Category Archives: aip

Meal Prep 101: A Beginners Guide to Meal Prep

What is meal prepping? How does one start? Let’s begin with the basics. This meal prep guide for beginners will help you get a handle on how to begin, how to choose your meals, how to make a meal prep grocery list and much more.

Why Meal Prep?

Be prepared. It’s a slogan that’s stood the test of time because the relationship between looking ahead and successfully meeting one’s goals is undeniable. When it comes to what you eat and how you eat, preparedness matters if you want to reach your health and fitness goals. And, meal prepping helps you do just that!

What is Meal Prep? 

Amy Shapiro, M.S., R.D., C.D.N. of realnutritionnyc defines meal prepping as preparing, cooking, or packaging food for three to four days in advance so you know exactly what and how much you are eating.

Having a healthy meal ready to enjoy can help you say no to unhealthy food choices. Tempted to go through the drive-thru on the way home to save time? No point when you’ve already got a delicious meal at home waiting for you! Taco truck pull up in front of the office again? No sweat — you’ve already packed a hearty lunch you’re looking forward to. Someone brought donuts to the office? Solve your snack craving with these meal prep snack ideas.

Research published in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine saw a link between the amount of participants spent on home food preparation and the quality of their diet. What’s more, meal prepping can be a great time-saver. “I think of meal prepping as a way to put lunch, breakfast, or even dinner on autopilot for the week,” says Atlanta-based dietitian nutritionist Marisa Moore M.B.A., R.D.N., L.D. “You do all of the major chopping, cooking and cleaning on one day!”

How to Start Meal Prepping

Start Small
If you not calculating calories yet, but just want to make more healthy food choices, start small by meal prepping a few of those!  Planning ahead and prepping your meals can be a great way to make more healthy choices and avoid temptation! If you’re not used to cooking, you might want to begin with just prepping one or two days at a time. “I recommend starting small with meal prep for a couple reasons,” says Moore. “It can take a couple hours to get through the chopping, cooking and cleaning [for a week’s worth of meals]. If you try to do too much too soon, you may be overwhelmed and not want to do it again.” Moore adds that starting small will allow you test one or two recipes to see how you like them and just how much you eat. “You wouldn’t want to make too much food and end up wasting it.”

Stock Up on Meal Prep Essentials
Before we talk about a grocery list, you may need to dust off some other items to set yourself up for meal prep success. Here are some items you might find helpful to pick up if you don’t have them already:

Pick a Day to Meal Prep
Moore recommends starting on a Sunday or Monday. Sundays often work well since most people have a little extra time. She adds that people also tend to be more motivated to engage in healthy behaviors at the beginning of the week. “Meal prep is a great way to carry that enthusiasm throughout the week with just a little effort upfront,” she says.

Come up with Easy Meals to Prep
Planning your meals for the week doesn’t have to be complicated. At first it might seem a little daunting, but it’s surprising how many different meals you can make with just a limited number of ingredients. Beachbody offers dozens of free meal preps that have already done all the heavy lifting for you! You can see all the different meal preps here.Most are five days long, there are vegetarian, vegan, grain-free options, and even no-cook options. The meal preps are divided by calorie level and most include step-by-step instructions and a grocery list.

If you’re not ready to commit to a full meal prep just yet, keep it simple. LA Life Chef Seth Santoro suggests no-fuss combinations like chicken, brown rice, and broccoli for dinner, and salmon, roasted carrots, and spinach for lunch. To add flavor without calories, stock up on herbs and spices.

Once you have your meal prep recipe list set, check your pantry and fridge for ingredients, make a list, and head to the store!

Prep Staples to Use Later
Once you’re comfortable meal prepping, Seth Santoro recommends preparing staples — like rice, oats, lentils, and yams — in bulk. You’ll return to them again and again and they can take the longest to cook. “You can make a pot of rice, use some now for a meal, refrigerate a portion, and freeze a portion to be used later, he says.

