10 No Brainer Primal Dinner Ideas

10 No Brainer Primal Dinner Ideas

Awhile ago I wrote a post about 10 on the go primal breakfast ideas. It’s one of my more popular posts which hopefully means it was helpful to you all, so I thought I should do a similar post about 10 No Brainer Primal Dinner Ideas.

The reality is meals can be hard and as you get busier, more tired and add kids in the mix – dinner can often feel like a chore. If you absolutely don’t feel like cooking you should check out my Freshly review which is as easy as it comes, with only a few downsides it’s a great option for the tired and overworked. But if you can muster up some energy to put dinner together but you’re pressed for time or ideas, check out some of my go to options for dinner that not only feeds me but also feeds my family of 5 – myself, my wife and 3 kids.

1. Rotisserie chicken and roasted veggies

This is a staple in our home. Normally I do this the days I go grocery shopping because I can grab a chicken that’s all ready to go. Leaving me with just having to roast some veggies when I get home from the store. Get your oven up to 425. Toss a tray or two full of frozen or fresh veggies (broccoli is my favorite) mixed with olive oil, salt and pepper and roast until brown – 25–45 minutes. Then while that’s roasting and gettin near the end, 10 min or so, cut up your chicken. Don’t be intimidated by the whole bird. Once you figure out how to cut it up, it’s no big deal. My dad showed me how to cut up a whole chicken but this video can help too.

2. Spaghetti squash and meat sauce

This sounds more complicated than it really is. All you need is a couple jars of spaghetti sauce, ground beef and a spaghetti squash. Look for a spaghetti sauce with olive oil and no industrial seed oils (ie canola oil, soybean oil, etc…) and no added sugar. This post runs through this idea a little more. Roast the spaghetti squash cut in half on a baking tray with a few tablespoons of water at 375 for 35 minutes. While it’s roasting cook the ground beef and break it up. In another pot warm up the sauce on low heat and mix the two together once the meat’s brown and done cooking. When the spaghetti squash is done just shred the inside with a fork and serve with the meat sauce.

3. Eggs and bacon

Dead simple. Bake your bacon. Cook up some eggs. Scrambled, fried, hardboiled – however you like. Just because it’s dinner doesn’t mean you can’t have a “breakfast” food. It’s all just food.

4. Kalua pork on a potato

I follow Nom Nom Paleo’s recipe for this kalua pork. All you do is slow cook the pork shoulder overnight and during the next day. When it’s ready and you’re ready to eat just microwave a couple potatoes (or steam cauliflower if you keto’ers so wish) and top the potatoes (or cauliflower) with the pork. If you do dairy, throw on some cheese and sour cream – but don’t leave out chopped chives!

5. Pork chop and a salad

Get a couple pork chops. Sprinkle both sides with salt and pepper and then grill over high heat for 5 min on each side, or until the internal temp is 145. While these are grilling toss some mixed greens with blue cheese, walnuts, olive oil and balsamic vinegar. In 10 minutes you’ll have a deliciously primal dinner.

6. Big bag salad

Don’t make this more complicated than it needs to be. Grad a bag of salad. This one is my favorite. Toss the salad with your own salad dressing since the included dressing has some bad seed oils. I just toss my salad with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Add meat if you like or go without. Then enjoy!

7. Taco bowl

This one sounds intimidating too, but I promise it’s not. All you really need is ground beef, chopped romaine and precut cauliflower rice. The Domestic Man’s recipe is what I follow for the taco seasoning and everything else. Then you can follow my recipe for cilantro cauliflower rice. Once everything is cooked, assemble your bowl and add your toppings. My favorite are avocado, black olives, cheese and chipotle salad dressing.

8. Burger and fries

Buy premade burger patties or use frozen burger patties. Now I know I’m normally down on seed oils but this Alexia brand tastes great and comes in handy. One batch of fries cooked in this oil won’t kill you. Just toss the fries on a tray for 25 min in a 425 oven. While they’re cooking, grill your burgers. When they’re done assemble your burgers with some romaine, tomatoes, onions and avocados. As an added treat I like to eat my fries with this mayonnaise!

9. Pick up a pizza

Some days you just have to do it. One unhealthy meal won’t make you unhealthy just as one healthy meal won’t make you healthy. And if you must – most places have gluten free options too, making this unhealthy meal slightly more healthy.

10. Your own body fat

I’m echoing my breakfast post with this one: Now I’m not talking about cannibalism, I’m suggesting that you practice intermittent fasting from time to time. You don’t always have to eat dinner. If you’re body is a fat adapted, your body can switch to using stored body fat for energy instead of relying on sugar (carbs). It’s a common misconception that we need to eat 3 meals a day. Eat when you’re hungry, and if you’re not hungry at dinner – don’t eat!


