Low Effort Whole30 Dinner: Two Ways

I’ve been pretty candid about my new job and unintentionally way too long hiatus from whole30- and Paleo writing (just the writing part, not the eating part), but I’ve got lots of recipes to share and am trying to stockpile some posts for you guys!

With that new and exciting job, I’ve got some great but also unconventional work hours which means that I am absolutely starving when I get home and Nick’s been waiting for me for nearly two hours. The point is, we’re freaking hungry and I just need to eat something nutritious and filling as soon as humanly possible so I can get on to the relaxing and the doggo snuggling!

How I feel when I get home from work at 8pm and we still need to make dinner (Photo by The Creative Exchange on Unsplash)

In case you missed it: meet our newest family member – Franklin! We adopted him from the Tillamook Animal Shelter at the beginning of November. Thank you so much to BAPBR for your courtesy listings for pitbulls at other shelters and for helping us with the adoption process! We are ecstatic with our big baby and kind of excited to eventually share some of his paleo-ish life too!

I digress. This dish – if you can even call it that – can go in either of two directions, depending on who is cooking that night and if Nick will submit to eating Thai curry again. The ingredients are pretty much the same either way with one or two swaps.

The basic concept is as follows: ground meat of your choosing, onion, steamed kabocha squash or pumpkin purée, bok choy or spinach (optional), and Thai red curry paste or Tessemae’s creamy ranch dressing.

For this recipe, you will need:
One large pan, nonstick recommended
Cutting board
Sharp knife
Microwave safe bowl (for version B)
Plastic wrap (for version B)

Ingredients for Version A –
1 lb ground meat (pork, beef, or dark meat chicken)
One large onion, chopped
One can pumpkin purée
Baby bok choy or spinach (optional)
2 tsp avocado oil or ghee
Tessemae’s creamy ranch dressing
Fresh or freeze-dried scallions (optional)

Ingredients for Version B –
1 lb ground meat (pork, beef, or dark meat chicken)
One large onion, chopped
One bag frozen kabocha squash (Trader Joe’s)
Baby bok choy or spinach (optional)
2 tsp avocado oil or ghee
Thai red curry paste (this one is my favorite)
Garlic powder (optional)
Fresh or freeze-dried scallions (optional)

Regardless of which direction you choose to go in, start by heating avocado oil or ghee in a large pan over medium-high heat. Once the pan is hot, add your chopped onion and cook, mixing occasionally, for 5-7 minutes or until some caramelization begins to form (you can of course go for much longer, but the idea is we’re hungry and impatient). Version B also works great with my meal prep pulled pork!

Version A

If you’ve opted for version B, now is a good time to steam your squash. There are usually directions on the bag, but if not: transfer frozen squash to a microwave safe bowl, add half cup of water, cover tightly with plastic wrap and then poke several vent holes in the plastic with a fork or sharp knife. Microwave on high for five minutes. Optional but typically worth the extra step: once the squash is steamed and has cooled down a little, I like to transfer it into another bowl with a double layered paper towel and squeeze out any excess water. Set aside.

Add your ground meat to the pan and season with a hefty pinch or two of salt. Stir and let cook until completely browned and no raw pieces are visible (this is particularly important for pork and chicken, less so for beef or lamb).

If using bok choy or spinach, now is the time to add it in. The greens will cook quickly, but especially for bok choy, the stems need a bit more time to soften, and the extra time really helps bring all the flavors together.

If you’ve chosen version A, now is the time to open your can of pumpkin purée and add the contents to your pan, stirring well.

If you’ve opted for version B, now is the time to add two tablespoons of curry paste to your pan and stir so it is evenly distributed throughout the meat. Then add the steamed squash.

Version B (ran out of squash this day, that’s okay too)

Continue on medium heat for an additional 3-5 minutes to help combine the flavors. If using steamed squash, make sure it is fully cooked and fork tender. Adjust any seasonings to taste (I typically add more salt and garlic powder, but that’s just me).

For version A, serve immediately topped with a substantial drizzle of Tessemae’s creamy ranch dressing.

For version B, service immediately. Scallions (fresh or dried) make a great garnish.


Leftovers of this also make a fantastic lunch for work and reheat nicely in the microwave.

Note: would not recommend storing with ranch dressing already mixed in, best to add that after microwaving. I use these little containers to bring sauces and dressings to work!

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