The best thing about cooking food in the crock pot is that you can multitask while you cook. Usually I have other errands, chores, phone calls, e-mails, grad school work, etc. to complete in addition to cooking a tasty and HEALTHY meal. These are the days I depend on the crock pot. Also, crock pot dishes are usually excellent to have if you are having a bunch of people over: pork loin, chicken, vegetables…just throw it all in and ta-da! Instant party!
I’ve found that while eating at Mexican restaurants is relatively inexpensive, I feel like poo after I have to roll out of my chair to the car. The solution to this problem: shredded chicken tacos (in the crock pot of course!) This is probably the easiest recipe and dish to make…seriously! You could be the worst cook in the world and not mess up this recipe.
The original recipe does provide purty pictures as to how each stage of preparation looks, but for this dish you really don’t need visuals to know if you are doing it right or not. However, just in case you need to know what I crock pot looks like while cooking the chicken with the lid on, I have provided a visual below 🙂
- 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (rinsed in cold water)– (I cut my (range-free, no antibiotic) chicken breasts (from Kroger) into smaller chunks in order for it shred easier and cook a little bit faster. Also, I use between 4-6 chicken breasts, but I have a HUGE crock pot…so you be the judge of this. We had friends over ,and I did 18 chicken breasts and was still a success)
- Chopped onion (optional)– (If you use chopped onion, cut them smaller than shown in the picture. Otherwise, you may end up with a mouth full of onion instead of chicken.)
- Chopped green pepper (optional)–( We don’t like nor buy green peppers, so this is totally up to you!)
- 1 packet taco seasoning– (The downfall to taco seasoning is that is super high in sodium. You can use cumin and garlic powder to get the same taste…much better for you too! Also, paleo approved!)
- 16 ounces salsa (that’s 2 cups, if you’re using a larger bottle)– (If you are trying to meet paleo requirements, do not use store-bought salsa. See my salsa post for how to make realllllly tasty homemade salsa that meets paleo requirements. However, if you do not have the time or energy or ingredients to make salsa, I would suggest “Jack’s Salsa” instead. It is the freshest salsa, and it is preservative free. You can find it in the cheese/hummus section of Kroger or Publix.)
- Flour tortillas, corn tortillas, or taco shells– (Again, depending on how paleo you want to be, this would be optional. I use lettuce instead of taco shells or tortillas. I end up with a shredded chicken salad pretty much.)
- Toppings (optional): lettuce, sour cream, grated cheese, tomatoes, salsa, diced purple onions, olives, guacamole, etc.– (Again, here’s where you may it your own! Everything listed above, except cheese, is paleo!)
– Place a crock pot liner in the crock pot. This will mean a quick and easy clean up! Just be sure you don’t puncture the liner.
– I put a dab of olive oil in the botton of the crock pot and then add the chicken breasts, onion, and green pepper (optional).
– Mix the seasoning (or cumin and garlic powder) with the salsa and pour over the chicken. If you want to add water you can (but not too much) because the chicken will produce enough juice to keep it tender.
– Now cook the chicken! The original recipe says on high in the covered crock pot for 4-6 hours and low 6-8 hours. I don’t know about anyone else’s crock pot, but mine usually takes 4-5 hours on low–maybe! You will need to check the chicken every so often to make sure you don’t end up with mexican chicken soup.
-You will know the chicken is ready when you can easily shred it with a fork, or a plastic spatula as my significant other tried last time. (I would suggest shredding the chicken on a cutting board and putting it back in the crock pot unless you are going to eat it right away. Most crock pots have a “warm” setting; this will keep the food warm without continuing to cook it. )
-Finally, serve it up with your toppings of choice! Enjoy!
Before I started the paleo diet, I ate pasta maybe once a week or once every other week. However, as soon as my body knows it can’t have something, it wants it! I was craving for pasta–or a pasta-like substance. I then discovered you can have pasta dishes while on the paleo diet; you just have to switch up the ingredients a bit!
Although, I used the recipe found below, you can use your favorite pasta/spaghetti recipe and replace the noodles with zucchini. Also, while I was researching pasta options, some suggested to used butternut squash spaghetti. I haven’t tried this, but if someone is successful with it let me know! 🙂
The original recipe also called for the zucchini to be cut into julienne strips; I had to research this, and I found while you can use a mandolin cutting device (which has a super sharp and scary blade, and was not effective for me) or you can simply refer to this youtube video about how to cut food into julienne strips with a good kitchen knife (takes a little more time, but super easy!).
1 tablespoon olive oil or coconut oil (I used olive oil because it is cheaper, and I didn’t have coconut oil at the time)
2 large zucchini, cut into julienne strips (Depending on the number of people you are serving, I would say to use 3-4 or even 5 zucchini because just imagine how much pasta you serve when making spaghetti. I bought organic zucchini at Kroger that were relatively inexpensive, but I found the non-organic zucchini were larger and may work better.)
1 tsp garlic, minced (Easy enough…just keep garlic on hand)
3 to 4 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped (Again, easy enough. Keep basil–as a staple spice on hand–or I’m trying to keep a basil plant alive so I have it fresh….its not looking too good right now.)
1 pound ground chicken, turkey, or beef (grass-fed preferred)– (I was able to find grass-fed ground beef at Kroger–love me some Kroger–for about $5 a pound, and it was fresh and tasty too! Laura Lean is the brand, and they also do grass-fed chicken as well.)
