Sometimes I feel silly posting recipes because there are SO many other wonderful Paleo food blogs out there that I don’t want to be redundant. But then I remember that not everyone loves Googling as much as I do (no really, I love it), and that maybe you all aren’t already inundated with paleo recipes and could use a few new ideas from places you might not usually search.
While I am not really creative enough to come up with my own recipes on a regular basis, here are my go-to recipes that I’ve been using in the last 6 weeks while we’ve been on The Zone Diet.
(click the photos to be taken to the recipe site)
Paula Deen’s Baked Tilapia
1 4.5-oz fish filet from this recipe = 3 blocks protein, 1 block fat
I know, right? Most people don’t really think Paul Deen when they think Paleo. But this baked fish recipe is SO easy and straightforward that we find ourselves making it at least once a week. The best part is that 1. Tilapia is pretty dang cheap and 2. If you aren’t in the mood for tilapia, this recipe works for any kind of fish.
In order to make this more Zone-friendly, we do not use butter cooking spray at all but instead just line the cast iron skillet with tin foil. Usually this means we lose most of the skin but we typically just feed the fish skin to Luna anyway. Almost all fish is 1.5 ounces per protein block, so a typical fish filet is usually about 3-4 blocks. Then we will put 1/3 tsp butter*, aka one block of fat, on each filet (a very small pat of butter, in other words).
*Butter is not technically strict paleo, but we buy organic, grass-fed butter and use it anyway because we like the flavor better than ghee. To each their own but know that if you want to be STRICT paleo, you need to use ghee or coconut oil instead.
Pan Roasted Chicken Thighs from Epicurious
1 chicken thigh from this recipe = 3 blocks protein, 1 block fat
If we aren’t eating fish, we are typically eating chicken thighs. While thighs are a little fattier than chicken breasts, I prefer the flavor and I think they are generally juicier. Also, I LOVE this recipe for leftovers and eat chicken thighs for lunch at least 3 times a week.
Instead of vegetable oil, we typically use butter or coconut oil. I prefer to use coconut oil because it doesn’t burn as easily as butter, but it does leave a little bit of a sweet coconut-ey taste. Also, with these types of recipes, I don’t feel bad about using a little extra fat because I know that most of it will stay in the pan after I’m done cooking. We also mix up the spices we use; my favorites are garlic powder and mustard seed, Brandon likes rosemary and thyme or curry.
I have found that an average chicken thigh will typically have almost exactly 3 ounces of meat on it, even if it is bone-in, which makes one chicken thigh equal to 3 blocks of protein.
Warm + Crunchy Kale
1 1/4 cup kale from this recipe = 1 block of carbs + 1 block fat
Ok so this one doesn’t have a link to the recipe because I mostly just made it up.
I freakin’ love kale but have a hard time eating it raw–it’s just a little too fibrous for me. However, I found myself compulsively over-cooking it and ending up with a big glob of chewy kale that was just not tasty. So I found a middle ground.
1 1/4 cups of cooked kale is about the equivalent of 2 big handfuls of raw kale. I pull the kale leaves off the stems and rip them into small pieces, then put them into a warm pan that has about 1/3 tsp of melted butter at the bottom. After tossing the leaves in the pan to distribute the butter, I will pour about 2 tbsp of water into the pan and put a lid on it for about 60 seconds.
I only cook the kale until it has changed from raw green to vivid, shiny green. Once it is shiny, I turn off the heat and put the kale into a bowl, then add about 1 tablespoon of Amy’s Sesame Ginger salad dressing. You can add any dressing you want or just use balsamic vinegar.
Something to note is that if you are eating this with a large meal and need 4 or 5 blocks of carbs, you might not want to use kale for more than 1 of those blocks because the kale is going to really fill you up. I typically eat kale with my 3-block lunch and accompany it with a grapefruit or an apple.
Ok, what the heck else do we eat?
Apples or bananas and almond butter. 1 apple or 2/3 banana + 2/3 tsp (about 1 knife-full) almond butter = 2 blocks carbs, 2 blocks fat
Eggs + Bacon. 1 egg = 1 block protein, 2 pieces of bacon = 2 blocks protein + 1 block fat
Grapefruit. 1 grapefruit = 2 blocks carbs
Progenex. 2 scoops of More Muscle = 3 blocks protein + 1 block carbs. If you add a 17.5-ounce can of coconut water (which I never do because I can’t stand the stuff, but…), it will become a complete 3-block meal.
Stir fry. This is a little trickier to zone but the most effective way we’ve learned to do it is to put in the same number of blocks of each veggie. Thus, we might make a 10-block stir fry using 2 blocks of onion, 2 blocks of red peppers, 2 blocks of carrots, 2 blocks of broccoli, and 2 blocks of kale. Then we know that if I serve myself about 1/3 of the pan of veggies, I am getting about 3 blocks of carbs because there are 10 blocks total in there and they are equally distributed.
The approximate recipe for this example would be:
1 small onion
1.5 large red peppers, diced
4 medium carrots, diced
2 medium heads of broccoli, chopped
1 large bunch of kale, chopped
Mashed sweet potatoes. 1 cup (~2 large scoops or about 1 medium sweet potato)= 5 blocks carbs, 3/5 cup (~1 large scoop or about 1/2 medium potato) = 3 blocks carbs. I will make a big bowl of mashed sweet potatoes at the beginning of the week and then bring leftovers to work for lunch almost every day. Typically I will also add a small pat of butter in there as well to add a block of fat.
Salad. Zoning salad can be a little tricky because if you aren’t careful, you can end up staring down several heads of lettuce and entire bunches and bundles of raw veggies for just one meal because, turns out, veggies are super low in carbs. This is typically a good thing, but not if you are trying to get all of your carbs from just raw veggies. If we do salads we will typically do them on the side, as a 2-block salad is about the equivalent of a 2 large handfulls of romaine lettuce + 1 medium carrot + 1 medium tomato, or the romaine lettuce + 1/2 tangerine and 1/2 apple.
Geeze that’s a lot of info! I hope that gives you guys some new ideas for paleo/zone today. What are your go-to paleo meals?