If you’re new to a grain-free diet or new to my blog, this is a great place to start. You will learn my favorite ingredients, answers to common questions and links to my most popular recipes to get you started with healthy living.
A healthy diet is all about eating real food- vegetables, fruits, fish, meats, eggs, nuts and seeds. Choose whole, unprocessed foods in their natural state, and avoid things that are packaged with additives and chemicals. On my blog, the recipes are free of gluten, grains, dairy (except for grass fed ghee/butter), legumes, soy and refined sugar because that is how I eat. I believe in a diet that puts vegetables first, and I aim to make them the center point of all of my meals. Eating this way has relieved the extreme migraines and stomach pains that I used to experience, and it helps me with my energy levels and frame of mind. It’s the best thing I ever did for my health! I personally don’t feel well when I eat rice, corn, beans or quinoa so I also avoid those foods, even though they are whole food forms that some people tolerate just fine. Everyone is different and has to find what makes him or her feel the most energized.
I want you to know that a healthy diet doesn’t have to feel restrictive or boring. You can still enjoy some of your favorite foods, just a healthier version. You can make sweet potato fries and chips, vegetable noodle dishes and grain free brownies and cookies!
When you first start a grain-free diet, you may wonder what on Earth you are supposed to buy at the grocery store. Do I avoid the center isles, and only shop on the perimeter? Do I swap my favorite foods for gluten free options? Is x,y or z “paleo”?
It’s overwhelming! But it honestly does not have to be.
I like to keep my fridge and freezer stocked with plenty of vegetables, protein sources and fruit. My pantry contains baking needs, spices, oils and vinegar.
1. How do I get started?
Clean out the fridge and cabinets! You can get started by eating less gluten, refined sugar and processed oil. That will be A LOT easier if they aren’t staring you in the face every time you open the fridge/pantry. Focus on choosing an abundance of veggies and fruits, your favorite protein and healthy fats. You can choose higher quality meats and vegetables later once you are more used to a new way of eating, rather than feeling overwhelmed. If you are having a hard time giving up breads and pastas, there are homemade options you can make or I recommend a rice flour based bread and quinoa pasta. I’m not a trained chef, so I understand that it seems hard to start cooking all of your food. The best thing you can honestly do is to just start- even if you have to mess up a recipe a few times before you get it right. If you don’t eat 100% perfectly grain free at every meal, that’s fine!
2. Are there dairy-free replacements for milk?
Yes! You can swap milk with coconut milk, almond milk, cashew milk or even homemade milk from sunflower seeds. The best way to get dairy-free milk is to make it fresh at home as it doesn’t contain the additives or sweeteners that are often found in store bought almond/coconut milk. When buying coconut milk, look for canned full-fat coconut milk because it won’t contain the additives that the chilled cartons do.
3. How many meals should I eat everyday?
Eat when you feel hungry! You don’t have to eat every 2 hours to “rev your metabolism”. Personally, I like to focus on three filling meals a day with a snack as needed.
4. Is a grain free diet all about eating a lot of meat?
My approach to a grain free/ paleo diet is to focus on vegetables first. When I eat a meal, I start with a big pile of my favorite vegetables, starchy or non-starchy, and add to it a palm-sized portion of protein (more or less depending on how hungry I am) and a serving of fat. Eating paleo definitely does not mean that you have to eat pounds of meat everyday! In fact, I frequently have days where I don’t eat meat at all because I get my protein from eggs and fish. It just depends on what I am in the mood to eat that day.
5. What do I use to make baked goods?
Grain-free baking can be tricky at first if you’re used to baking with traditional flour or sugar. If you’re completely new to grain-free flour, follow some recipes exactly before you start to experiment with adapting traditional recipes on your own. Grain-free flours include almond flour, coconut flour, arrowroot and tapioca starch, potato starch/flour and some new grain-free flours including cassava and tigernut flour. Other popular ingredients for healthy baking include coconut oil, organic palm shortening, honey/maple syrup, nut butters, coconut/almond milk, plantains, baking soda (to replace baking powder) and cacao powder.
6. Do you eat low-carb, low-fat, count calories, ect. ?
My food philosophy is not to stress about numbers. Everyone is different, and everyone will need different amounts of calories, carbs etc. Personally, I try to eat a diet that is balanced and follow what I truly want to eat at any given meal. I don’t like extremes, and I think a whole foods diet doesn’t need to be made more and more stressful by avoided a perfectly healthy food based on its carb or fat count. I’ve tried to restrict fats, carbs or calories in the past, and it just leaves me in a less healthy state both physically and emotionally. I do best when include both starchy and non-starchy vegetables, fruits and a few servings of fat each day!
7. How do I eat healthy at restaurants?
You can still make healthier choices when eating out! If you have specific allergies, make sure your waiters know that you need your food to not be contaminated (especially in the case of gluten), and you can even call restaurants ahead and ask if they have separate space for gluten-free preparation/cooking. If severe allergies aren’t an issue, you can still tell your waiter you have a gluten allergy to make it easier. A lot of restaurants will show gluten free options right on the menu now too! At most places you can choose a salad dressed with olive oil and vinegar instead of the dressing, or your favorite protein (like chicken or steak) with a potato and steamed vegetables or a burger without the bun. You can also request to have your food cooked in butter instead of vegetable oil if dairy is an option for you. My last recommendation is not to stress about one meal if allergies/intolerances aren’t an issue. Enjoy a gluten-free pizza and don’t regret it later!
8. Can I substitute ingredients in your recipes?
If I’ve tried a recipe with a substitution, I’ll let you know in the recipe. Otherwise, I can’t promise the taste or texture will remain the same. If you try a substitution and it is successful on any recipe, please leave a comment and let me know so that others can try it too! A general substitution that will work in almost any savory (non baking) dish is to sub one fat (coconut oil, ghee, avocado oil, etc) for another.
These are my favorite tips to make healthy eating quick and easy!
1. Make extra!
If you’re roasting chicken in the oven, double the recipe and use the leftovers as lunch throughout the week. You’ll save time and clean up, and you can make it versatile by adding the chicken to various dishes that will hace different flavors (such as frittatas, stuffed sweet potatoes, chicken salad or soup). My favorite things to enjoy as leftovers are roasted vegetables, chicken, burgers/meatballs, hard boiled eggs, sweet potatoes and squash.
2. 5-Ingredient Recipes
Keep it simple with less ingredients. Check out all the 5 ingredient recipes on HTG for simple meals: 5 ingredient recipes
3. Recipes in 30-Minutes or Less
To save more time in the kitchen, check out the 30-minute meals category on HTG: 30-Minute Meals
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**Disclaimer: I am not a health professional, and this is not medical or health advice, but rather general information on healthy eating based on my personal experience.