I’ve organized this week’s playbook into three Prep Blocks. Prep Blocks are structured to flow from one recipe to the next over the course of a week, providing you with a guide for balancing freshly made meals with those that incorporate leftovers. It’s a method that has made managing a Paleo diet realistic for me. I sure hope this helps you as well!
This week I’m cooking from two of my favorites:
Yes, I really do cook my own food from my cookbook–and often! The book is really just a collection of what worked for my family at the time I was writing it. It fed two adults and two young kids who pretty much stuck with a Paleo diet for years.
I’m making the following recipes this week:
The Frugal Paleo Cookbook (buy it on Amazon here)
- French Countryside Roasted Chicken, pg 88
- Chicken Florentine Skillet, pg 167
- Tequila Carnitas, pg 100
- Chile Relleno Egg Bites, pg 172
- Poor Man’s Braciole, pg 44
- Mushroom Diavolo, pg 180
The Zenbelly Cookbook (buy it on Amazon here)
- Cumin Orange Roasted Carrots, pg 206
- Spanish Cauliflower Rice, pg 224 (the Zenbelly recipe is the one I go to for Paleo Spanish Rice)
Here’s my playbook for the week:
PREP BLOCK 1
I’m going to start with two protein recipes that I can use in various ways over the next couple days: Tequila Carnitas from The Frugal Paleo Cookbook (pg. 100) and a basic roasted chicken. If you have a copy of Zenbelly Cookbook, page 158 showcases Perfect Roast Chicken–this is chef-instructed roast chicken in its simplest form. If you have a copy of The Frugal Paleo Cookbook, Roasted French Countryside Chicken on page 88 is a great reference and it’s the recipe I’m making this week.
- Roasted Chicken: No matter which recipe you choose to follow, preheat the oven, prepare the chicken, and set it in a hot oven to roast as your first step in Prep Block 1. A whole chicken usually takes about an hour and fifteen minutes to an hour and a half to roast. This leaves plenty of time to move on to another recipe, allowing you to cook two main dishes at the same time.
- Once the chicken is in the oven, start to prepare the Tequila Carnitas on the stovetop. This recipe uses a handful of basic ingredients, available at any grocery store. The prep time will be about 10 to 15 minutes, depending on how comfortable you are with slicing and mincing. It’ll take about two hours of braising time, once all of the ingredients have been prepared and added to the Dutch oven. The Tequila Carnitas will be used at a later time, so allow the pork to cool, transfer to a storage container, and hold in the refrigerator for now.
- Cumin-Orange Roasted Carrots will be my veggie side dish for dinner. You’ll find this recipe on page 206 of the Zenbelly Cookbook. I chose this recipe because I can pop the carrots into the oven to roast during the last 12 to 14 minutes that the chicken is roasting. In the alternative, you can also roast the carrots while the chicken rests. Then you’ll have piping hot carrots right from the oven served alongside juicy roasted chicken. To complete the meal, I tend to add some berries, apple slices, and/or a quick garden salad with preferred dressing.
After dinner, you can either process the chicken by removing the meat from the bones and skin, storing it in the refrigerator for later use, or just pop the whole thing in the fridge if you don’t have any gas left in the tank.
For breakfast the next day, refer to page 167 in The Frugal Paleo Cookbook for my Chicken Florentine Skillet. Spinach, onion, and leftover roasted chicken make for a protein-rich breakfast that will start your day off on the right foot.
💡 FRUGAL TIP! 💡
Here’s an idea for taking advantage of the chicken bones so you can get the benefits of homemade bone broth, but in a fraction of the time: start with less expensive chicken broth or stock.
I realize this may seem redundant, but I liken it to using jarred marinara to speed along homemade ragu (I talked about this on an Instagram post a while back). Typically, the more affordable broths don’t have the really good stuff that comes from simmering the actual bones and other bits… But investing the time and energy into making rich, flavorful broth completely from scratch isn’t always realistic.
Simmering the bones + veggies in inexpensive stock helps you save time and money, and still reap the health benefits we want from bone broth.
Here’s what to do :
To a large stock pot, add two carrots, two celery stocks, and half of a yellow or sweet onion. The vegetables should be trimmed of the inedible parts and cut into large chunks. Add the chicken bones, skin and all, to the pot next. The final touch to make sure the stock isn’t bland is a heavy pinch of sea salt, black peppercorns, and a dried bay leaf.
