Free One Week Meal Plan

Meal planning is a topic I revisit a lot because I think it’s crucial for setting yourself up for success. Without meals planned, it’s so easy to just go out to eat or grab a frozen pizza. Planning helps you save money and eat healthier.

I am always on the look out for free things for my readers and when I connected with Lisa from Our Full Plates and found out a little bit about what she does, I had to ask her if she’d give y’all a free trial. Lisa and Sara generous offered up a full week for free.

E-mail them at ourfullplates@gmail.com and mention Real Foodie Family for your free week!

Go check out Our Full Plates and read all about their plans! It looks like they are working on gluten-free and low carb.

Note to my allergy friends: As always do due diligence by looking at labels etc yourself.

 

The “I’m not settling for a healthy alternative” Black Bean Burger

I am sharing with you a family favorite. My husband gets so excited when I make these. Crazy, right? You’d think I would be talking about a regular burger.  Here’s the thing these are so full of flavor that we kind of just love them as their own thing.  I make regular hamburgers and I make these. Just depends on our mood!

Make me a promise? Don’t leave out the mayo, mustard, and dill pickles. Unlike most hamburgers, you need the sourness of the pickles to complete this meal. And believe me you won’t regret it. I am looking for a healthier mayo alternative. I am going to try Costco’s avocado mayo. Has anyone tried it?

I have included my weeknight recipe. It’s delicious, frugal, and something I can get on the table quickly on a weeknight. If you find yourself with a bit more time consider subbing the oat flour for 1( 1/2 ) cup of almond flour (finely sifted) and pan fry the patties in avocado oil. This is by far my favorite method; however the patties are wetter and not as easy to work with. Let me know which one you try!

Black Bean Burgers

Ingredients

  • 2 (15.5 oz) cans (rinsed) beans
  • 1 teaspoon of chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon of onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon of pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon of cumin
  • 1 teaspoon of hot sauce
  • 1 cup of old fashioned oats
  • Avocado oil (or naturally refined coconut oil)
  • Dill hamburger pickles
  • Soy-free Mayo
  • Mustard
  • Romaine Lettuce Hearts

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350.
  2. Blend oats in a blender to make oat flour.
  3. Rinse beans and mash.
  4. Add the remaining ingredients to a medium bowl except for the avocado oil.
  5. Combine bean mixture.
  6. Create patties with a small indention in the middle (so they cook evenly).
  7. Baste the oil on the top of the burger and on the sides.
  8. Cook for 15 minutes.
  9. Broil for 1-2 minutes until patties are golden.

Notes

Use gluten-free oats if you have a gluten allergy

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One of the benefits of baking them is that you don’t have to babysit them. You can even double the batch and eat them for lunches. They reheat really well!

We serve ours on romaine hearts with mayo, mustard, and dill pickles.

Snorkeling Tilapia Over Slaw

When Bill and I got married, we went to Cancun for our honeymoon. It was perfect….except for the snorkeling. We went on a beautiful clear day. I loved every moment of it until I got accidentally  kicked into a big coral reef by a nervous tourist. I had burns all over my stomach. Yeah, I was ready to go back to our fish tacos and margaritas. 🙂

Bill didn’t mind that at all. You see Bill has always loved Mexican food, so he really enjoyed the food in Cancun. Have you noticed that I cook with a lot of Mexican flavors? I don’t always love Mexican food, because it can be really heavy. However, in Cancun I fell in love with the light and fresh fish tacos. Did you know that if flavored right a blackened tilapia is so much better than a greasy breaded one? I am serious. I want to actually know I am eating fish. Otherwise let’s just have fried chicken tacos.

I realized that my favorite part about the tacos was always the light (no miracle whip here!) slaw with the fresh lime, avocado, and fish. I decided to see if we’d miss the corn tortilla and we totally didn’t. Bill didn’t even notice that it wasn’t there and my son ate three helpings of the slaw!

