Below are some helpful resources and meal ideas that don’t break the rules. Also, it is important to know when serving yourself “real food” you don’t need to eat as much as you would of the processed stuff! Get ready to fill up fast.
Click on the category you would like to view:
- “Real Food” Meal Plans
- Snacks and Appetizers
- Salads and Soups
- Basic Recipes (including tortillas and stock)
- Stocking a Real Food Kitchen
- Restaurant Options
- General Resources and Information
- Our Personal Changes in Health
All plans include breakfast, lunch, and dinner suggestions for a family of four plus corresponding grocery lists with pricing:
- “Real Food” Meal Plans 1 & 2
- “Real Food” Meal Plan 3
- Summer “Real Food” Meal Plan 4
- Fall “Real Food” Meal Plan 5
- Homemade granola cereal (pictured) with milk and berries
- Scrambled or fried eggs with whole-wheat toast1, butter, jelly2, and fresh fruit
- Whole-wheat banana (or berry) pancakestopped with 100% pure maple syrup
- Plain oatmeal (follow directions on package) topped with a dash of honey, cinnamon and raisins or other dried fruit
- Pecan maple breakfast cookies with a hard boiled egg and a banana
- Whole-wheat crepes with a side of fresh fruit and a maple mocha
- Store-bought plain Shredded Wheat cereal with milk and fruit
- Whole-wheat muffins (pictured above) with a side of plain yogurt mixed with berry sauce and topped with homemade granola cereal
- Egg omelet, bacon from the farmer’s market, whole-wheat popovers with butter and jelly2, and fresh fruit
- Whole-wheat banana bread orwhole-wheat cinnamon raisin bread topped with cream cheese and a fruit smoothie or on the side
- PB&J Smoothie (pictured in smoothie pop holders) and whole-wheat biscuit
- Whole-wheat waffles with applesauce
- Fried Matzo Breakfast with a seasonal fruit kabob
- Whole-wheat french toast with a fruit smoothie
- Breakfast Casserole Bites with fresh fruit on the side
- Peanut butter and jelly2 on whole-wheat bread1, sliced fresh fruit, and crackers3
- Whole-wheat tortilla filled withhummus, cheese and optional veggie (spinach, cucumber, carrot, lettuce or tomato), side of fresh fruit and store-bought whole-wheat pretzels4
- Grilled cheese on whole-wheat bread1, applesauce, and popcorn
- Caprese salad with basil pesto orgrilled caprese salad sandwich(pictured)
- Whole-wheat macaroni and cheesewith frozen peas mixed in and a side of fresh fruit
- Fruit smoothie or PB&J Smoothie(pictured above)
- Whole-wheat tortilla filled with chopped cucumber, tomato, feta cheese and sprinkled with dried dill or leftover grilled veggies and goat cheese
- Whole-wheat cinnamon raisin bread and cream cheese sandwich, strawberries, and a hard boiled egg
- Crackers3 with hummus, grapes, cheese, and celery or carrots
- A big salad topped with nuts, cheese and olive oil/balsamic vinegar for dressing
- Grilled pimento cheese sandwichwith whole-wheat pasta salad and fresh fruit on the side
- Diced avocado and brown rice with a little bit of low-sodium soy sauce
- Whole-wheat waffle sandwich with cream cheese, cinnamon and raisins in the middle (pictured) with a side of seasonal fruit
- Whole-wheat tortilla filled witheasy slow cooker refried beans, melted Monterrey Jack cheese, and sour cream with a side of avocado
- Leftovers from any of the dinners below!
For portable school, picnic or work lunch ideas check out the posts in the “school lunches” category.
