This weeks tester are: Don Renfro and his wife Mary from California. This is how they described themselves:

“We are a certified health coach team who love helping others make their health a higher priority and are active in volleyball, mountain biking, trail running and of course Crossfit (Don) and Pilates (Mary).”

“We first became familiar with The Zone Diet about 15 years ago and keep getting better at using locally sourced, farm-raised veggies, fruit, eggs, and protein and getting away from processed (junk) food. Eating all this great food is the best part, and we thank Nick for the great ideas and inspiration. We have a lot to learn, but are gaining more confidence with clean/Paleo options in the kitchen.”

“Don rides his mountain bike several hours every week and goes for long weekend rides in Utah/Arizona at least once a year. He (CFL1) has been active in Crossfit since early 2006. After starting with Crossfit Socal, he is now usually at a local park or our garage gym with a couple buddies and occasionally at neighborhood boxes Crossfit Unsung or Crossfit LVI.” “Mary has been active in Pilates for over 10 years and does Pilates 2 to 6 times per week at Poway Pilates or our garage gym. Mary plays volleyball in as many as 3 different leagues and in age bracket tournaments in California and Nevada several times per year. Recently, she and her teammates played in the Huntsman World Senior Games in Utah.”

Here are a few pictures from their experience:

Groceries for 15.46
All ingredients ready to go in the slow cooker for the SW Chicken
SW Chicken ready to eat
Braising the short ribs
Chipotle Braised Short Ribs with Sweet Potatoes
Crab Dip in the skillet

Thank you so much Don and Mary for the time you made, to make this happen in such a short amount of time! Don volunteered to fill in for this weeks meal plan with short notice and really helped me out. They only completed 4 of the 6 recipes chosen, plus the mayo. Whether you can do 1 recipe or all 6, something is better than nothing, right? Way to go Don and Mary!!

From Nick:

Great job to Don and Mary! I love hearing their story and seeing how active they are, both in the kitchen and in life. Don’s been involved in CrossFit since 2006 and Mary plays volleyball? Who does that? What a great example of an active lifestyle all fueled by proper, Paleo portions.

I really enjoy the pics of the seared short ribs, the roasted bell peppers and the Crab Artichoke Dip. These show the use of great techniques. And, the way Don’s stirring up those veggies for the frittata? You can tell he’s a Culinary Ninja at heart.

Thank  you guys for stepping up and knocking out this meal plan on short notice. I appreciate you two and look forward to cooking together soon.

I am currently in Boston, Mass and just finished up two cooking seminars in as many days. I hoped to post this plan sooner, but the week got away from me. This is a great plan to use as you enter Thanksgiving week to make sure you have food on hand to fuel your Turkey Day Prep sessions.
As for me, I’m heading to Plymouth Rock tomorrow to see what the Paleo Pilgrims were all about! Have a great Sunday and do your best to…

“Keep It Paleo!”

Your Pal,

Paleo Nick

Here’s a lovely pic of Don and Mary


Approximate Meal Plan Cost As Prescribed:

Chain grocery store (Kroger): $180.00
Warehouse store (Costco or Sam’s): $155.00

The amount you will spend will depend on your geographic location and how much you rely on bulk purchases. As an example, you can get 1 quart of extra light olive oil at Kroger for $19.99 or you can get 4 quarts at Costco for $16.50. You follow? Meat and produce will also be less at the warehouse stores, but might require you purchase more than you’ll need for this plan.

Customize Your Plan and Shop It Up!

I have created a customize-able grocery list in the form of an Excel spreadsheet. Even if you’re not good with Excel, I’ve set it up in a foolproof way that even “The Jo!” could handle. Follow these instructions:

  1. Open the document and click on the tab at the bottom that says “Menu item & Ingredient Brkdown”.
  2. At the top, you’ll see the number “1” in bold just below each menu item. You can change this number to correspond with the number of portions that you’d like to make. Say you want to make a double batch of the Soup,  change the “1” below the Thai Shrimp Soup to a “2” and it will double the listed ingredients for you.
  3. Click back to the tab that says “Meal Plan 15.46 Grocery List” and your quantities will be updated.
  4. Print out the grocery list from the first tab only.
  5. Compare what you need to what you have on hand and finalize your list. Then, head to the grocery store and make your purchases swiftly and efficiently.