 

Fish Tacos

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 8 minutes

Total Time: 18 minutes

Serving Size: 3-4 people

Tangy blacked tilapia over a lightly dressed slaw. This meal is gluten-free, soy-free, and dairy free

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon of chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon of onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon of cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon of pepper
  • 3 teaspoons of avocado oil (refined coconut oil would work here too)
  • 1 pound of tilapia fillets
  • 3-4 cups shredded cabbage slaw (start with 3 cups and add more if there is too much sauce)
  • 3 tablespoon of soy-free mayo
  • 1 tablespoon of vinegar (white or cider)
  • 1/4 teaspoon of cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon of hot sauce
  • 1 teaspoon of coconut sugar (can substitute with raw or brown sugar)
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • 1 lime
  • 1 avocado

Instructions

  1. Combine the first five ingredients to make the seasoning for the blackened fish.
  2. Heat the avocado oil over medium heat in large skillet.
  3. Place fish in the skillet and season the top side of the fillet.
  4. Cook for four minutes.
  5. Flip fillets and season the other side.
  6. Cook for four minutes.
  7. Once tilapia is flakey and starting to blacken, remove from heat.
  8. Whisk together mayo, vinegar, cumin, coconut sugar, and hot sauce in a medium size bowl.
  9. Add slaw.
  10. Season with Salt and Pepper to taste.
  11. Serve the fish fillets over the slaw. Squeeze fresh lime juice over the fish (don't leave this out!) and top with avocado slices.
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So here’s the real foodie part of the blog. I am such a messy cook! Now that I am frantically writing cooking notes as I cook, attempting to keep my one year old out of the pantry, trying to sing Toby Mac with my four year old, I can’t even really even  pretend to keep the kitchen clean as I go. Furthermore, I am always improvising. It’s my personality I guess. I couldn’t for the life of me find my grater for the lemon zest, so I used my peeler. I wouldn’t really recommend that…but I just wanted the flavor. I was making the Cilantro Lime Black Beans for you guys, but I totally burned them. We will try that out again. They smelled delicious until they smelled like a campfire….

Cleaned Up Chicken Casserole

After a few weeks of eating healthy, you may find yourself craving comfort food. As any true southerner will tell you, comfort food is found in a good casserole. Let’s be honest, though. Not all casseroles are created equal. I don’t want an MSG filled dish that has multiple Campbell soup cans or is mushy with Saltines baked on top. It’s about flavor and texture. Now, I am not knocking these dishes. I have certainly loved a good 90’s dish. My grandmother, Mimi, used to make chicken poppyseed casserole and it was my favorite. I am pretty positive it was full of all things bad for you, but it takes me back to the comfort of her kitchen table where diet cokes and compliments were abundant. I remember calling her in college to get this recipe. My (now) husband fell in love with it.

Here’s my lightened up version:

  • It’s full of flavor but has NO canned soup
  • Uses nonfat Greek yogurt instead of sour cream and mayo
  • It Gluten-Free and Soy Free
  • Packed with protein
  • It’s decidedly un-mushy. I use roasted broccoli florets here instead of frozen broccoli and that makes a big difference.

This recipe comes together quickly if you have already shredded chicken. If you are in a hurry pick some up from Costco or Sprouts. I had mine in the freezer leftover from my Crock Pot Buffalo Batch Chicken. You can also buy pre-rinsed quinioa to save you a step.

Cleaned Up Chicken and Broccoli Casserole

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon of avocado oil (or another heat safe oil like coconut oil)
  • 2 cups of water
  • 1 cup of quinoa
  • 3 cups of broccoli florets
  • 2 cups of shredded chicken
  • 1 1/2 cups of non-fat plain greek yogurt
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1 cup of Mexican style shredded cheese
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon of curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon of dried parsley
  • 2 cloves of minced garlic
  • 1/4 teaspoon of pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400.
  2. Rinse quinoa and combine with water in a sauce pan. Bring to a boil and let simmer for 15 minutes.
  3. Line broccoli on cooke sheet. Pull the florets apart with your hands, so you have smaller bite size pieces. Discard any big broccoli stalks. Cover with avocado oil and generously salt and pepper.
  4. Cook broccoli for 6-7 minutes.
  5. Combine broccoli, quinoa, and shredded chicken.
  6. Stir spices into greek yogurt and lemon juice.
  7. Combine yogurt and chicken mixture.
  8. Place in a 9x13 casserole dish.
  9. Cover with cheese.
  10. Cook for 12 minutes at 375 degrees or until bubbly.
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Divorcing Chocolate: How We (Mostly) Gave Up Sugar

The last couple of years I’ve experimented with sugar and how it made me feel. You guys, I looooooove chocolate and I’ve always taken dessert seriously. Its an important part of life.