Snacks and Appetizers:
- Whole-wheat banana bread
- Dried fruit (make sure there is no added sugar) and nuts
- Fresh fruit (make them into kabobs for kids)
- Pumpkin or sunflower seeds
- Homemade granola bars or store-bought “Lara Bars” with 5 or less ingredients
- Olives, crackers3, and cheese
- Whole-wheat muffins
- Celery topped with peanut butter or cream cheese and raisins (ants on a log)
- Hard boiled egg
- Whole-wheat cinnamon raisin bread
- Plain yogurt mixed with berry sauce
- Pecan maple breakfast cookies
- Crackers3 topped with hummus
- Whole-wheat zucchini bread or muffins (pictured)
- Whole-wheat pumpkin bread or muffins
- Easy cheesy crackers
- Whole-wheat popovers
- Virgin pina colada smoothie
- Sliced raw veggies with a tzatziki dipping sauce
- Peanut butter banana smoothie
- Zucchini chips
Read more on snacks by clicking on the “snack for kids (and adults!)” category.
Salads and Soups:
- Caprese salad with basil pesto
- Salad with a twist (including glazed nuts)
- Tomato, corn and black bean salad
- Cobb salad with blue cheese dressing
- Lime-cilantro quinoa salad
- White gazpacho (cold soup)
- Tomato bisque (good with grilled cheese on whole wheat bread1)
- Taco salad (pictured)
- Peanut squash soup
- Tortilla soup (good with cheese quesadillas)
- Butternut squash soup with buttered whole-wheat toast on the side
- Easy split pea soup topped with chopped bacon and a side of whole-wheat biscuits
- Homemade chicken noodle soup (pictured)
- Whole-wheat pasta salad
- Farmer’s market stir fry (with veggies and/or seafood or local meat)
- Quiche with a whole-wheat crust(if using meat make sure it is local) and a side of veggies
- Premade store-bought dinner option: sushi with brown rice (no deep fried ingredients or sugar/HFCS)
- Whole-wheat pizza (pictured) with a salad or veggies on the side
- Whole-wheat macaroni and cheese with a side of veggies
- Grilled or sauteed fish withvegetable pancakes, and potato skins
- Breakfast for dinner…pick from one of the egg choices above
- Homemade chicken nuggets with a side of sweet potatoes and apples
- Vegetable and/or local meat (such as chicken, sausage or beef) kabobs over brown rice
- Fajitas with homemade whole-wheat tortillas
- Homemade spaghetti sauce over store-bought whole-wheat pasta
- Collard greens, potatoes, and whole-wheat buttermilk cheese biscuits
- Veggie burgers and kale chips
- BLT with (or without) crabmeat and corn on the cob
- Homemade butternut squash ravioli with roasted asparagus
- Chicken enchiladas made with homemade whole-grain corn tortillas and steamed veggies on the side
- Jambalaya with brown rice
- The best whole chicken in a crock pot with zucchini chips (pictured) and wild rice
- Homemade sushi with brown rice
- Almond encrusted fish with an easy beurre blanc sauce and a side of asparagus and baked potatoes
- Whole-wheat spaghetti and meatballs with a side of roasted broccoli (sprinkled with whole-wheat bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, and Italian seasoning)
- Vegetable quesadillas on whole-wheat tortillas with a side of easy slow cooker refried beans
- Pork carnitas tacos with tomatillo salsa (pictured) and a side of watermelon
- Whole-wheat pizza pockets with sauteed seasonal vegetables on the side
- Whole-wheat fettucini alfredotopped with sauteed onions, mushrooms and bell peppers
- Simple spaghetti with a salad on the side
For a cookout, backyard BBQ, outdoor party, picnic, or camping trip check out this post:A “Real Food” Cookout.
