Tag Archives: 21 Day Challenge

My 10 basic building blocks of paleo eating

I love experimenting with new recipes & finding new ways to whip up delicious feasts. That said though, there are a few basic meals that I always come back to, most of which revolve around the building blocks in this list.

Combine them with each other, with other recipes you find or use these as the basis to create your own adventure. Nail this list of recipes, and the cooking world’s your oyster (or other shellfish of choice).

10 paleo building blocks


1. Cauliflower rice

You need a food processor or blender to make this one worth your while but it’s worth the purchase to have this alone in your arsenal. All you need to do is break a raw cauli into florets, whizz til ricey-looking & then toss into a hot frypan with your choice of flavours & cover for a few minutes until slightly softened. Picture B is a cauliflower fried rice I made with sliced chicken thighs, sliced omelette & assorted fridge-cleanout vegetables. Try it plain with salt & pepper & a squeeze of lemon to accompany fish, or experiment with sliced almonds & turmeric to replace a Moroccan-inspired couscous.

2. Zucchini noodles

Use either a standard veggie peeler or a julienne peeler (this is what I use) shred zucchinis into noodles. Let them dry out for 10-20 minutes or so & then throw them in a hot pan with some coconut oil & a sprinkle of powdered garlic (Picture C). Once you’ve got that down, indulge in these Comfort Noodles.

3. Garbage stir-fry

We covered this one in the breakfast round up but it’s a format you can whip out any old time. Clean out the fridge, slice everything evenly, stir fry in some coconut oil & call it a meal. Make sure there’s a serve of protein involved & if you’re throwing in any leftovers, make sure this is their final outing – only reheat food once.

4. Chicken thighs

While I don’t mind a tin of (sustainably caught) tuna on my lunchtime salads, I do love a good chicken thigh (Picture D). I cook up a batch in the oven on the weekend with S&P, a sprinkle of paprika & garlic and a drizzle of oil. Let them roast for 20 minutes or so at 220°C, until they’re crispy around the edges & cooked through.

5. Boiled eggs

I keep a stash of boiled eggs in the fridge at all times. Throw them in salads, have them as an emergency breakfast or scoff them with raw veggie sticks for afternoon tea. For a refresher in making perfect ones, check out this article.

6. Roasted veg

Cold salads are fine in the summer but they aren’t as appealing come blustery winter days. When you’ve got a tray of chicken thighs in the oven, prep a tray of veg to go in as well – brussels sprouts, fennel, zucchini, eggplant & tomatoes, not to mention starchier options like pumpkin & sweet potato, all get their delicious on in this scenario.

7. Mayonnaise

Queen of the condiments in my opinion, the humble mayonnaise can have some offensive ingredients when bought off the long-life supermarket shelf. An egg, some olive oil, a squeeze of lemon & your choice of seasonings are all you need to whip your own in less than a minute. Legit.

8. Meatballs

Whether you make balls, bangers or burgers, mince-y concoctions are cheap, tasty & portable. Like boiled eggs, they’re totally versatile & easy to batch cook. Melissa Joulwan has an epic collection in her book Well Fed 2 & on her website.

9. A slow-cooked bulk meat fest

Another one for the winter days, cooking up a big pot of melt-in-your-mouth meat is a beautiful way to get your house smelling amazing & your co-workers jealous of your leftover lunches for days. Pulled pork is always a favourite and don’t forget about cheaper cuts – they’re perfect for the slowcooker.

10. Guacamole

Like mayonnaise, guacamole is a top condiment to dollop on salads to up your healthy fat quota & shines as a dip with veggie sticks.

Breakfast: A future without Sultana Bran

When there’s no toast, no cereal, no oats & not even a dollop of yogurt on the menu, breakfast can seem insurmountable. And of course there’s eggs but, without toast, how do you turn them into a meal?

It’s ok, I’ve been there

My friends, it’s time to flip your thinking. What if you could just think of breakfast as Meal #1 or #2 of the day. Mind blown? The only reason we think we need to eat a certain way at a certain time is just because we’ve been raised to believe that’s the way it is. If you’d grown up in China, donkey meat pastry pockets or a steaming bowl of wonton soup might be your morning jam (or your Coco Pops, as it were).

Carlie, one of our Gritters, introduced me to Pinkfarm, a Facebook page run by two busy mums who love their wholefoods & healthy living. The Pinkfarm ladies have coined the term “Royal Breakfasts” & it’s worth checking out what they & their kids sit up to each morning. They actively avoid eating standard breakfast fare & come up with magnificent healthful feasts.

It might feel a bit wild to think of tucking in to a steak & veg for your morning meal, & that’s totally ok, but you need to stretch your thinking: life is still worth living without Sultana Bran.

So where to from here?

Stick to the rules we’ve been given with this 21-day challenge: a palm-size piece of protein, a couple of serves of veg & a good dose of healthy fat. Yep, you’re going to be hating life quick-smart if you’re waking up to a steamed chicken breast & salad each morning so you need to break some barriers & change the breakfast game.

