Keeping Us Moving: Meal Prep

This feels a little off topic, but a family has to be healthy to keep the kids healthy, right? Lately, meal prep has been what we do to make sure we do not over indulge during the day or night. Plus we are now eating a bigger variety of vegetables than ever. Now if only the kids can get into the groove, it will be awesome. But – one step at a time. Here are the latest meals. If you have any ideas for new meals, let me know!

Our first week of meal prep was in January and it was actually chicken fajitas with rice and black beans, but I don’t have a photo. The photo above is meal prep week two: there were two kinds of meals: chicken with edamame and rice, and cabbage rolls with spiraled carrots and rice. The cabbage rolls were made months before and were frozen. Usually when you make cabbage rolls there are always too many and you are cabbaged out – so freezing some and having them for meal prep later on was so easy to do. Not pictured are the black beans added to each bowl later on. They were still cooking!
Week 3: sausage and peppers, with cauliflower fried rice (soy sauce, scrambled eggs, peas, carrots) and white beans. Sriracha on the fried “rice”
Week 4: (I realized I wanted to do a blog post and started making horizontal photos!) Black pepper lemon chicken with green onions, jalapeños, onions, sweet peppers, snap peas, green beans, cauliflower, and rice. However, three of the bowls have curry tofu nuggets instead of chicken. (And those things are delicious.) These bowls are my favorite to date.

Over the years when I would see people post online about meal prep, it looked mostly complicated and time consuming. But thanks to finally getting organized, it’s a piece of cake to do all this cooking on one morning during the week! The feeling of knowing you are done with all of this is just awesome, so we can do other things besides cooking.

So how did I get organized? The first reason this is so easy is because of Imperfect Foods. We have used them ever since the company arrived in Portland. Mostly the vegetables and fruits I ordered were always for the kids, especially G because of his purees packed with nutrients for his picky diet. But later on, as Imperfect added new categories like dairy and canned goods, I get not only different vegetables delivered (like snap peas, jalapeños, sweet peppers, herbs, etc.) but I can add canned beans, cheeses, sauces, and new things to try like tofu nuggets or vegan meat replacements. We are basically on a new food journey all the time thanks to them. The best part (knock on tofu) is that ordering is so easy, and their deliveries have always been on time. I have nothing but positive things to say about Imperfect. Just awesome! Check out the latest order to see what I mean about the prices and variety:

Your order details for Wed, February 26th, 2020
ORGANIC BOX
ProductQuantityPrice
Organic Italian Parsley Bunch (1 ct)1$1.19
Organic Lemons (1 lb)1$2.03
Organic Potatoes (1 lb)1$0.79
Organic Green Beans (Organic Green Beans) (8 oz)1$2.49
Organic Mini Sweet Peppers (1 ct)1$4.25
Organic Carrots (1 lb)1$1.07
Bitchin’ Sauce – Original (8 oz)1$4.99
Nasoya Organic Tofu Vegetable Dumplings (9 oz)1$4.99
Conventional Zucchini (1 lb)1$1.99
Cento Black Beans (15.5 oz)2$1.98
Cento Cannellini Beans (15.5 oz)2$1.98
Cento Chickpeas (15.5 oz)1$1.49
Organic Rainbow Chard (1 ct)1$2.15
Subtotal$31.39
Discount$0.00
Delivery Charge$4.99
Credits$0.00
Grand Total$36.38

The second reason that made this all so helpful is that I just make sure I always have the main staples on hand. There’s always jasmine rice stocked in our house and frozen cauliflower rice, spiraled carrots, edamame, etc. from Trader Joes. Also having frozen chicken or other frozen meat is key too. But I also buy fresh meat and marinate it right away, then I know I have to cook it in a few days and get the meal prep going again.

The best part? Daniel already lost about 15 pounds, and I’ve lost 10.

March 2 – Week 5 meals:

Two meals with beef, carrot spirals and rainbow chard with garlic and lemon juice. The other meals are spicy pork, with jalapeños, onions, peppers, fried cauliflower rice with scrambled egg, green beans, carrots, and rainbow chard are underneath the pork.
Rainbow chard is so pretty when you’re cooking it. But then the colors fade away.

March – Week 6 Meals:

Greek yogurt marinated kabobs broiled in the oven – before picture
Kabob meals – over a small amount of rice, with tiny potatoes tossed in garlic, dill and lemon juice. Favorite meals to date.
Spicy chicken, onions, collard greens, garlic, corn, peppers and green beans, on top of cauliflower (grainless meals)
Buffer meals, chicken gouda sausage with onions and brussel sprouts with black beans (grainless)

Update: April 13

Since the corona shutdowns, I didn’t update here but meal prep kept on trucking.

Have we lost weight despite going out on walks a lot? No.

Have I learned to cook better and faster? Yes.

I am going to try to get it all to come together in the next couple of months.

May 1 Update:

It’s been quite a while now, since the end of February, many, many meals have been.

