Adhering to any diet can be a challenge, especially when that diet restricts the kinds of foods you're used to eating daily. No dairy, no grains, no processed sugar. Those are the key rules of the Paleo Diet, a meal plan structured around the supposed diet of our caveman ancestors.
The Paleo Diet emphasizes proteins and healthy fats (from foods like meat and avocado) and limits carbohydrates (like rice and starchy vegetables). For newbies, the idea of cooking in conjunction with the lifestyle change may feel overwhelming. Roasting a chicken or spiralizing a zucchini can feel daunting if you've never done it before.
Luckily, kitchen creatives like Jenny Castaneda, founder of Paleo Foodie Kitchen, have found ways to make eating like a caveman simple. The following three recipes come from Castaneda's upcoming cookbook, One-Pot Paleo, and they can be cooked in a single pot. Check out the hearty meals below, and then -- quick! -- go get your favorite pot.
Meatball Noodle Soup
I remember my mom making this soup we fondly call Almondigas or bola-bola. As a young kid, I’d always count how many shrimp pieces I’d find in each bowl. Today this hearty, filling soup feels like a hug in a bowl. Biting into each meatball reveals hidden morsels of shrimp amidst the pork. The blend of these 2 types of protein produces a succulent meatball that you’ll love.
- ¾ c (115 g) raw medium shrimp, peeled and roughly chopped
- 2 large eggs
- ¼ c (10 g) green onions, chopped
- ¼ c (15 g) carrots, chopped
- ¾ tsp sea salt
- ¾ tsp black pepper
- 2 tbsp (15 g) coconut flour
- 1 lb (450 g) ground pork
- 1 tbsp (15 ml) coconut oil
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 c (150 g) onion, chopped
- 2 c (450 ml) Vegetable Broth (see below)
- 3 c (675 ml) water
- 2 tsp (10 ml) fish sauce
- 12 oz (340 g) sea kelp noodles
- 1 bunch spinach
Prepare the meatballs by combining the shrimp, eggs, green onions, carrots, sea salt, black pepper and coconut flour in a food processor. Pulse until combined. Add this mixture to the ground pork and mix well.
Form the pork mixture into 1 ½" (4 cm) meatballs and set aside.
Add coconut oil to a Dutch oven pan over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and onion. Sauté until fragrant, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add the vegetable broth, water and fish sauce. Cover and bring to a boil. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Reduce the heat to medium-low until the broth mixture is just simmering. Drop in the meatballs one by one, about 5 seconds apart so that they do not stick to each other. Simmer uncovered for 5 minutes. Gently stir and add the sea kelp noodles. Cover and simmer for 25 minutes. Add the spinach to the soup. Mix for 1 to 2 minutes until it wilts. Turn off the heat and serve hot.
Note: Sweet potato noodles can be used as a substitute for sea kelp noodles. Soak them in warm water half an hour before cooking to soften them up and reduce the cooking time of the noodles from 25 to 5 minutes.
Sometimes a recipe calls for broth, but neither chicken nor beef broth will work. For that reason, I always have some vegetable broth handy. It’s relatively easy to make on a stove top. Just a few vegetables seasoned with spices become a delicious broth in less than an hour.
MAKES 6 CUPS (1.42 L)
- 2 leek stalks (white parts only), quartered
- 2 carrots, quartered
- 2 celery stalks, quartered
- 1 tsp whole peppercorns
- 1 dried bay leaf
- 4 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 6 c (1.42 L) water
- Large glass jar
Place all the ingredients in a stockpot. Turn on the heat to high and wait until the water starts to boil. Reduce the heat to low and cover. Let it simmer for 45 minutes.
Uncover, turn off the heat and let it cool for half an hour. Once it is ready, place a sieve on top of a glass jar and pour the broth in it. Cover tightly and keep in the fridge or freezer.
Cauliflower Pork Fried Rice
I regularly eat cauliflower rice because it’s filled with essential vitamins, but it has to be cooked and seasoned just right or else it looks and tastes blah. Use the same ratio of cauliflower to ground pork, and say bye-bye to bland rice. I make a big pan of this so we have enough for days—if it lasts that long! Once the pork and vegetables are ready, riced cauliflower cooks fairly quickly. Keep a close eye on it so it doesn’t end up getting mushy.
Add ghee to a wok over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and onions. Sauté for 3 minutes. Add the ground pork and cook for 7 to 8 minutes while breaking apart big pieces with the back of a wooden spoon.
- 1 tbsp (15 ml) ghee or bacon fat
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 c (130 g) sweet onion, chopped
- 1 lb (450 g) ground pork
- 1 c (50 g) carrots, chopped
- 3 tbsp (45 ml) coconut aminos
- 1 tsp fish sauce
- ¼ tsp coarse ground black pepper
- 2 large eggs
- 4 c (480 g) Cauliflower Rice (see below)
- ½ c (20 g) green onions, chopped
Stir in the carrots and season with the coconut aminos, fish sauce and black pepper. Remove from the wok and set aside in a bowl. Crack the eggs into the wok and scramble for 1 minute. Return the pork mixture to the pan and stir together with the eggs. Add the cauliflower rice and green onions. Mix until everything is thoroughly combined. Cook for 5 minutes until cauliflower is soft but not mushy.
Top with more green onions before serving.
MAKES 6 CUPS (600 G)
The low-carb and grain-free alternative to white rice, cauliflower rice is rich in vitamins and minerals.
1 head cauliflower, leaves removed
1 tbsp (15 ml) tallow or coconut oil
Cut off the florets of the cauliflower, removing as much of the core and stem as possible. Chop them in smaller pieces and place the florets in a food processor 3 cups (300 g) at a time. Pulse for 25 to 30 seconds until it turns into a rice-like consistency. Use raw cauliflower when adding to recipes.
To cook cauliflower rice, add tallow to a wok over medium-high heat. Add the cauliflower rice. Sauté for 3 to 5 minutes until cooked but not mushy.
Chicken Pesto Zucchini
Zucchini has become a popular vegetable to turn into noodles thanks to tools such as the spiralizer and julienne peeler. It may look like a lot before cooking, due to its high water content, but it shrinks in half so don’t skimp on the zucchini. Dress it up with sun-dried tomato pesto so fresh and aromatic you’ll want to eat it on its own.
BASIL AND SUN-DRIED TOMATO PESTO (YIELDS ¾ C [170 G])
- 6 oz (170 g) basil leaves
- ¼ c (30 g) raw pine nuts, toasted
- 3 tbsp (5 g) sun-dried tomatoes
- 2 cloves garlic
- ½ tsp black pepper
- ½ tsp sea salt
- ½ c (120 ml) extra virgin olive oil
- 1 ½ lb (675 g) zucchini, spiralized
- 1 tbsp (15 ml) ghee
- ½ lb (225 g) boneless, skinless chicken breast, sliced into bite-sized pieces
- Sea salt
- Black pepper
- ¼ c (60 g) Basil and Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto
Prepare the pesto by combining the basil leaves, pine nuts, sun-dried tomatoes, garlic, black pepper and sea salt in a food processor, and pulse for 15 seconds. Scrape the sides and pulse again for 30 more seconds while slowly drizzling the extra virgin olive oil. Set aside ¼ cup (60 g) and store the rest in a glass container in the fridge.
In a wok over medium heat, add the zucchini and sauté for 2 minutes until soft. Remove from the pan and set aside. Drain the excess liquid from the pan and add ghee. Generously season the chicken pieces with salt and pepper. Fry for 5 minutes.
Return the zucchini to the pan and turn off the heat. Add the pesto and mix well to coat the chicken and zucchini with the sauce. Serve immediately.