I decided that I had to kick my sugar habit because I was addicted. Seriously addicted.

Saying no to sugar wasn’t a decision I made because it was easy or I am not a sweets person. I mean, one time my dress caught on fire at a wedding and I didn’t notice at first because I was holding a slice of chocolate silk pie. Priorities, right?

I could never just have one bite of chocolate. I felt like I needed chocolate after a tough day. I wasn’t able to say no to it. The more sugar I had, the worse I felt. I have an autoimmune disease and sugar sure doesn’t help my pain levels. I can almost always see a link between how I feel and what I’ve eaten.

Finally, my husband and I had a conversation about “living to eat” versus “eating to live” and how the food we choose to fuel our body with matters. We wanted to set the foundation for our kiddos and give them healthy food patterns.

Before you think we are crazy hard-core and that this is not something you could do, there are two things you need to know:

  1. We have exceptions! I rarely say no to a sweet treat when my kids are at a birthday party or a social event. I don’t want them to feel deprived or not enjoy activities. We have special planned treats too. Life is too big and too fun to say no always. I plan for these times, and not having sweets at home helps with overindulgence.

Note: I do keep my own (not the kids’) treats gluten-free and soy free because I don’t want to pay for it later.

  1. We have unrefined sugar in our house. Bring on the fruits! Some A lot of mornings I am wiped. It feels like no one slept, and I don’t want a cup of black coffee. I want to see that half and half swirl around know I have sweet coffee waiting for me.  I mix in a teaspoon of coconut sugar or honey and choose to enjoy my coffee. Yes, we use these sweeteners. They still aren’t great for you, but they don’t spike the blood sugar as much and have some nutritional value.

For example: coconut sugar has vitamins, potassium, and magnesium. Take that, white sugar!  I’m learning to use them sparingly and still make better-for-you treats for my kiddos.  For us, it’s balanced and sustainable. If we had total removal, I’d feel like my kids were left out of fun things like waffles and a warm chocolate chip cookie.

Why We Don’t Eat Refined Sugar in Our House

  • Sugar creates inflammation
  • Sugar causes brain fog
  • Sugar creates a yoyo effect with your energy level. You get an initial rush and then have less energy than before you enjoyed a sugary treat
  • Sugar does not contain anything we need nutritionally and it is crazy addictive

I chose the blog name Real Foodie Family for a reason. We are real people with real kids and a “real” life. While my husband and I have made the decision to not eat refined sugar in our house, my kids totally have it from time to time. They also get special treats! Here’s how it looks in our house and what seems to be a good balance for us.

Tips on Taking Sugar Out of Your Diet:

  • Read labels…and read them again. I don’t want us getting extra sugar in things that have no business having sugar in them anyway (like pasta sauce).
  • Think through snack food. We eat a lot of Larabars  in our house.  Even though they have natural sugar (dates!), they have healthy doses of protein and fiber. My kids have learned to like these as much as the sugar-laden granola bars. I love them because they stick with you much longer.
  • Plan your treats and make them healthy. Friday night was our movie night (my kids watched Cinderella for the first time), and we needed brownies of course. I made these brownies, and they were a huge hit. No one complained once that they weren’t Duncan Hines.
  • Don’t keep sweets in your house. Throw out your holiday candy out or give it to a friend.
  • Don’t buy juice or sodas. (with the exception of Capri Sun Roarin’Waters  – so handy to grab on the way out to the park or the zoo and my kids love them). Instead, we love La Croix. Don’t tell my four year old that it’s not Sprite!

Removing sugar from your diet is hard, and if you’re like us you’ll fail.  And then fail again.

Stick with it. I am really thankful for this change in our diet.

