Menu Planning 101

Have you ever wondered what a typical weekly menu looks like for me? I try to make enough for leftovers, so I only do a real cook 3-4 times a week.

I want to help you get a handle on making cooking easy after a long day's work. So, here's a little present! This is a menu I used a few weeks ago. If you want to know how I plan this stuff out, make sure to read to the end.

𝗕𝗲𝗲𝗳 𝗦𝘁𝗲𝘄 𝗶𝗻 𝗜𝗻𝘀𝘁𝗮𝗻𝘁 𝗣𝗼𝘁
𝙂𝙡𝙪𝙩𝙚𝙣 𝙁𝙧𝙚𝙚, 𝘿𝙖𝙞𝙧𝙮 𝙁𝙧𝙚𝙚, 𝙂𝙧𝙖𝙞𝙣 𝙁𝙧𝙚𝙚, 𝙎𝙪𝙜𝙖𝙧 𝙁𝙧𝙚𝙚, 𝙉𝙤 𝘽𝙚𝙖𝙣𝙨

𝗙𝗶𝗼𝗻𝗮'𝘀 𝗚𝗿𝗲𝗲𝗻 𝗖𝗵𝗶𝗰𝗸𝗲𝗻 (Nom Nom Paleo)
𝙂𝙡𝙪𝙩𝙚𝙣 𝙁𝙧𝙚𝙚, 𝘿𝙖𝙞𝙧𝙮 𝙁𝙧𝙚𝙚, 𝙂𝙧𝙖𝙞𝙣 𝙁𝙧𝙚𝙚, 𝙎𝙪𝙜𝙖𝙧 𝙁𝙧𝙚𝙚, 𝙉𝙤 𝘽𝙚𝙖𝙣𝙨

𝗦𝗮𝗻𝗱𝗿𝗮'𝘀 𝗠𝗮𝗿𝗶𝗻𝗮𝘁𝗲𝗱 𝗖𝗵𝗶𝗰𝗸𝗲𝗻 (thanks Sandra Soto) recipe has disappeared online. Pretty much, you take chicken thighs and marinate them in EVOO, lemon juice, balsamic vinegar, garlic, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes and thyme. Marinate for 1/2 hour to 24 hours. Cook at 425 until internal temp reaches 170.
𝙂𝙡𝙪𝙩𝙚𝙣 𝙁𝙧𝙚𝙚, 𝘿𝙖𝙞𝙧𝙮 𝙁𝙧𝙚𝙚, 𝙂𝙧𝙖𝙞𝙣 𝙁𝙧𝙚𝙚, 𝙎𝙪𝙜𝙖𝙧 𝙁𝙧𝙚𝙚, 𝙉𝙤 𝘽𝙚𝙖𝙣𝙨

𝗚𝗮𝗿𝗹𝗶𝗰 𝗦𝗵𝗿𝗶𝗺𝗽 𝘄𝗶𝘁𝗵 𝗥𝗶𝗰𝗲
𝙂𝙡𝙪𝙩𝙚𝙣 𝙁𝙧𝙚𝙚, 𝘿𝙖𝙞𝙧𝙮 𝙁𝙧𝙚𝙚 (You can substitute EVOO for the butter), 𝙂𝙧𝙖𝙞𝙣 𝙁𝙧𝙚𝙚 (the recipe is grain free, but the rice is not), 𝙎𝙪𝙜𝙖𝙧 𝙁𝙧𝙚𝙚, 𝙉𝙤 𝘽𝙚𝙖𝙣𝙨

You can check out my favorite cookbooks here.

If you want to know how I go about making my menus, take my class! It's only $7, but worth way more!

My Food Sensitivities Path

If you've been following me even for a little while, you know my sensitivities list has grown through the years. I find that "gluten free" does not work as a description for me. I have to say grain free. No rice, corn, wheat, rye, barley, even quinoa bothers me! EEEEEK!

But it wasn't always that way.

I used to eat rice like it was going out of style. Leftover rice for breakfast with eggs and GF soy sauce. MMMM! Good stuff!