Three More Tips to Make Meal Prep Easy:

  • Include some no-cook recipes in your meal prep. Snacks like Shakeology and foods that don’t require cooking (like salads and overnight oats) can help save time in the prep process. Here’s a popular no-cook meal prep to get you started.
  • When prepping, use the oven to cook several things at once. Veggies can generally roast together, and there’s a reason that sheet pan dinners are becoming so popular.
  • Don’t shy away from the Crockpot or the Insta Pot. The former has long been a meal prep maven’s kitchen staple and the latter is quickly becoming one. They’re time savers – just add ingredients, set, and forget. While it’s doing the work on one recipe, you have time to focus on another.

Share on with friends!

All my joy,

Ivy Johnson

We all love lemonade – it’s the perfect refreshing beverage throughout Spring and Summer.


But most traditional lemonades are loaded with sugar and calories and are definitely not the healthiest option.  This version cuts out the traditional refined sugar and replaces it with a small amount of coconut sugar, which has a much lower glycemic index.

It also puts the focus on ginger and turmeric, which give amazing flavor and colour to the lemonade along with aiding digestion and providing immune-boosting and anti-inflammatory benefits.

Rather than being a sugary indulgence, this lemonade is a health drink you can enjoy and feel good about imbibing.


200 ml water

4 inches, fresh turmeric root, peeled and sliced or 1 tablspoon dried turmeric.

4 inches fresh ginger root, peeled and sliced

4 tablespoons coconut sugar

4-6 lemons, juiced (about 200 ml juice)

large handful of ice cubes

2 lemons, sliced to serve

800 ml cold still water, or sparkling water if you like a bubbly twist.


Place the sliced turmeric root and ginger root in a sauce pan and cover with 200 ml water.

Add in the coconut sugar and bring to a boil

Reduce heat, and simmer for about 15 minutes, until the mixture has extracted the color and flavor of the turmeric and ginger.

Remove from the heat and cool

Juice the lemons, and pour into a pitcher

Add in the cooled ginger and turmeric mixture and stir to combine. You can strain out the pieces of ginger and turmeric, but I simply leave them in.

Pour the remaining cold water (or sparkling if you like) and stir to combine.

Add the slices of lemon into the pitcher and stir

To serve, add ice cubes to the pitcher if you think you will drink the whole pitcher right away. Otherwise add ice to each glass.

xo-Ivy Johnson


Shrimp Ceviche Salad
Serves: 2 servings
  • 1 ½ cups seeded and chopped cucumber
  • 1 ½ cups chopped green apple
  • Meat of 1 avocado, diced
  • 1 cup chopped cooked shrimp
  • ¼ cup finely chopped parsley
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped mint
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • ¼ tsp garlic powder
  1. Mix all ingredients together in a serving bowl. Refrigerate for at least two hours to let flavors marry. Stir well before serving.

How to go Paleo in a balanced way!!

A common misconception about eating Paleo is that all you eat is meat all day every day. It’s easy to be confused. You see lots of meat-heavy dishes if you search for Paleo on Pinterest or google and this nutritional template is very popular among men who like the idea of a “meat and potatoes” type of mealplan. (Except white potatoes, aren’t paleo… sorry dudes.) But the key to the success (and nutritional benefits) of eating Paleo is like anything else: balance and moderation. Hunter/Gatherers didn’t live on bacon and french fries, and neither should you.

To make sure that I ate in a balanced way when I went Paleo, and how I suggest others begin their Paleo journey, I decided to enlist the help of the 21 Day Fix Mealplan that I’ve always loved so much!  (It’s also available from Beachbody under the name The Portion Fix now and comes with most Challenge Packs!) This plan gives you colored containers for each food group. You are allotted a certain number of servings of each container a day (based on your height/weight/activity/goals) and you just fill up the container and eat what fits. It’s so easy that I think every single person needs to abide by it! I digress…

I followed the color coded mealplan guidelines and TWEAKED them to work with Paleo guidelines! This helps me to step down into the paleo mealplan in a way that is super balanced making sure I still get enough veggies, fruits, carbs, and not too much protein or fats! What are those guidelines? Put very simply, you eat what you could hunt or gather back in the Paleolithic day. So… lean meats, fish, nuts, seeds, vegetables, and fruits. What is not accepted as Paleo?

