Cookbook Challenge Week 4: Practical Paleo

Happy November everyone!  I will be back later to post on our Halloween experience or lack there of…

Let’s hear it for week 4 of my self-imposed cookbook challenge (see the previous weeks herehere, and here)!  Last week’s cookbook was a VERY informative one to say the least.  If you are even remotely considering the Paleo diet lifestyle and don’t know what book/cookbook to pick up…get this one stat!  Check out my posts on Paleo here, here, and here.

I decided to go with Practical Paleo by Diane Sanfilippo, BS, NC, of Balanced Bites, when I came across it while shopping at Costco.  Sure enough this one caught my eye.  There is so much info in here that I can’t begin to fit it all in…and honestly I haven’t read my way through it yet.  I did peruse Diane’s 30-day menu plans which include a month’s worth of her recipes depending on certain issues you may have.  I feel it’s important to list these, so bear with the length of this post.  *Also, I wanted to note, she is on tour this month in Texas, so if you’re in Houston, San Antonio, or Austin, go check her out!

Half of her 400+ page book focuses on the what and why of Paleo, along with these detailed menu plans for certain health issues (that seem to cover every person I know).

Autoimmune Conditions:

  • Addison’s Disease
  • Alzheimer’s Disease
  • Asthma
  • Celiac Disease
  • Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
  • Chron’s Disease
  • Eczema
  • Grave’s Disease
  • Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis
  • Lupus
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Parkinson’s Disease
  • Pernicious Anemia
  • Psoriasis
  • Raynaud’s Disease
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)
  • Scleroderma
  • Type 1 Diabetes
  • Vitiligo

Blood Sugar Regulation:

  • Dysglycemia
  • Hypoglycemia
  • Diabetes Type 1 & 2

Digestive Health

  • Leaky gut
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
  • Inflammatory Bowel Disease
  • Crohn’s Disease
  • Colitis and Ulcerative Colitis (UC)
  • Celiac Disease (CD)

Thyroid Health:

  • Hypothyroidism (autoimmune Hashimoto’s or otherwise)
  • Hyperthyroidism

Multiple Sclerosis, Fibromyalgia, & Chronic Fatigue

Neurological Health:

  • Parkinson’s Disease
  • Alzheimer’s Disease
  • Epilepsy
  • Type 2 Diabetes
  • Anyone seeking a ketogenic diet approach

I wouldn’t be surprised is several of you had one of these mentioned above.  If you do and are unable to get relief or need some assistance, please look into this way of eating.  Yes, it’s hard at first, but I guess to me I’d rather say ‘no’ to crap and ‘yes’ to a long, healthy life (if I can help it).  So without further ado, here was last week’s menu.


Bacon & Egg Salad

  • 12 eggs
  • ¼ cup Baconnaise (see below) or regular mayo
  • 12 slices of bacon, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp fresh chives, chopped (optional)
  • Sea salt and black pepper to taste

1. Take eggs out of the refrigerator, and allow them to come to room temperature. Fill a large pot with 8 cups of water, and bring to a boil.

2. Place the eggs in the boiling water for 10 minutes. Remove the eggs, and place them in  large bowl with ice water for 10 minutes. This will keep them from turning green around the yolk.

3. Peel the eggs, place them in a bowl, and mash them with a potato masher or large fork. Mix in the Baconnaise, sea salt, black pepper, chopped bacon, and chopped chives.


  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 3/4 cup bacon fat, melted and cooled to room temperature

1. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, whisk together the egg yolk, lemon juice, and mustard until blended and bright yellow (about 30 seconds). Add 1/4 cup bacon fat to the yolk mixture a few drops at a time, whisking constantly. Gradually add the remaining bacon fat in a slow, thin stream, whisking constantly, until the mayonnaise is thick and lighter in color.

2. Store in a glass jar in the refrigerator for up to a week.

Zucchini Pancakes

  • 3 eggs
  • 1 Tbsp coconut flour
  • Sea salt and black pepper to taste
  • 2 cups shredded zucchini (using a food processor with a shredding disc is ideal, or by hand)
  • coconut oil or bacon grease for pan frying (amount will vary)

1. Beat the eggs with the coconut flour, sea salt, and black pepper. Mix in the shredded zucchini until well combined.

2. Add about 1/8 inch of coconut oil to a large skillet over medium-low heat. Spoon the mixture into the skillet in ‘cakes’ that are approximately 4-6 inches in diameter.

