I love being creative in the kitchen. In fact, the inspiration for this post came from an experimentation half gone wrong making fake noodles out of chicken. Yes. Noodles out of chicken. Leigh told me about this recipe she saw on TV a while back for “no carb noodles” and I had to give it a go. I was secretly hoping to share some awesome news about how easy and fun it was to make protein packed chicken noodles, but I ended up with a big mess and an hour (or two!) of my life I’ll never get back.
Eating clean does not require crazy creativity, hours of preparation, or recipes two pages long. I cook every night for my family, but every night is certainly not show-stopping or photography worthy. For me, cooking is an outlet so I do experiment quite a bit. This is because I want to and not because I have to in order to eat clean. I love all the recipes on our blog, many of which are rotational staples for us. I also love the simplicity of being able to choose whatever protein I have on hand, steam up a huge bag of frozen veggies and call it dinner. One of the best parts about going primal is forgetting about the fifty million ways to dress up rice and noodles, and making protein the centerpiece.
Here are what typical week night dinners look like for us when I’m winging it:
- Spaghetti squash or broccoli slaw with sautéed ground beef or sausage and a jar of gluten-free/no sugar added marinara.
- Easy tuna or salmon burgers with a big spinach salad (my personal salad always starts with 4 cups spinach or raw greens).
- Taco seasoned ground beef with big spinach salad and salsa. Kids usually eat their meat in a bowl chili style with some fixings on top.
- Chicken stir fry with a ton of whatever fresh veggies I have on hand. Usually not following a recipe–throwing in gluten-free soy sauce, ginger, etc until it tastes good enough to serve.
- Sample tray platter of: rolled up nitrate free deli meat, cut up raw veggies, cut up cheese, and sliced fruit with ranch or mustard for dipping and frilly toothpicks, of course.
- Some form of meatballs (sometimes just ground beef, salt and pepper if I’m in a big hurry) with sautéed cabbage or broccoli slaw.
- Scrambled eggs and nitrate free sausage or bacon.
- Straight from the freezer: oven baked chicken, steamed veggies and a bag of sweet potato fries.
Here are my favorite go-to recipes that appear on a rotation when I actually manage to plan a bit:
- Quick Ground Lamb Kheema
- Honey Nut Salmon
- Paleo Pad Thai
- Quick Shrimp Curry
- Marinated Flank Steak from Marks Daily Apple #2
- Stuffed Peppers
- Chicken Masala
- Coconut Flour Pizza
- Unwrapped Gyoza
- Sausage Spinach Meatballs with Zucchini noodles
As for side dishes, veggies don’t need to be dressed up. Steamed, oven roasted, or raw, they’re the only sides you’ll ever need. Also, double the recipe when you can. Leftovers from yummy clean dinners make breakfasts and lunches easy, and keep you from making bad choices when you’re low on time or energy.
In the end, remember that no one is perfect and you have to pick your battles. I don’t care for splitting hairs over a bit of added sugar in my breakfast sausage or canola oil in my frozen sweet potato fries that we enjoy from time to time. All you can do is aim to make the best choices for your family, your body and your budget— and don’t forget to enjoy life!