“If you really want to make a friend, go to someone’s house and eat with them…the people who give you their food give you their heart.”
~ Cesar Chavez
Best of Phoenix Helix
I have been writing this blog 8+ years, and there are now over 700 posts including articles, podcasts, and recipes. I know that’s a high number for people to read. So, this summer, I’m featuring some of the best articles you might have missed. People often ask me what my diet looks like day-to-day. This post is the answer!
Let’s start with the first meal of the day. Ten years ago, if you told me I would love having soup for breakfast, I would have said you were crazy. (However, back then I thought a granola bar and a Diet Coke were a great way to start the day, so times do change!) I created this breakfast soup when I first went AIP and learned that most traditional breakfast foods were off the table, including all grains, eggs, and dairy. I did a little research and discovered that soup is actually traditional for millions of people around the world. And how smart they are! It is far more nurturing, nourishing, healing, and satiating than any typical breakfast in the United States. I also love that this recipe makes a big batch: 10-12 hearty servings. I put 3 in the fridge and freeze the rest in freezer-safe bowls. That makes my daily breakfast quick and easy – simply reheat and serve. I’ve long since reintroduced many foods back into my diet, including eggs, but this remains my favorite way to start the day.
2. Big@ss Salad
This isn’t so much a recipe as a template. Mark Sisson made the name famous, but many of us enjoy a seriously big salad for lunch, getting in lots of nutritious veggies alongside healthy fats and protein. We make this easy in our home by chopping all the vegetables on grocery shopping day. We store them in Fridgesmart containers that are designed to keep produce fresh an extra long time. Then for lunch throughout the week, it’s just a matter of assembly. The salads will change according to the season, and remember that every plant offers its own unique blend of nutrients. So, add as much variety as you can! I always start with a bed of mixed greens from the farmers market which has anywhere from 6-12 different kinds. When it comes to the veggies, here are some of my favorites: radishes, salad turnips, cucumbers, cucamelons, shredded cabbage, rainbow carrots, celery, jicama, summer squash, small broccoli/cauliflower florets, asparagus tips, sunflower sprouts, pickled onions, pickled beets, leftover roasted butternut squash, and avocado. I also love to add one fruit to my salad, depending on what’s in season, like blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, nectarines, peaches, kiwi, tangerine, grapefruit, apples, or pears. If you’ve reintroduced nuts or seeds, they can be a great addition, too! For protein, I usually keep it simple and add some canned salmon or low-mercury tuna to get my omega 3’s. You can also add any leftover cooked meat. As a finishing touch, I sprinkle some fresh or dried herbs on top. For the salad dressing, I keep it pretty simple: 2 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil and 1 tablespoon vinegar drizzled on top of the salad. For a long time, I used plain EVOO and apple cider vinegar. Lately, I’ve been loving this orange-infused olive oil with balsamic vinegar. If you want something a little fancier, KC Natural sells 2 AIP-friendly dressings. And there are also lots of great salad dressing recipes online.
After making 24-hour bone broth on the stove for years, it was a game changer to suddenly be able to make it in just 2-1/2 hours. I fell in love with my Instant Pot in that moment. In fact, it inspired me to create The Paleo AIP Instant Pot Cookbook. Now, I use the Instant Pot for more than just broth, but since broth is healing food at its finest, it remains my most frequent use.
Before going paleo, I didn’t like kale at all. Genetically, I’m what they call a supertaster. While that sounds fun, it just means that bitter flavors are stronger on my tongue. For that reason, foods like kale, collards, and cabbage took time for me to love. Part of that process was finding recipes that cut that bitter flavor. This is one such recipe, and I make it at least once a week. I’m not exaggerating when I say that kale is now one of my favorite foods. My body craves it, and this recipe is quick!
Fermented foods were another learn-to-love category for me. I used to think taste preferences were permanent, but I’m living proof that they can change. Now, I enjoy a small glass of kombucha every night with dinner, so there’s always a fresh batch brewing in my kitchen. Some of my favorite flavor infusions are lemon-lavender, raspberry-ginger, and orange-turmeric.
Since most store-bought sausage contains spices not allowed on the AIP, I quickly started experimenting in the kitchen. Honestly? My first experiments fell flat. A lot of homemade sausage is really dry. It turns out there’s a secret that sausage experts know: pork absorbs water. So, for a juicy sausage patty, you need to add a little water to the meat along with the herbs. I titled this recipe “breakfast sausage“, but I love it any time of day. P.S. My husband is from Wisconsin where there’s a large German-American population. What does that mean? He’s a sausage snob! And he loves this recipe.
As I compile this list, I’m sensing a theme. A lot of foods I didn’t like at all before going paleo are now some of my favorite foods. Fish falls into that category. If my husband wanted to eat salmon, I seriously made him cook it on the grill and eat it outside. I didn’t just hate the taste, I hated the smell! But after developing rheumatoid arthritis, I learned the importance of anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids, and seafood is the richest source. So, I began my seafood journey with milder white fish. When I got used to that flavor, I tackled salmon. It took time, but I came to love it. Apparently, it takes multiple exposures to a food you don’t like to start to develop a preference for it. Most of us don’t give it that chance. I now have many salmon recipes on my blog, but this is the one I make most frequently. Why? Because it’s a one-pan meal (less dishes), takes only 30 minutes to make (including prep. time), and features zucchini noodles (so much tastier than pasta!)
Here’s a quick question to see how closely you’ve been reading this article: Do you think I’m someone who naturally loved organ meat and ate it regularly before going paleo? Not at all! But autoimmune disease is a powerful motivator for change, and organ meats are 10-100 times more nutritious than the muscle meats we usually eat. When everyone from Chris Kresser to Dr. Terry Wahls to Dr. Sarah Ballantyne recommended them, I got on board. I’ve eaten quite a variety by now, but this recipe is my favorite. It’s fast, nutrient-dense, and delicious!
Another theme of this article is fast and flavorful, and this recipe fits that category. Cauliflower rice is a paleo staple for a reason. If you’re craving grains, this is a nutrient-dense substitute. I came up with four ways to make it, and Moroccan Spice is the style I choose most often.
The Paleo AIP elimination phase isn’t meant to last forever. Reintroductions are part of the process, and I’m happy to announce that chocolate was one of the foods I was able to successfully add back into my diet. For a long time, I avoided store-bought chocolate, because it’s easier to control the ingredients at home. Now, when I’m traveling I’ll occasionally indulge in a paleo-friendly, store-bought treat, but my homemade recipe remains my favorite. You can make this recipe plain, but if you like to play around with flavors, lavender-infused is my personal favorite.
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