Hello everyone. I have been following a Paleo diet since the new year, and I am enjoying it so far but I can't help put feel like I don;t really have much variety in my diet like. Just wondered if people could offer some easy to make alternatives, or offer some suggestions about what I am eating.
A typical day when I go the gym;
Pre Workout - I am trying fasting before workout, so generally nothing. Post Workout - Whey Protein Shake, a habit I can't really get out of
Meal 1. Usually Chicken Breast/Two Chicken Legs
Meal 2. Usually a big steak and mixed veg, Usually Brocolli, Cauliflower, Peas, Carrots, but these mainly come from frozen.
I try not to snack throughout the day, but if I get hungry I normally eat a banana.
I understand that I am not eating too much fruit or veg, but I am coming from a very bad diet and embarassingly, if I am being honest, I am not really that clued up on how long veg will last from fresh and about all sorts of extra types of veg.
My main goal is weight loss for the time being, hence keeping a low amount of fruit in my diet.
Any advice on maybe some easy variety or some sort of critique on what I am eating would be much appreciate.
Honestly, the best way to add variety to your diet is to get in the kitchen and get your hands dirty. Make a goal to try at least "1 a week"- 1 new vegetable, 1 new recipe, 1 new preparation...just something!! Stalk out as many recipe site as possible- it doesn't have to be paleo, any blog worth it's salt will have loads of recipes for veggies and meats. Try curries, soups, stir fries, salads, and just keep on trying. Sure, everything might not taste great, and I guarantee you will make mistakes and feel out of your element when you start. After a while though, you get the hang of it- you learn what you like, and what you don't like. You start navigating the store and market a bit better, and it gets easier.
If you need help kickstarting, I always tell people to sit down with 3 pieces of paper at the beginning of the week. On one piece of paper, write down your meals you want to have for the week. Browse blogs, pick out recipes, and put it down in ink that you are eating that item at that time on that day. Be realistic- if you have a little more time on some evenings than others, pick those for a more elaborate dish or new meal approach. Once you have a schedule of what the week is going to look like, make a grocery list from this plan. Take the 2nd piece of paper and write down every item you will need for that weeks meals that you don't have. You don't have to get all the groceries at once- it looks like a lot of food when you are cooking every meal, but just make sure you have a solid plan to get all those groceries at the appropriate time throughout the course of the week. Now for the 3rd piece of paper, and this ones important: make a prep sheet. This is how restaurants run- nothing moves if the prepwork isn't done, and the same things will happen in your kitchen if your on a tight schedule. Think of what can be done ahead- does something need a marinade? Can you roast some vegetables ahead of time and just reheat them before dinner? Can anything be peeled/chopped/sauteed/steamed in advance? Can you make up casserole dishes or ramekins that are ready to be thrown in the oven when you want dinner? Do you have all your lunch items in the containers ready to go? This is the key to saving time, reducing stressed (don't have to freak out there is nothing defrosted or ready), and using food efficiently (if you know what is going to happen to every item in your fridge, food waste is hugely reduced).
Making food for yourself isn't just what happens in the kitchen- it is having the right ingredients on hand in the right state so that you can prepare them with ease in a way you know in advance. As you get more comfortable with your kitchen and eating schedule, it won't be as big a deal. However, I have lots of experience cooking and preparing food since I became interested in food when I was really little, and as soon as my life starts to get really busy and hectic, I snap right back to this 3-lists system. It is a savior!
I don't see any seafood listed in your post. You can add wild caught seafood to your diet and that is good way to increase your omega 3 intake.
If you are looking for food ideas here are some good links to explore:
There are "staple" recipes that I eat to get a good variety in my veggie intake.
Kale and garlic cooked in chopped bacon. Yes, this is as simple as it sounds. Chop two strips of bacon and fry it. Add chopped (about 8oz, or a full-sized bundle) kale, on top of that, add 3 cloves of minced garlic, plus some pepper. Cover the pan and reduce to low for about 5-10 minutes or until the kale is wilted. Add a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar and salt to taste (the bacon adds enough salt for me, personally).
