Kicking off a Series of Anti-Inflammatory Meal Prep Menus!!Jul 20, 2021
Consistently on Instagram and Facebook, posts about food get more love than most. I love responding to requests from #TeamCrunchy and sharing what works (or doesn’t work) for our family!
As for the fascination with food, I can’t say I blame you! Food is central to our lives. Nourishing our bodies, minds, and souls. It can be so delicious but also commonly is fraught with anxiety and fear.
Should I be eating more of this or less of that?
Do I need to be gluten-free or dairy-free?
Paleo or whole food plant-based?
This alone is overwhelming!
Then sprinkle in the cultural subtext of fat-shaming, weight bias, and disordered eating.
Did I mention that my mom was really into the whole low-fat craze of the 90s? Rice cakes, fat-free, artificially sweetened yogurts and fat-free Italian dressing were household staples. So. Gross.
Growing up in a diet culture, left a lasting impression. Elimination diets and strict plans left me with an even more toxic relationship with something that I had once enjoyed so much. As a result, I have needed to do a lot of work on healing my own relationship with food.
Frequently, I still catch myself having thoughts or using language that is counterproductive. I am a work in progress (and hope to be until the day I die!)
One technique that has kept our family on track is meal prepping.
When we venture away from meal prepping, we end up hitting the easy button (i.e. less nutritious and more expensive options) more often. There are different philosophies and techniques related to meal prepping but one that I really like is featured in the cookbook Cook Once, Eat All Week by Cassie Joy Garcia.
My only issue - her recipes, though very tasty, are pretty meat-heavy.
What is the concept?
Each week features 3 main ingredients that are used in different combinations for the rest of the week: a protein and 2 veggies. A good portion of the preparation for 3 meals is done over 1-2 hours on one day during the week and then the meals can be finished up in under 30 minutes- perfect for a busy weeknight.
As we continue to work on incorporating more plants including plant-based proteins, I am still experimenting with different cookbooks, recipes, and cooking techniques. I find this to be a really fun challenge. My ultimate goal is to create some similarly-formatted meal plans filled with recipes that are simultaneously easy to shop for, prepare, and enjoyed by the whole family.
A tall order!
As I go along, I will share our flops and successes. I will try to make note of possible substitutes when able and resources that may have inspired our recipes.
A note about the recipes:
Currently, the only food we are pretty strictly minimizing is stovetop cooked eggs due to Josie’s allergy. She tolerates them when they are more extensively cooked so they find their way into baked goods as a way for us to help her build more tolerance and hopefully outgrow her allergy fully. This is being done under the instruction and watchful eye of her allergist. If you have true food allergies, you need to work with your allergist to determine what is safe.
I have been fortunate to have a little more wiggle room in my ability to tolerate particular foods while pregnant including gluten. Turns out my immune system seems to love the pregnancy hormones. We shall see what happens after delivery.
Things we are currently aiming for:
- 30+ different plants per week (including veggies, fruits, grains, spices, herbs, nuts, seeds)
- Keeping added oils to a minimum
- Rare use of animal products
Ok, so what are we eating this week?
On our inaugural week, we are featuring summer produce staples including zucchini, bell peppers, and tomatoes in different combinations. I also mixed things up mid-week with a weeknight staple recipe to use up broccoli that is looking a little sad.
Slow cooker apple cinnamon walnut oatmeal (inspired by Oh She Glows Apple Pie Oatmeal)
Cherry Berry smoothies (from How Not to Die Cookbook)
Dinners and leftovers for lunch:
Sunday: Panzanella & roasted zucchini (inspired by Barefoot Contessa)
Monday: Greek bowls
Tuesday: Taco bowls #tacotuesday!
Wednesday: Miso glazed salmon, broccoli, and rice (inspired by Jacques Pepin)
Thursday: Fried rice with tofu
Friday: Take out!
