Back In The Kitchen

Oh, friends! I noshed my way through Central Europe! There wasn’t a piece of Slovenian cake, a slice of homemade bread, a plate of ćevapčići, a glass of Czech beer, or a carafe of Croatian wine to which I said no. It was glorious, and I enjoyed every non-paleo bite. Now that I’m back at home, I’m on my fourth day of a Whole30 I-will-eat-clean-food-until-I-feel-awesome-which-will-be-more-than-30-days.

So I’m back in front of the stove, chopping and stirring. I’m working on new recipes to share next week: my take on ćevapčići and ajvar, plus a muffaletta relish and a sneak peak of one of my favorite recipes from Well Fed 2. While I’m doing that, I’m relying on some old stand-bys to keep us satisfied and help us transition from holiday-style eating (One day in Dubrovnik, the only thing we had for lunch was ice cream sundaes!) to 90% dino-chow.

In case you’re starting a Whole30 and need some good ideas to get you going, or are just looking for some menu staples that are very yummy and require minimal work, here’s what we’re eating right now:

zucchini_soup-11-Edit-1 Silky Gingered Zucchini Soup
I love this soup so much, I bought an $8 stick blender at Tesco in Prague so I could make and eat zucchini soup at breakfast during our trip. It was a little taste of home, and it’s my favorite sneaky-deaky way to get extra vegetables into my day.

The-Best-Chicken-You-Will-Ever-Eat-thumb-e1343848986230The Best Chicken You Will Ever Eat
I grilled a double batch of chicken breasts, and we’ve been eating it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner in different disguises. My best Hot Plate so far? Diced chicken breast, steamed cabbage, and leftover Casablanca Carrot Salad (a new Well Fed 2 recipe!).

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERADeconstructed Gyro Salad
I cooked a 5-pound hunk o’ lamb, and we’ve eaten it as a cool salad, and hot, alongside some plain cauliflower rice and broccoli tossed with melted ghee.

chixthighsGrilled Roasted Chicken Thighs
I meant to make grilled chicken thighs, but the propane tank on our grill is empty, and the two of us were two lazy relaxed to make the 1-mile trip to the grocery store to replace it. Instead, I gritted my teeth, turned on the oven, and turned down the A/C thermostat to compensate. Here’s how I made stunningly delicious roasted chicken thighs that are crispy on the outside and tender on the inside. (This is so not a recipe; it’s just a last-ditch effort to make something yummy that worked.) Preheat oven to 450F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil. Lay out chicken thighs in a single layer and sprinkle generously with salt, ground black pepper, garlic powder, and paprika on both sides. Baked 30-35 minutes until very dark brown and crisp. Eat like an animal.

In Croatia, Slovenia, and Prague, we ate a lot of Šopský salat, which is basically a chopped salad of cucumber, bell peppers, tomatoes, and onion, topped with Balkan cheese, which is like a mild feta. Back here at home, the cheese is verboten for a while, but we’ve been chowing the hell out of some chopped veggies. If you want to go all out, follow the Turkish Chopped Salad recipe for maximum summer awesomeness. If, like me,  you’re not feeling like managing a bunch of ingredients, you can keep it simple: diced cucumber, bell pepper, and scallions, tossed with salt, pepper, a little olive oil, and a splash of balsamic vinegar.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAssorted Steam-Sautéed Veggies
In our fridge, we’ve got cooked cabbage, broccoli, and green beans. Plus a roasted spaghetti squash. Those veg are champs and are getting tossed into the sauté pan with protein, spices, and ghee… easy-peasy.

All the ingredients for this are ready-to-go in our fridge, thanks to a little pre-prep: cooked chicken, cabbage, scallions, and eggs. From “I’m hungry” to dinner in about 10 minutes.

What’s your favorite go-to recipe when you need to clean up your habits but don’t want a fuss?


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  • Sarah Bullock says:

    So glad you are back!!! and looking forward to all the new great inspirations from well as Well Fed2

  • Monique M. says:

    Well Fed is my all-time favourite paleo cookbook, so I can’t wait for Well Fed 2! I may have missed this, but when is it coming out?

  • Renee says:

    My birthday is October 21. No wrapping necessary for me, either.

    Besides singing tastebuds, what changes did you notice while eating your way through Central Europe?

    • Mel says:

      I have an epic blog post coming about what I experienced eating completely un-paleo for 6 weeks. It was eye opening, for sure. Coming very soon!

