Sweet and Hot Chicken (Keto, Primal, Paleo, and Whole30)

I love hot and I love sweet…but even more, I love to combine them. I love how it’s a toss up for what you’re going to feel first: the hot or the sweet. This ended up being one of our favorite recipes recently, and my son, Isak, decided he wants me to make it “all the time.” That’s pretty funny coming from him because he’s the one who will tell you that everything is too hot or spicy (except bacon-wrapped jalapeno poppers and this chicken, apparently).

I served this with a salad – arugula, a couple peaches, some strawberries, avocado, celery, a lemon vinaigrette, and goat cheese. It ended up being the perfect pair because the sweet and creamy from the salad complemented the hot and sweet from the chicken. I highly recommend this pairing!

Sweet and Hot Chicken

1.5# boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut in half

1.5 tsp cumin

1 Tbsp butter (or coconut oil)

3 Tbsp sriracha

3 Tbsp brown Swerve (or coconut sugar for the Paleo crowd)

1 Tbsp soy sauce (or coconut aminos)

  1. Pound chicken to even thickness. Sprinkle both sides of chicken with cumin.
  2. Heat butter in large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook chicken about 5-7 minutes per side, or until cooked through.
  3. In a small bowl, mix sriracha, sweetener, and soy sauce. Brush on chicken after it’s cooked. Optional: at this point I put it under the broiler for a few minutes to make the sauce a little more “sticky.”

Mustard-Roasted Chicken (Keto, Primal, Paleo, and Whole30)

Sometimes you want a little crisp to your chicken, right? Or is it just me? I love fried chicken. Like…I LOVE it. I could probably eat it twice a day every day and not get sick of it. Technically, yes, Popeye’s spicy chicken thighs fit into my keto. They have 8 net carbs a piece. The only thing is, when I eat them once, then I end up wanting them every day for a month. And if I get the chicken, I want the biscuits. And when I want the biscuits, I want the honey. And the mashed potatoes. And the red beans and rice. You see where this is going.

Pork rinds are a pretty good substitute to get that crisp though. They aren’t quite as crunchy as a good deep-fried chicken, but they’re pretty dang close. I usually use thighs, but I had some chicken breasts with no intended purpose, so I used them for this! Pro tip: when I use thighs for something like this, I frequently remove the skin and fry it with salt, super hot, until it turns into chips. For the love…chicken skin chips are DELICIOUS. If you cut them up when they’re crispy, they also make a great addition to a salad. I wish someone would manufacture them. Thank you for coming to my TED Talk on the deliciousness of chicken skin.

Mustard-Roasted Chicken

3# boneless, skinless chicken breasts

5 cloves garlic, minced

1 tsp thyme

1 1/2 C crushed pork rinds

zest of 1 lemon

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper

3 Tbsp olive oil

1/2 C Dijon mustard

1/2 C white wine veingar

  1. Preheat oven to 400. Line a baking sheet with parchment. In a zip-top bag, pound your chicken to an even thickness and cut to smaller pieces if desired. Pat chicken dry.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix pork rinds, garlic, thyme, lemon zest, salt, pepper, and olive oil.
  3. In a shallow bowl, whisk Dijon and white wine vinegar. Dip each chicken breast in the mustard mixture and coat completely. Dredge one side of chicken in the pork rind mixture, coating the top and pressing it to the chicken where needed. Place on baking sheet, pork rind side up.
  4. Bake 25 minutes, then switch to broiler for another 5-7 minutes to crisp.

Peppered Pork Tenderloin (Keto, Primal, Paleo, and Whole30)

Our pork tenderloin has been on sale here recently, so we’ve been making it way more often than we usually do. It kinda made me forget how much more I love pork tenderloin than just regular chops and other cuts of pork (besides bacon, obviously). I swear, these past few that we’ve purchased have cut like butter. We could have used a Fisher Price knife and cut them just fine. This time, I decided just to use salt and pepper. Simple is so delicious sometimes, amiright?

