Easy Recipes for a Paleo Diet

If you’ve gone Paleo, consider one of these simple, quick recipes.


Earlier this year, I started the Whole 30 eating plan in order to find out what was making my body seem to work against me. The Whole 30 is a 30-day plan that eliminates grains; sugars; dairy; legumes; MSG, sulfites and nitrates; and soy from the body. In my case, the purpose was finding the source of the inflammation I was experiencing. For 30 days, I ate seafood, mostly pasture-raised meat, a LOT of vegetables, fruits and nuts. After 30 days, I introduced a few things back into my diet and I quickly found the source of inflammation in rice, corn and some dairy. Not wanting to continue eating this way, I found that after my 30 days, I was eating a Paleo diet. At its simplest, the Paleo diet revolves around commonly available foods such as fish; grass-fed, pasture-raised meats; eggs; vegetables; fruits; and fungi, roots and nuts. It excludes grains, legumes, dairy products, potatoes, refined salt, refined sugar and processed oils.

When I first started transitioning to a Paleo lifestyle, I learned a few tips to make it work for me. Keep in mind that the Paleo diet is very similar to a "whole foods" diet, and these tips will work for both.

1. Plan to cook. A Paleo lifestyle is centered on whole foods. You won't find a wide variety of frozen meals or boxed meals in the grocery store. People on the Paleo diet eat real food with very minimal chemicals or processing from the original form. I love to cook, so this was an easy step for me.

2. Utilize weekend cooking. Each weekend, I would prepare a few staple dishes to use throughout the week. This typically included a pot of soup, a pan of roasted vegetables and a big plate of chicken thighs, assuring that I would always have something quick to grab for work lunches. Snacks are fruit, nuts, almond butter and vegetables with salsa.

3. When possible, eat what's in season. By sticking to my local farmers market, I bought what was on sale – and usually, that was what was in the growing season. If a recipe calls for a citrus fruit that only grows in the early spring, save your dollars and substitute with something available year round.

After nine months of a Paleo lifestyle, I have a few easy recipes with foods you can readily find. These are simple but flavorful without a lot of fuss.

Cilantro-Basil Chicken

(Katrina Plyler)

• 3 limes (juice and zest) divided

• 3 tablespoons and 1/4 cup olive oil

• 3 tablespoons Dijon mustard

• 3 tablespoons gluten-free soy sauce (Tamari sauce)

• 6 green onions chopped and divided

• 4 cloves garlic minced and divided

• 2 tablespoons chopped basil

• 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro

• Salt and pepper to taste

• 3 pounds boneless chicken thighs

Combine the zest and juice of 2 limes, 1/4 cup olive oil, mustard, Tamari sauce, 3 onions, 2 garlic cloves and salt and pepper, and mix well.

1. Place chicken in a gallon-sized baggie.

2. Pour marinade over the chicken and marinate for 30 minutes.

3. Preheat grill or grill pan.

4. Place chicken on grill, and grill for 7 minutes.

5. Flip and cook until internal temp reaches 170 F.

6. Remove from grill and let meat rest.

7. Meanwhile, combine juice and zest of one lime with 3 tablespoons olive oil, 3 chopped onions, 2 minced garlic cloves, basil and cilantro.

8. Slice chicken into bite-sized pieces and pour sauce over top.

Grilled Flank Steak with Cucumber Lime Salsa

(Katrina Plyler)

• 1/2 cup olive oil

• 1/3 cup red wine vinegar

• 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

• 1/4 cup gluten-free soy sauce

• 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

• 1 tablespoon ground black pepper

• 2 garlic cloves, minced

• 1 flank steak

• 1 tablespoon of butter

• Salt and pepper

• Preheated grill pan

1. Combine first 7 ingredients in a resealable bag, and marinate steak for at least an hour.

2. Remove. Season with salt and pepper.

3. Add butter to grill pan.

4. Cook 4 minutes on one side, 3 minutes on the other. Meat thermometer should reach 140 F for medium rare-medium.

5. Remove and let rest for 10 minutes. Then slice diagonally across the grain for maximum tenderness. Serve over roasted spaghetti squash.

Cucumber-Lime Salsa

• 1/2 English seedless cucumber

• 1/4 cup of olive oil

• Zest of 1 lime

• Juice of 1 lime

• 1 clove garlic

• Chopped fresh cilantro

• Salt and pepper

1. Dice cucumber

2. Add rest of the ingredients and stir to combine.

3. Serve over steak

Quick Sausage and Vegetables

(Katrina Plyler)

• 1 pound of sausage

• 1 large red onion, sliced into wedges

• 1/2 cup of mushrooms

• 1/2 cup of red bell pepper, chopped

• 1/2 cup of yellow bell pepper chopped

• 1/2 head of cabbage, chopped or shredded

• 3 Tablespoons of olive oil

• All-purpose vegetable spice blend

1. Pre-heat oven to 350 F.

2. Add oil to 12-inch cast iron pan.

3. Layer vegetables in pan, sprinkle with salt, pepper and spice blend.

4. Place sliced sausage on top.

5. Cover with foil.

6. Bake 25 minutes or until sausage is done.

One of my favorite cookbooks for both the Whole 30 and Paleo diets is "Well Fed" by Melissa Joulwan. This is from her cookbook.

Grilled Salmon

(Katrina Plyler)

• 1 tablespoon coconut oil, melted

• 1 tablespoon fresh orange juice

• 1 1/2 teaspoon dried ginger

• 1 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

• 1 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander

• 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika

• Salt to taste

• 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

• 1 1/2 to 2 pounds salmon filets

1. Mix oil, orange juice, ginger, cumin, coriander, paprika, salt and cayenne together in a bowl to form a thick mixture.

2. Place salmon in a pan, add the mixture and massage into each fillet. Refrigerate 30 minutes.

3. Preheat grill or grill pan. Place the salmon skin side down, and cover.

4. Bake 4 minutes. Carefully flip. (Very important to preheat the pan! This makes the skin crispy and easy to flip.)

5. Bake another 4 minutes. Remove and serve.

Hungry for more? Write to eatandrun@usnews.com with your questions, concerns and feedback.

Katrina Plyler is a full-time teacher and part-time runner, blogger and amateur photographer. She is a regular contributor to the Cooking Light Blogger's Connection and has been featured in Fitness magazine. Her food photography is regularly accepted in Tastespotting.com and Foodgawker.com galleries. For more information on the daily adventures of teaching, running and cooking, check out her blog, Katrina Runs for Food.