Category Archives: Autoimmune Paleo Protocol Meals

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

How to Create a Meal Plan For Your Week

meal planning

One of the things I love to do on Sundays is meal plan. Why on Sundays? Sundays are my day for rest and self-reflection. I plan my week of workouts, food, and business on Sundays to prepare for the week ahead.

If you fail to plan, you are planning to FAIL! I’m telling you that from personal experience. When I started my transformation, I was super excited about the workout and put the nutrition aspect aside. I thought I could out-exercise my diet!! I thought if I ate whole grain bread instead of white bread that I was going to get results. Guess what?? At the end of thirty days, I didn’t actually get the results I wanted. I was frustrated, but smart enough to know that nutrition was going to be 80% of my actual results.  I realized I was missing a key piece in my personal transformation.

I began to plan and prep. What I’m sharing with you is what I do and what works for me. It won’t be the same for you. You might choose to plan on your day off, and that might be a Monday or a Tuesday. Maybe you only want to plan one day at a time, instead of 5 or 7. The bottom line is that you’re planning ahead and you find out what works for you. If you don’t, things will come up, you won’t feel like cooking, or you’ll be missing ingredients. That’s when you’ll end up making bad choices.

So let’s dive into this. You can get on the meal plan wagon with me!! Start by creating a meal plan template in Excel. It’s super easy, I just make a chart with the days of the week and my workout, breakfast, morning snack, lunch, afternoon snack, dinner, and evening snack. Below is an example of my blank meal template.

 

When you’re first starting out, don’t make all new recipes. You are going to burn yourself out by cooking a new recipe every day of the week. Think of what you can repeat and what you can create extras of!!

One of the most important parts of meal planning is thinking about your obstacles for the week. If you’re leaving for travel, think ahead. If you have a date scheduled, it’s okay to schedule in one cheat meal per week. Cheat meals are not meant to be over the top, but you can say “I’m going to have my glass of wine, say no to the bread, have a salad with a healthy meat and side and then have my dessert.” Pick and choose your battles. If you have too many cheat meals, you’ll sacrifice your progress and find yourself frustrated that it’s taking longer to reach your goals.

Let’s get to planning! For me, I have shakeology every morning for breakfast. I add only water to mine, so I have a grocery list that I’ll start making with the ingredients I’ll need for the meals I’m planning out. A lot of times I’m meal planning and in the kitchen checking out the pantry or I’ll make my grocery list and then go look and see what we have in the pantry. When you’re done, you’ll have a week of meals planned and a grocery list with every item that you’ll need.

With clean eating, the goal is to eat every 2-4 hours in order to keep your metabolism fired up. For a snack, I usually pair some sort of protein or good fat with a carb or fruit or veggie. For example I’ll have an apple and 12 unsalted cashews.

Lunch for me is usually leftovers. Last night we made salmon, so I’ll have some of those and then half a baked sweet potato and maybe some steamed green beans.

For an afternoon snack, I’ll have 1 cup cucumbers and 1 blue container of hummus.

Dinner is where people get stuck. People freak out and think they have to research fancy and complex recipes which leads people to feel overwhelmed. In the beginning, don’t worry about fancy recipes with lots of ingredients. Keep it basic. I’m going to have Mahi Mahi seasoned with olive oil and lime juice, half a baked sweet potato, and grilled asparagus. I’ll bake extra potatoes tonight to warm up throughout the week.

After dinner is usually when my sweet tooth hits. My kids might want to go out for ice cream, so I’ll drink another Shakeology to curb my cravings.

There you have it! It’s nothing fancy, but it’s done. Maybe you’re a creature of habit and can eat the same snacks every day. Maybe tomorrow you want celery or red peppers. For dinner, you could have stir fry shrimp for dinner with carrots, peppers, onions, broccoli and brown rice.

shrimp fajitas

 

If you’re ready to start trying new recipes, check out the clean recipes on my site!! A lot of times I’ll use my own blog as a resource for recipes. You can even print them off or download them as a PDFs. Another great resource is Pinterest. Search for “clean eating recipes” and see what you can find!