3. Cook until they hold together, flipping once as you would a standard pancake.

4. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Pumpkin Pancakes

  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 Tbsp pure maple syrup
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 2 Tbsp butter or coconut oil (plus extra for pan frying)

1. Whisk the eggs, canned pumpkin, pure vanilla extract, and pure maple syrup together. Sift the pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon, and baking soda into the wet ingredients.

2. Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Then, mix the butter into the batter.

3. Grease the skillet and spoon the batter into the skillet to make pancakes of your desired size. When a few bubbles appear, flip the pancakes once to finish cooking.

4. Serve with grass-fed butter and cinnamon or sliced bananas.


Monday: Lemon & Artichoke Chicken

  • 4 Tbsp butter, ghee, or coconut oil , divided
  • 2 shallots or 1/4 of on onion, sliced
  • 2 cups artichoke hearts, thawed and/or drained and rinsed
  • 1/4 cup capers, drained
  • Juice of 2 lemons
  • 2 lbs bone-in, skin-on chicken
  • Sea salt and black pepper to taste

1. Preheat oven to 375°F.

2. In a large, oven-safe skillet over medium heat, melt 2 tablespoons of butter. Add the shallots, and saute them until they are translucent. Add the artichoke hearts, capers, and lemon juice. Stir to combine.

3. Place the chicken pieces in the skillet, and top each piece with a small pat of the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter. Place the entire skillet into the over for 45 minutes or until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165°F.

Tuesday: Spiced Lamb Meatballs with Balsamic-fig Compote

  • 1 lb ground lamb
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp allspice
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • Sea salt and black pepper to taste

Balsamic-fig Compote

  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 4 dried figs, sliced
  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary

1. Preheat oven to 375°F.

2. In a mixing bowl, combine the lame and spices with your hands. Form into approximately 16 small meatballs (1 1/2 inch diameter, 1 ounce each), and place in a large baking dish. Bake for 25 minutes.

3. While the meatballs bake: in a small saucepan, combine water, balsamic vinegar, figs and rosemary. Simmer until the texture becomes thick. Add more vinegar if it tastes too sweet, and reduce the sauce further if it tastes too tart.

4. Serve the meatballs warm from the oven with the compote.

Wednesday: Cumin Spiced Pork Tenderloin with Root Vegetables

  • 1 Tbsp cumin
  • 1 Tbsp coriander
  • 1 Tbsp granulated garlic or garlic powder
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • Black pepper to taste
  • 2 pork tenderloins
  • 2 Tbsp bacon fat (or other cooking fat)
  • 2 onions, chopped into large slices
  • 4 parsnips, peeled and chopped
  • 2 cloves fresh garlic, smashed
  • 1 large orange, peeled and segmented
  • seeds of 1 pomegranate (approximately 1/4 cup) (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 375°F.

2. In a small mixing bowl, combine the cumin, coriander, granulated garlic, sea salt and black pepper.

3. Using paper towels, pat the pork tenderloins dry, and apply the spice blend to the meat generously to create a crust. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat, and melt the bacon fat. Place the pork tenderloins in the skillet, and sear on all sides for approximately 2 minutes per side.

4. Place the onions, parsnips, garlic, orange segments, and pomegranate seeds in a large roasting dish, topped by the seared pork tenderloins. Roast for 30-40 minutes or until the internal temperature of the pork reaches 145°F. If you need to continue to roast the vegetables until they are soft, simply remove the pork and set it aside on a cutting board to rest while the vegetables finish roasting for another 10-15 minutes.

5. Slice the tenderloin on the bias (diagonally) and serve over the vegetables.

Thursday: Bacon-Wrapped Smoky Chicken Thighs (Super Easy)

  • 4 bone-in, skinless chicken thighs
  • 8 slices of bacon
  • 2 tsp Smoky Spice Blend

Smoky Spice Blend

  • 1 Tbsp chipotle powder
  • 1 Tbsp smoked paprika
  • 1 Tbsp onion powder
  • 1/2 Tbsp cinnamon
  • 1 Tbsp sea salt
  • 1/2 Tbsp black pepper

1. Preheat oven to 375°F.

2. Sprinkle the chicken thighs with 1 teaspoon of Smoky Spice Blend. Wrap each thigh in 2 strips of bacon. Sprinkle the chicken with the remaining Smoky Spice Blend, and bake for approximately 40 minutes or until the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 165°F.

Roasted Figs with Rosemary

  • 12 whole, fresh figs
  • 2 tsp fresh rosemary, finely minced
  • 2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • Coarse sea salt

1. Preheat the oven to 425°F.

2. Slice off the tip of the figs, and cut them into quarters. Place the fig quarters onto a baking sheet. Sprinkle the finely minced rosemary over the figs, and roast for about 10-15 minutes or until the edges of the figs are slightly browned.

