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Paleo Lunchboxes 2014 (Part 1)

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With a new school year just around the bend, it’s time for the 2014 edition of Paleo Lunchboxes—my annual collaboration with our friends at LunchBots. And this time around, I’m presenting 7—that’s right, SEVEN—new ideas to jumpstart your creative engines.

Paleo Lunchboxes 2014 (Part 1 of 7) by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

These lunchbox ideas are great for your school-age spawn, but trust me: the meals in this series aren’t just kid stuff. In fact, this first one’s a fast and satisfying lunch you can eat with your bare hands. Plus: we’re talking HOT DOGS.

“But wait a minute! How are hot dogs even Paleo?”

Fine. They’re not technically “Paleo™,” but I’ve got nothing against convenience foods that are made from wholesome, healthy ingredients. Most hot dogs on the market are filled with all sorts of chemical additives and cast-off CAFO animal parts—we should all avoid these freaky franken-weenies like the plague. There are, however, other options.

I’m lucky to have a brother-in-law who hand-makes his own hot dogs out of grass fed beef short ribs

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…but most of the time, I just look for commercially-available wieners made with sustainably-raised grass fed beef and a few simple seasonings and spices. The two brands I buy for my family are Applegate and Fork in the Road (I don’t sweat the small amount of sugar in the latter), and you can find them in most grocery stores. (For additional recommendations for high-quality grass fed hot dogs, check out this link.)

Paleo Lunchboxes 2014 (Part 1 of 7) by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

Hot dogs have always been a kid-friendly favorite, but I recently hopped onto the bandwagon in a big way after discovering Flame to Fork’s game-changing idea to use the wiener as the “bun” (a.k.a. #hotdogasthebun) on Instagram.

Since then, I’ve been playing around with different fillings every time I make hot dogs for the kids. (The best thing about using the wiener as the “shell”? Sneaking extra veggies into your kiddos’ bellies!) Unlike hot dogs on bread buns, you can assemble ’em the night before; they won’t get soggy, and they taste great cold. Or maybe I’m just a weirdo for loving cold hot dogs. 

Personally, I like hot dogs piled high with sautéed peppers and onions or kraut and pickles, so for this lunchbox, I made both. Properly cooked onions take a while to sauté, so I always start them in the skillet over medium heat with my favorite cooking fat before I do anything else.

Paleo Lunchboxes 2014 (Part 1 of 7) by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

I don’t always cook onions until they’re meltingly tender (which can take about 45 minutes) because I like a bit of crunch and texture in my dogs. (If you prefer your onions soft and mellow, make a big batch of caramelized onions in the slow cooker.)

Once the onions are translucent (about 15 minutes), add julienned bell peppers to the skillet, and season to taste with salt and pepper. 

Paleo Lunchboxes 2014 (Part 1 of 7) by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

Cook until the peppers are pliable, and then dish the sautéed veggies onto a platter. Don’t forget to wipe out your cast iron skillet.

Next, prepare your hotdogs by slicing them in half lengthwise, making sure that you don’t cut all the way through.

Paleo Lunchboxes 2014 (Part 1 of 7) by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

Paleo Lunchboxes 2014 (Part 1 of 7) by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

Add a little dollop of cooking fat into the hot skillet and sear the dogs cut-side down until golden-brown (~3 minutes) and flip them over to cook the other side (~2 minutes). When your wieners are nice and toasty (heh heh), stuff them with your veggie fillings.

Don’t want to go to the trouble of sautéing peppers and onions? Simply fill your hot dogs with your favorite sauerkraut and pickles.

Paleo Lunchboxes 2014 (Part 1 of 7) by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

Easy!

Paleo Lunchboxes 2014 (Part 1 of 7) by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

Once the hotdogs are cool, you can nestle each one on a leaf of romaine lettuce so that they’re less messy to eat by hand.

Paleo Lunchboxes 2014 (Part 1 of 7) by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

Just add a side of mustard (and/or ketchup)…

Paleo Lunchboxes 2014 (Part 1 of 7) by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

…and some fruits and blanched veggies, and you’re good to go!

Paleo Lunchboxes 2014 (Part 1 of 7) by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

I won’t tell anyone if all you put on your hot dogs is ketchup, and you’re over the age of 12. (Even though that’s just wrong according to the National Hot Dog Council.)

Paleo Lunchboxes 2014 (Part 1 of 7) by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

Stay tuned! I’ve got six more posts to go! (Or who knows? Maybe even more!)


Looking for more recipes? Head on over to my Recipe Index. You’ll also find exclusive recipes on my Webby Award-winning iPad® app, and in my New York Times best-selling cookbook, Nom Nom Paleo: Food for Humans (Andrews McMeel, December 2013).