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Crock Pot Buffalo Batch Chicken

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again the hardest part about the healthy real food lifestyle is the time you have to invest into it. The hard part is not saying “no” to a cookie and eating a salad.  It’s the planning, prepping, cooking, cleaning, and then doing it all over again. Self-control is not easy, but if you don’t keep the junk in the house, it does get easier. However, food still has to be made and my kids usually like to eat at least three times a day 😉

The good news is you get better at it. You get more efficient and you learn what’s worth the effort and what’s not. I’m going to leave the stuffed zucchini ravioli for a different season of my life. I dream of the night where we eat a quiet meal where we actually don’t get up from the table five times before saying grace. I know we will miss this age, but will be miss the dinners?

One of my solutions to this seemingly endless amount of work is make a lot of extra food. Last night I made a  crock pot buffalo batch shredded chicken This chicken is delicious and flavorful. It’s not spicy, so it’s a huge hit with kids. You can put in lettuce wraps like we did for dinner, or use it for lunches. I made this last night and after eating dinner I had enough for two freezer bags and a half a bag of shredded chicken to eat on for a lunch this week. That’s what I call a win. I love knowing I meat already made for chicken sweet potato “tacos” or a yummy soup.

Crock Pot Buffalo Batch Chicken

Ingredients

  • 1 onion peeled and halved
  • 1 teaspoon of garlic
  • ¼ cup of buffalo sauce
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 4 lbs of boneless skinless chicken breast

Instructions

  1. Place the onion halves on opposite sides of the crock pot. Add first layer of your chicken (it will probably take two layers of chicken to fit in the crock pot) and add half of the buffalo sauce and generously shake salt and pepper. Add the rest of the chicken and repeat. Add in garlic. Cook on high for 4 hours.
  2. Once cooked, trim the chicken. Shred by hand or with a Kitchen Aid mixer. I place the warm chicken breasts in bowl and turn it on low with my paddle attachment. Watch closely. You don’t want to over shred. I love that my Kitchen Aid does all the work.

Notes

The onion just flavors your chicken; discard it when you are done. You can add more buffalo sauce if you want your chicken to be spicey. We keep the spice down, so we can use it in multiple dishes.

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I served the chicken over butter leaf lettuce with homemade ranch. I rarely use a recipe anymore, but this one is delicious. You can make it healthier by using plain Kiefer or greek yogurt instead of the sour cream. I don’t buy buttermilk, but just throw in a little lemon or vinegar to make my own buttermilk. I then added grape tomatoes. To my surprise, my four year old loved this meal. It was a bigger hit than pizza night!

 

Blueberry Pancakes

Whether you are gluten-free, sugar free, or just looking for a delicious breakfast that doesn’t make you crash after eating, these pancakes will be a big win in your kitchen! I feel like such a super mom when my toddler is begging for more. It’s just bananas, eggs, and blueberries cooked in grass fed butter. Sure have more!

The best part about these pancakes is that they don’t take any special ingredients and don’t take any more time than making traditional blueberry pancakes! I made these this morning with my toddler hanging on my leg, while having an in depth conversation when my four year old about his little people toys. I mean that conversation didn’t require a lot of thought, but you get the idea….these are easy and school day friendly.

Blueberry Pancakes

Ingredients:

2 bananas ( ripe work best)

2 eggs (slightly whisked).

1/4 teaspoon of baking powder

2 tablespoons of grass fed butter

1/3 cup of blueberries

Directions:

Mash the bananas in a bowl. Add in the remaining two ingredients and stir well. Heat butter in a skillet over medium heat.  Scoop 1/4 cup of pancake batter in skillet or griddle. Cook pancakes until the outside rims are starting to bubble. Do not wait until the middle is bubbling to put in your blueberries. Since there isn’t flour the blueberries take longer to cook. Push them into the pancake with your spatula. Note: you can cut the blueberries in half to insure that they stay in the pancake. However, I love it when the blueberry juices go all over my pancake. Do whatever floats your boat!  Once the entire pancake is bubbling and firm, flip your pancake. The opposite side only needs 30 seconds or so. Enjoy! You could top with more butter or maple syrup. I find them plenty sweet and eat as is!