3. Remove the figs from the oven, and drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil and sea salt before serving.

Friday: Pesto Shrimp & Squash Fettuccine

  • 2 dozen large shrimp
  • 4 zucchini or yellow squash
  • Sea salt and black pepper to taste


  • 1/2 cup macadamia nuts
  • 1 bunch cilantro, rinsed
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil or macadamia nut oil
  • Sea salt and black pepper to taste

1. Make the pesto first. Combine the macadamia nuts, cilantro, garlic, olive oil, sea salt and black pepper in a food processor, and blend until smooth.

2. Peel and devein the shrimp before they are cooked, pulling the tail off first, then the rest of the shell.

3. Place a steamer basket in a large sauce pot, and boil about an inch of water. While the water is heating, run a julienne or regular vegetable peeler along each of the squash until you reach the center, seedy part. Steam the squash for about 3-5 minutes. Set the steamed squash ‘noodles’ aside.

4. Steam the shrimp for approximately 3 minutes or until they’re pink all the way through.

5. Place the steamed squash in a mixing bowl with the pesto and toss until well combined.

6. Top the noodles with the shrimp, and serve warm.

Saturday: Hayley’s Skirt Steak Tacos

  • Juice and zest of one lime
  • 1 clove garlic, grated or finely minced
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1-1 1/2 lb skirt steak
  • Sea salt and black pepper to taste
  • 1 head bib, butter or Boston lettuce

Taco Toppers

  • 2 dozen cherry tomatoes, halved (or one large tomato chopped into 1-inch pieces)
  • 1 avocado, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro

1. Gently separate the leaves of lettuce and rinse them off. Set them aside to dry.

2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the lime juice, zest, garlic, and chili powder. Place the skirt steak in the bowl and massage the seasonings into it. Add sea salt and pepper to taste.

3. Grill for approximately 3 minutes per side. Set the cooked steak aside to rest for 10 minutes, then slice against the grain into small strips. You may want to divide the skirt steak into two or three sections before slicing, as it is typically very long.

4. Serve the steak, tomatoes, cilantro, and avocado in your lettuce leaves.

Sunday: Chorizo Meatballs

  • 1 lb ground pork
  • 2 Tbsp Chorizo Spice Blend
  • 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar

Chorizo Spice Blend

  • 2 Tbsp chipotle powder
  • 1 Tbsp smoke paprika
  • 1 Tbsp onion powder
  • 1 Tbsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 Tbsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper

1. Preheat oven to 425°F.

2. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, mix the ground pork, spices, and apple cider vinegar with your hands until well combined and the spice mixture looks evenly dispersed.

3. Form the meat into a dozen 1-ounce meatballs, and then place in an oven-safe baking dish or on a baking sheet. Bake for 20-25 minutes.


Pepita Goji Berry Bark

  • 1 cup dark chocolate chips
  • 1 tsp bacon grease or coconut oil
  • 2 Tbsp goji berries, roughly chopped
  • 2 Tbsp pepitas (pumpkin seeds), roughly chopped
  • 2 Tbsp walnuts, roughly chopped
  • Pinch of coarse sea salt

1. Melt the chocolate chips with the bacon grease over a double-boiler on low heat or in the microwave for 30 seconds. Stir vigorously before adding more chocolate chips. Add microwave time only in 10-second increments to prevent burning the chocolate.

2. Stir in the goji berries, pepitas, walnuts, and sea salt, and spread the mixture on parchment paper over a cookie sheet. Place in the refrigerator to cool. After it has set, chop the chocolate roughly.

YUM to the above bacon-y goodness bark!  In case you didn’t notice, Diane uses bacon grease A LOT and it makes my tummy happy.  I used to be the type the threw away bacon grease (the gall!) thanks to my parents.  Then again, I grew up on well done filet mignon, beyond dried out chicken breast, and buttery spreads-how did I ever survive!?  But as I got older and wiser and read a boatload of books, I have since mended my ways and turned a new leaf in cooking.

I thoroughly enjoy cooking these days (especially with a plan) and my hope is that sharing these super easy Paleo recipes has inspired you.  If you’re curious to give it a whirl, try out one of Diane’s 30-day menu plans and see how you feel…it won’t kill you, I promise!

Let me know if you try any of these delicious recipes and if you are a lover of bacon like I am.

One thought on “Cookbook Challenge Week 4: Practical Paleo

  1. Pingback: Paleo Diet Athletes Food Plan

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