Following Autism Supplement Routine Again

January turned out to be a difficult month. I wouldn’t say it was bad, or hard – just difficult. G started wearing the foot orthotics in the first week of January. He eased into it but then started wearing them all day while at therapy. I really didn’t think they bothered him. He would even point at the orthotics when at home and want to put them on. All the signs of him liking them were there. But it really seems like they were bothering him and blocking his sensory input. He just needs to get up on his toes. It’s an outlet for him. He couldn’t and he was getting angry. He was hitting and trying to scratch us. He was poking his therapists, trying to hit them, trying to hit other peers, and getting so upset about many little things. He could barely even eat dinner some nights. None of us knew what was wrong. We were starting to get really stressed and really down. I decided to have him just stop wearing the orthotics as a first step. In the first day of him not wearing them to therapy, he became happier. Within the next few days, he was almost back to normal. And now almost two weeks later, he is so much better. He’s so much better that the past weeks are a blur now. The fact we had to have a behavior meeting at therapy is a blur. I am so relieved.

This whole thing made me rethink his supplements. He was not taking anything extra in his food, pretty much, for almost a year. I took a break from dissecting all of that information and from dealing with all of us hiding things in his food. But now I am back on track and have the new regimen. It seems to be making him even more calm, focused and happy. Will keep building on this and see where it takes us.

Morning: (1/2 tsp) Leucovorin in yogurt

Afternoon: (1/2 tsp) Leucovorin, (1) pau d’arco, (2) quercetin and bromelain in puree

Water with fractionally distilled aloe vera and cromolyn sodium before nap

Dinner: (1) zinc picolinate, (1) calcium in yogurt

Why leucovorin?

Biochemically in the body, folic acid supports cellular perception and response, methylation processes and many enzymatic reactions. It is also linked to maintaining healthy homocysteine levels, which supports cardiovascular health.

To be active in the body, folic acid has to be reduced twice by folate reductase enzymes, then converted to tetrahydrofolate, after which a methyl group is added to the tetrahydrofolate. In some individuals, the use of natural folinic acid may be more beneficial than folic acid, because folinic acid already has attached four hydrogen and one methyl group, thereby shortcutting the complicated biochemical process.

Why pau d’arco?

Pau D’Arco is a tropical tree that has been used by natives in the Amazon as a folk remedy for hundreds of years. Pau D’Arco is an immune stimulant and helps keep the gastro-intestinal system healthy, making it less hospitable to yeast, parasitic, bacterial, fungal and viral infections. Studies have shown Pau D’Arco to be anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant, as well.

Why quercetin and bromelain?

Quercetin helps ensure appropriate immune response, inhibits formation of free radicals and promotes circulatory health in part by supporting the integrity of small blood vessels.

Bromelain complements quercetin for appropriate immune response and cardiovascular health, while also promoting joint comfort. (Bromelain may enhance the transport of the bioflavonoids (like quercetin) across the intestinal membrane.)

Quercetin Bromelain supplies the flavonoid quercetin extracted from seed pods of the Dimorphandra mollis plant. Flavonoids are potent protective nutrients found in many plants and foods. Bromelain is an enzyme derived from pineapple.

In autism with possibility of inflammation or histamine problems, Quercetin functions on an antioxidant level to reduce damage and irritation caused by free radicals while suppressing histamine response – the body’s reaction to allergens. Bromelain functions on an enzymatic and protein level by limiting the action of metabolites and neutrophils on inflammation.

Why zinc picolinate?

From this article: International studies have found that normally there are high levels of zinc in the brain, and brain cells are regulated by zinc, but that zinc deficiency is prevalent in autistic children.

“Research using animal models has shown that when a mother is given a low zinc diet, the offspring will be more likely to display autistic associated behaviours,” she says.

“Our work is showing that even the cells that carry genetic changes associated with autism can respond to zinc.

“Our research has focussed on the protein Shank3, which is localized at synapses in the brain and is associated with neuro-developmental disorders such as autism and schizophrenia,” she says.

“Human patients with genetic changes in Shank3 show profound communication and behavioural deficits. In this study, we show that Shank3 is a key component of a zinc-sensitive signalling system that regulates how brain cells communicate.”

Why cromolyn sodium?

Cromolyn sodium works by preventing the release of substances in the body that cause inflammation. Cromolyn sodium originally derived from a healing herb called ammi visnaga. Among its other uses, ammi visnaga traditionally controlled kidney stone pain. Its ability to open the airways intrigued early researchers. They eventually identified the plant’s active ingredient: cromolyn sodium. Cromolyn sodium is known to prevent mast cells from triggering the immune response.

Why fractionally distilled aloe vera?

Aloe vera contains nearly 200 biologically active components, including polysaccharides, vitamins, enzymes and minerals. It helps balance the stomach’s pH levels and promotes healthy bacteria growth.

Why calcium?

Just because we need to get that back on track as well as Vitamin D, soon after.

