Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
9 Sep

10 Primal Meals in 15 Minutes or Less

Many people think that cooking healthy meals has to be a difficult and time-consuming task. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth. (And even if it was true, isn’t the extra effort worth it?) Others of you, meanwhile, are new to this whole Primal Lifestyle and are looking for quick and easy recipes to help you adjust to this new, healthier way of life!

We have heeded your call for more recipes in last week’s “Dear Readers: What do You Want?” If you’re game, read on to learn ten Primal – and truly easy – quick meals.

But first a note: The quickest way to speed up the mid-week meal process is to do some work on the back end. It doesn’t have to mean devoting a whole day to cooking the meals for the week, but it does require some degree of planning ahead. For example, if you have all the ingredients on hand, you turn the process of creating a meal into nothing more than compiling a series of ingredients. So what ingredients should you stock?

•    Veggies of any kind (and you’ll save a ton of time—and encourage your family to consume them as snacks—if you pre-wash and slice them!)
•    Fresh fruit (just give ‘em a good rinse)
•    Nuts (but not peanuts, since we know they aren’t truly a nut)
•    Meats and fish (If possible, try to cook more than you need so that you can use leftovers to use in other meals.)
•    Fats (healthy oils and butter)
•    Fresh spices (they’re more flavorful than the dried ones taking up space on your lazy Susan!)

And now for the recipes…


Spinach Frittata


An Italian breakfast dish, we’ll pull out the pasta and replace it with a ton of hearty – and healthy – vegetables that will keep you satiated through lunch! And, to make it more grab-and-go, we’ll be making it in muffin pans!

1 brick of chopped frozen spinach, thawed
1 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped (or, if you pre-chopped, about 1 cup of onion)
1 large clove garlic, minced (about 1tbsp)
9 large eggs (and you’ll use the yolk too!)
2 tbsp milk
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese (use fresh grated cheese from your deli – it’s more flavorful than the pre-packaged stuff in the pasta aisle. Romano cheese is also good here.)
2 tbsp sun-dried tomatoes, coarsely chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
3 oz goat cheese

Preheat oven to 400°F. Drain spinach and set aside. In a mixing bowl, whisk together eggs, milk and parmesan cheese. Once combined, add in sun-dried tomatoes and salt and pepper. In a skillet, sauté onions in olive oil on medium heat (about 2 minutes, or until translucent), add minced garlic and sauté for one more minute. Add spinach. In a pre-greased muffin pan, add spinach mixture to fill cups about one-third to half-way. Pour egg mixture over the top. Sprinkle goat cheese over the top of each “muffin” and put back in the oven for 10 minutes or until muffins appear puffy and golden. Remove from oven and enjoy!

Primal Strawberry Smoothie


Short on time? This one will definitely take you less than 5 minutes to throw together (and it’s easy to drink when you’re on the move!)

1 cup frozen strawberries (or blueberries, raspberries)
1 cup milk (don’t worry about going low-fat here – whenever you remove the fat, you up the relative sugar content!)
A couple 20-gram scoops of protein powder (This is our favorite. 😉 )

Throw in a blender, blend and go!

Quick Cottage Cheese Pancakes

cottage cheese

You’ll fool even the kids with this healthy pancake alternative.

1 cup cottage cheese (not low fat!)
2 egg whites
1 egg yolk
1 tbsp soy flour
½ tsp cream of tartar

Beat the egg whites until frothy, add the cream of tartar and beat until stiff peaks form. Set aside. In separate bowl, mix egg yolk, cottage cheese and soy flour. Combine the two mixtures and stir until just combined (otherwise you’ll compromise the “pancakes” fluffiness!). Cook as you would a regular pancake, on a skillet at medium heat, flipping when each side becomes lightly browned. They’re tasty with just a little bit of butter and some cinnamon sprinkled on top or with blueberries or strawberries and a little whipped cream. Or if you have a few more minutes on your hands – or want to up to the protein ante – top with a few scrambled eggs.


Kitchen Sink Soup


If you make this with leftovers you have on hand, it’s really just a matter of throwing it together, letting it simmer and forgetting about it!