That’s it guys. I hope some of these ideas will work for you and your family – or in the very least maybe sparked some no brainer primal dinner ideas of your own. If you have some no brainer primal dinners that you and your family love to eat, please leave a note in the comments. Take care!

IQ Bar Review

IQ Bar Review

I’m always on the lookout for a good energy bar. I’ve written about many great bars I’ve found over the last couple years ranging from cricket protein bars like Exo or Chapul, or egg white protein bars like RXBARs, or even typical animal protein bars like Wilde. There are so many bars coming out nowadays that are geared towards Whole30/Paleo/Primal people and it can be pretty exhausting to decide on which bar to spend your money on. The most recent bar I saw when I was on Instagram was actually for a crowdfunding campaign for a bar call IQ Bar.

IQ Bar Review

The image and description grabbed my attention so I quickly went over to their page to read all about these new bars. What I read really intrigued me so I immediately reached out to the owner to see if I could do a review of their bars and he was more than willing!

As always we will be reviewing these bars for: Nutritional Profile, Affordability, Taste. Let’s get to it!

Nutritional Profile

IQ Bar Review
Now when it comes to what these bars are composed of, these guys really get it. I can’t even attempt to go into the science of exactly how great these bars myself, because their crowdfunding page really breaks down the nutritional information for each of these bars and what their goals were. In a nutshell it’s this: too many bars are full of sugar that lead you to a sugar crash not too long after you eat them – but IQ Bars are low carb/high fat (YES!) that will provide you with enough energy without the sugar crash to follow. Please turn your attention to their video that explains their bars and goals in more detail:

So these bars sound pretty great right? That’s because they are. The problem I have with all the Larabar or Nutri-Grain type bars is that there is just way too much sugar and not enough fat! We need more fat, and that’s what these bars provide – more fat and less sugar. One thing to notice about these particular bars that’s different from the rest of the bars I’ve reviewed is that they’re not “protein” bars. That’s ok though because that’s not their market – their market is to go against what I just mentioned was the high carb/low fat bars. So if you’re in need of protein in addition to these bars maybe hit up a hard boiled egg or something.

IQ Bar Review

Let’s take a look at the highlights of these bars nutritional breakdown as listed on their site:

IQ Bars are the first and only nutrition bars optimized for the brain. They’re drastically different than other bars for three main reasons:

  1. IQ Bars are low in net carbs (~8g/bar), high in healthy fats, and packed with 5 brain-critical nutrients.
  2. Our ingredient list is short, and contains 100% all-natural inputs. No ingredients that start with “X”!
  3. IQ Bars comply with vegan, Paleo, Whole 30, low-carb, and kosher diets, and have ZERO grains, gluten, GMO’s, dairy, soy, or added sugar.

Now these are just the highlights of the nutrition in these bars, they have even more complex science on their indiegogo page that goes way more into detail of why low carb/high fat is the preferred nutritional profile for our bodies. I’ve written about how this fits into my primal lifestyle here as well.

IQ Bar Review

Let’s look at IQ Bar Blueberry Walnut compared to say a Larabar and something even worse like a Nutri-Grain bar:

IQ Bar Blueberry Walnut
Total Fat: 14g
Total Carbohydrate: 21g (Dietary Fiber 12g, Sugars 8g)
Protein: 4g
Ingredients: Blueberries, Walnuts, Coconut Flakes, Sunflower Seeds, Almonds, Dates, Cacao Nibs, Cacao Powder, Chia Seeds, Chicory Root Fiber, Pink Himalayan Sea Salt

Larabar Blueberry Muffin
Total Fat: 8g
Total Carbohydrate: 26g (Dietary Fiber 3g, Sugars 17g)
Protein: 4g
Ingredients: Dates, Cashews, Unsweetened Blueberries, Blueberry Juice Concentrate, Lemon Juice Concentrate, Vanilla Extract.

