Eating paleo can get hard when you’ve had a long day and you need to put dinner on the table, and in your old life you probably would have thrown a frozen pizza in the oven and called it good. It’s crucial to have recipes that are fast and easy, on top of being healthy and making you feel good. This dinner came together in less than thirty minutes, after grocery shopping on the way home from work. The chicken is Whole 30 compliant, and the carrots are paleo but not Whole 30 because they have a little sweetener (but they are THE BOMB, I could eat them all day). I served the chicken and carrots with a simple green salad (read: handful of field greens straight out of the bag) topped with some Primal Kitchen dressing, which I buy from Thrive Market (I'll do a post soon about my favorite ways to stock my kitchen with paleo ingredients, but if you're interested in learning more about Thrive Market now, take a look here). I could definitely step up my game in homemade paleo sauces/dressings, but right now I’m a fan of buying them. I mean, we just got our stove back two days ago, so I’m not exactly killing it in the kitchen right now.
Here’s what you need to make this quick dinner:
For the chicken:
1. Preheat your oven to 350
2. Cut most of the way through the thickest part of your chicken breast and spread it open into a heart shape (you can skip this step if you want, but I prefer the chicken not to be so brick-like). If you don't know what I'm talking about, check out this video and stop at the butterfly stage (1:50 in the video).
3. Place your chicken breasts in an ungreased baking dish, and drizzle avocado oil over the top (you probably want one or two tablespoons for all three chicken breasts, no need to be heavy-handed here). Sprinkle smoked paprika over the top (if you don’t have smoked paprika, buy some. It adds delicious, smoked flavor and it’s worth the trip to the store.) A little smoked paprika goes a long way, just lightly dust your chicken with it.
4. Throw those babies in the oven and set your timer for 25 minutes.
5. Put your carrots in a sauce pan and throw in your 2 tablespoons of avocado oil with them. Add your coconut sugar and sprinkle cinnamon over the top (I do not measure cinnamon, I just dust it over the top of any dish I add it to, but if you’re a stickler for measurements I would say ½ a tsp would do). Add a few dashes of salt and the teaspoon of coconut butter and turn your burner on to medium heat.
6. Keep stirring your carrots periodically as you make the avocado sauce for the chicken. You want the carrots to get caramelized and slightly burned so you’re going to let them go for a while, but you want to stir every minute or two so they don’t get burned on the bottom while they’re still raw on the top. You want the mixture to be bubbling, but if you smell burning turn down your heat.
7. In a bowl, pit and scoop out your two avocados. Add the garlic and lemon/lime juice and zest (I used lime juice, but I think I would do lemon next time). Are you stirring your carrots? Keep stirring your carrots. Chop your basil leaves, and add them to the mix. I cut my basil into strips and that worked alright, but when I make this next time I’ll do a finer chop so the basil is more incorporated. Mash the whole mixture up with a fork and salt to taste.
8. When your carrots are getting that nice brown caramelized color, take them off the heat.
9. When your timer for the chicken goes off, pull it out of the oven. I like to use a meat thermometer just to be sure, so I made sure my chicken was at 165F in its thickest part (25 minutes was perfect for mine, but if you have bigger pieces of meat you might need a few more minutes). If you’re not into using a meat thermometer just cut into your biggest piece at its thickest part and make sure it’s not pink in the middle.
10. Plate your chicken and scoop the avocado sauce on top. Try not to eat all of the carrots out of your saucepan before they hit the table.
I hope you’re all having a wonderful week! I’m sharing a post about our wedding on Friday—can’t wait for you to see it!
A note about ingredients:
Sometimes paleo recipes have things I'd never heard of before I tried this way of eating. If you're in that boat, here are a few notes about ingredients in this recipe!
Coconut Butter: this is different from coconut oil, and actually includes the whole coconut all blended up, so it's creamier, thicker, and pretty delicious. I like this kind:
Coconut Sugar: this is considered a paleo ingredient because it's a natural sweetener. I've read conflicting studies about whether it's any better for you than regular raw sugar--some have concluded it has a lower glycemic index, others think that's silliness. It does have some trace nutrients, and, more importantly (in my opinion) it has a really delicious caramel-y flavor. So, I bought this big bag of it over a year ago and think that, at this rate, it will last me about five years. This is what I use if I make cookies or other sweets, or throw in recipes like this one:
Avocado oil: if you're a Costco member, Costco is the place to buy avocado oil. And if you're not cooking with it already, I highly recommend you give it a try. It has a similar healthy-fat profile to olive oil, but is just richer and more delicious (or that's how it seems, anyway. We love it.) If you're not a Costco member or don't have one near you, here's an Amazon option.