  • Kathryn says:

    I’ve got a tub of duck fat and am trying to figure out what to cook in it this weekend! Any suggestions?

    I also cannot wait for Well Fed 2!!!

    • Renee says:

      I LOVE duck fat. It is awesome to fry eggs in, fry salmon cakes, fry anything. Chicken breasts when pan-fried in hot duck fat become a beautiful, crisp golden color. It’s also incredible for roasting veggies, especially sweet potatoes and carrots (cumin carrots, anyone?) That’s my 2 cents, though I’m sure Mel will have a couple dollars more of ideas since this is her space after all. I just couldn’t help share my enthusiasm for DUCK FAT!

    • Mel says:

      I have a jar of duck fat that I haven’t opened yet. But I plan to use it to make oven-fried sweet potato fries and to pan-fry plantains.

  • Jessica says:

    It makes me cautiously happy to hear that you (Whole30 Queen) ate non-paleo while on vacation. My last vacation I kept nearly 100% paleo and I think that I became more stressed out for it. I hope that your body isn’t too unhappy with you for it and I’m looking forward? to reading your epic post about it!

    • Mel says:

      Surprisingly, my body really rolled with the sugar and gluten better than I expected. I think it’s because we had so many deposits in the “Good Health Bank.” But 6 weeks (actually, more like 5 weeks) is my limit. I was not feeling my best when we got home. More on that, for sure…

  • Marika says:

    Just made the Egg Foo Yong with Spicy Secret Sauce, wow so yummy! I’ve never had egg foo yong before, having grown up in a remote part of Australia, but I think it will be now be a regular part of my diet. Thanks for all the amazing recipes you have created, it has made eating paleo fun and delicious, loved Well Fed and I’m really looking forward to the next one!

    • Mel says:

      Right on! Glad you enjoyed it — and thanks for the Well Fed love. Egg foo yong is fun because you can basically use up all your fridge odds and ends, and it tastes great. Happy cooking!

  • Kathleen says:

    There’s nothing quite like coming home to your OWN kitchen, to your OWN spices and ingredients, and cooking your OWN food. I never realize how much I miss it until I come home.

    I can’t wait to catch up with you and Dave! XOXO to you both!

    • Mel says:

      As much as I enjoyed the amazing food on our trip, it’s been a relief and comfort to eat Whole30 food again. Soothing.

      See you soon. XOXOXOXO

  • Danielle says:

    How can I forget sometimes how BRILLIANT your recipes are??! I guess since I transitioned (that word!!!) to cooking for one I stopped looking at recipes. Gotta crack open my stained copy of Well Fed and make me some “sausage” meatza for breakfast this week!

    Believe you me, right here in ol’ Montreal (not even in Old Montreal!) I’ve had ice cream as a meal too. Let’s pretend it wasn’t today.



  • Suellen says:

    Can totally relate. Been travelling in Italy and Croatia and gelato for lunch has not been out of the question. Whole 30 when I get back, your posts and recipes are prefect inspiration

  • Michele says:

    Thanks so much for sharing that you let go a litte while you were away – it made me stop beating myself up so much.

    I’m looking forward to your post on it!

    Your blog is like “Well Fed” for the mind 🙂

    • Mel says:

      There is NEVER a good time to beat yourself up. You’re awesome and deserve to be treated as awesomely as possible.

      Thanks for the sweet compliment!

  • hilah says:

    YAY! You’re back! Can’t wait to read and hear and see all about your trip and the delicious recipes you brought from Prague! xoxo

  • Tricia says:

    Is the sauce in the gyro picture paleo? If so, PLEASE post the recipe!! I am now hungry for gyros. Loved reading about your trip. 🙂

  • Casey says:

    Yay! Can’t wait to hear more. I just got back from my honeymoon where I tried to gain the “honeymoon 20”. Guess I shouldn’t have avoided gluten, or should have stayed on honeymoon longer because I didn’t gain much weight. I ate chocolate and dairy and drank a ton of wine and brown liquor, though! Yay for deposits in the good health bank!

  • Wanda says:

    So glad you’ve back in the kitchen after your fab trip to Prague!

    Quick question: Will Well Fed 2 be available in a Kindle edition? I find it so much easier to work from my iPad in the kitchen.

  • Heidi says:

    I revert back to your cookbook to be honest (no sucking up, swearsies). I love almost everything I’ve tried from it. Super easy to make. Only downside is rarely any leftovers 😉