Refined Sugars & Artificial Sweeteners
Artificial Ingredients
White Potatoes
Processed Foods (including Junk Food)
Hydrogenated Oils/Vegetable Oils


White Potatoes
Pseudograins (like buckwheat or quinoa)

Okay, let’s talk about these for a minute. Obviously, paleolithic man didn’t have sugar or sugar substitutes so those are easy to understand. Grains came with agriculture so those are out too. Legumes came with agriculture too so you’ll have to pass on the beans and peanuts. Processed foods weren’t around so count them out, same with vegetable and hydrogenated oils (if it says anything like “buttery spread” just don’t even touch it) and alcohol came later too. Now there are a few foods I like to call “fringe foods” which means that they are debated among Paleo participants. These are dairy, cashews, white potatoes, and pseudograins.

Why did I include Shakeology in the fringe foods? Well it’s because regular Shakeology contains whey protein. Which is technically a dairy derivative. Vegan Shakeology contains oat protein which is technically a grain derivative. In my opinion, either one is still waaaaaayyyyyy better for you than anything else you could do so the positives outweigh the fringe technicalities. I have stayed on it and still seen INCREDIBLE results since going paleo.

You will have to make your own decision regarding these items. People who subscribe to a paleo diet but eat dairy are called “Primal” if you want to do some research. The reason dairy is left out is because while animals were around, Paleolithic humans did not have the tools or capacity to be making anything like butter or cheeses or creams. White potatoes are a plant so why can’t you eat them? You can, obviously, no one is forcing you to do anything. But the reason they aren’t considered paleo is because of the labor involved in harvesting them. They are more likely a crop then something that Paleolithic humans stumbled upon. Also, if nothing else, they don’t have a lot of nutritional benefits so it’s worth it to avoid them. Cashews are a nut right? So why are they a problem? Technically, cashews are a legume (like peanuts) so to a strict Paleo person they’d be out. Make your own decision on this one. And lastly, pseudograins like quinoa and buckwheat. These are technically not grains, but they behave like them inside your body. So the choice is yours.

“What’s left?!”  You might be thinking. What can I eat? A LOT actually! Here’s some of my meals…

Okay, so maybe you’re thinking about giving this whole Paleo thing a try. But you’re so confused. Where do you start? How do you figure out what to eat? And how do stay balanced and avoid living on bacon, avocado, and steak alone? Don’t worry friends, I’ve got you covered! Here is a sample week’s mealplan using the Portion Fix plan as a guide. These are all meals I have eaten since going Paleo so you know they are actually good! This is based on my serving allowances in the Portion Fix. If you’re in a higher bracket and have more servings you would just either eat bigger meals or add in more food in your day. I wrote out each meal’s ingredients in the color container they would correspond to so you can easily see VISUALLY how to combine your containers into a day’s worth of amazing meals!

PALEO PANCAKES (just substitute almond meal/flour for cashew meal if you like)
DRESSING 1: combine 3 parts olive oil to 1 part balsamic vinegar
DRESSING 2: combine 3 parts olive oil to 1 part champagne vinegar, add in diced shallots, and pepper
DRESSING 3: combine 3 parts olive oil to 1 part champagne vinegar, add in some dill if you like

Now to make things even EASIER for you, I put together a grocery shopping list for you based off this mealplan (who loves ya?!) Just print it out and take it with you to the store. Now here’s the secret. Don’t feel chained to this. If you don’t like something I listed (like spinach) swap it out for something you do like (like spring mix). Make it work for YOU and your tastes.

I know, this still might seem overwhelming. And maybe you have questions? Have no fear! I’ll be hosting a live, free webinar digging more into my personal story with going paleo. I’ll be sharing my struggles with auto-immune, how paleo helped, and how EXACTLY I use this mealplan to do it in a balanced way. I’ll also be sharing how I fit physical activity into this and keep my energy levels up! I’ll even give you my TOP THREE TIPS for success in this process! I’d love to have you join me!