- Apples x 2-3 (more for snacking)
- Tomatoes x 4
- Bell peppers x 4 (red, orange, or yellow)
- Red onion x 1
- Cucumbers-prefer English style, 1 extra-large or 1 package of mini cucumbers
- Broccoli- 2-3 smaller bunches
- Zucchini- 2-3 medium
- Green onions- 1 bunch
- Lemon- 2
- Lime- 2
- Avocado- 1
- Garlic- 1 head
- Ginger- 1 small piece
- Basil- 1 bunch
- Cilantro - 1 bunch
- Bananas (will need ripe for smoothies) -1 per smoothie
- Plain yogurt (dairy-free if preferred)- 1 cup
- Olives (your choice but we LOVE Castel Vetrano if you can find them- less salty)
- Miso paste
- Firm Tofu (Organic if able)- 1 block
- Salmon 4-6 ounce portions, wild-caught if feasible
- Milk of choice (optional)
- Rice (we keep a mix of long grain and shorter grain varieties in the pantry)
- Oats (gluten-free if needed)
- Black beans 1 can
- Chickpeas 2 cans
- Maple syrup
- Soy sauce (can sub coconut aminos or liquid aminos)
- Dijon mustard
- Ground flaxseed
- Chia seeds
- Almond butter
- Southwest or taco seasoning of your choice, we love Penzey’s
- Rice wine vinegar
- Balsamic or red wine vinegar
- Olive oil
- Avocado oil
- Cherries or strawberries
- Good quality small loaf crusty bread or baguette, prefer whole grain, gluten-free if needed.
- Slow cooker
- Rice cooker (optional)
- Glass storage containers, mason jars
Prep ahead 60-90 minutes:
- Prep oatmeal. Core and chop 2 large/3 medium apples and place in a slow cooker. Add 3 cups of oats, ¼ cup maple syrup, ¼ cup chia seeds, 1 T ground cinnamon, ½ tsp ground nutmeg, ¼ tsp ground cloves, 6 cups of water. Set on high and let cook while you are preparing the rest. Once thickened, let cool slightly and pack into smaller portions for the rest of the week. Alternatively, can freeze into individual portions using a muffin tin and then store in a plastic ziplock gallon bag once frozen.
- Cut bread into ~1 in chunks and let sit out on a cookie sheet or plate to become stale.
- While prepping for the Panzanella, you are also going to be chopping and portioning veggies for the week including bell peppers, cucumbers, red onion, broccoli, zucchini, olives, lemons, limes, green onions, garlic, and ginger.
- Bell peppers- Dice 4 peppers and portion about 1 ½ for the Panzanella, 1 ea for the Greek and taco bowls, ½ for the fried rice (I store the extra for the week together)
- Cucumbers- Dice ~1 ½ cups for the Panzanella, 1 cup for the Greek bowls
- Red onion- thinly slice half for Panzanella, fine dice for Greek and taco bowls (can store together)
- Broccoli- cut up if needed (can buy precut to save time!). 3-4 cups for fish dinner and 1 cup for fried rice.
- Zucchini- Dice into ~¾ in chunks or rounds depending on the size of your squash
- Rough chop 1 cup olives, store in the fridge.
- Quarter and seed 2 lemons, 2 limes. Store in fridge.
- Thinly slice green onions, discarding most of the white portions. Store in fridge.
- Mince 6 cloves garlic- 1 clove for Panzanella dressing. 1 clove for yogurt dressing. Store 4 cloves for stir fry along with 1 inch of ginger that is grated in the fridge for the fried rice later in the week.
- Panzanella dressing: In a small mason jar, combine 1 clove garlic, ¼ cup red wine or balsamic vinegar, ½ tsp dijon mustard, ¼ cup olive oil, salt, and pepper to taste. Shake (will need to reshake before serving)
- Yogurt sauce- Combine 1 cup plain yogurt, 1 clove garlic, juice from 1 lemon, salt, and pepper to taste. Stir, cover, and store in the fridge.
- Miso glaze- combine 2T miso paste, 1 T maple syrup, 2 tsp rice wine vinegar, 2 tsp soy sauce. Stir, cover, and store in the fridge.
Weekday Finishing Touches:
- To finish oatmeal- reheat with a bit of milk of choice and top with chopped walnuts.