When I meal plan, I’ll sit down and do the entire week. Then I’ve got my grocery list and my completed meal plan. The plan goes on the fridge and I head to the store to get the ingredients on my list. Sometimes I’ll prep and cut veggies or portion out containers so it’s easy to grab snacks throughout the week.

Is it always going to go as planned? Definitely not. You can switch meals around and eat them on different days. I’m flexible enough to go with the flow but know that I have a plan and food is already in the house. If I don’t want flank steak tomorrow, I’ll swap it out for Tuesday’s shrimp stir fry and feel comfortable knowing I have all the ingredients at home.

Meal planning is one thing that took me a little while to get the hang of. Now it only takes me 5 or 10 minutes to get my planning done for the week!! Let me know if you have any questions in the comments section and happy meal planning!

 

If you would like more support and accountability with starting your fitness and nutrition journey join my next group!  Complete the application below and I will contact you in the next 24 hours with the details.

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.

Ingredients:

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.

Method:

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

Shrimp Ceviche Salad
 
PREP TIME
TOTAL TIME
Serves: 2 servings
INGREDIENTS
  • 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
INSTRUCTIONS
  1. Mix all ingredients together in a serving bowl. Refrigerate for at least two hours to let flavors marry. Stir well before serving.

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

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!

    XOXO
    -Ivy Johnson

SWEET AND SOUR CHICKEN- PALEO

 

Ingredients

  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 1/2 cup (65 grams) arrow root starch (or cornstarch)
  • 1 large egg beaten
  • 1/4 cup (55 grams) coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup (100 grams) coconut sugar or regular white sugar
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) apple cider vinegar*
  • 2 tablespoons Coconut Aminos (or gluten free soy sauce/tamari)
  • 1/4 cup ketchup or Low FODMAP Ketchup
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) chicken stock
  • 1 red pepper cut into chunks
  • 1 cup pineapple chunks
  • 3 spring onions stalks (green part only for low fodmap)

Instructions

  1. First prepare the sauce by adding the coconut sugar, vinegar, coconut aminos, chicken stock and ketchup to a medium sauce pan. Stir and bring to a boil. Reduce to a low heat and leave until later.
  2. Add chicken pieces and beaten egg to a large ziplock bag. Seal and shake to coat chicken. Then add the arrowroot starch to the bag, shaking again to lightly coat all the chicken pieces.
  3. Drizzle a large pan or skillet with oil. Add the coated chicken. Fry over medium heat, a couple of minutes on each side until the coating begins to crisp. Add pepper and pineapple chunks. Continue to saute over medium heat until chicken is browned and cooked through.
  4. Add the sauce to chicken and peppers. Cover and reduce the heat down to a simmer and allow the juices to soak into the chicken for a few minutes. Top with sliced green onions. Serve over rice and enjoy!

Notes

Apple cider vinegar is considered low FODMAP under 2 tablespoons, but if you would prefer another alternative just to be on the safe side you can also use white wine or rice vinegar instead

 

Mojo Chicken Avocado Cups- AIP

Ingredients

  • 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

 

Ingredients
  • 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
Instructions
  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!

CREAMY BUTTERNUT SQUASH, CARROT AND GINGER SOUP -AIP

 

Ingredients
  • 2 ½ pounds chopped butternut squash (about 1 small squash)
  • 1 pound chopped carrots (about 6 large carrots)
  • ¾-inch knob fresh ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 2 quarts chicken bone broth
  • ⅓ cup full fat coconut milk + extra for garnish
  • Fine sea salt
  • Oven roasted beets, for garnish (optional)
  • Chopped fresh scallions, for garnish
Instructions
  1. In a large stock pot, add butternut squash, carrots, ginger, and chicken broth.
  2. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium and cook, covered, until vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes.
  3. Remove from heat and mix thoroughly with an immersion blender until smooth.
  4. Stir in coconut milk and season to taste with salt.
  5. Serve with a garnish of roasted beets, scallions, and a drizzle of coconut milk.

IVELISE JOHNSON