What do unicorns and date nights have in common? Answer: they don’t exist. As much as we’d love to plan weekly, bi-weekly, or even monthly date nights, living a bajillion miles away from family and close friends mean date nights rarely happen for me and the hubs. But that doesn’t mean we don’t try! Which is why sometimes date night in – 20 minute paleo dinners for 2 is perfect.
Parenting with no support system in this great big world is HARD. Man, it’s hard. Because of my husband’s job, we’ve moved every two years. So that means family is across the country, close friends thousands of miles away, and a new city means we know noooooo one.
When my water broke at 3:30am with our second baby and we had just moved a month prior, to say I was panicked is an understatement. My mom was supposed to fly in that night, but babies wait on no one. Desperate calls lead to desperate measures when my husband ended up knocking on our neighbors doors’ in the wee hours, begging someone to come over and care for our snoozing toddler. I cried all the way to the hospital, worried sick about my baby waking up to unfamiliar faces. I still tear up thinking about it!
Parenting with no support means a deep-grounded reliance on your spouse. There’s no grandma to rush over when the stomach flu ravages your house. No sister/brother/aunt a few hours away to take the babies when you have a work function or want to attend a wedding. No friends you know inside-and-out to hang with when you need just a little dose of sanity. Parenting with no support is (insert expletive here) HARD. It’s stressful. It’s exhausting.
But it’s also creates the deepest, most profound trust and reliance on your spouse and a channel that makes marriage stronger (even if the circumstances are harder). It’s just us – my husband and I. Solely responsible for each other and our two boys. Taking on the world, without assistance, with bold fearlessness. It’s fierce independence, it’s total commitment, and it’s really REALLY hard.
So even though we dream of taking off a few nights here and there to have dinner alone and a real conversation without interruption, it rarely happens. That’s why date night in is our thing. It’s the ying to our yang. And 20 minute paleo dinners for 2 are imperative, because when the exhaustion level is high, elaborate 60 minute meals are NOT happenin’!
What’s better than healthy and tasty meals that you can make quickly and enjoy with your better half? Real answer: going out and having it served to you. BUUUUUT getting back to my point, circumstances man. Ugh.
20 Minute Paleo Dinners for 2
These aren’t just for those exhausted and lonely parents! Pinky promise, even if you’re a newlywed – freshly rested in your white and delicately furnished, spotless condo with the dog you call your baby, these are for you too 😉
Coconut Shrimp with Pineapple Sriracha Dipping Sauce (whole30 option)
Did I say 20 minutes? I meant like 15 minutes, 23 second coconut crusted shrimp with pineapple sriracha dipping sauce. Not only can you make it in a flash, you’ll marvel how easy it is to make a restaurant-quality shrimp dish at home! These crunchy coated shrimp are perfect to dunk in a sweet and spicy pineapple sriracha dipping sauce, and even more perfect to
fight over share with your lovie-poo.
To make: preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place a greased cooling rack on top of a baking sheet. Thaw and peel 20 raw shrimp, then arrange two bowls – one with 3/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut, the other with two whisked eggs. Dunk each piece of shrimp into the egg bowl then the coconut bowl, coating evenly. Place the shrimp on the wire rack and bake for 10-12 minutes, until the shrimp is pink. As the shrimp cooks, pour 1/2 cup pineapple juice and 1/2 teaspoon sriracha into a small saucepan and bring to a simmer. *Note – omit the sriracha and replace with compliant hot sauce for Whole30. While waiting for the mixture to simmer, combine 1 teaspoon arrowroot powder and 1/2 teaspoon water in a small bowl, stirring well to avoid clumps. Remove the pineapple and sriracha from the heat and quickly whisk in the arrowroot and water mixture. Continue whisking until sauce thickens. Once shrimp is finished baking, turn the oven broiler on high and broil until the coconut is slightly toasted – watching carefully to avoid burning.
Zucchini Noodle “Alfredo” with Sun Dried Tomatoes (vegan • whole30)
This dairy-free ‘zoodle’ alfredo might just be the perfect option to replace a caloric, high-carb Italian classic. Soak 3/4 cup cashews in water overnight. When ready to make the dish, spiral 4 medium zucchinis and place in a colander. Sprinkle with salt and let sit while making the sauce. Drain the cashews and place them into a blender or food processor with 3/4 cup almond milk, 1/2 cup nutritional yeast (found at most health food stores or online), 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon onion powder, juice of 1/2 lemon, and 1/2 teaspoon dijon mustard. Blend on high until well combined and creamy. Pour the sauce into to a medium saucepan over medium heat.
Press the zucchini noddles with a thick paper towel to drain excess moisture (you may have to do this a few times). Add the zucchini noodles to the saucepan and serve once the entire dish is warm.
Customize this meal with your choice of sun dried tomatoes, fresh basil, cooked chicken, or shrimp!
Build your own pizza with paleo plantain crust (paleo)
Maybe you’re the couple that digs beer and pizza over fru-fru food. Making this paleo plantain pizza crust is the EASIEST crust ever. No wringing out cauliflower or waiting for dough to rise. Get the recipe for this blend and bake crust here. Then add whatever toppings you like!
Pan-Seared Skirt Steak with Baby Bok Choy (whole30)
A little planning ahead is key for this yummy steak dinner for a fraction of the price of a steakhouse! Combine 1/4 cup olive oil, 1 tablespoon sesame oil, 2 tablespoons coconut aminos, and 1 tablespoon rice vinegar. Then add 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, and 1 teaspoon onion powder. Mix well then pour into a sealable bag with a 1lb skirt steak and let marinate at least 4 hours.
Once ready to cook this meal, cut 2 baby bok choy into fourths. Set aside. Heat 2 teaspoons coconut oil in a cast iron skillet on high. Once the oil is hot, place steak in the skillet (be careful hot oil doesn’t burn you as you place the steak down). You may need to cut the steak in half if it’s to long to fit flat in the pan. Sear for 3-4 minutes on once side, then flip the steak and sear another 3-4 minutes (time will depend on the thickness of the steak). Take the steak off the heat and let rest, around 10 minutes.
Let the cast iron cool slightly. Wipe out any excess oil from the pan but leave it lightly coated for the bok choy). Turn the heat back to medium/high and add the bok choy. Flip often and let cook, roughly 5 minutes until slightly soft and wilted.
Orange Chicken (whole30)
I hope you grabbed extra chop sticks last time you ordered takeout because this 20 minute orange chicken is likely quicker to make than calling for orange chicken straight to your doorstep. The only thing missing are the fortune cookies. Get the recipe here.
And there you have it! Date night has never been so good (and so cheap)! The next step is scouring Netflix/HBO on Demand/Redbox for some serious snuggle time and a movie.
Love quick and easy dinners made in a flash? Then you have to try this paleo tomato basil beef goulash with eggplant, paleo Greek chicken skillet, whole30 sloppy joe bowls, or these primal Greek turkey burgers!