Eating Paleo

by Holly Hopkins // January - February - March 2017

The tree is down, the lights are tucked neatly in their box, the ornaments have been nestled back in storage, the music has faded, and gone are the plates of decadent sweets, dips, and snacks. Now it’s time roll out those New Year’s resolutions we all make. Every year, the number one resolution is almost always along the same lines: eat better, lose weight, get fit, no sweets, cut back on soda, no more chips … all those determined thoughts we have to start the New Year with a new outlook and be healthier.

This is the time when people look to new diets and eating fads. Internet searches bring up the latest lists of what to eat and what to avoid. You may be intrigued by “delivered to your door” meals and shake mixes. But, there is a simpler way. One of the recent trends in healthy eating and weight control has been the Paleo Diet. It may have started out as a dietary fad for some, but it has become quite mainstream and actually carries some basic tenants that make sense for those who are trying to do better for their bodies. In the simplest terms, the Paleo eating plan eliminates gluten, dairy, refined sugar, and legumes. It is a relatively easy eating plan to follow and doesn’t require any special equipment, mail-based subscriptions, or complicated lists of foods. 

Eating Paleo is not difficult and, best of all, it can be very delicious. Here are simple recipes for you to try, so there’s no reason you can’t stick with those resolutions you’ve made to lead a healthier lifestyle.

Chicken Bacon Roulade

Makes 4 portions
   – 4 (6 ounce) chicken breasts, pocketed
   – 1 large white onion, peeled and julienned
   – 6 slices of bacon, cut in half and cooked
   – 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar (used to deglaze pan)
   – Salt and pepper to taste
   – Olive oil, to sear

Caramelize the onions by cooking them in a large non-stick pan on a medium setting, stirring frequently, for 10-12 minutes. The onions will take on a deep, golden brown color and become very soft. Once they have reached this stage, turn off the heat and de-glaze the pan by pouring in the apple cider vinegar and stirring well. This will help loosen up the onions from the bottom. Let cool. 

Lay the chicken breast on a flat surface with the thickest side facing you. Place your hand flat on top of the chicken to hold it in place. Using the point of a paring knife, cut a deep pocket into the chicken breast. This is where you will put your stuffing. Divide your caramelized onion filling into four equally-sized portions. Gather your cooked bacon. Stuff each breast with three of the half slices of bacon and the portioned caramelized onions.

Season the tops with salt and pepper. Sear the chicken breasts in a hot non-stick pan for three minutes on each side. Place the stuffed breasts on a baking sheet and finish cooking them in a 350 degree oven until they reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees (23-28 minutes.) Slice and serve with seasonal roasted veggie jumble (see following recipe) or vegetable of your choice.

Seasonal Roasted Veggie Jumble

Use a mix of any of the following vegetables (or whatever you have on hand), peeled and prepped and cut into large dices, wedges, or sticks (any cut works as long as they are all approximately the same size): onions (red or yellow), bell peppers (any color), celery, carrots, parsnips, sweet potatoes, regular potatoes, squash (butternut, acorn, turban, etc.), and turnips. (Regular potatoes are not Paleo, but sweet potatoes are.)


Makes approximately 6 servings
   – 6 cups of diced veggies
   – 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
   – Salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil. Place the veggies into a bowl, add salt and pepper, then drizzle olive oil over the top and toss to coat. Pour onto the baking sheet and spread out evenly. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and stir on the pan. Return to the oven and cook an additional 20-25 minutes, or until the sweet potatoes are cooked through.

Fajita Chicken

Makes 4 servings
   – 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into strips
   – 21/2 cups julienned bell peppers
   – 1 cup sliced red onions
   – 1 tablespoon minced garlic
   – 4 tablespoons Chef Mario’s Super Spice (see following recipe)
   – 2 tablespoons lime juice
   – Olive oil for sautéing

Sprinkle the spice mix over the chicken strips and mix well. Drizzle a little olive oil in a non-stick pan and add the chicken mix. Sauté for five or six minutes, stirring occasionally, until chicken is cooked through. Remove the chicken from the pan. Add more olive oil to the pan and add garlic, peppers, and onions. Sauté for four or five minutes more until they begin to get soft. Add lime juice and stir to combine. Serve with veggies, on a green salad, or in lettuce wraps.

Chef Mario’s Super Spice

   – 4 tablespoons chili powder
   – 4 tablespoons paprika
   – 2 tablespoons ground coriander
   – 2 tablespoons garlic powder
   – 2 tablespoons Kosher salt
   – 4 teaspoons ground cumin
   – 2 teaspoons crushed red pepper
   – 2 teaspoons black pepper
   – 2 teaspoons diced oregano

Mix all ingredients together until well blended. Makes a great seasoning for meat, vegetables, soup, etc.

Photo courtesy of

Holly Hopkins

Holly has spent many years working with food, starting off at her Grandma’s elbow, making wedding cakes and cookies galore. Since then, she has been a manager and business owner and is thrilled to be combining her passions for high quality food and superior customer service at Chef Mario’s.