- Whole-wheat tortillas
- Whole-grain corn tortillas
- Chicken stock in the crock pot
- Chicken stock on the stove top
- Honey whole-wheat sandwich bread (for bread machine)
- Whole-wheat breadcrumbs
- Whole-wheat pasta (use the pasta portion of this ravioli recipe)
- Homemade berry sauce
- Easy cheesy whole-grain crackers
- Basic fruit smoothie
- Whole-wheat biscuits
- Homemade popsicles, ice pops, snow cones and push ups(pictured)
- Maple pecan ice cream
- Chocolate torte with whipped cream and chocolate sauce
- Banana ice cream
- Homemade peach sorbet
- Whole-wheat crepes filled with fruit and topped with chocolate sauce
- Chocolate mousse (fromDeliciously Organic)
Stocking a Real Food Kitchen
- My favorite kitchen essentials (including appliances and gadgets we own)
- 21 “Real food” essentials for freezer, pantry, & fridge
- Supermarket “real food” cheat sheet
- Where to buy real food
- Our pantry
- Our refrigerator
- Our freezer
Eating out tip: Most restaurants do not offer 100% whole-wheat (a lot of “wheat breads” are made with both whole-wheat and white flours) so it is best to just avoid things like bread, breading/breadcrumbs, crusts, flour tortillas, etc. It is also recommended to ask questions when it comes to sauces because a surprising amount contain sugar. It can be difficult to avoid refined grains and sweeteners when eating out so we usually try to focus on finding restaurants that serve locally grown/raised products. For more tips including specific meals you could order at some chain restaurants check out this post.
- Fish or shellfish
- Potatoes, beans, or brown rice
- Vegetable side dishes or combination plates
- Egg dishes
- Sushi with brown rice
Read more on the specific restaurants where we like to eat in Charlotte.
General Resources and Information
- Understanding Grains (corn, wheat, multi-grain, etc.)
- What (should be) in your sandwich bread?
- How far does your produce travel?
- Buying organic or not
- Sweeteners 101
- “You are what you eat eats too”
- Milk – good or bad?
- High-fructose corn syrup 101
- The deal with corn
- Are you being fooled by the imitation?
- Becoming a “flexitarian” (meat consumption)
- (Not) Cleaning your plate
- Real Food and Children
For more resources check out our list of “real food” mini-pledges.
Knock out your fiber needs with cholesterol-lowering oatmeal! Just one serving of oatmeal (1/2 cup dry) has 2 grams of soluble fiber. According to the Mayo Clinic, 10 grams or more of soluble fiber daily decreases your total and LDL (bad) cholesterol. We’ve got tasty ways to get your day started right by enjoying high-fiber oatmeal. For each bowl, start with 1/2 cup of instant or dry oatmeal. Cook according to package directions, then add our delicious themed toppings.
- Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal
You’ll definitely love the pumpkin flavor in this sweet bowl of oatmeal.
* 2 tablespoons fat-free vanilla yogurt
* 1 tablespoon pumpkin butter
* 1/8 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
Nutrition: 137 cal., 2 g total fat (1 g sat. fat), 0 mg chol., 44 mg sodium, 27 g carb., 2 g fiber, 4 g pro.
- Cheesy Hash Brown Oatmeal
This recipe is a staff favorite! The oats blend right in with the hash browns for a south-of-the-border taste.
* 1/4 cup cooked hash brown potatoes
* 2 tablespoons shredded Monterey Jack cheese
* 1 tablespoon salsa
Nutrition: 244 cal., 11 g total fat (4 g sat. fat), 13 mg chol., 310 mg sodium, 29 g carb., 3 g fiber, 8 g pro.
- Tropical Coconut Oatmeal
Get whisked away to the tropics with a bet-you-never-tried-it combo of flavors in this oatmeal.
* 1 tablespoon macadamia nuts, chopped
* 2 tablespoons toasted, shredded coconut
* 2 tablespoons dried pineapple
Nutrition: 262 cal., 13 g total fat (6 g sat. fat), 0 mg chol., 54 mg sodium, 34 g carb., 4 g fiber, 5 g pro.
- Hot Cocoa Oatmeal
Think hot cocoa mix only goes a mug? We’ve re-envisioned it as an oatmeal topper.
