(3-Bean Salad – pic by Jamie)

Charlie is back from her long weekend trip, with tons of stories and picnic delights. Check out the meal plan Jamie catered especially for the trip below. (And don’t forget Jamie’s weekly write-up as well!)

(All the ways to “onion” for the week – pic by Jamie)

Meal Plan – Week #19 (Written by Jamie)

Cost: $170.43 week for 3 people // $2.40/serving* (*NOTE: These numbers are calculated off what we actually spend each week, which may include occasional supplements of grain, starch, or beef for Drew and Jamie which Charlie cannot have. Week-to-week fluctuations in cost are more reflective of the times we need to pick up staples like olive oil and vinegar, or weeks where Jamie is prepping three weeks’ worth of cauliflower rice, rather than one week’s meal plan costing extra. Taken overall, we believe this offers a more accurate reflection of what this diet might look like financially for others.)

(Second Note: This week, the total covers extra meals – I added 7 as a rough estimate – because Charlie took extra of her picnic salads on her trip to share. The per-serving cost reflects those extra meals.)

Meal Plan Diet Categories: (Gluten-Free, Lactose/Dairy Free, Diabetes Diet, Low Fat/Low Cholesterol, Cardiac Diet, Paleo, Vegan, Vegetarian)

Meals: (Click on the names to go to the recipe) (1) Turkey Quinoa Kale Burgers / (2) BBQ Pork Meatballs / (3) Garden Salad with Variations 2 (Salmon Salad), 3 (Chicken Salad), and 5 (3-Bean Salad) / (4) Sweet Potato, Kale, Corn, & White Bean Hash / (5) Quinoa / (6) Steel Cut Oats

Snacks:  Chopped Veggies (for dipping) / Balsamic Herb Dipping Sauce / Egg Whites / Naked Popcorn / Almond Butter, Cumin, Smoked Paprika, Chili Con Carne & Garlic Toasted Pumpkin Seeds

This was the first instance of The Accidental Nutritionist going “abroad” beyond a day trip and lunch packing.

Charlie was driving to be with family for four days, for the first time facing 24-hour food “otherness” — grilled meats she couldn’t eat, chips, dips, and other side snacks all on the “no list,” and all the alcohol an Irish-American family can put away during a 4-day holiday weekend — which is a lot. I know from the experience of being one of them.

…This all meant that The Accidental team needed to set Charlie up with every angle of success we could provide, while neither of us would be there in person to help cheer the team on during extra hard moments of temptation. (Outside of our daily check-ins.) But Jamie had a plan for that too!

Once upon a time, Jamie op-managed a gluten-free bakery — beginning her on a journey of substitutional ingredient incorporation (which would later become so extremely important to our mission today.)

The focus of the bakery (naturally) wasn’t only to make substitution options, but DELICIOUS substitution options. In fact, they were sorta super famous for it. Gluten-free options, dairy-free options, vegan options, and more. And it was all hands on deck for ideas. Everything from quiches to sandwich bread to donuts, cakes, and pies to tortes. But the thing that absolutely wrecked people were their brownies. In a blind test, you’d never guess they were in any way “adapted” at all. In fact, to this day, it is the best damn brownie I’ve ever put in my face. And I’m not new.

People would take a bite of these brownies and start literally crying because as celiacs they had given up ever tasting any baked good as moist or sumptuous again. People would travel from out of state to eat them. And once delivery options were set up, people would ship them all over the country.

…This is the same philosophy Jamie brings to every recipe she adapts for Charlie. Because for her, it is inexcusable to have a person feel left out from experiencing all the joy and yum and comfort that food can bring. So Jamie leaned in extra hard for this long holiday and the week of food prep going into it.

As you can see above, the recipes are simple, picnic and BBQ-based, Americana, mirroring as much of what Charlie would be around all that weekend as Jamie could. Charlie had her own special burgers for grilling with the others. She had her own filling substitutions with grain in lieu of pastas. She had sweet potatoes instead of regular, corn as PART of a meal dish to get the flavors, but not the blast of natural sugar that a whole cobb would smack her with. She had her own picnic salads of chicken and salmon and 3-bean, but substituting out the gobs of mayo, sugar, and cholesterol for healthy oils, vinegars, and balsamic.

…And maybe the MOST important part – Charlie had enough of two of her favorites to share with everyone. Share the flavors, the extra pop of yum that happens when you take out the excess salts and fats and fold in clean, and healthier dressed-up versions.

There were obviously challenges through the weekend that Charlie had to bat away from. (Because wine, tater tots, and potato salads are freakin’ delicious,) but bringing something she could eat to share with everyone else, opened up not just the joy of equal participation, it also opened conversations about more of her foods — about the changes being made to them, about why the changes mattered, about how the spices and herbs and vinegars brightened, deepened, and satisfied in places you couldn’t quite put your finger on. And about why in the heck that freakin’ 3-bean salad was so damn magical??!?

When you can turn a 3-bean salad into the talk of a 4-day eating fest: you win. Make a note, friends.

…Then: make the salad. 😉


(Sweet Potato, Kale, Corn, & White Bean Hash – pic by Jamie)