Nutri-Grain Blueberry
Total Fat: 3g
Total Carbohydrate: 24g (Dietary Fiber 3g, Sugars 12g)
Protein: 2g
Ingredients: Filling (High Fructose Corn Syrup, Blueberry Preserves [High Fructose Corn Syrup, Blueberries], Corn Syrup, Glycerin, Fructose, Sugar, Maltodextrin, Water, Natural and Artificial Blueberry Flavor, Modified Corn Starch, Sodium Alginate, Calcium Phosphate, Citric Acid, Soy Lecithin, Xanthan Gum, Modified Cellulose, Sodium Citrate, Malic Acid, Red No. 40, Blue No. 1), Enriched Wheat Flour, Whole Oats, Sugar, Partially Hydrogenated Soybean and/or Cottonseed Oil, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Honey, Calcium Carbonate, Dextrose, Nonfat Dry Milk, Wheat Bran, Salt, Cellulose Gum, Leavening (Potassium Bicarbonate), Natural and Artificial Vanilla Flavor, Soy Lecithin, Carrageenan, Guar Gum, Zinc Oxide, Reduced Iron, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B6), Vitamin A Palmitate, Thiamin Hydrochloride (Vitamin B1) and Folic Acid.

Now looking at just those labels really tells a story. What do we see? Well, we see IQ Bars are far superior nutritionally to the alternatives. Larabars have one thing going for them and that’s that they use real food and their ingredients aren’t weird, but they will still leave you possibly with a sugar crash after you have one. Then if you look at the Nutri-Grain bar it’s absolutely embarrassing. They’re just full of sugar, a ton of ingredients and low fat. Their own website even prides themselves on how low fat they are: Kellogg’s nutri-grain cereal bars, blueberry is made up of low fat, whole grain oats, naturally and artificially flavored. All that really means is “these bars will leave you with a sugar crash after eating this low fat snack bar”.

To really sum it up for the nutritional aspect of these bars is that they’re far superior to anything sold in the stores today on the “energy bar” shelves and I can’t wait to see these in stores all over the country (or world).

Affordability

IQ Bars
Now I normally compare products to one another based on their affordability but that’s kinda hard to do this time around because these bars are only available on their crowdfunding pages. I will list the prices here just for consistency with the other reviews I’ve done, but maybe once these bars are more commercially available (hopefully!) I’ll come back and update this section.

IQ Bar Blueberry Walnut
Price per bar: $2.66 (subscription)
Price per 12 bar box: $32.00 (subscription)
Ingiegogo Link

Larabar Blueberry Muffin
Price per bar: $0.99
Price per 16 bar box: $15.99
Amazon Link

Nutri-Grain Blueberry
Price per bar: $0.25
Price per 48 bar box: $12.00
Amazon Link

Ok now obviously the alternative is going to be cheaper but you know what? The 12 bar box price of the IQ Bars is exactly the same as my favorite protein bars Exo:

Exo Cocoa Nut
Price per bar: $2.66 (subscription)
Price per 12 bar box: $32.00 (subscription)
Exo Link

Sooo, that gives me hope that when the IQ Bars are commercially available I’ll have no problem justifying the cost since I’m already acustom to paying that much for a quality product that will sustain me for hours on end.

Why are the other bars so cheap you might ask? Good question and one I’ve answered in other reviews but it’s simple really – you’re paying for quality, real, whole food ingredients. Nutri-Grain bars are cheap because they use grains and corn syrup. Larabars are getting down there in cost even though they use great ingredients because they’re more widely available, driving cost down I’m sure, and because their ingredients aren’t particularly expensive either. Albeit Larabars’ ingredients aren’t as inexpensive as Nutri-Grain’s ingredients – their ingredients are the cheap of the cheap.

Taste

IQ Bar Review
I’m so stoked that Will was able to send me some samples so I could really get a taste of what these bars have to offer. There are two things about IQ Bars that really stuck out and that I love: They’re not too sweet and they’re satiating. Which is the whole point. The perfect dose of fat to get you through an afternoon or morning, and low enough carbs to not give you a sugar crash. Now onto the taste!

Matcha Hazelnut
IQ Bar Matcha Hazelnut
Very strong coconut flavor at the beginning. Then you get used to it and start noticing the other flavors. Super chewy and didn’t hurt my jaw. Thank you God. I love RXBARs but literally my jaw is sore after I eat them. Not with these though. The texture was on point and the flavor was subtle but pleasant. Not too sweet but just enough little hint of sweetness for me. A little matcha at the end lingers in your mouth. Nice random chunks of hazelnut too that gave the bar a nice crunch.

Almond Cacao
IQ Bar Almond Cacao
Very nice chocolatey taste. Good texture with larger random almond chunks. Not too sweet, just the right amount of sweetness for me. Reminded me of just a really good chocolate cookie that was barely sweetened. Definitely left me feeling full after eating it. Subtle coconut flavor too in there.

Blueberry Walnut
IQ Bar Blueberry walnut
This one was probably my favorite. It has a very strong blueberry flavor, obviously. But not too overpowering. All these bars have the same level of sweetness, which I love. The flavor actually really reminded me of the flavor of the blueberry Exo bar albeit less sweet and less crickety flour taste. This bar really was satiating.