That being said, it was a ton of pepper. I’m pretty sure it took me 10 minutes to grind it all and now I need to get more peppercorns for my mill. For the side on this, I made a basic Greek salad with arugula, cucumbers, bell pepper, red onion, feta, kalamata olives, grape tomatoes, and a vinaigrette that I made with olive oil, Dijon, and red wine vinegar. It would also go well with something like broccolini, a cauliflower mash, or just some roasted vegetables. Because it’s such a simple flavor profile on the pork, it’ll pretty much match with anything.

Peppered Pork Tenderloin

2.5# pork tenderloin (that’s usually around 2 of the store-bought ones)

2 Tbsp fresh coarse-ground black peppercorns

1 tsp pink Himalayan salt

3 Tbsp butter (or whatever fat you usually fry with)

1/2 C bone broth

  1. Preheat oven to 425. Pat pork tenderloin dry. Rub all sides with salt and pepper.
  2. Heat fat in an oven-safe skilled over medium-high heat. When fat is hot, add tenderloins and cook about 5-7 minutes, so all sides are browned. Transfer skillet to oven.
  3. Bake 10-15 minutes (until a meat thermometer reads 145). Remove from the oven and let rest 5-10 minutes before cutting into thick slices.

Chicken Croquettes (Keto and Primal)

I had a few more cans of cooked chicken that I found, so I decided to use those tonight. Is it just me, or is canned me basically awesome for croquette-type situations, but kinda useless for everything else? Or maybe that’s all I’ve ever tried it with, so that’s what seems to work the best. I don’t know, but it’s AMAZING for any type of croquette.

Next subject: the poached egg. Or the fried egg in some cases, but a poached egg really raises the bar on meats and salads. If you haven’t had a poached egg on top of a good steak, you aren’t living. Something about cutting the egg open and the warm yolk making a sauce as it runs over the meat…SO. GOOD. I know, there’s some of you who are going to think that’s nasty and can’t handle runny eggs. I wish you could, because you’re seriously missing out on the best “sauce!”

Chicken Croquettes (Keto and Primal)

25 oz canned cooked chicken, chopped

2/3 – 3/4 C mayonnaise

1/3 C sour cream

1 egg

1/2 C shredded Parmesan

1-2 carrots, peeled and diced

2 stalks of celery, diced

1 tsp curry powder

1 tsp dill

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper

  • if it’s too dry, add more mayo. If it’s too wet, add more Parmesan or some crushed pork rinds
  1. Preheat oven to 400. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and grease lightly.
  2. In a large bowl, combine chicken, mayo, sour cream, egg, Parmesan carrots, celery, curry, dill, salt, and pepper. Mix well to combine.
  3. Shape mixture into patties and place on greased parchment. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove the sheet from the oven and flip croquettes. Bake another 10-15 minutes.
  • I serve these over salad, but you can serve them with whatever you want. I also served them with a poached egg over each two croquettes.


Chicken-Bacon-Ranch Quesadillas (Keto)

There are a few nights a week where Isak’s dance classes get over right at that special time that’s bordering on “you only have a little time before you need to get ready for bed.” You know what I’m talking about – that 6:30-6:45 time frame that makes it too late to get home and get anything made before 8:00. Those are the nights that I try to have something in the slow cooker, but on this particular night I didn’t have anything to make. To avoid driving through somewhere on the way home, I decided to throw together some quesadillas with the low-carb tortillas, some leftover chicken, and the veg we had lying around. I always love the day or two before grocery day because that’s when I put together the silliest meals, many of which turn out to be the best ones.

Oh well, these are simple and quick. It’s another food you can hide vegetables in if you want. From start to finish (using a pan that cooked one at a time), I had these on the table in 25 minutes. Score! And of course, it ended up being one of Isak’s favorite meals (who then subsequently wanted them for lunch every day for a week).

Chicken-Bacon-Ranch Quesadillas (Keto)

1.5# cooked chicken, diced (you could use the frozen cooked chicken (thawed), canned chicken, leftover chicken, etc)

1/2 C cooked bacon, chopped

1 1/2 C shredded colby jack cheese

1 C ranch dressing or dip

6-10 low carb tortillas

  1. In a large bowl, mix together chicken, bacon, cheese, and ranch. Stir well to integrate.
  2. Heat skillet to medium plus and add some butter or oil of choice.
  3. Spread about 1/2 – 3/4 C chicken mixture on one side of one tortilla. Put in pan, filling side up, and top with another tortilla. Cook about 3-5 minutes, flip, and cook another 3-5 minutes (until sufficiently cooked through).
  4. Serve with salsa, guacamole, sour cream, ranch dressing, tomatoes, etc.