* 1 tablespoon instant hot cocoa mix
* 2 tablespoons mini marshmallows
Nutrition: 221 cal., 3 g total fat (1 g sat. fat), 0 mg chol., 156 mg sodium, 44 g carb., 3 g fiber, 5 g pro.
- Bacon & Salsa Oatmeal
This oatmeal recipe proves that you can still enjoy bacon on a heart-healthy diet if you eat it in moderation.
* 1 strip chopped, cooked bacon
* 2 tablespoons reduced-fat cheddar cheese
* 2 tablespoons diced tomato
* 1 tablespoon sliced green onion
Nutrition: 172 cal., 8 g total fat (3 g sat. fat), 17 mg chol., 295 mg sodium, 16 g carb., 2 g fiber, 10 g pro.
- Blueberry Nut Oatmeal
No pancakes here! Transition traditional flapjacktoppers into oatmeal flavor-boosters.
* 1/4 cup blueberries
* 1 tablespoon chopped walnuts
* 1 tablespoon maple syrup
Nutrition: 204 cal., 7 g total fat (1 g sat. fat), 0 mg chol., 7 mg sodium, 34 g carb., 3 g fiber, 4 g pro.
- Apple Crisp Oatmeal
Crisp apples, granola, and almonds put bite in your oatmeal bowl.
* 1/2 cup chopped apple
* 2 tablespoons low-fat granola
* 1 tablespoon chopped almonds
* 1/8 teaspoon apple pie spice
Nutrition: 200 cal., 6 g total fat (1 g sat. fat), 0 mg chol., 40 mg sodium, 34 g carb., 5 g fiber, 6 g pro.
- Peanut Butter Cup Oatmeal
A dab of peanut butter and a sprinkle of chocolate chips are all you need to jazz up your oatmeal.
* 1 tablespoon creamy peanut butter
* 1 tablespoon mini chocolate chips
Nutrition: 257 cal., 14 g total fat (5 g sat. fat), 0 mg chol., 78 mg sodium, 27 g carb., 3 g fiber, 8 g pro.
- Turtle Sundae Oatmeal
Pure indulgence, this sweet treat hardly seems like another boring oatmeal breakfast.
* 1/4 cup fat-free whipped dessert topping
* 2 tablespoons pecans
* 1 tablespoon sugar-free caramel dessert topping
Nutrition: 252 cal., 12 g total fat (1 g sat. fat), 0 mg chol., 45 mg sodium, 34 g carb., 3 g fiber, 4 g pro.
- Trail Mix Oatmeal
Bring trail mix to your breakfast table by tossing the grab-and-go bits on your oatmeal.
* 2 tablespoons mix dried fruit bits
* 2 tablespoons dry-roasted mixed nuts
* 1 tablespoon flaxseed
Nutrition: 276 cal., 14 g total fat (2 g sat. fat), 0 mg chol., 18 mg sodium, 33 g carb., 6 g fiber, 8 g pro. Can’t get enough oats? Read on for even morerecipes that use this heart-smart whole grain.
good ideas! I’m always at a loss with how to flavour plain oats.
124 Calorie Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Bars
These bitches are easy as hell to bake, plus they’re ah-mazing!
What you need:
1/2 cup melted butter (1stick)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup splenda or any other 0 cal sweetener
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 egg, beaten
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chip
1/2 cup rolled oats (uncooked oatmeal)
So here’s what you do:
-Preheat oven to 350 degrees
-Melt butter in large microwave safe bowl
-Add brown sugar and splenda. Let cool for a little bit
-Add egg, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla. Stir.
-Add flour and stir. Then add chocolate chips and oats.
-Stir em’ up and spread dough evenly on greased 8x8 inch pan
Bake for 15-30 mins and cut into 16 squares when they’re cooled.
Add in another 1/4 cup oats for a more cookie like texture!
What would be the baking consequences if I used instant oats rather than uncooked, anyone? would it drastically ruin the recipe?