Conclusion

Conclusion
I see a near future where my pantry is full of boxes of my favorite protein bar Exo and my new next favorite energy bar IQ Bars. Allowing me the option of getting a more rounded meal replacement with Exo or allowing me to get a dose of long lasting energy via IQ Bars. I suggest you go back these IQ Bars right now while you still have the chance and like I’ve said multiple times I can’t wait until I can pick a giant pack of these up at Costco. Thanks Will for giving me a sneak peek at these amazing energy bars!

Click here to order some IQ Bars

That’s So Primal 2017 Christmas Gift Guide – Family Edition

That's So Primal 2017 Christmas Gift Guide - Family Edition

Christmas is now upon us! When I thought about putting together a Christmas gift guide – I looked around my house and my kitchen and thought “Wow, we should actually have a garage sale instead of buy more stuff!” So with the help of my wife we put together That’s So Primal 2017 Christmas Gift Guide – Family Edition.

Really my lists of years past have primal related items that are still GREAT gift ideas – you can check those out here and here. But for this year I wanted to put together a list of practical things that has just made our life (with 3 kids 3 and under) easier and maybe some of these would be a better gift than a toy you’ll sell in a year at your yard sale. I had my wife help me put this list together, so this post has a little bit of her creative gift giving touch while looking forward through the lens real life day of a mom!

This years list takes you a little bit out of the kitchen, I hope that’s ok! And since my wife helped, I have a lot of kid focused gifts listed.

Wake up time

Wake Light
Wake up lightAmazon
This is a PERFECT gift for a toddler when you want to give something practical. We got this when our daughter transitioned out of a crib. It is like a reverse alarm clock. So we tell her “don’t get out of bed until the green light comes on!” It buys us an extra 30 minutes at least. It also sets a nap light, you can set it for however long to make sure you get that afternoon break from your kid(s) even if they are just playing in their room.

Door Latches
Door latchesAmazon
Our handles are horizontal so we had to select this kind, if you have round handles you’d pick this other kind. We needed these to make sure the early riser didn’t go into the baby’s room and to keep the kids out of rooms. This is a practical gift with a capital “P”!

Closet Latches
Closet latchesAmazon
Same idea, we hide stuff in the closets and when my daughter is no longer trapped in a crib, I really really really don’t want her pulling EVERYTHING out of the closet when she wakes up and then while her sister is also asleep still. You may have to be creative in how you gift these but they will be the most used thing ever!

Breakfast time

Paleonola Original
Paleonola GranolaPaleonola
Let’s get real, we all like food! Any family member or friend would love a bag of this! This is an especially good idea for anyone who is in the camp of “I’m interested in your primal diet but it’s just too hard…” It’s not too hard – see try this! Delicious! You can see my review of their stuff here.

Contigo
Contigo kids sippy cupsAmazon
Any parent wishes their kid just never drank anything ever because NO sippy cup is perfect. Most are very far from perfect but we have found these Contigo bottles to be the best we’ve found yet!!!!

HaaKaa
HaaKaa PumpAmazon
The newborn has to eat too. This is only for new or expecting mommies – I WISH we learned about this 4 years ago when we were pregnant with our first daughter! So this is for my wife – and would only be for a breastfeeding mom… the younger the baby the better! This is especially a great gift for an expecting mom who plans on breastfeeding. While they nurse the baby on one side they attach this on the other side, it’s just a flexible bottle with a flange and it creates a suction that pumps out milk. The sooner you start using it the better! Our friend started when her baby was 3 days old and she is storing up like 5+ bags of breast milk with over 5oz per bag PER DAY! My wife started using it when our newest baby was 9 weeks old and she’s been storing at least one bag of milk per day. Storing up pumped milk is a battle and this makes it effortless! And it runs around $23 – you should spend the few extra dollars for the one with the base on the bottom so it would be less likely to spill.

Daytime stuff

Felt Board
Felt letterboardAmazon
Sometimes you just need your dose of daily motivation! These are pretty “in” right now. I bought my wife one from letterfolk for her birthday but Amazon has smaller more reasonably priced ones. Really anyone would love one of these!

Amazon Echo Dot
Amazon Echo DotAmazon
The Echo Dot plays a big role in getting us through each day. This should be your go to gift if someone doesn’t yet have one! Great price point – as low as $30 on Black Friday. In our house we use a few functions more than others: timers, shopping lists, and playing music from Spotify. (If you need a louder speaker you can buy the more expensive Echo… but the Echo Dot is loud enough for our needs) This is a product too where someone can totally have a few in their house, especially if their home isn’t single story.