The basics:
5 cups stock or broth
1 15 oz can tomatoes, chopped (peeled plum tomatoes and probably easiest)
1 tbsp olive oil
4 cloves of garlic
1 medium onion
1 tbsp sweet paprika
3 tsp turmeric
½ tsp cinnamon
2 bay leaves
Salt and pepper to taste

“Kitchen Sink” items: Feel free to include as many of the following items as you deem fit:

2 stalks celery, chopped
1 medium bell pepper
1-2 cups of chard, spinach or another leafy green vegetable
1 cup of pumpkin
4 cups of meat, chopped into bite-size pieces – leftover turkey, chicken, steak, pork tenderloin or ham works best here

In a large soup pot, put oil, onion, and celery (if using). Cook on low heat for 5 minutes to soften. Turn up heat, and add garlic and any other vegetables (except the greens) that you plan to use. Cook for one minute, add spices. Stir and cook about one more minute. Add tomatoes, stock, and meat, if using and allow to simmer 10-15 minutes (we don’t count this as active work since it’s not very hands-on!). Adjust seasonings to taste. This recipe will make about 9 cups of soup, depending on what you add in.

Chicken Club Wrap

lettuce leaf

As good as the sandwich from your favorite diner, with none of the guilt!

3 large lettuce leaves
1 cup cooked chicken (leftovers is best here!), chopped into bite-size pieces
½ cup sliced red pepper
1 plum tomato, sliced
½ avocado
1 tbsp mayonnaise
If you have it on hand, feel free to add in some bacon

Wash and pat dry the large lettuce leaves. In the center of each leaf, pile all of the ingredients. Top with a dab of mayonnaise, wrap up and enjoy!

Protein Salad Dip


You’re leftovers have never tasted better when you use them as a dip for your fave chopped veggies.

2-3 cups cooked chicken or turkey (skin on, coarsely chopped). Or, alternatively, feel free to use a few a few cans of water-packed tuna fish
2 stalks celery, chopped
¼ cup red onion, chopped
2 pickles, chopped

5 tbsp mayonnaise
2 tsp lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste

“Dipping Items”
If you can slice it, you can use it. Good examples are peppers, zucchini, celery, cucumber, and apple. Or, alternatively, feel free to make it into a wrap by rolling it up in large lettuce leaves.

Combine all salad ingredients in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, combine the items for the dressing. Mix the dressing in with the salad ingredients and add salt and pepper to taste. Should make four servings.


Chicken with Goat Cheese and Arugula

chicken and spinach
This recipe comes from Endless Simmer.

8 chicken breast cutlets (roughly 1 1/2 lbs). Opt for the ones that are cleaned and trimmed and that are already sliced thin.
4 oz arugula (about 1 large bunch), trimmed
3 oz of soft goat cheese broken into small pieces
1 tbsp olive oil

Preheat oven to 425°F. Lay cutlets flat, smooth side down. Season with salt and pepper, layer with arugula leaves and place goat cheese in the center. Starting with the narrow end of the cutlet, roll up the chicken tightly and secure with a toothpick. In a large, non-stick skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Cook the chicken, “seam” side down for 1-2 minutes or until golden brown. Turn once and cook for a further 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer skillet to oven and cook 10-12 minutes or until chicken is opaque throughout. While the chicken is cooking, make a quick salad of argula, tomatoes and almonds. Pile on one side of the plate and drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar and season with course ground black pepper. Once chicken is done, remove toothpicks, slice the chicken crosswise and arrange on plate. Serves 4.

Leftovers A la King

chicken ala king

If you’re in the market for some true comfort food – that won’t make you pack on the comfort pounds – this easy leftovers recipe will be just the ticket.

2 cups cooked chicken or turkey
¼ cup chopped onion
1 small green pepper, chopped
4 to 6 oz fresh chopped mushrooms
2 tbsp oil or butter
¼ tsp black pepper
2 tbsp cornstarch (yes, it’s a starch, but at only 7 grams per tbsp – and double the thickening power of flour – it’ll work just fine here!)
1 cup milk
½ cup cream
1¼ cups stock or broth
4 oz jar chopped pimentos

Quick Cauliflower “Rice” – 1 large head of cauliflower (how easy is that!)

In a large skillet, heat the oil or butter and sauté the onion for 2-3 minutes. Add the green pepper and mushrooms, and cook until softening. Add black pepper and the cornstarch. Cook for 2 minutes. Add liquids, bring to a simmer and cook for 3-4 minutes. Add chicken and turkey, heat through (about 10 minutes). While that’s simmering, in a food processor, chop cauliflower until it is the size of rice. Microwave 4 minutes in a covered dish, but do not add water – the moisture in the cauliflower will allow it to cook. Once finished, position on the center of the plate, then top with the chicken or turkey mixture and enjoy!

Eggplant Pizza

eggplant pizza

It doesn’t get much easier than pizza – and this one is healthy too!