Dijon Herb-Roasted Chicken (Keto, Primal, Paleo, and Whole30)

I seem to be really into roasting lots of types of chicken at the moment, possibly because during quarantine, we seem to have a plethora of chicken in the house. Well, that and no matter how I prepare it, the tiny person will always eat whatever chicken is put in front of him 🙂 I don’t know about you, but the smell of roasting chicken always makes a house smell better. The caveat to that is when you’re making bone broth (not roasting, I know, but stay with me here). When I make bone broth, I typically use a pound or two of chicken feet. I know, it sounds gross, but they have the best gelatin and give the best silky-mouth feel for broth. If you haven’t tried it before, give it a try! Seriously, most of the time you can find chicken feet for about a dollar a pound, so it’s cheap and nutritious. If you don’t know where to look, try Asian and/or Middle Eastern/Halal groceries. That’s where I tend to find them. I put a couple pounds of chicken feet into the slow cooker with some onions, carrots, celery, peppercorns, and whatever vegetable scraps I have lying around, then heat it on low for 24-48 hours.

So here’s the kicker – it smells fantastic…for awhile. When you wake up the second morning and it’s all you can smell, it’s not quite as pleasant. Not in a bad way, but you know how sometimes you want to sleep in, but someone is cooking breakfast and it smells good…but it’s all you can small so it’s almost overwhelming? Almost like it’s starting to burn your nose. Yeah, that’s how cooking the bone broth is. Eventually I’ll try making it in my pressure cooker, but I’m not sure when I’ll need to make it again 🙂

Dijon Herb-Roasted Chicken (Keto, Primal, Paleo, and Whole30)

1 Tbsp thyme

4 Tbsp olive oil

4 Tbsp lemon juice

4 Tbsp Dijon mustard

3# chicken thighs (I use bone-in, skin-on)

salt and pepper

  1. Preheat oven to 400. Heat a large skillet to medium-high heat. Pat chicken dry with a paper towel and season with salt and pepper.
  2. In a small bowl, mix thyme, olive oil, lemon juice, and Dijon. Brush on both sides of chicken.
  3. Put chicken into the skillet in batches, browning on each side (about 3 minutes per side). Move from skillet to a baking dish.
  4. Once all of the chicken is browned and in the dish, put into the oven for 20-30 minutes (until internal temperature of the chicken is 165).

Burrito Bowls (Keto, Primal, Paleo, and Whole30)

*NOTE: Cheese and sour cream are not paleo or Whole30*

There are few things that I currently love more than burrito bowls. Really, deconstructed foods in general, but especially things like burrito bowls, gyro bowls, Buddha bowls, etc. They’re so easy to put together quickly and even easier to let people customize their own bowls. It’s kind of the keto version of those ice cream socials we had in grade school where it was a giant table of ice cream and every topping you could think of. On this particular night, the protein I had lying around was a skirt steak, so I rubbed it up with some spices (flavor profile: Mexican, to be specific), cooked it, and brought out the toppings.

At this point in our COVID journey, we seem to never have fewer than eight bags of cauliflower rice in the freezer, so I’ve been adding it to a bunch of meals. Eggs, meat, and veg? Fried rice. Don’t feel like eggs? Burrito bowl. Want something Cajun? Dirty rice. So many possibilities! For this bowl, I mixed the cooked rice with some ranch dressing spices and it was delish. We had some leftover pico from the night before, some shredded cheese, sour cream, Romaine hearts, avocados, lime juice…it’s like it built itself. If you are keeping this paleo or Whole30 compliant, the dairy is out; however, there are so many options you could add! Bell peppers, jalapenos, green onions, carrots, make an almond-butter “peanut” ginger sauce and turn it Asian. Honestly, the possibilities are endless. And what do you see in the background of the pic below? I took a few low-carb tortillas, cut them into sixths, and baked some “chips” to add to the meal. Winner winner chicken dinner!