Then pour in enough stock or broth to cover the ingredients, put a lid on the pot, and simmer for an hour or two. (This is less time than usual for making nutrient-rich bone broth.)
To determine if the stock’s ready, check these things: the veggies should be soft, but not mushy; the broth should be a little cloudy; and it should pass a taste test. Keep simmering until all three criteria are met.
When it’s ready, strain the broth from the solids into a clean bowl or pot. Save broth for future use. Discard the remaining solids. I like to store the broth in a mason jar and will try to use it within the week just to guarantee freshness. I might also mix the little bits of meat and skin and softened carrots in with my dog’s dinner that night too.
PREP BLOCK 2
The next prep block will focus on the Tequila Carnitas!
- Gently warm the Tequila Carnitas in a large pot or Dutch oven on the stovetop or baking dish covered with foil in the oven (warm at 325°F to 350°F, max).
- Start to prepare Spanish Cauliflower Rice from The Zenbelly Cookbook, page. 224. This recipe takes about 10 minutes to prepare the ingredients and 20-25 minutes to cook. The recipe serves four, so leftovers are not likely to be too plentiful. However, there should be enough to make a tasty burrito bowl or two for lunches!
Soft tacos or burritos are a perfectly great way to nosh on the carnitas, but I felt like doing something a little different. Flautas it is!
For breakfasts that I’m able to cook fresh, I use my Tequila Carnita leftovers in scrambles topped with pico de gallo and some avocado if I have some on hand. But more often, I prefer something that I can just heat up real quick. For that, the Chile Relleno Egg Bites from Frugal Paleo Cookbook, page 172, are a favorite for using leftover carnitas and pulled pork.
LUNCH & DINNER:
Burrito bowls make for quick lunches and dinners! Portion a serving of warmed Spanish Cauliflower Rice into a bowl, then a portion of Tequila Carnitas–already reheated and ready to eat. Load the bowl with any combination of toppings: avocado or guacamole, cilantro, sliced radishes, pickled carrots, diced red or white onion, jalapeño slices, hot sauce, and a generous squeeze of fresh lime juice! Delicious.
If you’re interested in making your own Plantain Chips, see page 225 in The Frugal Paleo Cookbook. You can also check out the Siete brand family of products for lots of Paleo-friendly chip options. (I’m eating the Grain-Free Tortilla Chips with Sea Salt with my burrito bowls this week.)
PREP BLOCK 3
This prep block is going to focus on one of my personal favorite recipes from Frugal Paleo, Poor Man’s Braciole. It’s a simplified version of the classic using ground beef instead of a beef roast that you’d have to thinly slice in order to make several little bundles of braised deliciousness.
Poor Man’s Braciole from The Frugal Paleo Cookbook is on page 44. You’re going to love this one. Spinach, onion, mushrooms, and garlic are rolled into ground beef in lieu of traditional beef roast. The traditional recipe uses thinly sliced beef roast and can be prepared 100% Paleo (and is fairly comparable in price, I suppose), but I wanted to do something a little creative when writing recipes for the cookbook. Specifically, I like finding creative ways to incorporate more vegetables where possible. It helps enrich the nutrient density and showcases ways to increase veggie intake outside of yet another–and larger–salad.
I often serve Poor Man’s Braciole with roasted vegetables like broccoli, green beans, carrots, Brussels sprouts, or a combination of any or all of them. It’s also fantastic with Roasted Spaghetti Squash or even mashed potatoes!
But there are three mushroom-based recipes in The Frugal Paleo Cookbook that are dreamy with this braciole:
Mushroom Diavolo, pg. 180, is a spicy, buttery side dish that is awesome as a “topping” almost for the braciole. Definitely combine the two on your fork for a blissful bite.
Haricot Verts with Mushrooms and Shallots, pg. 216, is an excellent choice for more of a composed meal. Think: Sunday dinner with the in-laws or a little soiree at home.
Slow Roasted Rosemary Portobellos, pg. 217, work great when you slice the caps and lay them on the plate first, then place a serving of braciole on top. Sprinkle with fresh parsley or basil to finish… You’ll be so pleased.
This week I decided to make a combination of Mushroom Diavolo and basic roasted broccoli and green beans. Those spicy, buttery shrooms are hard to resist…
You’ve just wrapped up a busy week filled with tasty Paleo recipes.
How did it go?
Did you tackle any of these Prep Blocks this week? Follow my plan or roll with your own thing?
Tag #colacinokitchen on Instagram so I can see your handiwork and cheer you on!