Spotify
Spotify SubscriptionSpotify
Our lives have been changed by Spotify!! You can sign up on an individual or family plan. This is how we do music… and we love it! For like $14 a month you have access to like almost all music. For the person who spends time at the gym to the person who spends time in their car commuting … and for anyone in between – this is a great gift!

Exo
Exo barsAmazon
These are my favorite primal bars… and their protein source is from crickets. I’ve written about them a bunch of times. Gift these to someone and don’t tell them their made from crickets and I bet you they wouldn’t even know – they taste so good! Sometimes for a busy person lunch (or breakfast) get skipped. These bars are a fantastic option for that meal skipper you know.

Dinner time

Braised Rosemary Pork
Freshly SubscriptionFreshly
I just did a post on how we are loving our subscription to Freshly. This would make a great gift, especially if you can get a promo price. It’s a little tricky to gift this though, because they don’t have gift cards, but it can be done! It would make a great gift for a husband to give his wife (or vice versa) to relieve a week or two of cooking. We gifted it to my mother in law for 2 weeks and my wife had to do it with her own email and select the meals with her mom on the phone… it took a little bit of work but she loved getting it as a gift.

Wipes
WipesAmazon
Dinnertime is a messy time in our house. So if you are like us with more than 1 kid… the new baby has lots of hand me down stuff already… So chances are any mom and dad would appreciate receiving wipes. A kid uses wipes for their first few years, and we still use them on hands and faces for our oldest. A 3 year old won’t like opening wipes but their parents may love you for it!

Bedtime

Bedtime Stories

Well after all we wouldn’t have CHRISTmas without Jesus Christ right… we have chosen to be intentional to read bible books with our kids and we wanted to take a minute to share our top books:

Jesus Calling Bible StorybookAmazon
This one has become our favorite… our 3 and a half year old really is into it. It goes through many bible stories and at the end of each story there is a verse and a section where it is a statement as if Jesus were “calling” (or talking) saying how that story relates to real life. If someone has a younger baby this version could also be a good option.

I AmAmazon
This is our second favorite Storybook bible! This one may be more fitting for even older kids but each section is about one of the names of God and it goes through bible stories through that lens.

9 Fruits AliveAmazon
If I look in my amazon shopping history it exposes that my wife has bought like 15+ copies of this book. Whenever we have a kids birthday party or a shower to go to she seems to “have a copy on hand”. This book covers each fruit of the spirit and encourages children about Love, Joy, peace, kindness, patience, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, & self control.

The Christmas PromiseAmazon
This is an awesome Christmas book. This series is awesome! We have all of them: The One O’Clock Miracle, The Storm that Stopped, The Garden Curtain and the Cross (the best easter book), and the new one God’s Very Good Idea (we just got this one to give our daughter for Christmas.) Our 3 year old totally understands these book, but these are probably actually great stuff for older children.

Post Bedtime

Apple TV
Apple TVApple
This gets used all day long… but once we get the kids in bed we catch up on our programs. The Apple TV just makes life easier. Like the phone, you have all your apps and you access them on your tv. We use Netflix and Hulu mostly. (Also great subscription gift ideas.) You can also pick up a Amazon Fire TV Stick for cheaper and it does pretty much the same things.

Pill Case
Daily pill caseAmazon
For anyone who takes vitamins or regular medicines! So we take about 5 pills each night and to open each bottle it’s like unnecessary work… having a case we just have a pill night once a week and fill ’er up! This is a great add on gift since the price point is super low.

Halo Top
Halo topAmazon
Now this is not Primal and it has to stay frozen. But what a great amazing awesome delicious treat it is!

Book Light
Book lightAmazon
For the person who still reads paper books. A nice new book light is a great idea. Not quite so primal to be staying up late but my wife often fits in her reading once everyone else has gone to bed. A kindle may be a good gift option too for any readers!

Thanks for reading! Hopefully you found some thoughtful gift ideas recommended above. Most importantly though, enjoy time with your family, remember why we celebrate CHRISTmas and make every moment count! Merry Christmas!

Freshly Review

Freshly

Posts have been lacking on the blog for a while now. The reason being is that my family has been growing pretty rapidly over the last few years. I feel like I just wrote this post when we had our second daughter. Now my wife and I just had our third daughter! So it’s without saying that our hands have been pretty full lately! Now, we planned pretty well this time for when we had our daughter to have enough food in the house for easy meals but family wanted to help out in providing food for us, specifically my Mom. My Mom wanted to help us out someway by providing food and making our hands less full. So recently I’ve been considering subscription models for meat or vegetables – but all those still required cooking, which was what I was trying to avoid for the past month or so while we were trying to figure out how to feed 3 kids and ourselves!