Burrito Bowls

2# skirt steak (you could use most any steak cut for this, really – and use whatever protein you want)

4-5 Tbsp avocado oil, divided

salt and pepper

1-2 bags frozen cauli rice

1 Tbsp ranch spices (parsley, dill, onion powder, onion flakes, garlic powder, salt, pepper, chives)

3 Tbsp lime juice, divided

10 oz chopped Romaine (I prefer hearts, but you do you, Boo)

1-2 C pico de gallo

2 avocados, diced

Sour cream

Cilantro to garnish (if wanted)

  1. Heat cast iron skillet to medium-high heat. Brush steaks with oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Grill steak to desired doneness (for me that’s typically no more than 4-5 minutes per side on a thick steak, 2-3 on thinner, but I like my cow to still be able to moo at me). Let rest for 10-15 minutes before slicing across the grain.
  2. Cook cauliflower rice according to package. Stir in 1 Tbsp ranch spices and set aside.
  3. Assemble your bowls. I usually put the lettuce on the bottom because it’s easier that way. In a small bowl, whisk 2 Tbsp avocado oil and 3 Tbsp lime juice. Pour over the protein, greens/veg, and rice in the bowl. Add any other toppings you want.

Cheesy-Ranch Pork Chops (Keto and Primal)

This was another one of the EMEALS that I tampered with and flipped on its side. The original recipe looked fine, but there was a lot I wanted to add. We had a lot of extra “odds and ends” that I needed to get rid of, so what better place than as toppings and in salads? In general, there’s something about arugula and strawberries that’s a lovely combination to me. Add goat cheese and lavender to that mix and it’s FIRE! Do you cook with lavender? If you don’t, you’re totally missing out. My husband can take it in small doses, but thinks I go a little crazy with it.

There was this restaurant that I used to go to in Kansas City with one of my yoga friends, Emily. The place was called Eden Alley and it was in the basement of Unity on the Plaza. In general, their regular food wasn’t anything all that great. Don’t get me wrong, they had a few decent things, but nothing on the entree menu that I’d rush out to get. They had one dessert, however, that I probably would have stuffed myself full of if I wouldn’t have died in a sugar coma: Lavender Chocolate Chip Cookies. I know, it sounds weird AF. Just trust me on this – get some dried lavender buds (the kind you can eat…not the potpourri) and add a couple teaspoons to the dough next time you make chocolate chip cookies. Maybe start with one teaspoon – it’s kinda easy to go overboard with, but you’ll know when you hit that sweet spot.

You’ll also know when you’ve gone overboard – it’ll taste like chocolate chip soap. You know, I’ve heard.


6 (4 oz) thick-cut pork chops

3 Tbsp avocado oil

1 (1 oz) envelope Ranch dressing mix

1/2 – 3/4 C shredded cheddar

1/4 C sour cream

1/2 C cooked bacon, chopped

  1. Preheat oven to 425. Line a rimmed baking shit with foil and grease lightly.
  2. Brush pork with avocado oil and sprinkle each side with dressing mix.
  3. Bake 20 minutes. Remove from oven and top with shredded cheddar. Place back in the oven for another minute or so to melt the cheese.
  4. Serve chops topped with sour cream and chopped bacon.


5 oz package arugula

1 C sliced strawberries

4 oz crumbled goat cheese

1/4 C sliced almonds

1/4 C pistachios

1/4 C pumpkin seeds

1 avocado, diced

1-2 tsp lavender

1/2 C vinaigrette of choice

  1. Put everything in a large bowl and toss to mix.
  2. Devour. You’re welcome.

Braised Short Ribs (Keto, Primal, Paleo, and Whole30)

We’ve entered the crazy school-year schedule of dance classes once again! That means we have a couple nights a week where the slow cooker is the only option unless we want to grab food on the way home…and since we’ve done such a good job at eating a home since March, we’re trying to keep it going! This was one of those perfect meals – brown the meat, dump everything in the slow cooker, and set it on low. Eight or ten hours later, voila! a hot meal, ready to go! The only extra thing I did was steam some cauliflower with garlic cloves, put it in the Vitamix with some cream cheese, whiz it for a few seconds, and stir in some cheddar, Parmesan, salt, and pepper. From frozen cauliflower, that process took about 10 minutes.