1 large sized eggplant
1 cup shredded mozzarella
1 can tomato sauce or store-bought marinara sauce
1 tsp basil
1 tsp oregano

Slice the eggplant lengthwise, making probably 6-8 slices about ½ inch thick. Place on a greased cookie sheet and place under a broiler. Broil until light brown. Remove, flip and cover with tomato sauce, basil, oregano and mozzarella cheese. Place back under the broiler. Feel free to add more toppings here – peppers, onions, pepperoni, diced ham – whatever your favorite pizza is, feel free to add it here! Should serve 3-4 people depending on how big your eggplant is.

Easy Chicken Enchiladas


We say chicken, but steak would be just as good if you have it on hand!

2-3 cups of cooked chicken breast, steak or turkey
1 ½ cups cheddar cheese
¼ cup of cream or half & half
1 scallion
3 egg whites

Enchilada Sauce:
1 8oz can tomato sauce
2 cups water
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp butter
1 tsp cornstarch
½ tsp cumin
½ tsp unsweetened cocoa powder
½ tsp garlic powder
2 tbsp chili powder

First prepare enchilada sauce. In a medium skillet, warm butter and oil. Add all dry ingredients, whisk in two cups of water and tomato sauce. Stir continually until sauce thickens. Adjust spices accordingly and set aside. In a second skillet, heat chicken in a quarter cup of enchilada sauce. Bring to simmer. In a mixing bowl, add eggs and half and half and beat until well blended. Heat up small skillet, spray with non-stick spray and add just enough egg mixture to coat pan. Allow to cook through, about 1-2 minutes. Repeat till all mixture is gone (you should get about 6 crepes). Inside a baking dish, place one of the egg crepes and coat with a small amount of sauce. Add chicken, a small amount of cheese and roll. When all are rolled top with remaining sauce. Sprinkle chopped scallions and cheese on top and bake at 350 for 10-15 min or until cheese melted and bubbly.

jessicafm, Poldavo (Alex), Majiscup – Drink for Design, yksin, louisa catlover, pollyalida, Endless Simmer, pirate johnny, adactio, hackett Flickr Photos (CC)

Further Reading:

Budget Eating Recipes

How to Eat Healthy and Save Money

Mark’s 2 Minute Salad

The Whole Series of Eat This Today, Feel Better Tomorrow: 1, 2, 3, Intermittent Fasting, Special Occasions and Dessert Editions

Healthy Tastes Great!

All MDA Recipes

You want comments? We got comments:

Imagine you’re George Clooney. Take a moment to admire your grooming and wit. Okay, now imagine someone walks up to you and asks, “What’s your name?” You say, “I’m George Clooney.” Or maybe you say, “I’m the Clooninator!” You don’t say “I’m George of George Clooney Sells Movies Blog” and you certainly don’t say, “I’m Clooney Weight Loss Plan”. So while spam is technically meat, it ain’t anywhere near Primal. Please nickname yourself something your friends would call you.

  1. “Many people think that cooking healthy meals has to be a difficult and time-consuming task. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth. ”

    I completely agree. I always claim that I can cook something (worth eating of course) in less time than it would take me to go to a restaurant order something and have my food served.

    nodietneeded wrote on September 9th, 2008
  2. Nice recipes, seem real tasty. And it’s great you’re listening to your readers :)

    There’s a bit too much dairy in there for me though..

    Naomi wrote on September 9th, 2008
  3. Too much dairy for me! But looks good.

    Son of Grok wrote on September 9th, 2008
  4. Not a big fan of the cornstarch either. I know its not much… but I would feel less primal.

    Son of Grok wrote on September 9th, 2008
    • Just use arrowroot powder instead of cornstarch.

      Jessica wrote on July 2nd, 2014
  5. Mark – some of these look great. There’s a lot of dairy in the ingredients, which I had always assumed fell outside the primal blueprint on the basis we only started consuming it when farming began in the neolithic period. I just re-read the primal blueprint page and I guess you neither condone nor condemn it…so what’s the official primal blueprint line on dairy?

    Methuselah - Pay Now Live Later wrote on September 9th, 2008
    • Aloha!

