Pesto Chicken & Pasta

While this is not a Paleo recipe, it’s damn good! I was in the mood for carbs and cheese. Can anyone tell I’m stressed? Often times when we are craving a lot of salt, carbs, and cheese we are also stressing out. The reason for these cravings is that our body is looking for a quick source of energy to help us function while we are in this fight or flight state. However, these quick sources of energy are what they are, quick. Then you’re left with a crash later and more cravings for quick sources of energy which usually leads to sweets and simple carbs like pasta, cake, sugar, you get the idea.

For sustainable energy look to healthy fats and grass fed sources of protein. Which is exactly why I love Paleo, it’s based on a diet of high fat, moderate protein and low carb. However, some of us need more carbs than others and one diet does not fit all! Which is why sometimes I eat cheese and pasta and I’m more squirrelly when it comes to eating a Paleo diet.

And sometimes it’s just because I want to and I will damn well do as I please. Plain and simple. If we aren’t giving ourselves a break sometimes and letting ourselves enjoy the things we love, we put too much stress on ourselves and really limit ourselves. So this week it’s Pesto Chicken and Pasta!

Pesto Chicken & Pasta | Makes 8 Servings

  • 2lbs Chicken Breasts
  • 1 Cup Pesto
  • 1 Box Rotini (I used Tri-Color, but you can sub with gluten free or grain free)
  • 2 Cups Shredded Mozzarella Cheese

Instructions:

  1. Place chicken in crockpot with pesto.
  2. Cook on low for 4 hours.
  3. Near the end of cooking the chicken, cook the rotini according to package directions and drain.
  4. When the chicken is done shred and mix in cooked rotini.
  5. If eating immediately, mix in mozzarella until melted.
  6. If storing to eat for lunch, portion out into 8 air right containers adding a 1/4 cup mozzarella to the top of each. It will melt when you reheat.
  7. Store in fridge for up to 4 days.


Paleo Trail Mix

I absolutely love dried blueberries. Something about their texture and flavor is so yummy! Unfortunately most dried fruit has added sugar, and that’s not Paleo friendly. However, with some searching of the inter-webs you CAN find unsweetened dried fruit! Sometimes you can find unsweetened dried fruit at the grocery store but unsweetened dried blueberries were a struggle for me to find so I went online and voila there they were!

You can tailor this recipe to be whatever dried fruit and nuts you like. The important thing to make it a Paleo trail mix is to use unsweetened dried fruit and raw natural nuts. You can’t use the salted kind you buy at the store because they are almost always roasted and salted in vegetable oil of some kind. Vegetable oils are also not Paleo friendly because they are not considered healthy fats. If you want salty trail mix buy the raw natural nuts and roast them yourself in the oven with olive oil or avocado oil and some salt.

You can also add chocolate chips to this trail mix. Enjoy Life brand makes dairy and soy free chocolate chips so I recommend those!

Paleo Trail Mix | Makes 16 1/4 Cup Servings

  • 1/2 Cup Unsweetened Dried Blueberries
  • 1/2 Cup Unsweetened Dried Cranberries
  • 1 Cup Almonds
  • 1 Cup Cashews
  • 1 Cup Pecans
  • 1 Tbsp Olive Oil OR Avocado Oil
  • Salt to Taste

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Place almonds, cashews, and pecans in a bowl and drizzle with olive oil or avocado oil and stir.
  3. Place the nuts on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper in an even layer.
  4. Sprinkle with salt.
  5. Bake at 325 degrees for 10-15 minutes stirring every 5 minutes so the nuts don’t burn.
  6. When the nuts are done remove from oven and let cool.
  7. When cool place the nuts in a bowl and mix in dried blueberries and dried cranberries.
  8. If you’re adding chocolate chips be sure you add them last and when the nuts are completely cooled.
  9. Store in an airtight container.

Paleo Italian Meatballs

It’s pretty amazing that I used to be almost a vegetarian. The thought of ground beef used to make me want to vomit. Now I crave it. The difference is meat from locally raised 100% grass fed cows. It tastes so much better, isn’t full of hormones and antibiotics, and the cow probably had a better life than those mass produced feed farm cows that are crammed into an enclosed dirt field eating grain until they’re ready for slaughter.

Anyway, these Italian Meatballs pair great with gluten free pasta or quinoa. If you are strict Paleo you can simply eat them as is, with sweet potatoes or your favorite veggies. Although not Paleo, I made quinoa with mine because that’s what I had handy. I also used Panko breadcrumbs because that’s what I had handy but Panko isn’t Paleo either so to make this recipe Paleo you can substitute the Panko with almond flour.

I’m all about saving money and using what I have on hand even if it’s not always Paleo, it’s still healthy ingredients!