My best breakfasts happen when I:

  • Cook extra vegies &/or meat the night before
  • Am prepared with some pre-cooked bits & pieces (meatballs, egg muffins, boiled eggs & cooked mince)
  • Have a fridge full of options
A 'royal breakfast': Leftover beef, kale & cauliflower rice, topped with an egg

A ‘royal breakfast’: Leftover beef, kale & cauliflower rice, topped with an egg

More often than not, I eat a combination of eggs, a couple of vegies & sometimes some kind of leftover meat. This can vary between scrambled, fried or poached eggs & I alter the veg based on what’s in the fridge but it always involves a green leafy. I often cook up a batch of meatballs or lightly seasoned mince on the weekend to use in breakfasts too.

…but aren’t I going to get sick of that?

Nope, not if you keep mixing it up! Here’s a few different ideas to get you thinking:

…but I don’t have time to cook in the morning, let alone sit down

I’d say have a smoothie but… with no fruit & no milk (coconut, dairy or almond milk) & when you’ve already downed a protein shake post workout, do you really want to? Mate, if you’re on for slurping cold spinach, celery, protein/an egg or two & water, I bow down to you. There’s a motherload of smoothie recipes here though if you’re interested.

Let me introduce another option to you: pre-cooking. Get organised in advance & you can either heat & eat at work, wrangle the kids with one hand while chowing into a muffin with the other or just take it a little slower knowing your breakfast can be in your face in mere seconds.

  • Egg, veg & meat muffins – mix & match some extra veg into these & swap out the meat depending on what you prefer/have on hand
  • Egg muffins
  • Frittata – slice it up & serve it with some sauteed veg if you have the time, otherwise chow it down however you can
  • Boiled eggs – pre-boil some eggs so you can peel & eat whenever & wherever you need to. These are perfect with a salad for lunch too.
  • Meatballs – like the above, make these up & eat hot or cold on the go or sliced up into other delicious dishes
  • Breakfast casserole – use your preferred mince (turkey is tasty!)
Paleo delicious muffins

Smiley egg muffins

…but I don’t like eggs

If you’re hate a runny yolk but are cool with a quiche-y egg style, see above. Otherwise, if you just can’t handle the little suckers or need a break from them, try some of the following:

  • More meatballs… Top ’em with guacamole & dish up with some sautéed veg (mushrooms, tomato etc)
  • Or kill two birds with one stone & put the avocado inside the meatball… Wow.
  • Hit the zucchinis hard with a Zuke-fest breakfast 
  • Paleo guru Mel’s power breakfast:
  • Fiesta breakfast bowl
  • Zucchini pancakes – grate a zucchini, finely slice a shallot & mix them with an egg & whichever herbs & spices strike your fancy. Pan fry dollops of it in a little coconut/olive oil until browned on both sides & set in the middle.

How did I do? Have I convinced you that you can rock your early morning meal?

Be sure to comment if you’ve stumbled across any awesome breakfast ideas, or if you’ve created your own morning masterpiece.

Les Mills 21-day Nutrition Challenge

Les Mills, the genius people behind my beloved Grit, has a 21 day challenge which basically involves going squeaky clean, low-carb paleo (with the addition of a post-workout shake) for 21 days.

I’ve been thinking of doing a Whole 30 or similar lately & when this was raised at Gritshed, I thought it would be an ideal way to reduce the number of sweet potatoes I was ploughing through & have a break from my nightly dark chocolate anti-oxidant habit.

Normal paleo rules are in play but there’s also guidelines around portion sizes and timing of meals, as well as reducing your starchy carb intake.

Here’s the lowdown from Les Mills food dude Corey Baird:

So who’s with me?

I’m kicking this off on Wednesday March 19th & will be rolling through until Wednesday April 9th. For those clever cats playing at home, yep, that’s 22 days. Why is that? Well, it’s our anniversary in early April & we have a deluxe dinner booked at our favourite local restaurant Subo. While they do the most deliciously delicate meals of mostly locally sourced ingredients, I’m not missing out on a decadent feast due to possible traces of starchy carbs.

That’s my declaration of my only off-the-plan meal. I’m making the choice here to indulge in something I’m planning & totally looking forward to. This is vastly different to chowing into a block of chocolate at 9pm, or devouring a parcel of hot chips for a lazy dinner. And this is the secret to staying on the clean-eating bandwagon.

We’ve all had our slip-ups, felt like crap & ate our feelings.

The difference we want to develop with this challenge & with eating going forward is that you can & will be able to make a choice about everything that goes into your mouth. This isn’t about being hyper-aware of calories or ‘bad foods’, it’s about making choices. If you genuinely want that piece of chocolate, or that 7-course degustation in my case, & it is a choice you are consciously making, get in there & don’t feel guilty, enjoy it!

If you do fall victim to a carbalicious convenience food or a stray pile of deep fried business, get over it & get straight back on with cleaning up your act ahead of your next meal.

Don’t wait for the next day. Don’t wait for the next week. Don’t give up

Until launch day, I’m going to be posting a bunch of tips & bits to help you prepare for the challenge. Preparation is a big part of eating this way & even though it might seem like a load of work to start off with, you’ll get used to it pretty quickly & find the best way to make it work for you.

Once things are underway, I’ll still be posting regularly both here & via Instagram to share my experiences & delicious discoveries.

Let’s change the game.