The webinar is scheduled for Monday, February 27 th at 7:30PM EST. But if you can’t make it, it will be recorded and left up for a few days so you can watch after. If you do hop on live though, you’ll have the chance to ask me questions as I go! Click the banner below to head to the event and RSVP so you get a reminder on the day of!


Want to do this with my help, with the full color coded mealplan, my super weapon: shakeology, and a year’s access to EVERY workout program Beachbody has ever made? Let me hook you up with an All Access Pack in my March Challenge Group which will have a paleo focus! We’ll all be going through it together, sharing mealplans, recipes, etc to make it so much easier to make this transition and make it stick!  Choose from workouts like the 21 Day Fix, Piyo, Core De Force, or even yoga if you wanna keep it light! Daily motivation and accountability, and the opportunity to ask me questions as you go? You’re in luck! Click here to email me and let me know you want your name on the list! I’ll send you all the details!

xo-Ivy Johnson

Thyroid Disease

Here’s a shocking statistic…

Approximately 20 million Americans are walking around with a thyroid condition… and almost 60% of them don’t even know it

Pretty scary right?

And women are 5 to 8 times more likely than men to get a thyroid condition.

Could you be one of them?

Take 30 seconds and discover your risk level for thyroid disease. It could save you years of struggle and uncertainty.

Take the quiz here

Not ready to take the short quiz?

That is OK…I totally get it. 

Here is a bit more info that might help you.

If you’ve experienced any of the following symptoms then there’s a pretty good chance that your thyroid is out of balance…

  • Unexplained weight gain
  • Fatigue or exhaustion
  • Anxiety
  • Pale, dry skin
  • Constipation/stomach problems
  • Increased sensitivity to cold
  • Depression
  • Joint or muscle pain
  • Hair falling out
  • Thinning of your eyebrows

If left untreated thyroid condition can lead to:

  • Brain fog
  • Diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • High cholesterol
  • Depression and related mental health issues
  • Peripheral neuropathy
  • Goiter — which may inhibit your ability to swallow or breathe
  • Infertility and birth defects in offspring

If you identified with one or more of the symptoms up above I urge you to take this short 30 second quiz

The quiz was designed by  Dr. Izabella Wentz, one of the foremost researchers in thyroid health today.

Dr. Wentz is uniquely qualified because she had misdiagnosed thyroid disease for almost a decade until she finally got the answers she was looking for!

Take 30 seconds and discover your risk level for thyroid disease. It could save you years of struggle and uncertainty.

Take the Thyroid quiz here

-Ivy Johnson


Have you seen these pretty little votives and lamps around? You might see one in an interior pinned on Pinterest or even on the shelf at your local health foods store. That’s where I had seen them. And they looked so warm and glowy and crystalline that I was intrigued. I bought my first Himalayan Salt Rock at a HomeGoods store. It’s small enough to hold a single vote candle. And it looks beautiful when the lights are dim and it’s glowing a flickering orange. I was smitten.

So I went online to see if I could find more in other sizes and I was surprised to find a plethora of salt rock pieces from candle holders to huge lamps in all different shapes! Little did I know that Himalayan Salt Rock lamps are totally a thing. Did you know that? You probably did. I’m always the last to know. Apparently they have some supposed health benefits above just being relaxing and pretty to look at…

Salt has long been a mineral recognized for it’s various benefits. Salt mines and salt springs are often used for rejuvenation and relaxation. Why? Because it is believed that salt mines and salt springs have a negative ion environment.

Say what?

So have you ever breathed in deep by a waterfall? Or felt like singing in the shower? Or sat and marveled in calm bliss by the seashore? You probably have. But what you might not realize is why these areas have such an effect on you. These forces of nature (and shower) create negative ions in the air. Why does that matter? It’s natures way of cleansing! So negative and positive ions exist all in the air around you all the time. Negative ions are generally a molecule of oxygen that has gained an electron (stay with me!) These ions attract particles in the air and give them a negative charge forcing them to seek an electrical “ground” which usually means falling out of the air and to the ground. So, in essence, negative ions clean the air. That is why when you walk outside after a rainstorm the air feels so fresh!

