This week’s tester is: Rachel Keele from Berrien Springs, MI. Rachel is a repeat tester from earlier this year.She tested meal plan 16.8 for us back in February. Since her last meal plan, Rachel has suffered from a stroke and is proud to announce that due to her great health and good eating habits, she is quickly recovering.

Here’s what she had to say about her testing this time around:

“This is my second time doing it now. A lot of fun and a good challenge once again! I would have had this all in sooner, but I actually had a stroke at the end of March. I’m bouncing back quick though! Healthy living prior and following has made an enormous difference. I’m already back in the gym, though I’m not cleared to lift things yet. The chicken Paisano was the only thing I hadn’t made when I had the stroke, but it was easy enough to complete a few weeks later, but that might be why the prep time took so long actually!”


Approximate Meal Plan Cost As Prescribed:

Chain grocery store (Kroger): $125.00
Warehouse store (Costco or Sam’s): $105.00

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’d like to make a half batch of the Greek Freak Cucumber Salad (which is highly recommended because it is a very large batch), just change the “1” below the heading to a “.5” and it will halve the ingredients for you.
  3. Click back to the tab that says “Meal Plan 16.25 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 the notes on each meal below. They are listed under each picture.

In cooking session one:

  1. Prepare the Chicken Paisano’s, place it in the slow cooker, set the slow cooker on a foil lined sheet pan, and place it on your counter or in your garage to cook overnight.
  2. Prepare the Tri Tip with Parsnip Puree and Guac. Enjoy this as your meal and store any leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or freeze up to 6 months.
  3. Clean up the kitchen and pat yourself on the back for a day well done.

In cooking session two:

  1. Portion out the Chicken Paisano’s. Store portions in your refrigerator for up to 1 week or freeze for up to 6 months. Clean out the slow cooker.
  2. Prepare the Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins. Share these with your friends or  portion out into 1-2 muffin servings and freeze for up to 6 months.
  3. Prepare the Ahi Tuna with Kalamata Olive Tapenade and Caper Vinaigrette. Eat a portion for lunch or dinner and properly store the remaining portions in the refrigerator for up to five days.
  4. Prepare the Greek Freak Cucumber Salad. Properly store in your refrigerator for 2-3 days. Eat this with everything.
  5. Clean up the kitchen and polish up that sink!

In finishing session:

  1. Prepare the Paleo Pizza. Eat a portion paired with some Cucumber Salad. There most likely won’t be any leftovers on this meal, but if there are, properly store in the refrigerator.
  2. 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!

Chicken Paisano’s

Notes: “I loved all the colors of the peppers and sweet potatoes together. The recipe was simple and the chicken came out very flavorful,” Rachel stated.

She went with chicken breasts instead of the whole chicken, which made it a lot easier to portion out at the end. She would suggest cutting the cook time to 6 hours if you plan to use chicken breasts instead of the whole chicken. Her sweet potatoes got mushy and the chicken was a little dry when she went with the 7 hour suggested time. She also had to many peppers and sweets and couldn’t fit everything into her slow cooker. She went ahead a froze the extras for next time she prepares this dish. I have adjusted the amounts a little on the grocery list to account for this.

This recipe has a separate article to “put it all together as in the above photo” called Paleo Chicken Paisano’s – Putting it all together. Check it out for some additional instructions on how to fabricate a whole chicken, to some added flavor combinations.

Rachel spent 1 hour prepping this meal, with a cook time of 7 hours and made 8-10 portions.

131 Grass Fed Tri Tip with Chipotle Parsnip Puree and Guac

Notes: “This was awesome! The steak was so good with the guac and puree. My husband doesn’t eat meat, but I made him a different entrée to go with the puree and he really liked it,” Rachel said.

“I couldn’t find tri tip! I looked at 4 or 5 stores. I should have looked up a local butcher, but ended up settling for sirloin cap based on the grocery butchers recommendation. It came out delicious, although I had to adjust the cooking instructions accordingly,” Rachel noted.

Good job on finding a substitution Rachel! I know before I moved out west, I had never even heard of Tri Tip. It has also become a more expensive piece of meat, so feel free to substitute for another cut of meat if you have this problem too.

She spent 25 minutes prepping this meal, 20 minutes cooking and made 2-3 portions.

Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

Notes: “These were easy and tasty,” Rachel said.

While she wasn’t overly impressed with the way they looked once baked, she did like the taste. She thought they were a little too moist and spongy, but brought them to the gym to share with her friends and they devoured them.

