Planning ahead: it’s my #1 paleo success strategy.
I know planning doesn’t sound thrilling or sexy, but it’s the secret to paleo triumph & to having the life you want.
- I plan my meals 1-2 weeks in advance;
- I don’t always religiously follow my plans, but they are always there;
- A plan is only useful if it helps you meet your goals;
My paleo goals are also simple:
- To eat really well;
- To make food prep as effortless as possible so I can do other stuff;
Here I’ll use my favorite Chai Squash Pie to illustrate how I make planning work for me. So I don’t have to brood about my food and can have my thrilling life.
Now this is a deconstructed paleo pie. We’re not aiming to reconstruct SAD foods here. We’re moving on & getting happier every day. And this recipe really is easy as pie because it’s crust-free. And unsweetened. If that makes you shudder, you haven’t been paleo long enough. It’s divine. It is everything there is to love about pumpkin pie, and you can make it with almost any squash. You can also make it with tinned pumpkin, so it’s a perfect pantry dish.
I plan a higher carb meal after I exercise. Chai Squash pie is perfect for that, so it gets into my menu plan at least once a week, more during squash season.
My pie is always ready before I go for run or to a hot power yoga class, either in the fridge or cooling in the oven. You can make it several days before you need it. Or make a big one and eat it over several days. To be frank, I love this pie and I will eat nothing else until it is gone, so I don’t bake up huge slabs of it. If I have a lot of squash and want a lot of pie, I’ll bake all the squash at once and then make the pie as I go.
Chai Squash Pie
- 2 small or 1 medium baked squash (any dense squash like butternut, pie pumpkin, kuri or kabocha); or 2 tins of unsweetened pumpkin
- 4 eggs
- A capful of vanilla extract
- A shake of salt
- Your own house-chai blend (a combination of ground spices made of what you have & what you like): ginger, cardamom, cinnamon, nutmeg, star anise, allspice, a pinch of cloves, a modicum of black pepper
Remove squash skin with a sharp paring knife. Whirl all ingredients in a food processor or blender. Grease a baking dish with coconut oil & bake your pie for 40-45 minutes at 350.
Cool before eating for pie-like results. It’ll be more of a hot pudding, otherwise.
Serve as a side wherever you might have once had SAD pumpkin pie or cornbread. Or eat it gloriously all by itself.
Serve your Chai Squash Pie with Coconut Cream. Find the recipe for coconut cream here (scroll through my chanterelle picking expedition to find it). If you want to add a little more sweetness to this pie, for company maybe, toss a handful of dried apricots into the food processor when you are whirling.
The Plan Ahead Method:
- Up to a few days in advance, bake the squash. Or skip this step and use tinned pumpkin. To bake a squash, cut it in halves or quarters with a large sharp knife, scoop out the seeds with a spoon, and place cut side down on a baking dish. Bake at 350 until soft (30-40 minutes). Poke the flesh with a fork to determine doneness.
- Up to a couple of days in advance, bake the pie. Like any pumpkin pie, this one wants to be chilled, so it’s happy sitting in the fridge waiting for you.
- Don’t wait until you are hungry to make this pie! Plan the advance prep stages into your week so your pie is magically ready for you when you need it. Just as if you had a benevolent grandma who anticipates your every whim.
I want Chai Squash Pie waiting for me when I get back from yoga on Thursday evening and after my long run on Saturday morning. I also want bacon on Saturday morning, and I can have that, too.
- Tuesday evening I’m home, so I bake 2 medium squash. Two different kinds, cause that’s more fun & flavorful. When baked, I put the squash into a container in the fridge.
- Wednesday evening or before work Thursday morning, I put ½ the squash in the food processor with the eggs, salt, vanilla & spices. I whirl & bake. When baked, I pop the pie in the fridge until it’s needed. I repeat this step again on Saturday morning. If you are differently constructed than me and can keep a squash pie at the ready without lovingly eating it for every meal, bake up one big pie & save yourself a step.
- Don’t let your food bully you. Sometimes I only have half an hour before I have to go, because maybe I got absorbed writing a blog post or something. I can whirl up this pie & put it in the oven at 375 for 20 minutes, then turn the oven off & let the pie keep setting while the oven slowly cools & I go to yoga. When I get back: benevolent grandma strikes again!
- While you are baking the squash, you might bake some roots for a hash, and likewise, while you have the food processor going you could whip up a batch of paleo pad thai sauce for Friday night’s supper & a salad dressing to have on hand, but I’ll cover that kind of paleo-skillfulness in another post.
Planning ahead: not always thrilling or sexy, but master it and the rest of your life can be!