How are negative ions produced?
➳ Ions cannot be produced without an energy source like…
➳ Heat/flames
➳ Electricity
➳ Evaporation
➳ Friction
➳ Radioactivity

Okay, so how do these salt rocks actually help clean the air in your house?

How do Himilayan salt rock lamps work?
➳ The salt crystals cannot create negative ions, you need energy for that. BUT….
➳ Salt attracts water molecules in the air…
➳ When the water comes to the salt, the heat of the candle inside or the bulb warms it up…
➳ The water molecules heat up and begin to evaporate
➳ Evaporation produces negative ions in the air! Ba-zing!

So what do you think? Try it and let me know… Dig or Ditch? 

PS. The big one you see in the photos above I got off Amazon
I don’t get any kickbacks for this, I just love it and wanted to share with you! 



5 Foods to Eat Weekly to Support Gut Health

Healing is a funny word as we think of it as something that only needs to be done once and it’s over with. We’re reminded of scraping our knee on the playground as a kid and the school nurse reassuring us that it would heal up, which it always would and we would go on with our lives. Healing seems simple on a surface level. However, it’s not always that easy. The wounds can often be deeper, easily irritated and entirely more complex than we realize.

Healing our gut is a complex task that varies from person to person. The causes vary, the time needed to make progress, and exact course of action for varies.

However, what I firmly believe is constant for all of us on a gut healing journey is that a certain level of maintenance is required.

Regardless of how good of a job we do at our initial gut healing in the first place, there are still obstacles thrown in our way constantly. Whether it be a cross contamination in a restaurant or at the party that leaves us wondering what happened, a round of antibiotics that throws off the balance of our gut bacteria, or a particularly stressful week that throw off our digestion… our gut health will never be perfect nor will our environment.

So, what are 5 things that we can all weekly to help maintain our gut health?

1. Bone broth

Everyones favorite, right? We hear about bone broth from all of our favorite internet paleo folks… including myself. But why is bone broth so great?

  • Bone broth contains collagen that strengthens and heals the intestinal lining.
  • It’s a nutrient dense source of amino acids, vitamins and minerals that are easily digested
  • and promote health and vitality.
  • It’s a traditional healing food rather than a quick fix pill.Though there are tons of pre-made bone broths on the market, and convenience can be helpful at times, I will begin making mine as soon as possible.

    Though I love having a warm mug of broth at breakfast, it’s not everyone’s style.

    2. Pasture Raised Liver

    Liver is a powerful superfood that’s incredibly nutrient dense, and gives the body the nutrients that it needs to thrive and heal. Liver is packed with Vitamin D, A, B12, folic acid, zinc, and other essential nutrients. Believe it or not, it’s far more healthful than regular muscle meat as seen here in this post by Chris Kresser. These are the nutrients that we need to heal and to be healthy, and they can all be found in liver!

    When buying liver, it’s just as important as ever to go grass-fed and pasture raised. Why? Conventional meat is not only inhumane, but it’s incredibly inflammatory. Animals health suffer from poor quality diets which makes the quality of the meat suffer. Always look for pasture raised chicken liver, and grass-fed beef liver.

    Funny story, I literally cried the first time I had liver I hated it so much. I was so, so over it before I had even started. So, how do you make the darned thing taste good and get rid of the off putting texture? Pate!

    3. Fermented foods

    Though we’re only starting to scratch the surface on our understanding of the gut microbiome, it’s incredibly important.

    The bacteria in our gut affect our health in a myriad of ways, such as:

    • Protect us from pathogens
    • Affect the integrity of our gut lining
    • Help strengthen our immunity
    • Boost our digestive fire
    • Contribute to our health and wellbeing as a whole

    Before refrigeration, our ancestors fermented foods to keep them fresh. According to Weston A. Price, nearly every society had some sort of fermented food from sauerkraut, to kimchi, even to fermented cow blood (actually, no thanks… not cute).

    But really, fermented foods have been a part of our diets for centuries and are an incredibly effective way to support healthy gut bacteria.