Step-By-Step Instructions:

I want you to knock this out in one shopping session, two cooking sessions, and one short finishing session. I’ll explain these now, but want you to scroll down to read my notes on each meal below. They are listed under each picture.

In cooking session one:

  1. Prepare your Southwest Slow Cooker Chicken and place in your slow cooker, set the slow cooker on a foil lined sheet pan, and place it in the garage to cook overnight.
  2. Prepare the Chipotle Braised Ribs with Sweets and salsa chipotle. Eat a portion to fuel the last step in today’s work. Portion out leftovers and refrigerate for up to one week or freeze for up to six months.
  3. We will be doing the frittata tomorrow, so if you need to pre-cook your pork, do it now, with your choice of cooking method.
  4. Clean up the kitchen and pat yourself on the back for a day well done.

In cooking session two:

  1. Portion out the SW Chicken and refrigerate up to one week or freeze for up to six months.
  2. Prepare the Pulled Pork Coconut Frittata. Eat a portion and properly store the leftovers.
  3. Prepare the Thai Shrimp Soup. Portion out appropriately and store for one week in the refrigerator and/or freeze some portions for up to six months.
  4. Prepare Massie’s mayo for the crab dip tomorrow. Store in the refrigerator.
  5. Clean up the kitchen and polish up that sink!

In finishing session:

  1. Prepare the Chorizo Mushroom Has with Eggs and enjoy this for breakfast.
  2. Prepare the Crab Artichoke Dip with Veggie Chips. This recipe makes a large batch. Be sure to share with your friends or freeze a few portions for another day.
  3. Sit back and take it all in. Your Paleo Bank Account is stocked and  now you are a Culinary Ninja who is ready to tackle life with energy, clarity, and confidence. Be sure to tell your friends about!

Southwest Slow Cooker Chicken

Notes: A testers’ favorite, this recipe is loaded with hearty veggies and just enough spice to ignite the palette. You can always use chicken thighs or breast instead of the whole chicken. Don thought it was an “Easy recipe to build off of for other meals.”

Pulled Pork and Coconut Frittata

Notes: This recipe was a throw together breakfast option with some left overs found in the refrigerator. Use any pre-cooked meat you may already have on hand and substitute any veggies for what you may be on your counter or refrigerator/freezer at home. Don and Mary used chicken they had and half of the reduced the recipe by half.  “Tasty and quick for breakfast after a workout” Don stated.

Chipotle Braised Short Ribs with Sweet Potatoes

Notes: These braised beef ribs are the substitution for our second slow cooker meal this week.The recipe calls for chicken or beef stock, so check your kitchen before hitting the store.  The Salsa Chipotle that compliments this meal is a must. The ingredients are added to the grocery list for you. Don said it was easy and full of flavor. He will be making it often. Be sure to whip up a batch of Massie Mayo and garnish this dish, to add some fat, since you need it for the dip this week also.

Tom Yum Goong – Thai Shrimp Soup

Notes:. The kaffir lime leaves, lemongrass and thai chiles can all be found at an Asian Market if you have access to one. Be sure to save your shrimp shells for the stock on this soup.

Chorizo Mushroom Hash with Eggs

Notes: A new addition to the weekly meal plans, this dish sounds like a great substitution for sweets in my world. I also love nicely cooked mushrooms and guacamole, so this is right up my alley.

Paleo Crab Artichoke Dip with Veggie Chips

Notes: Nick made this dish for me once, and I have to be honest, the mayo freaked me out a little, but I was proven wrong when I tasted the first bite.

Don said his batch turned out too wet and that he couldn’t get it to firm up. He thought maybe he didn’t remove enough liquid from his spinach, crab and artichokes. This could be very likely. Be sure to squeeze, squeeze and squeeze some more. I also believe it would be helpful to make your mayo the day before so it has some time to refrigerate.

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