It’s still over 3000 degrees here in San Antonio, so I’m not in the mood yet for soup twice a week (and let’s face it – soup is the easiest slow-cooker meal), so I’m in the process of making up some other meals. I know, I know, everyone is obsessed with recipes like crack chicken and all that. In the event you haven’t noticed, part of my food love includes the food being pretty and plated attractively. The majority of slow-cooker meals end up looking like a plate of wet Alpo, so…they aren’t so cute. Occasionally I’ll make something like that because it’s tasty and quick, but you won’t see me post it on here or on my INSTAGRAM because there’s essentially no way to make that picture look pretty. The closest I’ve gotten to that is the CHICKEN POT PIE recipe, and only because it’s so good that I can’t help myself!


4-5# bone-in beef short ribs

2 Tbsp chili powder

2 Tbsp cumin

3 Tbsp coconut oil

2 medium onions, cut into wedges

4 cloves garlic, chopped

1 tsp salt

1 tsp pepper

2 C chicken or beef broth

14.5 oz can of fire-roasted diced tomatoes

  1. Mix cumin and chili powder in a small bowl. Rub on all sides of the ribs.
  2. Heat coconut oil in a large pan or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Cook ribs 2-3 minutes per side (until browned).
  3. Place ribs in a 5-7 qt slow-cooker and cover with all other ingredients. Cover and look on low for 8-10 hours. Remove ribs and serve with garlic mashed cauliflower.


24 oz frozen cauliflower florets

1 C chicken broth

3 cloves garlic (whole)

1 Tbsp cream cheese

1/4 C heavy cream

1/3 C shredded cheddar

1/4 C grated Parmesan

1 tsp salt

1 tsp pepper

  1. Pour chicken broth in medium saucepan. Add cauliflower and garlic cloves to a steamer basket and place in the pan (alternatively, you can put the cauliflower directly into the pan with the broth, you’ll just need to drain it at the end). Boil the broth and steam cauliflower for about 8 minutes (until tender). If you put the cauliflower directly into the pot, drain the broth.
  2. Put hot cauliflower and garlic into the Vitamix (or food processor of choice). Add cream cheese and heavy cream. Blend to desired consistency. Remove from the blender and stir in cheddar, Parmesan, salt, and pepper.


Mushroom-Blue Cheese Burgers (Keto and Primal)


These burgers were awesome, but the sauce was FIRE! Double fire if you dip the JICAMA FRIES in it. Truth be told, this was the first time we’d used frozen burgers in a long time. The ones that were on sale ended up being really good, so that was fortunate – usually frozen burgers are hit or miss with me. I don’t know about you, but my favorite burgers always have mushrooms and blue cheese. Technically they also have bacon, but in a random twist of events, we had just run out of bacon. (!!!) I’ll never let that happen again.

We decided to make JICAMA FRIES with the burgers, because what else goes as well with burgers as some good fries?! The fries would go just as well with ketchup, barbecue sauce, or – my favorite – RANCH DRESSING. I know, I know. I grew up in Missouri, where they dip everything in ranch. My personal favorite is dipping pizza in ranch, but I’ve found out that a lot of people think that sounds nasty LOL. Don’t knock it till you try it!


Mushroom-Blue Cheese Burgers

4 (6 oz) burger patties

12 oz sliced mushrooms

5 oz container crumbled blue cheese

8 Tbsp buttermilk

1/3 C sour cream

1/2 tsp black pepper

3 cloves minced garlic

Shredded cheddar (optional)

JICAMA FRIES on the side!

  1. Cook burger patties over medium-high heat to desired doneness.
  2. In a large, non-stick skillet over medium-high heat, cook mushrooms for 8-10 minutes or until browned.
  3. In a small bowl, stir together blue cheese, buttermilk, sour cream, pepper, and garlic.
  4. On each plate, layer a burger, shredded cheddar, blue cheese sauce, and mushrooms. Use extra sauce to dip fries in.