Tuesday, July 31, 2012

"Greek" Chicken Casserole

We adapted a family favorite recipe to make it more primal friendly (it does use feta cheese, so it's more primal than paleo).  Casseroles are a little hard to come by when it comes to eating paleo/primal, but they're so awesomely quick to put together, I still find a way to make it work.  This one goes together really fast and tastes fantastic.

"Greek" Chicken Casserole


1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes (I used the ones not packed in oil), chopped
10 oz. frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
4 oz. crumbled feta cheese
handful Greek olives, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
boneless/skinless chicken breasts (you can probably also use chicken thighs if you prefer)
pepper to taste


Preheat oven to 350.

1.  In a mixing bowl, combine tomatoes, spinach, feta cheese, olives, garlic, tomatoes, and pepper.
2.  Grease a 13 x 9 baking dish with butter or coconut oil.
3.  Place chicken along the bottom of the pan.
4.  Top with spinach mixture and spread to coat.
5.  Cover and bake for 30 minutes, then uncover and bake for another 15 to 20 minutes until the chicken is done.

This goes well with a nice spinach salad.

Monday, July 30, 2012

The Incredible, Edible Egg

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways...
Photo by nuttakit

To the egg commission:  Please don't sue me for using your tag line!  I'm saying good things about your product, I swear!

Eggs are the ultimate frugal paleo food.  Even superstar eggs, the ones laid by chickens that are happily living the chicken dream are affordable, even at twice the price of "regular" eggs.  My favorite way to procure eggs?  My mom owns a few chickens and they lay more eggs than she and my step-dad could ever possibly eat.  So about once a month or so I get to score an 18-ct pack of farm fresh eggs.  Yum!!!  And pretty easy on the budget, too...

My go-to breakfast is a fried egg (in butter), with a slice of ham (browned up nicely in the leftover butter, oh yeahhh).  This typically keeps me full until noon or later.  If I'm forgetting to eat, you know I'm in a good place!  I do feel like I should be including some veggies in this breakfast.  Part of my morning challenge is getting two kids ready for the day, and taking the time to properly feed myself can sometimes be a last-minute task.  Eggs fry up easy and it doesn't take me long to scarf them down, so this works.  Trying to chop veggies might be a bit more than I can handle some mornings.

This leads itself to an obvious solution, doesn't it?  Chop the darn things the night before!!

Here's one of the first things I learned about eating paleo on a budget:  If you don't plan ahead, you're screwed.  It's that simple.  I plan out the family's meals once a week and create the grocery list based on that plan, including options for snacks.  I will definitely have a lot more to say about this later, but let's get back to eggs, shall we?

If you're only eating eggs for breakfast, you are missing out big time.  We eat eggs pretty much around the clock.  Eggs with bacon or other assorted meats plus fresh fruit is a favorite super easy and cheapo meal in this house.  We also started buying double the eggs and hard boiling half of them to keep around as snacks and fast meal options.  (Note:  If you do this, LABEL LABEL LABEL the container you are keeping the hard boiled ones in to avoid a Ramona Quimby moment.)  I personally don't care for the taste of hard boiled eggs, although having them around makes it easier to make deviled eggs and I love those.  The hubby and the kids all like the boiled eggs though, and I don't have to nag the hubby about packing a healthy lunch.

While leafing through one of my magazines last night, I found hidden amongst all the recipes for various pasta-based dishes a little gem:  spinach and goat cheese frittata.  (Note:  I lean more toward the primal side of things, so I do include full-fat cheeses in my diet occasionally.)  It looks like the only tweak it needs is to substitute the olive oil for butter (you do know you shouldn't cook with olive oil, right?). I think that will be on the menu next week.

So tell us... what kind of eggs do you buy and what's your favorite way to cook them?

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Welcome to the Frugal Paleo!

Beef.  Nom.
Photo by piyato

I wear a lot of hats.

One hat that I have tried on and decided that I would like to wear is that of a healthier person.  I'm currently extremely overweight, and, well, I'm kind of tired of being that way.  When it comes to diets, I've been there and done that.  I've been up and down the scale, although at the moment, getting below 200 lbs. would be my holy grail.  I don't think I've seen a scale number below 200 since high school (and my 20-year reunion isn't that far away).  When we recently moved, I sent bags and bags of clothing on to the Goodwill, in everything from a size 16 to a size 30. I tossed over 30 skirts and pairs of pants and over 50 tops.  Despite that packed closet, I was only able to wear about three or four outfits at any given time.

Being overweight is, quite literally, a royal pain in the ass.  My back hurts, my hips hurt, my knees hurt, and my feet hurt.  I can't keep up with my kids.  It's all I can do to haul myself up my stairs every day.  The thought of going for a fifteen minute walk makes me want to cry.  I hate feeling so limited.  

A while ago, my sister inspired me to start eating Paleo/Primal, and I read The Primal Blueprint.

Despite my initial reservations and insistence that I could never eat like this and that this diet was a fad and fats are baaaaaaad, and so on and so forth, the science was compelling and made perfect sense.  Plus, I couldn't deny that after a few weeks eating paleo, I felt incredible.  My skin was clearing up, I actually had energy (for a change), and the weight was practically falling off.

Then a whole string of birthdays and other life-type stuff got in the way, and soon I was snarfing down cake and potato chips again.  I regained some of the weight and went back to my pimply, cranky, low-energy self.  

Well, I'm giving it another go.

I'm gonna give this bad boy another try.  I saw the results and I believe in it.  Plus, I'm in a Biggest Loser type competition with a group of friends and I want to win that pot!  

Which brings me to my next point.

My family isn't exactly rolling in the dough, if you know what I mean.  Items like pasture-raised/grass-fed beef are a little challenging to procure when the weekly grocery budget for a family of four is often less than $100.  At the same time, I don't feel like stuffing our faces with cheap rice and pasta is an option either, now that I'm aware of what they do to me.  

So here's my plan:  I'm going to write about what my family is doing to eat Paleo/Primal on a limited budget, share with you what we learn and discover along the way (including ways to buy quality ingredients for less and good Paleo-style recipes I find), and you can cheer me on or share your stories and ideas.  Sound like a deal?


Let's shake on it.