Five Paleo Dinners To Cook Next Week #101

In my recent newsletters, I’ve been dropping hints about how challenging life has felt over the last few weeks. We’ve had some personal hiccups, in conjunction with the really trying news out of the U.S., and we’ve been FEELING it.

So I’ve DECIDE to have more fun.

Sure, there are times when it’s important to have serious discussions, to embrace the burdens of adulthood, to dig in and deliver on one’s responsibilities. But then there are also times when it’s essential to laugh inappropriately, to act silly just because, to go on summer adventures, and to eat a freakin’ (dairy free) ice cream.

My main summer fun time activity is to lie in front of the fan with a really good book. You can see some of the books that have been providing happy escapism right here.

In the spirit of easy-breezy, summer time, I’ve collected a bunch of recipes for the week that are easy and fun to make—and even easier and funner to eat. (Yeah, funner. Deal with it.)

Have fun with the recipes, and if you feel like sharing, pop into comments and tell us what you’re doing to find your summer fun time.

Dinner Ideas (Whole30 compliant)

Fried Chicken Meatballs with Collard Greens

Cookup Tips: Season the ground chicken and form the meatballs. Prep the fried chicken coating. Wash and cut the collard greens. Store everything separately in airtight containers in the fridge, then follow the directions for cooking the meatballs and greens. (This recipe is from Well Fed Weeknights, and I actually did a bunch of research to find the Colonel’s secret recipe from Kentucky Fried Chicken to figure out the seasonings in the coating. I think it worked! Cooking time? 30-35 minutes.)

Recommended Sides: No additional sides needed, but if you want extra credit, this Spring Chopped Salad, Coleslaw, or Bacon Potato Salad are awesome go-alongs.

Chocolate Chili | meljoulwan.comChocolate Chili

Cookup Tips: I love chili any time of year—it’s comforting when it’s cold and sporty when it’s hot. Make a batch or two, divide it into BPA-free containers, and sock it away in the freezer for future dinner emergencies. Potluck tip: You can cook the chili on the stovetop, then serve it from a slow cooker set on low, so it stays hot throughout the party!

Recommended Sides: I like it on top of  spaghetti squash, then topped with avocado and sliced olives, but it’s also great with Sweet Potato Fries or Crispy Plantains.

Balkan Cevapcici | meljoulwan.comÇevapçiçi, aka, cute Balkan sausages

Cookup Tips: The meat “dough” can be made 1 day in advance then cooked—or you can cook the çevapçiçi during your Cookup and re-heat just before eating. They’ll stay fresh and tasty for 5-6 days after cooking. They also freeze like champs! The original recipe calls for grilling, but you can also make these little guys in the oven: 425F for 20 minutes or so.

Recommended Sides: These taste great on a pile of Oven-Roasted Cauliflower Rice and do not skip the Ajvar recipe! On our Balkan travels, we also ate these with shopska salat: a chopped salad of cucumber, tomato, onion, and bell pepper dressed with lemon juice and extra-virgin olive oil. Also great with Parsnip Fries.

wfweeknights_curry_chicken_saladCurry Chicken-Salad Salad

Cookup Tips: This recipe from Well Fed Weeknights is a luscious curry chicken salad with apple, raisins, sliced almonds, coconut flakes, and curry spices, served on a lovely bed of greens. Cook the chicken, make the dressing, toast the nuts and coconut, and cut up the raw veggies; store everything in separate airtight containers in the fridge. When it’s time to eat, toss the chicken with the curry dressing and prepare the salad bed.

BONUS: Watch my video cooking demo!

waldorftunaWaldorf Tuna Salad

Cookup Tips: If you make a batch of mayo in advance, you can whip up this tuna salad in almost no time. Or use your Cookup time to make a double batch of tuna salad so it’s ready to grab all week.

Recommended Sides: Colorful veggies are the way to go: Simple Red Cabbage Salad, a bed of baby spinach, and lots of crudité with Ranch Dressing for dipping.

Treat (Whole30 compliant)

Grain-Free Summer Fruit Crisp

NOTE: The photo shows peaches, but this recipe works with all the summer fruits. See recipe for details!

Cookup Tips: You can make the crumble topping in advance and store it in the fridge, then when you’re ready to eat it, cut up the fruit and pop it in the oven. PRO TIP: If you prep the crisp while you’re making dinner, it can bake while you eat your meal and it will be ready for dessert when you are!


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  • Susan says:

    Hi Mel, I’m sorry to read that you’ve been feeling down lately, and I understand why. Thanks for your upbeat blog post; it sure makes me feel happier. That dance video is awesome on it’s own, but that movie list is fantastic too — I have some movie watching to do! And your book list just became mine!
    I’ve learned the hard way that if there’s nothing that we can do to fix a problem, then we only hurt ourselves (quite literally) by feeling bad about it — you know what stress and worry and sadness does to our health. And if we can do something to help fix what’s wrong, both in big and little everyday babystep ways, well then let’s do those things so that we know we’re doing our very best.
    IMO sharing weekly happiness and good cheer with your readers is a HUGE contribution that you make toward a better and kinder world.

    • Thank you for the reminder, Susan! It’s WAY to easy to get caught up in the churn of bad news and feel so frustrated—I’m taking news vacations a few times a week now. You are very awesome to take the time to send words of support!

  • Dear Mel, I am a fan of your recipes since your first cookbook (or even before?). I rediscovered your blog after a long “paleo-break” and now enjoying your great content again!
    I am currently enjoying summer with long walks and a lot of coffee granita (= crushed ice and coffee some kind off 😉 ).
    Big hug from Vienna! Chantal

    • Hello, Chantal from Vienna! Thank you for much for this sweet note—and welcome back! I hope you enjoy the new recipes since your last visit. Coffee granita sounds AWESOME!

  • I so know what you mean. I recently was thinking to myself that I am letting news and all the mess in the world and in my life get to me way too much. Is it summer? I don’t really know but thanks for the recipe overview. On a whole30 right now so any inspiration is a good one!