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“You don't have to cook fancy or complicated masterpieces,
just good food from fresh ingredients.”
~ Julia Child
When you first start researching healing diets, you may find yourself thinking, “What on earth do I eat, if I can't have grains or packaged foods?” Here are some menu ideas and recipe links, to get you started. They're just examples, and with time you'll find your own favorites.
With these menus, I've tried to capture the unique spirit of each of the diets, but there is a lot of overlap, so many of the meals and snacks are interchangeable between them. On the Paleo menu, I showed how creative this community has been in coming up with paleo-friendly versions of traditional favorites. On the GAPS and Paleo Autoimmune menus, I stressed their emphasis on healing foods, such as bone broth, organ meats and fermented vegetables. On the Wahls menu, I showed how to achieve her recommended 9 cups of vegetables daily, for the micronutrients they contain. If any of these meal plans seem intimidating, take a deep breath, go to my Getting Started page, and just take it one step at a time.
- Breakfast A: Fritatta made with sweet potatoes, sausage and caramelized onions.
- Breakfast B: Grain-free waffles with strawberries and coconut whipped cream.
- Lunch A: Kale cobb salad, with chicken, hardboiled eggs, bacon, scallions, cucumber and a mustard vinaigrette.
- Lunch B: Flavor burgers, and honey mustard broccoli salad.
- Dinner A: Carrot ginger halibut soup, sautéed kale with cranberries, and homemade chocolates for dessert.
- Dinner B: Curried chicken and “rice” stew, and a glass of flavored kombucha.
- Snacks: Fruit in moderation, paleo trail mix (nuts, seeds, dried fruit and coconut flakes), beef jerky, kale chips, pork rinds and paleo desserts (as a special treat once or twice per week).
- Recipes: In addition to my blog, these websites also have Paleo-friendly recipes: Against All Grain, Nom Nom Paleo, and Mel Joulwan. If you'd prefer a cookbook, Amazon has lots to choose from. Here are three favorites: Practical Paleo, Well Fed 2 and The Paleo Kitchen.
- Breakfast A: Chicken soup made with bone broth, organic chicken, ginger, carrots and peas. Some fermented veggies on the side.
- Breakfast B: Perfect breakfast sausage with a side of shredded kale & butternut squash hashbrowns, fried in coconut oil.
- Lunch A: A large salad with mixed greens, sliced vegetables, high-omega tuna, extra virgin olive oil and apple cider vinegar.
- Lunch B: Chicken liver fried “rice” with a bowl of fresh berries and coconut whipped cream (as a reward for eating that liver!)
- Dinner A: Beef stew and garlic-roasted broccoli, and one of these cookies for dessert.
- Dinner B: Grilled salmon with strawberry ginger salsa and Melted zucchini and onions.
- Snacks: Avocados, sardines, raw vegetables, cooked chicken, and fruit in moderation.
- Recipes: I host an AIP Recipe Roundtable on my blog every week. For meal planning, check out this article. If you'd like a cookbook, here's a cookbook roundup with descriptions of all of the AIP cookbooks now available.
- Breakfast A: Smoothie: made with homemade kefir, organic berries, 1 raw egg yolk, 1/2 Tbsp. unrefined coconut oil, 1 Tbsp. ground flax and 1 cup of fresh-pressed juice.
- Breakfast B: Bacon (no additives and sugarfree), 2 pasture-raised eggs fried in bacon fat, a cup of fresh-pressed juice, and a side of fermented vegetables.
- Lunch A: Warm chard salad, topped with chicken, bacon, pecans and dried cranberries.
- Lunch B: Harvest stew (with grassfed bison, spinach, butternut squash and tomato), and an almond flour honey muffin (slathered with plenty of butter or coconut oil).
- Dinner A: Simple tender pot roast with holy grail gravy, mashed cauliflower, sauerkraut and homemade juice jello.
- Dinner B: Roast whole chicken (pasture-raised), its organ meats sautéed in ghee, vegetables cooked in spiced coconut milk, a large cup of bone broth and apple cinnamon gummy candies. (Save the chicken bones to make bone broth later.)
- Snacks: Fruit in moderation, organic nuts (soaked and dehydrated), avocados, hardboiled eggs, and grain-free baked goods (as a special treat once or twice per week).
- Recipes: In addition to my blog, Healing Family Eats also has GAPS-friendly recipes. And Health Home and Happiness has a GAPS Starter Package, which includes 4 months of meal plans and video lessons.
The Intro Diet has 7 stages. Whatever is allowed in the early stages is automatically allowed in the later stages. Here are typical daily foods for each stage:
- Stage 1: This stage is all about the soup. The goal is nutrition and easy absorption of homemade broth throughout the day, with no fiber to irritate the gut lining. At this stage, there are no specific breakfast, lunch and dinner foods. Many people have soup every hour or two. Meat and non-fibrous vegetables are added to the stock and cooked until very soft. Just before serving, 1-2 teaspoons of raw sauerkraut juice is added, to introduce the body to probiotics. Also, 1-2 teaspoons of chopped garlic is added, for its health benefits. Ginger honey tea is recommended between meals.
- Stage 2: In this stage, egg yolks, ghee and casseroles are introduced. Soups are still part of the menu, with a raw egg yolk stirred in just before serving. Well cooked vegetables can now be seasoned with ghee and sea salt. One casserole example would be butternut squash and beef. Sauerkraut juice is increased to a few tablespoons at each meal. Ginger honey tea continues to be recommended between meals.