Freshly
So my wife brought up maybe having my Mom put money towards Freshly. I immediately went over to their site to check out their meals and how they worked. Turns out the price is pretty reasonable if you have a coupon code and the ingredients are pretty spot on for accommodating our primal meal tastes. Now I will get into later how these aren’t exactly Primal compliant but the alternative was us going out to eat or picking up something else with worse ingredients – and one can only eat so much Chipotle or In N Out protein style burgers before going insane. It’s all about balance.

Freshly

So you may be wondering what the heck Freshly even is? So the basic idea is described on their website as follows:

  1. You choose your meals from Freshly’s constantly rotating weekly menu of over 30 different gluten-free options.
  2. Freshly cooks and delivers all of your meals that are prepared and cooked by Freshly chefs and delivered fresh – never frozen.
  3. Then you enjoy the fully prepared, healthy meals that are ready in under 3 minutes. The only thing you need to do is enjoy.

So I still want to treat this like a product review because that’s what Freshly is – a product. That means I want to look at the three typical categories: Nutritional Profile, Affordability and Taste.

Nutritional Profile

Freshly
There’s a bunch of different meals you get to choose from and have delivered each week, but for the sake of this review I’ll just mention a few. Overall though, their meals are described as “gluten free, packed with protein, free from refined sugars and all natural”. Let’s look at the nutritional profile of one my favorites:

Braised Rosemary Pork with Sautéed Kale and Roasted Red Potatoes
Total Fat: 24g
Total Carbohydrate: 32g (Dietary Fiber 5g, Sugars 7g)
Protein: 33g
Ingredients: Pork (Pork, Pork Glace (Water, Pork Bones, Carrots, Celery, Onions, Tomato Paste, Spices) Sea Salt, Black Pepper), Carrots, Potatoes, Kale, Tomatoes (Tomatoes, Tomato Juice, Salt, Calcium Chloride, Citric Acid), Water, Onion, Expeller Pressed Canola Oil, Chablis, Chicken Stock (Chicken Broth, Natural Flavors, Mirepoix Stock (Carrot, Onion and Celery Juices), Gelatin, White Wine), Celery, Tomato Paste (Tomatoes, Citric Acid), Garlic, Bacon (Pork, Water, Salt, Sugar, Celery Powder, Natural Flavor), Chicken Fat, Cassava Flour, Sea Salt, Spices, Rice Flour, Nutritional Yeast.

Icons

Looking at the listing of this meal on their site they also have these cool little icons that indicate that the meal is: Low Carb, High Protein, Gluten Free, Dairy Free and Soy Free (and occasionally they’ll have some meals listed as Paleo). This one probably isn’t indicated as “Paleo” because it has potatoes in it, even though Potatoes are pretty much Paleo and Whole30 now adays.

Now a quick breeze over all these ingredients in this meal look pretty spot on and honestly this meal is near perfect. I could virtually live off of these meals indefinitely if I could afford it consistently. However there is one main ingredient in pretty much every one of their meals, including the ones labeled as Paleo. What ingredient is that: Expeller Pressed Canola Oil. Apart from this one ingredient these meals are perfectly primal and paleo. What’s wrong with canola oil you ask? Well I could write a whole post on it but I’d rather just have you read this article and this article and this article. The gist of it is that it’s a highly processed oil derived from rapeseed that goes through a bunch of weird processes like being degummed, bleached and deodorized. You can watch the process of it in this youtube video.

Ok but that’s what’s wrong with regular canola oil, but these meals contain expeller pressed canola oil. What’s the difference? Well expeller pressed means it doesn’t go through all those weird chemical processes, it’s just pressed (put simply). But that doesn’t change the fact that this oil is high in “heart healthy (omega–6) fats” aka polyunsaturated fats, which means it’s more susceptible to oxidation than say saturated fat. That’s why saturated fat is good for you because it has less of an opportunity to oxidize – saturated fat is more stable.

Ok but what does that mean for these meals and why am I still eating them you ask? Because. Everything else about these meals is perfect and a little expeller pressed canola oil is better than the alternative. It’s a worthy trade off for the convenience. The alternative is that I go out to eat Chipotle or In N out or … Pizza Hut. Seriously, a little canola oil in these meals won’t kill me – I have more of a chance of dying in a car accident than a little canola oil in these amazing convenient tasty meals.