Raw tomatoes with bacon. Something about salty/smokey with a really ripe, slightly sweet tomato is a good reason to wake up and eat breakfast. I've been eating tomatoes with breakfast since I was a kid.
Brussel Sprouts and butter. Cut the stems down, then cut the brussel sprouts in half. Cook them cut-side-down in a pan full of butter at medium heat. Reduce heat, cover, and allow to simmer for 15-20 minutes.
Curried Baked Cauliflower. Courtesy of the Everyday Paleo cookbook, this is a weekly staple in my hizzy. Toss cauliflower in warmed coconut oil and copious amounts of curry powder and a small amount of salt, until the cauliflower looks sufficiently jaundiced. Bake for 20 minutes at 350*. My 7 year old LOVES this dish, so you know it's good.
Classic "Greens" - I'm a hillbilly at heart (and genetics) and I love greens. Stew collard greens, turnip greens, mustard greens, whatever... in a big pot of chicken broth with a fairly substantial hunk of pork fat and apple cider vinegar. Throw some old bones in there too if you want. Do not throw away the broth, that stuff is the nectar of the Gods.
I don't find myself needing much more than that. I do eat quite a bit of raw vegetables and berries on top of this usually. I also like to eat raw zucchini topped with a good chili.
Try switching groceries. I started going to an Asian grocery.
It has a produce department that is 4 times the size of the produce department at the local chain grocery.
While the meat department (beef, poultry, and pork) was about the same, the seafood department is humongous.
I have my shopping list, but I also spend a little time wandering around looking for a couple of new food items I've never tried, and then take them home and see if I can find a dish they work in. You don't have to reinvent the wheel every time you eat, but adding new ingredients to you cooking toolbox helps build some variety into your meals.
Browse recipe galleries like chowstalker.
Also, each time I visit the store I try to buy 3 kinds of fresh vegetables in addition to leafy salad ingredients. I try to pick ones with different "shelf times" so a typical mix for me would be asparagus (cook first) plus beets/cauliflower (cook within a few days) and sweet potatoes or rutabagas (cook last.)
For salads, I like tender greens like red leaf lettuce plus romaine. I eat a lot of fresh celery; I particularly love the leaves. Many people here like kale.
I'm also one who likes to include moderate fruit--my favorite is grapefruit but I also eat at least occasional bananas, berries, kiwis, etc.
My typical dinner is fruit, salad (olive oil and vinegar) and a main course of cooked meat/vegetables.
If you rotate meats and vegetables, the variety is nearly endless.
Agreeing with all the other folks who suggest picking a few food blogs to follow. My favorite is www.nomnompaleo.com
I get a CSA box of veggies, and I have to figure out how to prepare them then, which is a good way to incentivize myself to get creative and out of ruts. I particularly like to roast most veggies. Cut into bite size pieces, toss with oil and salt and pepper, put on a cookie sheet in a 375-400 oven, and cook until it starts to look carmelized and yummy (usually around 20-40 minutes). I do this with cauliflower, broccoli, sweet potatoes, zucchini, brussels sprouts (though I steam them a little first).
Kale chips are another favorite in our house--cut into bite size pieces (remove the thick stem), toss w oil and salt, then place on a cookie sheet, taking care that they are not stacked up (only single layer). 400 degree oven around 5-7 min. Delicious!
Also, I like to buy delicious spice mixes premade-penzey's is a great place to do it, though there are others like spice hut or spice hound. Then I can sprinkle my meat liberally with a spice rub, and then cook it, and it's delicious! Great way to make chicken or ground meat.
Start searching Paleo food blogs...Pick a couple fo veg like acorn squash or brussel sprouts and roast them....then add garlic and salt...my daughter makes fresh brussels. Boils them, then shocks them in ice water then cuts em in half and pan fries them in coconut oil then adds garlic powder and salt and butter....wonderful...never bitter this way.
Okay, I'll admit I'm grumpy today (bad sleep) but "a habit I can't really get rid of", what's that about? A habit you don't want to get rid of? Whey protein just ain't real food. How about a couple eggs after your workout? Or a banana and a handful of nuts. Something that doesn't come with a label.