Not only do I have a new recipe to share today, I also have a new cookbook that will change your life. Okay, that might be a little melodramatic, but for real, it’s amazing.
It’s not just another paleo cookbook. A dear friend recommended it to me, touting 8 full weeks of meal plans (all gluten-free, dairy-free) complete with recipes + shopping lists, and it efficiently utilizes all the ingredients for several of the meals throughout the week, so minimal food waste. It’s all very simple, but very appealing. At the time I learned about the cookbook, we were 6 weeks out from our Mexico vaca, so I ordered the book to use as a guide to help us eat healthier before the trip.
We’re now 3 weeks in and loving it. Most of the recipes are pretty easy, and all have been delicious. We’ve been mixing and matching the meals a bit depending on our schedules for the week and our likes/dislikes, but if you wanted an exact meal plan for every day of the week with an exact list to take to the grocery store, this book is for you.
Every meal we’ve made has been delicious, but this Minestrone Soup has been one of our favorites. It was so good on a cold, rainy day this week and we’ve been eating on it for a few days now! You could kick up the cayenne pepper a bit for a little more kick, but this has such good flavor as is.
M I N E S T R O N E S O U P
2lb ground beef, turkey or chicken (we used beef this time, but will try turkey or chicken next!)
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 stalks celery, thinly sliced
3 cups shredded carrots
32oz chicken stock
15oz tomato sauce
10oz diced tomatoes with green chilies
3 tablespoons white vinegar
1 tablespoon parsley
2 tablespoons Italian seasoning
1 tablespoon ground cumin
3/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 lb yellow squash, halved lengthwise and sliced into half-moons
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil, plus more for garnish
S&P to taste
- Brown the meat in a large skillet over medium-high heat, until cooked through. use a slotted spoon to transfer the meat to a slow cooker insert, leaving the fat in the pan.
- Add the onion, garlic, celery and carrots to the pan and sauce over medium heat for 8 minutes, until the vegetables are slightly tender. Drain and add the vegetables to the slow cooker.
- Add the remaining ingredients, except the squash and basil. Cover and cook on high for 5 hours or on low for 8 hours.
- Add the squash and basil during the last 30 minutes if cooking on high or 1 hour if cooking on low.
- Adjust the seasoning if necessary, and serve with a garnish of fresh basil.
Gluten via Wikipedia: a protein composite found in foods processed from wheat and related grain species, including barley and rye.
Gluten via Urban Dictionary: while your friends eat oreos, cake, and other hallmarks of the wondrous American diet, you must crunch dry rice cakes and order salads without croutons or most dresses.
(or this one via Urban Dictionary: To be used as another word for Drama, Bullsh*t, Haters, i.e. I don’t want any more Gluten in my life. — irrelevant, but hilarious.)
* * *
I decided to give up gluten for Lent for two reasons:
1. I had been eating very poorly, putting a lot of junk inside my body and I just wanted to get it out and eat clean.
2. I wanted to challenge myself.
What is gluten in you ask? Oh just about everything. So instead I’ll tell you what it’s not in: fruit, veggies, lean meats, potatoes, beans, rice.
After doing some research, I decided I would not go the path of replacing my regular foods (bread, pasta, etc.) with the gluten-free variety that are now plentiful in most stores. To compensate for gluten, most products include more sugar and thus, people typically gain weight on a gluten-free diet. While I’m not doing this to lose weight (though it would be a positive side effect), I do not want to add any more unnecessary sugar in my body. See reasons above.
Here’s my typical gluten-free day menu:
Breakfast: Yogurt (some are gluten free and some aren’t), fruit
Lunch: Salad packed with veggies and a lean meat
Dinner: Lean meat, veggies, potatoes/rice (We made these Southwestern Stuffed Peppers the other night and they were perfect)
Snacks throughout the day: fruit & peanut butter, veggie crisps, nuts
The hardest part for me has been the inconvenience of eating gluten free. For breakfast I often grab a Special K bar, for lunch a sandwich or pasta for dinner. I have to plan ahead and be very mindful of what I’m eating, which is exactly what I wanted to make myself do.
Since I don’t have Celiac Disease and eating gluten doesn’t harm me, if I accidentally eat some here or there because I don’t recognize it in the ingredients, I’m not beating myself up about it. (Or if I’m STARVING and the only thing in our 5-hour meeting is a cookie … :)) I am also allowing myself Sundays as cheat days, typical of Lenten sacrifices. What did we eat last Sunday?? Pizza and beer and ice cream. NOM.