Sunday, April 3, 2011

This Week's Menu with A Pantry Casserole Recipe Template

A few reasons I previously "stopped" posting our gluten free menus: 1) they can be boring & repetitive... do you really want to know how often we eat tuna salad? and 2) I often forgot to plan...

I've realized in the past few weeks that even though our menu can be a bit boring, and even if I don't follow it completely... it's SO much easier to eat healthily when I take a few hours to plan out our meals. 

After my weekly coaching session with Cheryl of Harris Whole Health today, I'm going to focus more this week on eating less refined/baked carbs and being more mindful of eating healthy complex carbohydrates at meals. I think the hardest part of letting go of more baked goods is simply that I love to bake. It's an outlet for me, and even though I may only do it once or twice a week at the most it's a stress reliever that's important to me. And while I'm not completely restricted from eating gluten free baked goods... I know it's tempting when they are around the house, even if they are in the freezer. So if I'm able to bake this week, I may attempt something with almond flour, so it would be much lower on the glycemic index.

Breakfasts This Week:
Lunch This Week: 
  • Most days: planned leftovers from dinner and/or cucumber tomato salad . If dinner leftovers don't work out: peanut butter & jelly sandwich on Udi's bread with a sliced apple and carrot sticks. Make sure not to eat gluten free baked goods on days that you have a sandwich for lunch!
 Dinners this Week: 
  • Sunday -  Simple Roast Chicken + green beans with almonds + cheddar mashed potatoes
  • Monday - Homemade Ground Turkey Tacos served with quick "Spanish" rice + steamed broccoli
  • Tuesday - Baked Potatoes topped with homemade ground turkey chili + simple romaine salad
  • Wednesday - Chicken Stirfry using a bag of frozen stir fry vegetables served over brown rice
  • Thursday - Pantry Chicken Casserole -- see recipe below
  • Friday - Pizza Night! Trying a pizza from "Against the Grain"

Sunday Night Pre- Meal Preparations:
  • Make homemade ground turkey chili and pre-bake baked potatoes for a quick dinner on Tuesday. 
  • Boil eggs & shell them. Make the 7 grain cereal in the rice cooker for the upcoming week. 
  • Shred lettuce & dice tomatoes for ground turkey tacos. 
  • Make ground turkey taco filling, so it only needs to be reheated on Monday night. 
  • Make simple cucumber, tomato, radish & olive salad for last minute lunches and/or to serve with dinners that need an additional quick veggie. 
  • Remove chicken from freezer and place in fridge to defrost for Wednesday night's stir fry. 

My canned goods "pantry." We use a lot of canned goods, especially in the fall and winter and on "lean" grocery weeks. Having a well-stocked pantry is essential when you need quick meals. I often use the canned fruit for last minute green smoothies. I use canned vegetables & beans with several meals during the week -- I'd buy more frozen vegetables but we have a tiny freezer! I love having soy free, dolphin safe tuna (most brands have broth made from soy protein) in the pantry for tuna salad and tuna melts. Peanut butter & almond butter for sandwiches and to spread on apple slices, etc... Knowing I have a pantry full of vegetables, beans, fruits, gluten free pasta, and gluten free grains means I can whip together a casserole pretty quickly during the week. I'm not sure I've ever made the same casserole twice though, much to the disappointment of my husband! This is generally how I create weeknight pantry casseroles:

Quick Gluten Free Pantry Casserole Recipe Template
Here's an easy way to construct a pantry casserole or hot pot depending on which region of the country you are from. We make a meal like this at least once a week. Have fun and use what you have on hand. It may not always be the prettiest meal, but it will always be healthy & filling. 
  1. 1-2 cups cooked, chopped protein (chicken, beans, ground beef or turkey, tofu, pork, etc..)
  2. 1-2 cups cooked starch (gluten free pasta, rice, brown rice, potatoes, sweet potatoes, wild rice, millet, quinoa, aramanth, etc..)
  3. 3 cups your favorite vegetables, either pre-cooked, frozen, canned (and drained), or raw (chopped into bite size pieces) = (zucchini/yellow squash, mushrooms, green or red peppers, broccoli, cauliflower, tomatoes, green beans, kale, spinach, carrots, garden peas, asparagus, etc...)
  4. 2-3 cups liquid (chicken broth, plain tomato sauce, spaghetti sauce, salsa, beef broth, vegetable broth, homemade gluten free "cream soup", etc..)
  5. Seasonings & Spices: use what you like with the flavor you like... here's are two great guides for different international flavors:  Cooking Light World Cuisine Spice Guide & Cooking With Us - Cultural Spice Guide
  6. Toppings (optional - I usually don't add a topping -- but for company and presentation it's nice!) -- blanched almond flour is awesome and looks & tastes like parmesan cheese when sprinkled evenly over casserole, bread crumbs or crushed corn tortillas, sliced almonds, shredded cheese if you're a dairy person, etc...
Super fast casserole: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. To make this uber fast, simply toss all ingredients but the topping in a large bowl and mix together. Pour casserole mixture into a greased 9x13 casserole dish -or- 2 quart baking dish. Sprinkle on toppings if desired. Bake for 30 minutes until casserole is heated through. 
Layered casserole: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease casserole dish. Add ingredients in layers and sprinkle your seasonings on each layer (layer of protein, layer of starch, layer of vegetables etc). Pour liquid of choice over casserole. Add toppings if desired.  Bake for 30 minutes or until casserole is heated through. 

Allow to cool for about 10 minutes before serving!


Other great gluten free menus this week can be found at Celiac Family who is hosting this week's gluten free menu swap! 

An amazing roundup of menus of ALL kinds can be found at

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