Friday Night Pizza Night

What’s more iconic than Friday Night Pizza Night? Not a lot. Even before I started seriously limiting my grains, I fell in love with cauliflower pizza. When my gluten loving husband  asked for it, I knew it was a winner. Ironically, I didn’t make it much, because it felt like such an ordeal. We lived in this adorable town house apartment with a tiny kitchen with very little countertop. I remember seeing white specks of cauliflower on both sides of my kitchen ( not really a big feat since it was like three feet apart) and it just made cauliflower pizza feel like a mess and a lot of work. I don’t like it when you have to use a lot of gadgets or a lot of bowls. So this ended up being more like a Saturday night meal.

Now, it’s an any night meal, but we save it for movie nights! I am constantly looking for ways to simplify cooking real food. If you cook whole foods, it just takes takes time. I try to find meals I can whip up quickly that will also be a hit with the whole family. Here’s your short cut: Pre-riced cauliflower! I buy mine at Target

My favorite cauliflower pizza is by Damn Delicious. Try this one. It’s amazing. I do have some important tweaks that I’ve figured out over the years. One, do not put your pizza sauce on the crust. Instead, I make the crust and then just top it with cheese and my toppings. We dip the pizza in the sauce. This keeps it from getting mushy and gives it the perfect pizza texture!

IMG_3942.JPG

Also, pizza sauce really makes or breaks a simple pizza. Skip the sugar laden pizza sauce and make your own. It will take you less than five minutes. Promise. Get a big can of crushed tomatoes and dump them in a sauce pan. Drizzle one tablespoon of olive oil and a  tablespoon of garlic and grind fresh salt and pepper. Let it simmer while your pizzas bakes. It’s delicious!

**When baking your pizza, broil it for the last minute or two. That way you get the yummy restaurant style texture we all love!IMG_3936.JPG

 

 

The Paleo-ish Experiment

2017-goalsIt’s 9:00 on New Years and the kids are asleep. I hear the comforting- things are moving forward- sound of the dishwasher while Bill charts out his goals. I’ve already written my goals out in my shiny new planner. I have lots of goals but one BIG goal. I am eating super  clean for real this time. My whole family is. You see I’ve done it before and stopped and started and stopped. It’s truly a game changer for us. It’s just hard. It takes time time, self- control, planning, and a lot of energy.

Energy isn’t something I’ve had a lot of in the last couple of years. I am coming out of the daze of the toddler years. Henry is turning 4 this month (how is that possible? ) and Ella is a fire cracker 18 month old who thinks she should be driving the show. So of course I have time to spiral zucchini’s and make almond flour pop tarts!

But Paleo could help with the whole energy thing….If I could stick with it. Every time I do Paleo or have a super clean diet, I feel great. I have some auto immune health stuff and diet is one of the major ways I control pain. I gave up gluten (wheat) 5 years ago and that was a game changer. Recently I found out that I have a soy allergy as well and my daughter is lactose intolerant. Paleo truly makes sense for us. When my kids eat well,I see it reflected in their moods and sleep patterns. My husband even prefers it and says he feels so much sharper and on top of things when we eat clean as a family.

I think of eating clean as an investment I can make in myself and my family. We all hear of the wonderful results but not necessarily the day to day of paleo. I’ve read a million paleo pins and beautifully crafted paleo alternative recipes with about a gazillion steps, but I just haven’t read much about paleo in the REAL world where you can’t go buy a long list of ingredients you’ve never heard of or have to prepare breakfast, get the kids dressed, and actually shower. And then there’s the other side of the coin, the super, easy, plain, eat a salad, every meal kind of plan. Whenever I read those I think, “Go them! I wish I could I do that but that sounds kind of depressing.” I am more of a live to eat gal than a eat to live. I grew up in a super foodie family culture. I love new recipes. Our holidays are filled with wonderful foods. This year for Christmas Eve everyone prepared dishes from around the world. It was amazing. So I am here to find the middle ground and to find out if it can exist.

I am putting my family on a 6 week experiment. Every time we’ve done paleo I’ve tried to do a total overhaul of diet immediately and I haven’t been able to stick with it. I think it’s just been too much too fast. In general, we are pretty healthy eaters, but taking out grains, dairy, and sugar takes a lot of brain power.

