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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  1. Your comment about your menus being boring made me laugh. Lots of times over the past two years the kids will ask me to be more boring and just make their favorite fried rice or pizza every week instead of my constant experimenting and trying new recipes. Sometimes boring is good.
    Great post with lots of helpful advice.

  2. Your menu looks great to me! I like that you do all your meal prep in one day. I have been spreading mine out during the week, I may have to try it your way to see if it is any easier...

  3. Boring? I often feel that mine are too because I seem to rotate the same meals every month. But, like Wendy, I have to keep the kids fed. :) Of course, reading other's "boring" menus don't look boring to me at all! I love the pantry casserole directions, but those cheddar mashed potatoes are calling my name. Yum.

  4. I was noticing your nutiva hemp shake link - how do you like it? I've tried hemp powder smoothies (from trader joes's) in the past and couldn't get past the gritty taste. But I like the looks of the fiber and protein on the nutiva shake; trying to decide if I should risk being stuck with 2 canisters;)
    I'm a semi-recent gluten-free eater and look forward to checking out your blog some more.

  5. So glad I found your blog! I get in a GF rut and need inspiration--thanks for providing it in spades!

  6. Your menu looks great to me too! Thanks for dropping by my blog :)

  7. Laura - I just wrote out a huge response to your question about the hemp shake and blogger erased it! URG! Email me: gingerlemongirl at gmail dot com and I'll tell you more about the shake ASAP! LOVE it!

  8. Great menu! It's not boring - you always inspire with your posts. I love how you have the breakfasts, lunches and Sunday prep broken down also. Smart idea.

    I am putting the GF dairy free menu together for Once A Month Mom and am planning on featuring one of your recipes on the freezer menu for May (the Italian Beef Skillet Meal). She asked me to feature other blogs and told me to pick my favorites and, of course, that meant your blog! Hope it means more people find out about the great things you have to offer. :o)

  9. Your pantry looks so neat! And I like the way you do your menu.j
    Thanks for stopping by Healthy Home Blog. Hope you have a great week! :)

  10. I love how your plan your meals, with breakfast, lunch, dinner and meal prep. If I did that, I wouldn't be pulling my hair out because I forgot to do something so we can't have "that" for dinner that night.
    Your pantry looks so much better than mine does!!

  11. I enjoy reading about how you plan so well on Sunday for the rest of the week. I need to become more organized that way!
    Also, you mentioned that one shouldn't eat a gluten-free baked item on the same day as you are having a sandwich. Would you please enlighten me on that a little? I'm a fairly newbie to gluten free eating.

  12. Saudra - Sorry for the confusion on the sandwich! That comment was more for MY benefit than anyone elses! lol! I'm just watching my carb intake and therefore if I eat a sandwich, I don't need to eat another refined baked good (has nothing to do with being gluten free!) Does that make sense? i was really just reminding myself more than anybody else! ;-) I'll work on that sentence as to not confuse people!

  13. The 7 Grain Breakfast Cereal sounds great! How do you do it in your rice cooker? We don't have a slow cooker, but I'd love to press my rice cooker into service on this one.

  14. Against the Grain crusts are fantastic, I can't eat them because they are full of cheese. The Udi's crusts are also very good.

  15. What a fabulous idea to post an entire weeks gluten free menu. You have some excellent suggestions that certainly helps a person looking for new ideas and keeping us from getting bored with cooking. Thanks!

  16. I hear you on the baking! I gave in today to my baking urge and made some Paleo, almond-and-pecan-based, sugar-free (date-sweetened) cookies, and the process of baking them was very satisfying.

    Did you know that eating liquified food (ie, smoothies) causes an increased insulin spike and therefore encourages weight gain/discourages weight loss? I used to eat a smoothie for breakfast every day until I learned that. Now we're back to cooking breakfast every day. (I still have a smoothie occasionally but no longer think I'm being healthy doing it!)

    I love the sound of the cucumber/tomato/radish/olive salad. Yum! What do you dress it with?

  17. Thank you so much for taking the time to post on your blog. I just found you tonight and it's such a blessing. I am on day 21 GF (been dairy free for years) neither of these is by choice. Your blog has shown me several great ideas and I thank you for that.