Gluten Free/Dairy Free Meal Prep Menu: Easy to Digest

1/29/21

This week’s menu is going to be easy on the stomach to help soothe the digestive system. The menu is always made dairy free and gluten free. You can always substitute a meat alternative if you are vegetarian or vegan.

Breakfast:

Protein Shake

600 calories

         1 bunch bananas

         2 containers of berries

         1 jar peanut butter

         Protein powder

         1 container of coconut/soy/almond milk

         Chia seeds

Directions: Freeze the berries so you don’t have to use ice in the smoothie. When you are ready to have your smoothie, throw everything (1 banana, 1/2 cup of berries, 2tbs peanut butter, 2 scoops protein powder, 1 tsp of chia seeds, milk as needed) in a blender and blend until smooth.

Snacks

Popcorn: 106 Calories/Serving

Humus & Red Pepper: about 55 calories per serving of 2 tbsp hummus with red pepper slices.

Dinner

Chicken & Wild Rice Soup

529 calories

Original Recipe here: https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/18448/chicken-wild-rice-soup-i/?internalSource=hub%20recipe&referringContentType=Search

1 Rotisserie Chicken
2 Tbsp Coconut Oil

1 onion

½ cup celery 

½ cup sliced carrots

½ lb. fresh sliced mushrooms

¾ cup almond/coconut flour

2 cups cooked wild rice

1 cup slivered almonds (or other nut)

1 can coconut milk

Seasonings to taste:

Curry powder

Salt

Mustard Powder

Black Pepper

Directions:

  1. Make the bone broth. Remove all the meat from the rotisserie chicken. Put the bones in a large crock pot. Slice up the onion, carrot, and celery for the soup above and set aside the amounts needed for the soup. Take what’s left of the above veggies and put it in with the crock pot. For reference, you should have a handful of onion, carrot, and celery in the mix. Add a heap of salt & pepper to the pot as well as a dash of apple cider vinegar (about 2 tbs). The vinegar will help pull all the good stuff from the bones. Fill the crock pot with water to the brim. Set this on low for 24 hours. (If you are vegetarian/vegan substitute for a veggie broth)
  2. The next day, strain out the bones and veggies from the crock pot. You now have a delicious bone broth for your soup. You can measure 6 cups or eyeball that amount for the soup. Save the rest in the freezer for future soups or a nice treat on a cold winter day.
  3. Sautee onion, celery, and carrot in a large soup pot with slap of coconut oil until the onions are clear, then add in the mushrooms. Sautee for a few more minutes until everything looks delicious.
  4. Put the ½ cup of coconut oil in the pot and slowly add in the flour to the mix, stirring continuously. In this step we are making a roux. The flour is used to thicken the soup and the end result of this step should look like a gravy with veggies. If you don’t know how to make a roux, I would suggest quickly watching a tutorial online to get the idea. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eTf0n1HoC1w
  5. Slowly add in the bone broth, making sure the mixture stays even as you are adding the broth. Stir continuously.
  6. Cut up the chicken and throw it in the pot. Add the rice to masterpiece, set the heat to low and simmer. The recipe says 1-2 hours, but it may finish early. Just keep an eye on it and taste it periodically to see when it’s ready (and the rice is cooked).
  7. Add in spices to taste. It may be a good idea to add a smaller amount of spices when you first start simmering and then come back later to do a taste test and see how you want to blend the flavors. As the ingredients are simmering in the bone broth with each other, certain flavors will move to the front or the back of the soup. As they say in Thailand, season with emotion!

Health & Fitness: A Minimalist’s Approach in 6 steps.

2020 was a year to stay at home and work on yourself. I decided to spend a portion of my time trying different diets and home routines to find one that suits me. I’ve tried different things with varying results because of A. a lack of knowledge and B. only partial commitment.

Disclaimer: I am not a fitness guru of any kind. In terms of health and fitness, I’m just an average person who has done some research and self-experimentation. You should always check with your doctor first regarding your health and fitness levels and what is safe for you!

There are a million different programs out there that will tell you to eat this, don’t eat this, do this exercise, don’t do this exercise, hormones come into play, you should count your macros, sleep enough….and the list goes on. It’s really easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of information and feel a bit lost. As a minimalist, I prefer to have things simply laid out for me so I can just check the boxes and move on with my day. So I’ve created a very simplified guideline that you can overcomplicate later:

  1. To lose weight, implement a calorie deficit. I just love James Smith’s multitude of videos that simply state “To lose fat, you must have a calorie deficit.”
  2. Pay attention to the quality of your calories. As a very basic rule of thumb I only eat things that are what they say they are. This would include things like fruit, vegetables, meat, beans, nuts, etc.
  3. Intermittent Fasting/Eating Window. You can try different things to find one that works for you, a general rule of thumb is fast 18 hours and eat in a window of 8 hours.
  4. Vary your fitness routine. Variety keeps the muscles guessing, breaking down and rebuilding.
  5. Stay Hydrated! Drink enough water. If you’re drinking coffee or alcohol, drink more water to offset this or minimize the coffee/alcohol intake.
  6. Get Enough GOOD RESTFUL sleep.