Paleo Italian Meatballs | Makes About 26 1 1/2″ Meatballs

  • 2 Pounds 100% Grass Fed Ground Beef
  • 32oz Marinara Sauce (I used Rao’s Homemade)
  • 6 Tbsp Panko Breadcrumbs (sub Almond Flour if Paleo)
  • 2 Tbsp Italian Seasoning
  • 1 Tsp Garlic Powder
  • 3 Tsp Onion Powder
  • 1 Tbsp Basil
  • 1 Tsp Red Pepper Flakes
  • 2 Tbsp Fresh Minced Parsley
  • 1 Egg

Cooking Instructions:

  1. Mix ground beef with panko breadcrumbs or almond flour, italian seasoning, garlic powder, onion powder, red pepper flakes, parsley and egg with hands in large mixing bowl.
  2. Roll mixture into balls about 1 1/2″ in diameter.
  3. Pan fry meatballs in a large pot lighted sprayed with avocado oil. I actually had to use 2 because my pot wasn’t big enough to roll the meatballs around evenly to brown.
  4. Turn meatballs to brown on all sides and cook through.
  5. Once no more pink is showing, add marinara sauce and basil. After the meatballs were fully cooked, I combined my meatballs into one pot so they could all cook in the sauce together.
  6. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes.
  7. Store meatballs with sauce in the fridge in an airtight container for no more than 4 days.
  8. Reheat when ready to eat!

Beef Stew

Merry almost Christmas! In my family beef was always the main dish at our Christmas dinners. Every year we eat a pot roast with roasted potatoes and veggies. You can’t go wrong with meat and potatoes, especially in an Irish household. While this Beef Stew recipe is not my mom’s roast, it has similar ingredients and is just as comforting and filling!

Beef Stew | Servings 8

  • 2lbs Beef Chuck Roast
  • 3 Large Red Potatoes
  • 6 Medium Carrots
  • 6 Stalks Celery
  • 1 Tbsp Rosemary
  • 1 Tbsp Oregano
  • 1 Tbsp Paprika
  • 1 Tbsp Basil
  • 3 Tsp Minced Garlic
  • 1 Tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1/2 Tsp Salt
  • 1/2 Tsp Pepper
  • 2 Cups Beef Stock
  • 1/4 Cup Unbleached/Unenriched Flour

Instructions: Chop beef chuck roast into bite sized pieces. Add to crock pot. Chop potatoes, carrots, celery into bite sized pieces. Add to crock pot. Add spices, balsamic vinegar, garlic, and beef stock. Cook on low for 8 hours. Remove some of the liquid from crock pot and transfer to mixing bowl. Wisk in 1/4 flour to thicken. Add back to crock pot. Stir. Portion out evenly into Tupperware containers.


Chicken Burrito Bowls

I promise I’ll stop posting so many Mexican recipes. Ok, I’m lying. I love Mexican food and it will always be prominent in my recipes. Next week I’ll share my beef stew recipe so bare with me until then!

Chicken Burrito Bowls | Servings 10

  • 3lbs Boneless Chicken Breast (about 4 breasts)
  • 1 28oz Can Diced Fire Roasted Tomatoes
  • 1/2 Cups Chicken Broth
  • 1 Cup Brown Rice (uncooked)
  • 1 Can Black Beans
  • 1 Cup Corn
  • 2 Tbsp Chili Powder
  • 1 Tbsp Ground Cumin
  • 1/2 Tsp Salt

Instructions: Add chicken, spices, tomatoes, and 1/2 cup chicken broth to crockpot. Cook on high for 4 hours.

Cook the rice separately according to the instructions. Portion rice out into Tupperware containers, about 1/3 cup cooked rice per container.

When chicken is done, remove it from the crockpot to shred. Return to crockpot. Add beans and corn, stir. Portion mixture evenly into Tupperware containers with the rice.

Top with avocado, parsley, or shredded cheese!


How to Create a Meal Plan

We believe that a meal plan is key if you want to stick to a healthy diet or if you have a tight budget that you need to stick to. But how does one meal plan you ask? Let us share with you some tips on successful meal planning.

  • First, decide on how much you can spend on groceries.
  • Then, decide on what meals you are going make for the upcoming week.
  • Not sure what to make? Pinterest is a great tool for ideas and recipes.
  • Write down your grocery list or use a grocery store app to create your list.
    • Shop Rite and Walmart both have apps that were designed for grocery pick up but they are actually a great tool in calculating your grocery total so you know you won’t go over budget!
  • Choose a day and time that will work best with your schedule for food prepping. You’ll want to set aside a few hours as it may take that long depending on what you are making.
  • Choose a day and time before your food prep day to go grocery shopping.
  • Never go grocery shopping hungry…unless you want to throw your list out the window or you have an iron will.
  • When food prep day arrives, do the thang, make the noms!

Other Food Prep Tips:

Food prepping in bulk is a good option if you get bored with the same old, same old every day. For example, cook a batch of quinoa or rice to have on hand throughout the week. Then, when it comes time to cook whatever meat you are making for dinner, you can just heat up the quinoa or rice.  Easy peasy!

Don’t have time to make fresh veggies? Or maybe the kind you like are out of season? Try frozen, they are just as good because they are generally frozen at the peak of freshness while in season. They’re also super easy to pop in the microwave as most come in microwave steam-able bags.