Baking can be a tricky task. I worked in a small Mom and Pop shop restaurant in my early 20’s and learned a lot about the proper way to bake bread and pastries. A few pointers I can share with you are as follows:
  1. You always want your butter and eggs to be at room temperature. This recipe calls for almond butter, which should follow the same rule. If you forget to take your eggs out of the refrigerator ahead of time, run them under hot water for a few minutes to warm them up.
  2. Start by creaming together your butter and sugar, in this case, it would be your almond butter and bananas.
  3. Add eggs one at a time and allow them to completely mix into the mixture before adding the next one.
  4. Put all of your dry ingredients together in a separate bowl and “sift” them together by stirring with a whisk. Pour them into your batter slowly and allow to incorporate into the wet ingredients before adding more.

Rachel spent 25 minutes prepping her muffin batter, 20 minutes baking them and made 12 muffins.

Ahi Tuna Nicoise for Two with Kalamata Olive Tapenade and Caper Vinaigrette

Notes: “This was SO delicious! The dressing was amazing. My husband had a huge portion without the tuna and loved it,” Rachel shares. She made no changes to this recipe and will be making it again soon.

This recipe is new to the meal plan selections. I’m not sure why, because it sounds delicious to me. If the thought of cooking Ahi Tuna is intimidating to you, give this meal a shot and squash all those doubts you may have.

Rachel spent 45 minutes prepping this dish, about 20 minutes cooking, which included the eggs, sweets and tuna, and yielded 3-4 portions.

Greek Freak Cucumber Salad

Notes: “This salad was delicious,” Rachel said.

WARNING!!! This salad makes a HUGE portion, so if you’re not feeding the masses, you will want to half or even quarter the recipe, as it doesn’t stay to well for more than a couple of days in the refrigerator. You can do this by changing the 1 below the heading on the second tab of the grocery list to a .5 or .25 and then clicking back to the first tab to print. Here’s what Rachel said about it:

“It made SOOOO much. I had some people coming over, so didn’t bother to shrink the recipe, but we barely put a dent in it. I had to send a lot home with people, and it was all I ate for like two more days. Also, it doesn’t keep very well. After two days, it was pretty mushy, so I think making a huge batch that would last all week would not be advisable. I think the recipe should be shrunk for public consumption. Also, I think it had way more dressing than it needed. I actually drained a lot off. I think half the oil and red wine vinegar would still be great.”

Rachel spent about 50 minutes chopping the veggies for this salad and made about 350 portions (her exaggeration of the SOOO much comment from above).

Greatest Paleo Pizza

Notes: “This was so hearty, filling and delicious. And it was actually a lot easier than I expected. I’ve made paleo pizza crusts before, and this came out the best. Macadamia nuts are expensive, but worth it for a treat like this,” Rachel states.

“I used other toppings, but stuck to the crust recipe. Loved it! Wouldn’t change a thing,” she said. You are always encouraged to go this route yourself. If there are specific ingredients you love on your pizza, use them instead. The recipe lists a variety of optional garnishes, as well as a recipe to make the rib rub, so check those out before heading to the grocery store, as you will need to add these ingredients to your grocery list.  I would highly recommend the Salsa Chipotle and Massie Mayo(mayo recipe found in recipe compilation), but the choice is up to you.

Rachel spent 20 minutes prepping her pizza, 20 minutes cooking and made a 6 slices.

Here are some of the pictures from go-round this time:

131 Tri Tip with Parsnip Puree and Guac
Greek Freak Cucumber Salad prep
Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins
Greatest Paleo Pizza
Chicken Paisano’s

Thank you Rachel for taking on this task once again and following through with your commitment even in light of the struggles of recovering from a stroke. I applaud you and your mental strength! Hopefully you will be cleared soon to start continuing to work on your physical strength with weight lifting 🙂

From Nick:

Now this is what real food looks like! Rachel, great job on this week’s plan. I am sorry to hear about your stroke and glad that you are recovering. The Chicken Paisano’s is one of my favorite meals on the site. I got hooked on it at a young age and can crush 3 plates of it at anytime, day or night! I don’t know that we’ve had anyone test the Tuna Nicoise before, so nice work on that as well. You picked out some really tasty food and I hope you had help doing dishes :).

Thank you for being a repeat tester. We’d love to have you as involved as possible, so be sure to talk with Katie about working with us again. Keep eating healthy, let us know when you’re cleared to lift weights, and thanks again for being awesome!!!

“Keeping It Paleo!”

Your Pal,

Paleo Nick

Enjoying the Reno Rodeo with the my family the other night

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