However, if someone at Freshly is reading this please take this to heart: please stop using canola oil and switch to something more healthy like olive oil, coconut oil, avocado oil, lard, tallow or red palm oil.

The rest of their meals vary in carb/fat/protein content slightly but you can just find the meal that fits your macro goals. You’re able to select what your restrictions are and they will tell you what meals fit within your restrictions. All their meals are gluten free, but say you don’t like turkey (which my wife and I don’t) you can tell them that and they will indicate which meals have turkey in them.

Affordability

Freshly
Figuring out how much these cost is kind of weird because there are always promotions and deals. Like this one if you sign up with our referral link you can get 6 dinners for $39. Their standard prices can be found here and for the sake of this review I’ll review their standard prices since there are always promotions and it would be too hard to rate them off their promo price.

Their standard prices are as follows:

  • 4 Meals per week: $49.99 ($12.50/meal)
  • 6 Meals per week: $59.99 ($9.99/meal)
  • 9 Meals per week: $89.99 ($9.99/meal)
  • 12 Meals per week: $107.99 ($8.99/meal)

All the meals include free shipping so you don’t have to worry about that. So how do these stack up? You’re obviously paying for convenience – and in this season of our lives with a newborn and 2 other kids we needed the convince. Let’s take the 6 meals a week plan and compare because that’s the plan my wife and I use. 6 meals a week worked out for us because we do a bible study throughout the week where each one of us is left home with the kids for one night by ourselves so having this on those nights is especially helpful. That’s where 2 meals are used (4 for both of us) then the other 2 are eaten on Thursday or we freeze them for another day (you can freeze them and they will reheat just as well, you just have to add an extra minute). Then typically we make food or go out to eat the other times. Fridays or the weekends we like to make ribs or some other thing on the BBQ. Just a note, we don’t feed our kids these meals, it’s just enough portion size for us to eat and we normally feed them leftover meat, berries and pouches.

Compare $9.99 a meal to going out to eat. You can get a pizza for $10 and feed the whole family sure. But a better comparison would be to the alternative that we would eat if we didn’t have these meals. If we didn’t get a chance to cook and we needed something primal and fast we would go to the standard Paleo option: Chipotle. So how does my typical Chipotle order stack up against a $9.99 meal from Freshly?

Chipotle Bowl
2x Carnitas ($2.70 extra), White Rice, No Beans, Guacamole, Fresh Tomato Salsa, Sour Cream, Fajita Veggies, Cheese and Romaine Lettuce.
Total: $13.25

You could even take away the double meat and it would still come out to $10.34. Therefore I really think Freshly at their standard price of $9.99 a meal is a great deal. It’s good food with a great amount of convenience. Sure you could bust out a super cheap dinner for your family with some roasted veggies and carnitas or something – or heck even make a homemade chipotle bowl yourself and I’m sure it would come out cheaper that $9.99 (only by a little) – but that’s not convenient. I think $9.99 a meal is a great price for their convince of just having to warm them up and then sitting down and eating a meal in less than 5 minutes.

Taste

Freshly
Normally when you think of pre-made meals it conjures up ideas of gross frozen meals and lean cuisines – but know that Freshly is fresh not frozen and their not tasteless/saltless like the majority of precooked meals out there. My wife and I have tried several meals from Freshly now and to be honest all of them taste great! Let’s take a look at a few meals I’ve eaten and how they taste.


Photo courtesy of freshly.com
Braised Rosemary Pork with Sautéed Kale and Roasted Red Potatoes
Like I said this one is my favorite and the one I continue to order each week. The kale is steamed with some sort or tomatoes and bacon and such and it really makes a steamed leafy green approachable if you don’t normally eat them. The pork is hearty and full of flavor and goes great with the little bit of potatoes and carrots.


Photo courtesy of freshly.com
Spaghetti Squash and Meatballs
This one was probably my least favorite. Normally I love spaghetti squash as a replacement for noodles. Even more than julienned zucchini as I’ve written about here. But this meal was my least favorite because I wish there was more sauce. There was only a little amount of sauce with this dish, almost like it was a mistake. The meatballs were great and gluten free – which normally doesn’t happen often. All together everything tasted great, I just with there was a little more sauce or maybe I just eat really large portion sizes normally.


Photo courtesy of freshly.com
Buffalo Chicken Breast with Loaded Cauliflower
This one was really cool to try, the flavor was really good with the buffalo sauce. The mashed cauliflower was amazing (if you do dairy, as there was a little dairy in the mixture I think). The only negative on this one for me was the gluten free breaded chicken – because you’re microwaving these and essentially steaming them, you can’t ever get a crispy texture on breading. So while the chicken was good, the breading texture wasn’t great.