I started out gluten free, and nowadays, it's not so hard, because it's gotten really "popular."

Example: My HUSBAND made gluten free funnel cake yesterday. With NO help from me. It was sooo easy. And I even had a few bites. It was amazing. I paid for it over night. My sinuses were draining down my throat all night. And this other weird thing that happens: I get a spasm deep in my ear. Only when I'm sleeping. It wakes me up in a coughing jag. I'm waiting to see what happens in the next few days. Typically it would be pain in my joints today or tomorrow, and then anger and anxiety. YAY!

The reason I'm telling you all this is because I've been where you are:

  • I've sat in the car crying before going into a restaurant.
  • I've ugly cried in a friend's bathroom because they invited me over and told me they had food for me, but they didn't.
  • I've struggled at work with a pile of Krispy Kreme donuts staring me in the face.
  • I've faced the horror of making dinner for multiple people with multiple sensitivities.
  • I've spent a lot of time interviewing restaurant managers about their recipes and cooking techniques. (I'm talking to you, Sonya at Chick-Fil-A. Thanks for telling me the Waffle Fries from heaven are cooked in a different vat than the chicken!!)
And I have mastered it. I bake gluten free and dairy free amazing treats for friends and family (they never know it's gluten free). I make paleo meals for dinner soirees. Nobody notices anything except the amazing taste! And some people want to know why things taste so good. I always tell them they are used to bread taking up all the taste. I didn't have a cake at my wedding and nobody. Noticed!

If you want to get with a group that's mastering this sensitive life, hop into Thriving with Food Sensitivities!

How I Discovered My Gluten Sensitivity

As you know, I was sick a lot growing up! It wasn't until I was in my late 20's that I figured out that I was gluten sensitive. It was before GF was even a thing! So how did I come up with it? With the help of a natural health professional that happened to be a friend of mine!

I was struggling with my health, work, and my volunteer work, and a friend of mine was taking all these classes on natural health (little did I know that 15 years later I would be taking those same classes!)

So, this friend of mine had atrocious handwriting… she couldn't even read it, but I had worked for a doctor and learned how to decipher chicken scratch! And she also needed a guinea pig to test all her newfound research on… a match made in heaven.
We decided to barter: I typed up all her notes from her classes, and got free natural health care while I was at it. Now it did take a long time to type up those notes, but I got several things from this barter:

  • A free amazing education on natural health. Sometimes I will hear someone ask a question about a certain health issue, and I'll say, "wow, have you ever taken B6 for that?" And they will ask, "How do you know that?" And I just smile and say I heard it "somewhere."
  • Health care!! I got some amazing massages (RAINDROP anyone!?), nutrition advice, supplement education, and much, much more
Does it feel like I digressed?? I didn't.

Here's what happened:

She suggested that I do an elimination diet. So I did. No wheat, sugar or dairy. Now at the time, this was very, very hard. There were no gluten free packaged goods or flours. I thought my life was over! But it wasn't. It was just beginning!

Three days later, I couldn't believe how I felt! The pain in my joints was gone. I had energy, not from sugar. It was so exciting that I kept it up and it was so amazing to feel good that I decided to do a volunteer trip to build a missionary home in the Cayman Islands. Yeah, what a sacrifice, right?

So, while I was there, I tried to eat on that diet, but food was provided for us the whole time, and the chocolate chip cookies were flowing! What else could I do but enjoy. But I felt ROTTEN almost the whole time. That's when I discovered it. I'm sensitive to wheat. And that was somewhere around 1999 or so, and I have been GF since then. And feeling better in a lot of ways than I did in my 20's!

So, what are you willing to do to feel better?

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High Anxiety and Food Sensitivities

As I lay in bed trying to sleep, I feel this crushing weight on my chest, and I'm afraid I am having a heart attack. But it's not. It only feels like I’m dying. It's ANXIETY!