2 cups Homemade Veggie Tomato Sauce (I do not have the time, energy, or bank account to make the original recipe’s homemade sauce. I may try it when I have free time and extra money, but I bought an organic tomato sauce at…..you guessed it! Kroger! Only $.59 a can! Again fresh and tasty!)
Additional fresh basil for topping pasta (As long as my basil plant is living)
-Heat oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Place zucchini and garlic in skillet and heat until zucchini is slightly softened. In the last 30 seconds toss with fresh basil. (This does not take long at all! You will need to watch the consistency to make sure you don’t over cook it.)
-In a separate skillet cook meat of choice until cooked through, making sure to crumble into small pieces. Once meat is cooked through mix in tomato sauce and stir to combine. (At this point, you could add any additional tasty treats you want like mushrooms–yum!)
– To plate dish, place zucchini “noodles” in bowl or plate and then top with meat sauce and sprinkle with additional basil.
Happy eating! Hope this cures any pasta cravings you may have!
One issue when you start the paleo diet is your body starts looking for those “carb” substitutes. I found my substitute in nuts, almonds specifically. Also, the other issue is I want to snack on something that isn’t fruit or veggies sometimes; what do I do… grab a handful of ground beef and chow down?! NO!
I needed a replacement for the pre-paleo “snacks” and carbs my body wanted. I looked to my handy granola bars, but you know what is in granola bars? Everything I can’t eat according to Mr. Paleo. Yeah, go check the ingredients. I’m not kidding…whole grain oats, sugar, canola oil, peanut butter, yellow corn flour, brown sugar syrup, soy flour, and the list goes on–can’t have any of it. Okay, so now I can’t eat even a seemingly “healthy” snack. What the mess?! On top of this dilemma, I was really tired of having almonds and fruit every morning. I needed to find something that would spice up my new paleo lifestyle.
So I booted up handy dandy google, and I found my answer: granola-free granola bars (I gave them this name instead of grain free granola bars because that just doesn’t sound appetizing to me). These are probably the tastiest HEALTHY snack I’ve ever encountered (and my significant other actually agrees too!)
Although I’ve linked to the original recipe (found in above paragraph) and she provided snazzy pictures, here is my adapted recipe for those who may be a little picky and on a budget:
– 2.5 cups assorted nuts and seeds (I used almonds and sunflower seeds. Almonds are the only organic nut I can find so far, and the sunflower seeds didn’t have any added preservatives or sugars.)
– 1 cup dried fruit (In the original, she uses rasins; however, I do not like rasins and most brands have preservatives. The only dried fruit without preservatives or sugar I found was prunes. Also, I cut up a dried fruit strip, which again contains no sugar or preservatives–compliments of the Stretch Island Fruit Co. for about $.59)
– 2 cups shredded coconut (I left this out completely because neither I nor my significant other likes coconut. Plus this is an additional cost.)
– 1/4 cup coconut oil (Pure coconut oil without preservatives, sugar, etc. was easy to find and not very expensive)
-1/2 cup honey (I found reasonably priced organic honey–no preservatives– at Kroger for about $3. Also, most sweeter paleo recipes call for honey too, so you can use it time and time again in your recipes.)
-Splash of vanilla extract (Seems simple enough. I did find PURE organic vanilla extract for the same price as the Kroger brand.)
– 1/2 Teaspoon salt (Most paleo recipes specifically call for sea salt, but I say use what ya got!)
– Generous sprinkle of cinnamon (No explanation here–all spices are okay for paleo people.)
– Some more cinnamon (Yes, do an extra dash for fun! They will taste yummy because of it!)
-Not in the original recipe: I did add a sprinkle of chocolate chips (Enjoy life brand, which are soy free, gluten free, and dairy free).
Roughly chop 1 cup of the nuts and seeds (I did this using the pulse setting in the blender because I don’t have the time/energy to chop a cup of nuts and seed). Place in a bowl.
Use your food processor (I do not own a food processor so once again feel free to use the blender and use the chop/mix setting) to pulse the other 1.5 cups of nuts and seeds into a finer “chop.” Add to the bowl.
Add your fruit. (I also cut up my fruit and threw it in the blender before adding it to the nuts and seeds…just for good measure. I also thought prunes were too big to add to the mix as is.)
Stir in the dried coconut. (Didn’t add this, so stir at your own free will)
In a saucepan over medium-low heat, combine oil, honey, vanilla, salt, and cinnamon. Cook until the mixture bubbles, then pour over the fruit/nut mixture. (Super easy–takes all of a minute maybe!)
Stir to combine completely.
Press your mixture into a parchment-lined pan of some sort. Press HARD. (Use a smaller cookie sheet instead of a larger one because you won’t have enough for the entire sheet unless you double the recipe. Also, if you look at the original recipe, she suggests putting parchment paper over the bars as well so your hands won’t be sticky–great idea!)
Cool 2-3 hours, then remove from the pan and cut into bars. (Or put them in the freezer for about 30 minutes and ta-da!! TASTINESS!)
**I did keep my bars in the fridge once they were finished because the prunes have no sugar or preservatives; you have to keep them refrigerated. Also, if you use ingredients without preservatives be sure you eat it pretty quickly because there is nothing in it to PRESERVE it. 🙂 Happy snacking!!