My year on Sleep: 2020 was a great year for some of us to catch up on sleep. Who wants to keep up with all the murder hornets, politics, losing your job, eating your feelings stuff anyway? Better to just sleep through this year and hope for a better 2021. ;-). Honestly though, this year I got a Fitbit and started tracking my sleep, only to find that it’s terrible. Making sure you have a set bed time, a dark room to sleep in, and that you won’t be disturbed while you get your beauty rest are all super important for getting good sleep. For me this meant getting black-out curtains, shutting my cats out of my sleeping room, getting a weighted blanket and sleeping with ear plugs.

My year on hydration: I did not do well on staying hydrated. I’m chronically addicted to coffee. Though I managed to quit drinking alcohol and I minimized my coffee intake to one cup a day in the morning, I still feel like I don’t drink enough water throughout the day. I will continue to work on this point.

My year on varying the workout routine: I started the year training for a Marathon. This worked out pretty well. I was able to stick to my workout schedule and actually ran the race solo in March with a finishing time of something like 7 hours. After that I decided that I didn’t like running as much as I thought.

I moved on to the p90x and did that for about 60 days. It was so damn hard. The one I did was the old school p90x where each workout is about 60 minutes long. Mostly I just felt tired while doing this and eventually gave up.

Next I switched to 4 hours of soccer a week and commuting 90 minutes on my bike 4 times a week. That was pretty awesome and for me felt the best out of all the work out routines. I think I liked this one the most because all the activities were functional. I didn’t feel like I had to carve time out of my day to do the workouts. Inevitably winter showed up so I had to switch again.

Next I tried the Jillian Michael’s app and I think it’s pretty awesome. Her workouts are designed specifically for your level and needs. I also liked that her workouts were between 7-30 minutes long (a lot less time than the p90x). She also packs in a lot of variety. I would have stuck with this app only, but with the pandemic I needed to get out of the house and I also enjoy the hydro massage at the gym.

Now I’m working out at a gym 5 days a week. At the suggestion of James Smith, I am lifting weights before cardio. I switch up what I do for weights and cardio every time to keep the variety in my routines. Soon I will start training for mountain climbing so I can tackle Mt. Shasta and Mt. Rainier in the springtime of 2021.

My year on diet: Okay, this was the hardest category to get pinned down. Because I had the time this year, I had multiple full panel blood tests done and spoke with my doctor on a regular basis to find a balanced diet and vitamin situation that would work for me. I tried so hard to be vegan and vegetarian, but I just ended up becoming anemic and tired. Maybe I wasn’t doing it right and just need to work on finding higher protein foods, maybe it’s partly genetic, maybe I can find a bunch of other reasons why it didn’t work out……long story longer, I switched back to primarily Paleo. I am gluten free even on my indulgent diet days. I’m mostly dairy free (except for yogurt & cheese on occasion). The rest of the time I’m Paleo. This works for me. I encourage you to find a diet regimen that works for you. What I mean by it works is A. I get all the nutrients that my body needs to do what it needs to do B. It’s easy for me to stick to…. meaning I enjoy the food I eat. You may be a vegan Masterchef or Pescatarian, whatever works for you do that!

To lose weight, implement a calorie deficit. Okay, so the reason I like this instead of counting Macros is because it’s simple. It’s easy to do. I don’t have to think that much. If you’re at the point where counting Macros is not too much thinking, by all means do that.

Side Note – I tried the whole “Cabbage Soup Weight-loss Diet” and I think it’s complete garbage. It’s way too hard and you end up gaining most of the weight back. It wasn’t worth the trouble and you should only try this if you enjoy torturing yourself. This is one of those things I think would be good to put into the 1984 history incinerators. It’s a good reminder to not believe everything you read on the internet.

In addition to a good diet, I think it’s important to have a vitamin regimen to supplement what you may not be getting from your food. So for me, I have a bunch of vitamins that I take in the morning: Multivitamin, B12, Vitamin D & Iron. In the evening I take Magnesium to help my muscles relax and to fall asleep.

I have a cup of coffee in the morning…..but dammit, I am not perfect. Sometimes I have a coffee at 7pm and I’m up all night, then I order gluten free pizza and eat candy. I enjoy myself. Then the next day, I’m back at the gym and back to my routine and HAPPY! I think that’s the most important thing about diet and fitness…. maintaining a sense of HAPPINESS about who you are and the choices that you’re making. You are making steps to improve your health and wellbeing. You should be happy about that. You may not see changes over night…. being healthy is a LIFESTYLE not an end game. You don’t get to a healthy spot and then go “Oh I made it, now back to the take out and sitting around all day.” No, you are actually changing your LIFESTYLE by getting active and giving a damn about what you put in your face. It’s something you continually work at.

I hope you have enjoyed the post and my semi-minimalistic approach to health and fitness. If you have other ideas, things you’ve tried, your review on certain fitness programs, diets, whatever you like–please comment below! I can’t wait to hear about your health and fitness journey in 2020.