My plan is to start with 2 weeks of paleo dinners, and then on the beginning of the 3rd week add in paleo lunches, and on the 5th week add in breakfasts. We are going to be more paleo-ish. I am okay with small amounts of oats, quinoa, and limited dairy.  I’ve learned to listen to what makes my body feel bad and I can handle those. We also won’t eat refined sugar or dyes. We are going paleo-ish 80% of the time. I want this to be a long term thing. If we are eating super healthy  Monday-Friday, then I have no problem with us enjoying a delicious non-paleo meal at Dinner Club. I also don’t want my kids to feel deprived. When we go to birthday parties ( or have them for that matter!), I want them to enjoy cake. I don’t want to keep them from some of the special things. I think having this plan will help us be more intentional about sweet treats and pizza dinners.

Looking forward to blogging through our Paleo-ish journey!

Paleo-ish Experiment

It’s 9:00 on New Years and the kids are asleep. I hear the comforting- things are moving forward- sound of the dishwasher while Bill charts out his goals. I’ve already written my goals out in my shiny new planner. I have lots of goals but one BIG goal. I am eating super  clean for real this time. My whole family is. You see I’ve done it before and stopped and started and stopped. It’s truly a game changer for us. It’s just hard. It takes time time, self- control, planning, and a lot of energy.

Energy isn’t something I’ve had a lot of in the last couple of years. I am coming out of the daze of the toddler years. Henry is turning 4 this month (how is that possible? ) and Ella is a fire cracker 18 month old who thinks she should be driving the show. So of course I have time to spiral zucchini’s and make almond flour pop tarts!

But Paleo could help with the whole energy thing….If I could stick with it. Every time I do Paleo or have a super clean diet, I feel great. I have some auto immune health stuff and diet is one of the major ways I control pain. I gave up gluten (wheat) 5 years ago and that was a game changer. Recently I found out that I have a soy allergy as well and my daughter is lactose intolerant. Paleo truly makes sense for us. When my kids eat well,I see it reflected in their moods and sleep patterns. My husband even prefers it and says he feels so much sharper and on top of things when we eat clean as a family.

I think of eating clean as an investment I can make in myself and my family. We all hear of the wonderful results but not necessarily the day to day of paleo. I’ve read a million paleo pins and beautifully crafted paleo alternative recipes with about a gazillion steps, but I just haven’t read much about paleo in the REAL world where you can’t go buy a long list of ingredients you’ve never heard of or have to prepare breakfast, get the kids dressed, and actually shower. And then there’s the other side of the coin, the super, easy, plain, eat a salad, every meal kind of plan. Whenever I read those I think, “Go them! I wish I could I do that but that sounds kind of depressing.” I am more of a live to eat gal than a eat to live. I grew up in a super foodie family culture. I love new recipes. Our holidays are filled with wonderful foods. This year for Christmas Eve everyone prepared dishes from around the world. It was amazing. So I am here to find the middle ground and to find out if it can exist.

I am putting my family on a 6 week experiment. Every time we’ve done paleo I’ve tried to do a total overhaul of diet immediately and I haven’t been able to stick with it. I think it’s just been too much too fast. In general, we are pretty healthy eaters, but taking out grains, dairy, and sugar takes a lot of brain power.

My plan is to start with 2 weeks of paleo dinners, and then on the beginning of the 3rd week add in paleo lunches, and on the 5th week add in breakfasts. We are going to be more paleo-ish. I am okay with small amounts of oats, quinoa, and limited dairy.  I’ve learned to listen to what makes my body feel bad and I can handle those. We also won’t eat refined sugar or dyes. We are going paleo-ish 80% of the time. I want this to be a long term thing. If we are eating super healthy  Monday-Friday, then I have no problem with us enjoying a delicious non-paleo meal at Dinner Club. I also don’t want my kids to feel deprived. When we go to birthday parties ( or have them for that matter!), I want them to enjoy cake. I don’t want to keep them from some of the special things. I think having this plan will help us be more intentional about sweet treats and pizza dinners.

Looking forward to blogging through our Paleo-ish journey!