      We began our lives on mother’s milk. The milk from a cow can be used in so many ways: ghee, yogurt, kefir, and the whey from the products make a nice fermentation medium. Imagine a Paleolithic hunter coming home to a kefir concoction with berries and nuts! I do not think that any paleo hunter gatherer would turn down almost any food. Flexibility is the secret to survival!


      mikael wrote on April 23rd, 2011
      • We do began our lives on mothers milk, not on cow’s milk. And a young calve only drink his mother’s milk for less than a year. We are the only mammal that drinks another mammals milk. Try to imagine a big bull sucking on mother goat!
        I know it is delicious but on the other and create a multitude of chronic problem, like eczema, arthritis, digestive issue,…
        Bottom line if you can tolerate it, use it in its best form(cheese) sparingly like garnish on a salad or pizza about 1oz 4 time a week. For the milk we have other option like almond milk, coconut milk.
        Being flexible; you betcha!

        Nance wrote on September 27th, 2011
        • Actually we are not the only mammal that will drink the milk of another mammal. Put a bowl of cow’s milk down and just watch your pet cat or dog devour it. As far as the chronic disease thing is concerned, that usually only happens with conventional milk. Raw grassfed milk will generally not cause any of these problems, of course there are always exceptions.

          Stephen Nixon wrote on June 2nd, 2014
  6. Where’s the beef? I just started buying grass fed beef from Whole Foods, very delicious.

    Amy wrote on September 9th, 2008
  7. Thanks Mark, these look great. I’m glad to see some new recipes. What exactly is your stance on dairy?

    Kloep wrote on September 9th, 2008
  8. Ah, dairy. I’m still trying to refine my opinion on it. It’s been a “sensible vice” here at PB for a while. I don’t eat it myself much (except butter, heavy cream in my coffee and the occasional bit of cheese – all high fat, low casein). Yes, Grok didn’t eat it. For a hard-core PBer that would be enough. I’m still looking for reasons to include a subset of dairy within the diet. Have found it yet, but haven’t totally excluded it either.

    Mark Sisson wrote on September 9th, 2008
  9. One more question: Should I leave the skin on my chicken breast when I eat it?

    Kloep wrote on September 9th, 2008
  10. Mark,

    Your comment made me want to research casein. My protein powder is based on it. I went for it because it is pretty much straight protien… no sweetners or additives but it is based on casein. After doing more reading that your comment inspired, I am not so sure i should taking a casein based protien poweder. What are your thoughts? Other apples feel free to chime in too!

    Son of Grok wrote on September 9th, 2008
  11. Kloep – Yes! Keep the skin on the chicken. Especially if you are eating clean. Chicken is pretty bland without it IMO.

    Aaron wrote on September 9th, 2008
  12. Disregard. I lied. After a second look, mine is whey protien isolate. I passed on the casein protien because of the additives and the sweetners. It aint easy being Groks decendant in a modern world.

    Son of Grok wrote on September 9th, 2008
  13. Thank you mark i needed someting to eat besides meat.

    Bill wrote on September 9th, 2008
  14. Fabulous. Thanks so much for these. I’m going to have those “muffins” for breakfast tomorrow (and maybe lunch too….)

    hugh wrote on September 9th, 2008
  15. Son of Grok – I have 20kg of pure unsweetened casein sitting on top of my refrigerator from last November when I went primal 😉

    Methuselah - Pay Now Live Later wrote on September 9th, 2008
  16. Nice recipes. Really shows that there is no need to deprive yourself when living the PB.

    I’m with Naomi however, a little too much dairy for me.

    For what it’s worth, when I eat dairy (in normal quantities) I get really hungry. Naomi once told me, that it might be becasue it does create an insulin response. Anybody have the same experience?
    Have a great day everyone. 😉


    Marc wrote on September 10th, 2008
  17. first thought: THANK YOU SO MUCH. My whole family sorely needed these.

    next thought: I dont dairy fret. at all. thoughts mark?

    MizFit wrote on September 10th, 2008
  18. definitely want to try the enchiladas, soup and chicken wrap. I can’t imagine eating cottage cheese pancakes though.

    Thanks for the recipes.

    Jason Peck wrote on September 10th, 2008
    • The cottage cheese pancakes are worth a try, even if you are not a fan of cottage cheese. They are very good.

      Michelle wrote on April 19th, 2011
  19. Oh my gosh, those pancakes look SO good! I’ve tried a variant of those with almond flour I believe.

    All of this looks so great, especially the enchiladas…I’m so hungry now…

    Thank you so much for this Mark! It’s about time I begin to cook for myself (;

    Hannah wrote on September 10th, 2008
  20. Thanks for the recipe ideas Mark. It’s always nice to be able to broaden my repertoire. I’d also like to see more without dairy. I’ve heard enough bad (raises insulin despite being low glycemic? foreign proteins that can be problematic? highly acidic?) to be suspicious of it, though I’m sure it’s fine for some. In my case, I didn’t see great results from primal living until I removed the dairy. But it makes a super tasty occasional treat for me.