- Stage 3: At this stage, avocado, whole eggs and a special recipe for pancakes is introduced (the pancakes are made from nut butter, squash and eggs). A little avocado gets added to the soups (along with the egg yolk and garlic introduced in prior stages). Whole eggs are now scrambled with ghee. Casseroles continue. Sauerkraut juice is replaced with 1-2 tablespoons of fermented vegetables (which are higher in probiotics). Ginger honey tea continues to be recommended between meals.
- Stage 4: At this stage, roasted meat and vegetables are introduced, along with olive oil, fresh pressed juices, and homemade almond-flour bread. Sample meals: butternut squash pancakes, eggs scrambled with well cooked vegetables and ghee, chicken soup, egg drop soup, pot roast, lamp chops, roasted vegetables tossed with herbs and olive oil, almond flour bread (slathered with ghee or butter). For the juice, start with just a few tablespoons and slowly increase to a cup per day; also, juice vegetables only to start, adding fruit juice in later stages. Broth is recommended with every meal (with raw egg yolk, garlic and avocado stirred in at the end). Continue with the fermented vegetables and ginger honey tea.
- Stage 5: At this stage, raw vegetables, homemade applesauce, and fruit juice is introduced. Otherwise, the menu is very similar to stage 4. For the raw vegetables, begin with lettuce and peeled cucumber (the easiest to digest). If those are tolerated well, than add in other raw vegetables, having a salad daily with olive oil dressing. For the juice, slowly increase to 2 cups daily of 50% vegetable and 50% fruit juice. One recommended combination is carrot, ginger, celery, beet and apple. Continue with the broth and fermented vegetables at every meal, and ginger honey tea between meals.
- Stage 6: This is the last stage before moving onto the full GAPS diet. In this stage, you introduce raw fruit and baked goods (made with grain-free flour and sweetened with dried fruits). Otherwise, the food recommendations are the same as stage 6.
- Stage 7: Move onto the full GAPS diet. 85% of your daily food should be meats, fish, eggs, healthy fats, and vegetables (some well-cooked, some fermented and some raw). Continue with 1 cup of bone broth and 1 cup of fresh-pressed juice daily. Fruit and baked goods should be eaten between meals and eaten in moderation.
- Recipes: Health Home & Happiness has a GAPS Starter Package, which includes meal plans and tutorials for both the GAPS Introduction diet and the GAPS Full Diet.
Level 1 – Wahls Diet
This is the entry-level program for those transitioning from a typical American diet. The restrictions are no gluten, no eggs, no dairy (with the exception of ghee), no refined oils, limited sugar and no processed foods. The focus is nutrient density: she asks you to ramp up to 9 cups of vegetables daily (3 cups greens, 3 cups sulfur-rich, and 3 cups colorful). She also asks that you source organic, grass-fed and wild-caught foods, as much as your budget allows.
- Breakfast: Cinnamon-raisin oatmeal, with fresh-blended juice (1 cup greens, 1 cup chopped beets and carrots, 1 cup berries, and just enough unsweetened fruit juice to blend.)
- Lunch: Large salad with 2 cups of greens (a mixture of lettuce and power greens such as baby kale, chard, spinach, arugula) and 1 cup sulfur-rich vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, onion, cabbage). Add your choice of protein on the top (meat, fish, tofu), with an olive oil vinaigrette dressing.
- Dinner: Gluten-free lasagna, with a side of 2 cups brussel sprouts sautéed with garlic and bacon.
- Snack: 1 cup of berries with coconut cream
Level 2 – Wahls Paleo
You start with the details of the Wahls Diet listed above and add the following elements: (1) Reduce consumption of non-gluten grains, white potatoes, and legumes to only twice per week and remove soy altogether (with the exception of fermented soy). (2) Increase meat consumption to a minimum of 9 ounces daily. (3) Increase your healing foods to include organ meats, seaweed, fermented foods, soaked nuts/seeds, and more raw foods.
- Breakfast: Smoothie made with coconut milk, 1 cup greens, 1 cup peaches, 1 Brazil nut, and just enough unsweetened juice to blend.
- Lunch: Nori rolls, made with seaweed, salmon and cauliflower “rice” and dipped in tamari (gluten-free) soy sauce.
- Dinner: Steak salad (on a bed of 2 cups arugula), and a bowl of broccoli soup.
- Snack: Paleo cherry cobbler: cherries baked with a little raw honey & toasted nuts.
Level 3 – Wahls Paleo Plus
This level is a ketogenic diet (high fat, low-carb and moderate protein), but unlike conventional ketogenic diets, it is specifically designed to include 6 cups of vegetables daily for nutrient density, while still maintaining ketosis through the chemistry of eating 5 tablespoons of coconut oil per day. It’s also stricter than the prior Wahls levels. It requires 100% compliance, eliminating all grains, legumes, soy and white potatoes, and limiting starchy vegetables to two servings per week and fruit to 1 cup of berries daily. Protein is reduced according to size and gender, with the emphasis of shifting the body to burning fat for energy. This diet requires careful focus and monitoring to be done correctly (and the book tells you how), but Terry doesn’t recommend people start with Wahls Paleo Plus. She herself slowly transitioned through all phases of her protocol, and that’s what she recommends for others as well.
- Breakfast: Simple marinated chicken hearts on a bed of cauliflower “rice”, and a cup of bone broth, with coconut oil added to all parts of the meal.
- Dinner: Sauerkraut, easy crispy duck breast, a massaged kale salad (topped with strawberries, sunflower seeds, kelp, avocado, and a lemon/olive oil vinaigrette. A warm cup of coconut milk seasoned with turmeric and cinnamon.
Now that you have the big picture, look forward to future food posts that will focus on the details: profiles of healing foods, exposés on fake foods, recipes, as well as posts that cover topics beyond food: such as meditation, detoxification, and simply enjoying life. Stay tuned!