- To prep smoothies- add 1 cup frozen blueberries, ½ cup frozen cherries or strawberries, 1 ripe banana (can be from the freezer), 1 T ground flaxseeds, 1T almond butter, 1 ½ cups water. Blend until smooth. Enjoy!
Weeknight Finishing Touches:
Finish Panzanella and zucchini:
- Preheat the oven to 400F.
- Toss zucchini with 1-2T of avocado oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast zucchini on a large baking sheet until tender. ~15-20 minutes. Reserve ~1 ½ cups for Greek bowls. Store in the fridge.
- Dice 2 tomatoes and place in a large bowl with 1 can of drained and rinsed chickpeas, cucumber, bell peppers, red onion, ½ cup olives, and dressing.
- Right before serving, add bread and ½ cup of thinly sliced basil. Serve with zucchini on the side.
- Pro tip: I reserve 1-2 cups of bread to add to the leftovers the following day for lunch.
- Finishing the Greek bowls.
- Prepare 2 cups of rice in a rice cooker or large pot according to package directions (long grain rice would be a great multi-purpose). 2 cups of cooked rice will be set aside for tomorrow.
- Drain and rinse 1 can of chickpeas. Season with a little drizzle of olive oil, salt, and pepper. Dice 1 tomato.
- Assemble bowls with rice, chickpeas, bell peppers, leftover zucchini, tomatoes, red onion, cucumbers, olives, yogurt sauce, and a lemon wedge.
- Finishing the taco bowls.
- Reheat ~2 cups of leftover rice in the microwave.
- Finely chop 1 bunch of cilantro. Dice 1 tomato. Dice 1 avocado.
- Season rice with the juice of 1 lime and ½ of the chopped cilantro, salt, and pepper.
- Drain and rinse a can of black beans. Season with 2 tsp of southwest seasoning and warm in the microwave.
- Assemble bowls with rice, black beans, tomato, red onion, bell peppers, and avocado.
- Garnish with lime wedges and extra cilantro.
- Finishing the fish.
- Preheat the oven to 450F. Position racks at ⅓ from top and ⅓ from the bottom. Dry salmon fillets with a paper towel.
- Cook 3 cups of short-grain rice in a rice cooker or large pot per package instructions. Reserve ⅔ of the cooked rice for tomorrow.
- On a parchment or foil-lined pan, place salmon fillets, skin side down (if they still have skin). Spoon ~1T of miso glaze on each fillet.
- Toss 3-4 cups broccoli in 2T of avocado oil and place on parchment or silicone-lined baking sheet. Roast broccoli on bottom rack x 15 minutes.
- Lower oven to 400F. Place fish on top rack and roast for ~12-15 minutes or until fish is done.
- Serve fish with rice and broccoli. Garnish with a sprinkle of green onions.
- Finishing the fried rice.
- Take leftover rice out of the fridge.
- Drain tofu. Press gently to remove excess water. Can use a towel or paper towel. Crumble into bite-sized pieces.
- Heat 3T avocado oil in a large pan or wok if you have one over medium/high flame.
- Add garlic/ginger and cook for about 30 seconds. Add broccoli and bell pepper, cooking until crisp-tender. Add tofu and cook for another 2 minutes. Push veggies and tofu aside. Add rice, breaking up pieces with a spatula or spoon. Add 3T soy sauce (or alternative) until everything is combined. Turn off the heat. Stir in remaining green onions right before serving.
- Can serve with hot sauce of choice (we like the garlic chili paste or sriracha)
I would LOVE to hear what you like and don’t like with these meal plans.
What would you find most helpful?
Drop me an email at [email protected].
P.S. Have you downloaded my 5 Foods People with Sjogren’s Don’t Need to Fear yet? It is awesome for anyone struggling to figure out how to navigate nutrition and inflammation.
P.P.S. I attempted to make some whole grain double chocolate zucchini muffins for breakfast and treats for the week. While they weren’t a total fail and are edible, the recipe needs some adjusting before sharing. I will work on perfecting it for a future post :-)