As for the orthotics, he is already on a program at therapy where he is told to do “flat feet” so we will continue with the verbal prompts and see how much better he gets with it. But really for right now it’s not a big concern anymore. If he needs to do that sometimes, then he just needs to until we can find another way for him to get sensory input.

March goals? Test G to see if he has folate receptor autoantibodies. If he tests positive for those, it means that he definitely is benefiting from taking leucovorin (folinic acid) and should continue. Some studies show that as much as 60%+ of people with autism have these autoantibodies.

Avoiding Salicylates and Additives for Autism Symptoms

It might be helpful to follow a low salicylate diet for anyone, including those with autism. Foods with salicylates might be irritating to the digestive system. Many fruits and vegetables especially are high in salicylates. The symptoms of salicylate intolerance for most people are:

Sinus inflammation and infection
Polyps (small, non-cancerous growths) in the nasal and sinus passages
Asthma
Hives
Fever
Tissue swelling
Inflammation of large intestine, which can cause abdominal pain and discomfort
Diarrhea

However, the symptoms for those with autism are:

laughing at inappropriate times (at night or when something is not funny)
strange rashes that appear on the body
erratic behaviors and moods
self-stimulatory behaviors
waking up in the middle of the night
having a difficult time with their stools (constipation, diarrhea, and/or undigested foods)
headaches

From SCDLifestyle.com:

In a normal body, one with the correct levels of sulfates and liver enzymes, phenols and salicylates are easily metabolized. The body utilizes what it needs from the chemicals and properly disposes of the rest through the bowels. In those whose levels are abnormal, or in the case of leaky gut syndrome, intolerance to this chemical family can occur rather quickly.

Many people with gut issues, such as yeast/bacteria overgrowth or digestive diseases, can develop salicylate intolerance as a result of leaky gut Syndrome.  Leaky gut is a result of various digestive problems and occurs when the small intestine becomes too damaged to properly filter the size and types of food particles or chemicals that enter the bloodstream (for more on leaky gut read this). When these improper particles are allowed to repeatedly enter the bloodstream, the body tries to get rid of them by triggering an immune system response. Because phenols/salicylates are so common in most foods, a person with a leaky gut will have much higher than normal levels of these chemicals in their blood and can very quickly develop intolerances to these specific particles.

The first and easiest step to eliminating most salicylates from the diet is removing any food dyes, artificial flavorings, natural flavors (if you can’t verify that it’s really natural – don’t eat it!) and preservatives. Just doing that is a relief for anyone’s body. Once this step is done, the rest of the lifestyle change is easier.

The following list covers the foods that are safer to eat (with absent or marginal levels of salicylates) if you want to follow this diet plan for a few months and see if there are any changes.

  • meat
  • dairy
  • breads
  • noodles
  • rice
  • butter
  • vegetable oil
  • molasses
  • golden syrup
  • maple syrup
  • brown sugar
  • cocoa powder
  • carob powder
  • chamomile tea
  • garlic
  • vanilla
  • cashews
  • poppy seeds
  • grains
  • pecans
  • peanut butter
  • sesame seeds
  • hazelnuts
  • sunflower seeds
  • plain potato chips
  • bamboo shoots
  • brussel sprouts
  • cabbage
  • celery
  • choke
  • beans
  • peas
  • leek
  • lentils
  • iceberg lettuce
  • potato white
  • beansprouts
  • asparagus
  • beets
  • carrot
  • cauliflower
  • corn
  • french beans
  • mushroom
  • onion
  • pumpkin
  • spinach
  • tomato
  • turnip
  • banana
  • pear, peeled
  • apple, golden delicious
  • custard apple
  • fig
  • cherries, sour canned, morella
  • grapes, green
  • lemon
  • mango
  • pawpaw
  • papaya
  • passionfruit
  • persimmon
  • pineapple juice
  • pomegranate
  • rhubarb
  • tamarillo

Dr. Feingold developed a diet plan in the 1960s based on removing salicylates. The diet plan recommends this example meal plan –

Breakfast
Breakfast can be as easy as scrambled eggs, toast and fruit or you can modify your own recipes so you can serve pancakes or waffles.

For those times when you are in a hurry, try one of these:

Serve a cup of (Feingold accepted brand) yogurt and a piece of fruit for a quick meal.
Melt a slice of cheese on a slice of whole grain bread, along with a glass of juice.
A smoothie made from a cup of milk, a cup of juice and a banana will feed two hungry children

Lunch
The old stand-bys work great for lunch. Tuna salad sandwiches, egg or peanut butter. Try to keep things simple and as close to what you normally serve as possible. They key is to modify by using accepted brands and items that you will find in our “any” list. These ingredients don’t need to be accepted and listed in our Foodlist. You can purchase “any” type of these items.

Dinner
The same thing goes for dinner. Modify your families favorite meals. This will ensure a successful result. Whether it is fried chicken, meatloaf, spaghetti or taco’s. All you need are accepted ingredients to make meals that your family loves.