Conclusion

First off, thank you Mom for buying these for us! They most definitely came in handy when we needed them most and they fit our dietary restrictions (aside from the canola oil) and most importantly – they tasted great! We liked them so much that after my Mom gifted these to us, we’re still buying them ourselves to have on hand while my wife and I are in this busy season of our lives. It’s nice to have the convenience for a few days out of the week.

As I pointed out earlier as well, if someone at Freshly is reading this please take this to heart: please stop using canola oil and switch to something more healthy like olive oil, coconut oil, avocado oil, lard, tallow or red palm oil.

I suggest everyone try them out even if you’re slightly intrigued and needing the convenience. Like I said if you sign up with our referral link you can get 6 dinners for $39. Check it out and let me know what you think. Thanks for reading!

3 Reasons to Use an Amazon Echo in the Kitchen

Amazon Echo Dot

I love food, but I also love technology. Ask my wife. My two most visited sites from my phone, laptop or desktop normally consist of a Primal site and a tech website. So consider this post a slight departure from our regularly scheduled programming – sorta. This will read like a product placement, but trust me Amazon didn’t pay me to post this about the Echo. I just thought this would be a good post to identify my top 3 reasons I love using an Echo Dot in my kitchen, and when Apple releases something similar I’ll probably consider it as well. So below I’ve identified my top 3 uses for using an Amazon Echo Dot in the kitchen.

1. Timers

This sounds basic, and believe me it is. But man, a hands free way of telling the Echo to set a timer really comes in handy. So how often do I use it to set timers? ALL THE TIME. The main reason for setting timers is actually to get our toddler into her chair to eat a meal. We started out by telling our daughter to get in her chair because breakfast/lunch/dinner was ready, but as toddlers do she began to resist and get an attitude so we started a new method by having Alexa set a timer for us to get our daughter in the chair. So we now can tell our daughter to go to her chair when she hears the timer. This has evolved to where we use it to convince her of nap time and bed time as well. It’s great and really has worked for us. Now I know what you’re thinking, “Can’t you just use your phone for that?” Yes but no. My iPhone 7 has become much more capable at picking up “Hey, Siri” commands than my iPhone 6, but it’s still inconsistent, and when I’m dealing with a sassy toddler I don’t have time for inconsistent. The Echo is consistent. It hears me no matter if the TV is loud, the stove fan is going on or if I’m frying up some bacon for my brussels sprouts and bacon recipe. It always picks up my request to set a timer. Now besides using it as a brainwashing technique for our daughter I still love to use it for setting hands free timers for cooking, which is great because it can handle multiple timers unlike my iPhone. I have to say using it for a timer is our number one used function of the Echo.

2. Shopping List

The second most used function of my Echo is for adding grocery items to my shopping list hands free. This is HUGE. Once again yes I can use my phone for it but my phone is inconsistent and it doesn’t always pick up what I’m saying to add to a list – which is terrible when I’m standing at the grocery store looking at my iPhone list and it says “eight” instead of what I really meant was eggs (no I’m not making this up). Alexa on the other hand handles all my hands free shopping lists requests quite well. I really love this ability because it really does come in handy while I’m cooking and I remember in the moment I need more cumin or some other can of tomato sauce but my hands are full or dirty and I can just shout to Alexa what I want. Now the way I do my shopping list for the grocery store is actually in the regular notes app on the iPhone. I like keeping it real simple when I make my grocery list every week. So I have a reminder set on my phone every week to check the Alexa app’s shopping list. Then after I look at what I’ve shouted to Alexa throughout the week then I add that to my main shopping list in the notes app.

3. Measurements

The third most used function of my Echo is having Alexa convert measurements for recipes. First, I’m really bad at math and second I’m just not good at converting the measurements in my head. I look at so many different recipes online and in books and I always have trouble with things in grams, ml, cups, teaspoons and tablespoons. I’m terrible at getting this stuff straight! Any home cook would appreciate this feature. It sure does beat trying to look at some paper reference card taped to your cupboard, or trying to google the conversion while you have raw chicken on your hands.

There are a few more things I wish it could do. Two things I keep thinking in my head that I wish it can do are control my TV with just my voice and for it to somehow display recipes. Amazon recently updated their Amazon Fire TVs to be controlled with Alexa devices but this still doesn’t entirely control the TV the way I would like. I would need something more like a Harmony Hub for something like this, but I digress. For displaying full recipes Amazon now has the Echo Show, but I have no idea how well that displays recipes and responds to your voice. Hope all this technobabble helped.

tl;dr

You should buy an Echo Dot.