    Charlotte wrote on September 10th, 2008
  21. Those chicken enchiladas with egg crepes look so-o-o-o good, but CANNED tomato sauce? I have been eating dishes with homemade tomato sauce almost every day since tomatoes came into season. Homemade tomato sauce is ridiculously easy to make and tastes so much better than canned. When I want a spicy sauce for a recipe like the enchiladas, I roast a jalapeno together with the tomatoes and puree the skinned pulps after seeding the jalapenos.

    Sonagi wrote on September 10th, 2008
  22. Thanks Mark, these look great. I’m glad to see some new recipes what is the best way to print these recipes? I hate to pinte the whole page. thanks keep then coming.

    Larry wrote on September 10th, 2008
  23. Larry-

    We are working on a new site design. In a couple months the site will have a “Print this post” feature for each post. That way you can easily print each article and toss it up on your fridge. Check back!

    Aaron wrote on September 11th, 2008
  24. Wow, Marc, I thought I was the only one. I recently went (99%!) dairy-free and that is the one thing I’ve noticed: the two times that I have indulged–even though they were small amounts each time–I got cravings. I thought it was all in my mind, but it looks like I am not alone!

    Other than that, the recipes look good. I don’t currently follow the Primal Blueprint, but the info on this site that supports it is certainly compelling.

    Callie wrote on September 15th, 2008
  25. Hi Mark and everybody, Mark you really have a great website!!! I can always find what I need here and the recipes are simply terrific! THANK YOU VERY MUCH!!!!!

    Terrilee wrote on November 30th, 2008
  26. Tried the cottage cheese pancakes this morning and they were a disaster. I couldn’t find soy flour so I substituted arrowroot flour. Not sure if that made all the difference (it is only a tablespoon) but they just wouldn’t cook like pancakes. They didn’t look like pancakes either. They mainly tasted like eggs (what little I could eat).

    Also had a lot of trouble making the crepes for the enchiladas. If anyone has successfully made these two items please let me know how you did it.

    Dave wrote on January 29th, 2009
    • It took me three tries to get the crepes for the enchiladas right — the trick is to make them *really* thin. (When I did more than coat an omelet pan, they clumped and fell apart.) But since I only wound up with four useable crepes, I used corn tortillas to make the rest; that amount of chicken (I used boneless thighs roasted in olive oil), sauce and cheese made another seven or eight enchiladas!

      Both types were very tasty, and I didn’t kick myself for the departure into the 10% :-)

      Ellen wrote on September 20th, 2010
    • I just wrote a post on this, (Chicken enchiladas)eliminate the 1/2 and 1/2 for the crepes and just do a regular, thin egg white omelete – works great that way and the recipe was fantastic!

      Lori wrote on October 18th, 2010
  27. I wonder whether peanuts should be excluded from the list of nuts. Are they really not good for you?
    By definition, many other “standard” nuts aren’t really nuts either, according to this man: including cashews, pistachios, and almonds.

    Matt wrote on March 9th, 2009
  28. Is soy flour primal? Here’s an article on soy from Weston A. Price Foundation.

    maba wrote on June 8th, 2009
    • Maba,

      C’mon….a tablespoon of soy flour just to give some body won’t spoil the meal.

      Mark Sisson wrote on June 11th, 2009
    • I’d use spelt or almond flour instead.

      Jessica wrote on July 2nd, 2014
  29. Are the frittatas freezable for later or would they loose cohesion in the defrosting process?

    Willow NyteEyes wrote on March 20th, 2010
  30. I made the “muffin frittatas” and they turned out great! I excluded all of the dairy and used just a wee bit of canola/olive oil to grease the muffin cups. I didn’t have enough spinach, so I upped the sauteed onions/garlic a little and quickly roasted a bell pepper, dicing it up and adding it with some fresh basil before pouring the egg on top. It was a bit tricky getting the frittatas out of the muffin cups when they were done, and I’m not sure how to get them out completely intact. But all in all, the flavor is amazing and they will be the perfect quick grab snack. Being new to this Paleo way, I’ve definitely been looking for good recipes in the food department, and I look forward to using your blog as a resource. Thanks!

    Bethany wrote on March 22nd, 2010
  31. Great ideas Mark. I was having a hard time this past weekend and these would have been very handy, now I have them for next time I’m short on time! P.S. I’m putting this on my fridge.

    Jenn wrote on March 29th, 2010
  32. love your resapeise

    jazmin wrote on May 15th, 2010

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