I try to control my breathing, but it seems impossible. I just know something terrible is going to happen. I try to change my thought patterns by counting prime numbers. Weird? Of course! But it makes my mind think of something else, and it's kinda boring, so I usually fall asleep before I reach 100. 

What many people don’t know is that anxiety can be caused by food sensitivities. Yep, this is weird too, but it's grounded in science.

The gut produces around 90% of the serotonin your body gets, and serotonin is the feel good hormone responsible for happy feelings. So, if your gut is unhappy, guess what? You're gonna be unhappy too. The gut doesn't give you happy hormones and you feel sad.

The body works in two directions: stress can cause physical symptoms, and physical symptoms can cause stress. Right? So, which came first? The anxiety or the sensitivity? Anybody stressed out there right now? 🙋‍♀️

This article shows a direct link between lactose intolerance and anxiety/depression. (Hey, just an FYI, I get super anxious when I have dairy products.)

I didn't know I had anxiety until my dad got really sick. Whew, this is hard to talk about without getting emotional! My dad had quadruple bypass surgery a few years ago, and Chuck and I were living with my parents at the time. I couldn't get ahold of myself. I felt like a new mom watching her newborn sleep. I would peek in his room to make sure he was ok over and over again. Poor thing, I must have really annoyed him!

Dad is recovered, and doing fantastic! No meds, and all his numbers are great. So, I'm thrilled. He rides the bike like 5 miles a day. But, there's a lingering dread right? Most of the time: no. Sometimes: yes. Guess when? When I eat dairy. Or when I get super stressed about something else. We are strange, wonderful creatures!

What I'm saying is this: if you have exhausted other avenues for your depression or anxiety, and are not finding the relief you need, maybe do some research into food sensitivities. Do an elimination diet and see how you feel. There's a free 3 day class on this in my Facebook Group. Make sure to check the Units section for this.

Keep a food journal. Here's my favorite so far. You just might find the answer you're looking for!

If you need help, I'm here for you. Join my Facebook Group, Thriving with Food Sensitivities.

Guest Post By My Mom

Lori is my daughter. A pretty terrific one too! She wasn’t always healthy and chipper.

Growing up Lori was sick a lot, and she rarely felt very well. I would play a game with her to find out where she was hurting. I would barely touch her tummy with my finger and ask her, “Does it hurt here?” She would respond “Uh huh.”  After touching all her major organs to find out where she was hurting, I touched the tip of her nose and asked her, “Does it hurt here?” She always answered ”No!” It was the only spot on her little body that didn’t hurt! 

My heart broke.

I would have done anything in my power to get her well. I would usually put a pot of chicken soup on for her when started feeling sick. And she loved the noodles I added. Often she craved homemade Mac & Cheese. Back then we didn’t always associate unwellness with food sensitivities. When we found out Lori was sensitive to gluten and dairy, I couldn’t help remembering that that was exactly what she craved. And here I was trying to make my little girl feel better, when I was unknowingly making her worse!

I scoured gluten-free, dairy-free cook books to find a way to make these dietary changes for the whole family. I didn’t want to make separate meals. I wanted Lori to eat the same things her family ate. It was intimidating at first, but I quickly found that it wasn’t nearly as difficult as I thought it would be. I substituted rice flour for wheat flour. With a few little tricks, it became so easy. Dairy was a little trickier, but I soon found that that wasn’t difficult either.

Lori is married now, and does not live with us. But my husband and I for the most part still eat a gluten free, dairy free diet. We just feel better.

We had a 10th Anniversary party for Lori and Chuck and invited 25 or so of their friends. I was able to feed them all a great meal, and I made 5 desserts. No one but our family knew it was all gluten free and dairy free.

I feel so comfortable with making substitutions in my favorite recipes; I don’t even buy gluten-free, dairy-free cook books any more. I can use nearly any recipe and just make substitutions. This morning I made Maple Oat Pecan Scones with a Maple Icing. They’re pretty good too! And they are gluten free and dairy free.

Check out Lori's Favorites Page to see what ingredients she uses.

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