Sticking to diet guidelines can be tough, especially if you’re balancing your career, fitness, and family. The WEEKNIGHT PALEO: 100+ Easy and Delicious Family-Friendly Mealscookbook by Julie and Charles Mayfield aims to ease the stress of dieting with over 100 healthy and family-friendly Paleo recipes. Check out these four amazing meals that are guaranteed to please everyone at the dinner table.
This is one of those recipes that’s really good with regular (Italian) basil, but becomes exceptional if you can find and use Thai basil. Sadly, our local Asian market doesn’t always carry the basil, and we don’t always grow it…but when we can get our hands on it this is the first recipe I want to make. While this dish is a bit like the popular Thai larb dish, it’s different enough that we didn’t feel right calling it larb.
PREP TIME: 10 minutes
TOTAL TIME: 25 minutes
1 pound ground pork
¼ cup coconut aminos
2 tablespoons Sriracha or a hot chili paste of your choosing
Summertime in the South brings with it two of our favorite things: peaches and tomatoes. While I still don’t love biting into a whole tomato as much as I do a whole peach, I do love both of these fruits in so many preparations, and together they add a lovely sweet flavor to the chicken. Served over peppery arugula, this makes for a great weeknight meal in a flash. This recipe was inspired by a similar dish from Virginia Willis’s James Beard Award–winning book, Lighten Up, Y’all. -Julie
PREP TIME: 10 MINUTES
TOTAL TIME: 25 MINUTES
1 tablespoon fat (coconut oil, olive oil, or ghee)
1½ to 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
1 shallot, sliced
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger
3 peaches, pitted and sliced
2 medium tomatoes, cut into wedges
1 cup chicken stock, store-bought or homemade
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil
6 to 8 ounces arugula
Heat a large cast-iron or stainless steel skillet over medium-high heat and add the fat (see Note). While the fat is heating, season the chicken with the salt and pepper. When the fat is hot and shimmering (not smoking), add the chicken and sear, undisturbed, on the first side until golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Flip and cook for another 2 minutes. Remove the chicken to a plate.
Reduce the heat to medium and add the shallot to the pan. Sauté until slightly softened, then mix in the garlic and ginger and sauté a minute more.
Stir in the peaches, tomatoes, chicken stock, and 1 tablespoon of the basil. Return the chicken to the pan, spooning some of the juices over the chicken.
Cover and simmer the chicken until cooked through, 10 to 15 minutes.
Serve over the arugula, with the sauce poured over like a dressing, and garnish with the remaining basil.
NOTE:You can cook this entire dish from start to finish in the oven (400°F for 15 to 20 minutes), but we prefer the flavor of the sautéed shallots and browned exterior of the chicken. You can also cook on the stovetop through step 3, then put the entire pan in a 350°F oven in step 4 and bake until the chicken is cooked through, 10 to 15 minutes.
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Spaghetti Squash Fritters
This recipe is inspired by one in Mollie Katzen’s book The Vegetable Dishes I Can’t Live Without. Heads up! This recipe calls for already cooked spaghetti squash. —Julie
1 to 2 tablespoons coconut oil or cooking fat of your choice
Place the squash in a large bowl. If it’s too moist, wrap it in some paper towels and squeeze out the excess liquid.
Add the arrowroot starch/flour, salt, green onion, and bacon and stir to combine well.
Whisk the eggs in a small bowl, then add them to the squash mixture and stir to combine.
Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add enough oil to coat the pan, and when it’s hot, spoon the squash mixture to form fritters of your desired size; ¼ cup per fritter works well.
When the fritters are crispy and browned on one side, about 5 minutes, use a spatula to flip them and continue cooking on the other side until crisped, about 5 minutes longer. Serve hot.
VARIATIONS: Make it a meal! Mix some already cooked chicken into the fritters and you essentially have a one-dish supper. We also love to add about 1 tablespoon hot sauce to the mixture for Buffalo-style fritters.
Ask any person of Cajun or Creole heritage how they define gumbo, and you’re likely to get a whole host of responses, coupled with some great family stories. This recipe, loosely based on our family’s gumbo, creates a thick and robust stew. (Oh, and before we ruffle too many Cajuns’ feathers: Charles’s mom hails from Alabama, where it’s quite common to add tomatoes to gumbo. Some folks swear this is sacrilege. If you prefer to omit the tomatoes, go ahead and do so.) While many iterations of gumbo involve shellfish (and in our family we have a hard time saying no to gumbo that includes freshly cleaned and picked Mobile Bay crabs), we wanted to come up with something for those times when you don’t have the extra hours to pick crab.
PREP TIME: 5minutes
TOTAL TIME: 30 minutes
2 pounds bulk pork sausage
2 tablespoons coconut oil
1 medium sweet onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons store-bought Cajun Spice Mix
¼ cup coconut flour
3 cups diced, canned tomatoes
4 cups chicken stock, store-bought or homemade (page 209)
In a large Dutch oven, cook the sausage over medium-high heat. Use a wooden spoon to break up the sausage into small bits as it cooks. Transfer to a large bowl when cooked through, about 5 minutes.
Return the Dutch oven to the heat and add the coconut oil. Add the onion and cook for a few minutes, until translucent. Add the garlic and Cajun seasoning, stirring frequently for about a minute.
Add the coconut flour and stir to coat all the onions. As the mixture begins to brown, add the tomatoes and cook for another 2 minutes. Pour in the chicken stock along with the okra and cauliflower. Cover and bring to a quick boil.
Once boiling, return the sausage to the pan, reduce the heat to a simmer, cover, and cook for 10 minutes. Serve with a healthy garnish of green onion.
VARIATIONS: There are quite a few common substitutions you can use for this recipe. Any type of bulk sausage (chorizo, country, Italian) can be used and we encourage you to play around with what tastes best to you. We love using seafood stock for this recipe and occasionally swap the cauliflower with shredded cabbage.