to ensure you’re getting enough vegetables is to have plenty of raw veggies on hand for easy snacking. Below is a list of my current no-cook favorites. My daughter is served one of these at every lunch and dinner, and I munch on them throughout the day.
- Wash and trim sugar snap peas, removing the “thread” that runs along the top of some pods. Wrap in a paper towel to absorb any excess moisture and store in an open plastic bag in the veggie bin. Before eating, toss with 1 teaspoon of sesame oil and a sprinkle of sesame seeds.
- Cut a cucumber into 3-inch sections. Cut each section in half lengthwise, then cut each half into 2 or 3 wedges. Sprinkle each wedge with Kosher or sea salt. Let sit a few minutes, then enjoy.
- Peel and slice jicama into matchsticks. Squeeze with fresh lime juice and store lightly covered in the fridge.
- Chop romaine lettuce into large bite-size pieces, then wash in a salad spinner. Store in the fridge in the salad dressing for easy salads.
- Wash celery and trim the ends. Cut each stalk in half crosswise, and, using a paring knife, remove the strings from the outside of the stalk.
BAKE A BATCH OF NO SUGAR TREATS FOR LUNCHBOXES
We all have busy lives and sometimes you need a fast, healthful treat. Maybe your kids want a cookie or high-protein muffin in their lunchboxes, or maybe you’re running from the gym to your next work appointment and need to eat something on the go. These treats are no- or low-sugar; they use high-protein flours; and they taste great. One for one, they are healthier and more affordable than prepared gluten-free cookies or protein bars.
Cooking is like exercise – the more you do it, the easier it becomes. Do you want to become an awesome home cook who prepares knockout meals for your family and friends? Or maybe you just want to bump up the flavor and nutrition at your family table? You need only to start cooking. Once you start, keep it up and watch your meals soar.
Want more cooking and meal planning ideas?
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