What to Cook for Dinner Tonight
If your family is anything like ours, life probably seems pretty hectic these days. Juggling work, whether it be remote or in person, possibly homeschooling, virtual schooling, or just “regular” (what does that word even mean anymore??) schooling kids, and trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle at the same time.
Sometimes it can feel like A LOT.
When it comes to healthy eating, a little planning goes a long way. We don’t necessarily mean intense meal planning - though if that’s your thing, we salute you. Meal planning for a family takes a special talent that only some possess. But sometimes weekly meal planning can be as easy as planning a couple of meat dishes per week, and prepping some quick and healthy sides on the fly. In fact, that’s what inspired us to offer our Back to Life Bundle, which contains several cuts of pasture raised chicken that are perfect for busy nights. Our Bundle includes a recipe booklet to give you inspiration, and in this post, we’ll highlight a few more easy, quick, and healthy pasture raised chicken recipes using paleo ingredients. It’s so easy to pair any of these recipes with a hearty salad or side of roasted veggies for an (almost) effortless weeknight meal.
Slow Cooker Bar-B-Que Chicken
Sometimes a slow cooker can be a cook’s best friend, whether you’re cooking for one, a couple, or a family. You can tailor your recipe for the size of your family, or make a big batch and freeze the leftovers for easy reheating later.
One of our absolute favorite slow cooker recipes is this smoky paleo slow cooker BBQ chicken from Paleo Running Momma. It takes about 5 minutes to prepare, about 5 hours to cook on low heat, and makes the most flavorful, tender, and juicy bar-b-que chicken. The ingredients include just under 2 pounds of chicken (pasture raised, of course), and the rest of the ingredients are staples that you probably have in your pantry:
1 and 3/4 lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts
6 oz can organic tomato paste
1/3 cup water
1/4 cup Coconut aminos
1 Tbsp + 2 tsp pure maple syrup
1 and 1/2 Tbsp brown mustard
2 Tbsp raw apple cider vinegar
1 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1/8-1/4 tsp chipotle powder or adjust for spice preference
The only ingredient we don’t regularly have on hand is chipotle powder, but it’s absolutely delicious - and probably more kid friendly - without it. Simply place the chicken in the slow cooker, whisk the remaining ingredients together, and pour over the chicken. Set your slow cooker to low and cook for 5 hours or until the chicken reaches a safe temperature of 165 degrees fahrenheit. Take the chicken breasts out and shred them, and then place the shredded chicken back in the bar-b-que sauce until you’re ready to eat - this helps it get really nice and tender.
Paleo Chicken Alfredo
One of the hardest changes to make when we switched to a paleo diet was giving up comfort foods like fettuccine alfredo. Like most of our favorite recipes though, we eventually found that a paleo modification was just as good as the real thing, without the yucky feeling you get afterwards from overindulging in dairy and wheat. We adapted this Chicken and Broccoli Alfredo Casserole from Eat the Gains and it’s a delicious and healthy weeknight staple.
If you’re not a fan of (or too scared to try) turnip noodles, spaghetti squash or zucchini noodles are two great alternatives. Just make sure if you’re using zucchini noodles that you salt them and let them sit for a bit after spiralizing to lose some of their moisture, or you’ll end up with a soggy wad of zucchini (you can probably tell we learned this the hard way).
While the recipe calls for the sauce to be partially made with cashews that have been soaked overnight, or zapped in the microwave, we have sometimes taken the lazy route and omitted this step, thickening the sauce with a bit of tapioca starch instead, and the recipe still comes out delicious. If you have the time and equipment to use the cashews, they do give the recipe a silky and rich consistency, but don’t fret if you want to cut a few steps out and make this meal a little more “hectic work week” friendly. We use a whole can of coconut milk instead of the cashews and water - the resulting sauce tastes a bit more coconutty, but the garlic and lemon juice help to offset that. We also like adding a couple of tablespoons of nutritional yeast to give the sauce a smoked-gouda taste, without the cheese!
You can use broccoli, like the recipe calls for, or play around with different vegetables - sundried tomatoes, artichokes, mushrooms, sauteed spinach, and kale are all delicious alternatives, and if you’re feeling really creative (and hungry) you can throw all of them in together!
Whole Roasted Chicken with Lemon and Herb Butter
You might be thinking - I thought this was supposed to be a list of easy recipes, how did a whole roasted chicken get on there!? But cooking a whole roasted chicken is actually one of the easiest ways to prepare chicken - it might seem daunting because you associate a whole chicken with elaborate meals like Thanksgiving or Christmas feasts, but roasting a whole chicken is super simple - and you’ll have bones left over for bone broth, if that’s the kind of thing you’re into (we are!) It’s so easy, in fact, that we don’t even use a recipe for this one. You can really tailor a whole roast chicken recipe to fit your own personal tastes - but this easy lemon and herb butter recipe is one of our favorites.
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees fahrenheit, and let your chicken sit for a bit at room temperature while you prepare the herb butter. You can also use ghee if that fits better with your diet. Melt the butter or ghee (we use about a stick of butter for a 4-5 pound chicken), and then add a couple of tablespoons of olive oil, the juice of half a lemon, some minced garlic, and a couple of teaspoons of fresh or dried herbs of your choice (use about half the quantity of fresh if you’re opting for dried herbs.) Mix the garlic herb butter together, and then coat the chicken thoroughly, making sure to get under the skin of the breasts and legs too - the result will be the most delicious, tender, juicy chicken you’ve ever had, with an amazing crispy skin. We usually cook the chicken for about an hour and twenty minutes, basting a couple of times during cooking, but as always, make sure your chicken has reached an internal temperature of 165 before removing from the oven.
You can serve any of these recipes with baked sweet potatoes, sauteed kale, grilled or roasted vegetables, or even a simple salad, and you’ll have a quick and easy weeknight meal - and probably some leftovers to boot.