Camping During a Pandemic and Protests

Harrington Beach State Park Adventure (Belgium, WI, USA)

Due to the global pandemic and daily protests getting out of the city to reconnect with nature was absolutely necessary.

Milwaukee, the city I live in, is one of the most segregated cities in The United States and emotions have been high these last few weeks. As an empath the energies have been overwhelming. I really needed to get out of town for a while.

This was an amazing 40 mile bike ride to the Park. From downtown Milwaukee the Oak Leaf Trail runs north into the Ozaukee Interurban Trail. You ride these trails until arriving in Belgium where a right turn and 2 more miles gets you to the park.

I tried out some new camping equipment on this trip with the hope of finding lightweight gear for future trips abroad.

Fire Starting:

I had a magnesium stick for starting fires. I found this video which covered all the details of starting a fire with this tool. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jGo_Pxul1QQ

The main things to remember when starting a fire with a magnesium strip:

  1. prepare your fire in advance. You want to have all the materials ready to burn when you spark your starter material.
  2. Collect the magnesium bits on something like a stump, bandana, shirt.
  3. Protect the bits from the wind.
  4. Starting a fire this way will take some time, be patient.
  5. Practice doing this in a non-survival situation so you are familiar with how it works.

I also tried starting a fire with my glasses. This did not work like in the movies. I was not able to create a pointed reflection of the sun. I think my glasses may be plastic. I also tried the mirror that comes with my compass. That also did not work.

What I would recommend for fire starting is bringing a lighter (or two) and matches. Put them all into plastic baggies to keep them dry. These tools will be able to start many fires for a shorter adventure.

The magnesium strip doesn’t have to be stored in a plastic bag. It can be used to start 100s of fires. This would be more appropriate for a long term adventure.

Air Mattress:

I did a lot of research before deciding on the “Legit Camping Sleeping Pad”. My only criteria was to find something light weight that packed into a small space. It is 57cm/22.4 by 188cm/74in fully extended and packs down to 9cm/3.5in by 26cm/10.24 in. It weighs 1.1lbs.

Honestly of all the things that happened on this trip, the air mattress was the least of my worries. It was super easy to blow up and maintained firmness for the two nights I used it. I have a Tempur-Pedic mattress topper at home and this air mattress is comparable to that. I slept like a baby.

No Tent:

10 out of 10 would not recommend camping with no kind of cover. I was rather naive in believing that this experience would be similar to camping under the stars in the Mojave. It wasn’t. It was wet and cold. I was woken up by morning dew on my sleeping bag and started a fire to dry it off.

Taking advantage of this time awake in the middle of the night, I laid down on the picnic table and looked up at the stars. The view was breathtaking. So many bright lights in the sky, so far away in space put life into perspective.

Why is star gazing so much fun? It inspires this sense of awe and wonder. What is really out there? Why is that thing shooting across the sky? Is it an alien? Are humans alone in the universe? Are aliens laughing at us? Are they considering jumping in to help or are they watching and eating popcorn? Am I an alien? Would I be from Sirius or Pleiades? Does my tiny little life matter? Are the things I worry about really that important? There are just no words for how beautiful the night sky is. It’s breathtaking.

Camping by yourself:

The urban life has made me soft. I was scared of the dark, making up scary stories in my head. Fearing for your survival when you face the unknown in nature feels different than facing the unknown during a pandemic or protests.

In a pandemic the unknowns are:

Will I catch the virus?

How long will lock down last?

How will this change society?

The fears it inspires are:

What if a family member gets sick?

Is it actually possible to die of boredom?

What will I do if I lose my job during the pandemic?

In a protest the unknowns are:

What changes will be made?

Will the changes be enough to bring peace?

Will this escalate?

How long will protesting last?

How will this change life moving forward?

The fears it inspires are:

The possibility of all hell breaking loose.

More people getting sick and dying from Covid-19.

The possibility of a strong governmental response that puts us into an Authoritarian regime.

Solo Camping is quite a bit simpler. The unknowns are:

What just went bump in the dark? (either a human, a creature, or a plant)

Will that thing kill me? (highly unlikely because humans are scarier than animals and the humans here are all good nature-loving, bike riding types)

The fears it inspires are:

All in your head.

What is the take-away from these observations?

The take-away is that there is a place for society and a place for nature. Society actually protects us from the elements of exposure found in the natural environment. I’m not talking about animals eating humans, but the heat and the cold. Camping with other people also helps calm our fears of the unknown. For these things, I am very grateful for an operating society. I like going to coffee shops and starting conversations with complete strangers about everything and nothing.

Nature reconnects us to ourselves. Nature is a mirror that doesn’t scream back at you. It’s quiet, calm, mysterious, and silently working in harmony to grow. Imagine if humans were like that? Nature strips away all the labels and equalizes survival. This trip helped me put into perspective what really matters in my life. The people I have around me and the natural world. Paired down even further what’s most important to me is the company I keep and the essence of life itself.

How are you recharging during this time?

Please leave a comment or email: firewalkerarts@gmail.com