    Sauerkraut, kimchi, and home fermented veggies are a great option. Also drinking Restore 30 minutes before each meal.

    4. Tons of veggies. 

    There really is no replacement for just good ol’ vegetables.

    When I was studying nutrition in college, I knew a lot of people who were just taking supplements, going to eat fast food and calling it a day on their health. We’re made to believe that we can get all of the essential nutrients through supplementation, however, when it comes to fruit and vegetables, we’re missing the whole food form and the phytonutrients which are present in only the whole food form.

    Fresh vegetables are, again, a traditional and necessary part of a healing diet and have essential vitamins and phytonutrients needed to support health and vitality. This is the reason I drink Shakeology everyday. It has 7 servings of veggies in one glass.

    Though many have issues with certain vegetables like nightshades, FODMAPS, etc., it’s important to find veggies that work for your diet, and have them daily.

    5. Ghee

    Now, this one may be controversial, as it certainly is not for everyone, but I’m okay with that. Ghee is an incredibly traditional healing food and is seen as therapeutic in ayurvedic medicine.

    Ghee is clarified butter, or butter that’s free of the milk solids that are what carry the lactose and casein. That means that’s it’s free of the allergens that most often cause problems for people.

    Similar to liver, ghee is high in vitamin A, D, and K and is in a bioavailable form. These vitamins are crucial for health and healing, and if you have gut issues, you likely have problems absorbing these vitamins, especially vitamin A. Ghee is an easy way to absorb vitamin A regardless of gut issues.

    Ghee has also been shown to support healthy gut flora, and balance the immune system which only helps gut healing more.

    So, how do you use ghee? Um, how do you not use ghee? I use it on sweet potatoes, plantains, and just about everything else in between!

    -Ivy Johnson

Mojo Chicken Avocado Cups- AIP


  • 1 tbsp coconut oil, divided
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • ¼  cup orange juice
  • ¼ cup lemon juice
  • ½ tsp dried oregano leaves
  • ½ lb leftover chopped or shredded chicken
  • ½ small onion, sliced finely
  • 2 avocados, cut in half with pit removed
  • 1 mango, chopped into bite size pieces
  • ¼ cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
  • 1 tbsp lime juice
  • Pinch salt

Mojo Chicken Avocados resize

  1. SIMMER: Add ½ tablespoon of the coconut oil to a skillet over low heat and add the garlic. Cook until softened and fragrant, about a minute. Pour the orange & lemon juices into the pan and add the oregano leaves to make the mojo sauce. Turn up the heat enough to bring the juice to a simmer and cook for a few minutes. Pour the mojo from the pan into a jar and set aside for now.
  2. SOFTEN: Add the remaining ½ tablespoon of the coconut oil to the pan over medium heat. Add the leftover shredded chicken and cook until heated through. Add the finely sliced onion and 4 tablespoons of the mojo sauce, tossing to coat. Turn the heat down to a low-medium and cover the pan. Cook until the onions are softened but still a little crispy, about 6 – 8 minutes. Pour over the rest of the mojo sauce, then remove the pan from the heat and set it aside to rest, still covered, while you get the avocados ready.
  3. ASSEMBLE: Cut a thin slice of skin from the rounded end of the avocado halves and discard: this will stop them from rolling around on plates! Divide the Mojo Chicken evenly between avocado halves. In a bowl, toss together the mango, cilantro, lime juice and salt. Spoon the mango over the Mojo Chicken Avocado Cups and serve immediately!



Smoked Salmon and Avocado Boats


  • 2 avocados
  • 4 ounces smoked salmon – preferably wild caught, diced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh sage, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons capers
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt or more, to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon coconut aminos
  • 4 big leaves of Bibb lettuce
  1. In a large bowl, mix together salmon, sage, capers, salt, olive oil, and coconut aminos.
  2. Cut avocados in half lengthwise, remove pit and skin (by slipping a spoon between the flesh and the skin).
  3. On your serving plates, place in this order one big leaf of bib lettuce, ½ avocado and spoon ¼ of smoked salmon preparation.
  4. Bon appétit!