Real Life Paleo

Turkey Thai Basil

One of our many “tricks” to making paleo affordable is to buy turkeys at the supermarket after Thanksgiving. No, they’re not free-range or humanely raised.  However, they are cheap eats. And with a ton of boys who love to eat us out of house and home, sources of mass quantities of meat at $.49/lb are too good to pass up.  We do our best to find a brand of turkey that’s antibiotic-free and enjoy the fact that we can cook up one bird and feed the family for days.  Usually we buy 2 or 3 birds – as much as our fridge and freezer can hold!

So what do you do with all that turkey meat? Be inventive! Use it where you would’ve used chicken.  We make a Maple Chicken (Turkey) Salad (recipe in our book) that the boys love to put in lettuce cups. We also make Turkey Enchiladas and Turkey Soup (recipes coming). You can even freeze portions and save it for later. Mostly though, when the boys ask for lunch or a snack we point them to the big tub of cold meat in the fridge and they chow down until it’s gone.

However, when my friend Lori (who has recently gone gluten-free, yeah!) posted a picture of her daughter Maeve having written her a “meal plan” for the week I knew we too had to have “tie baisail.”  When I asked Lori for the recipe and found out she used turkey meat, I couldn’t have been more thrilled!

Matt’s trained with the best Thai chef in the area (she beat Bobby Flay in Pad Thai Throwdown), so he took the recipe he learned from Nong and Lori’s recipe to came up with a perfect Paleo version that is now a family favorite. Seriously, if you want to expose your kids to new flavors, this is THE place to start. The baby bok choy and sweet peppers make this dish so delightful I had to fist fight Cole for the leftovers. I can’t wait for Matt to cook the 2nd bird so we can have this again!

Our Turkey Thai Basil was inspired by Lori


Turkey Thai Basil


  • 2 lbs. leftover cooked turkey, cubed or shredded (chicken, beef or shrimp would work too)
  • 3 Tbsp fish sauce
  • 3 Tbsp coconut aminos (or wheat free tamari)
  • 1 Tbsp water
  • 1/2 Tbsp unrefined granulated sugar or honey (optional)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground white pepper
  • 2 Tbsp lard
  • 4 baby bok choy, leaves pulled apart, hearts halved
  • 1 red bell pepper, sliced
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, sliced
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 C lightly pack Thai basil leaves


  1. * In a medium bowl, combine turkey with fish sauce, coconut aminos, water, sugar, salt and pepper; stir until turkey is thoroughly coated and set aside
  2. * Melt lard in large wok or frying pan over medium-high heat
  3. * Add bok choy, peppers, onion and garlic and saute until softened, about 8 minutes, stirring frequently
  4. * Add contents of set-aside bowl (with the meat) to pan and stir for about 3 minutes until turkey is fully incorporated and heated through
  5. * Remove from heat and add Thai basil, stirring until basil wilts


Little hands (*) love to stir; every step here can have their participation!


A little note about the more unusual ingredients here. Bok choy is now fairly common in regular grocery store in both large and small sizes. It essentially looks like the lovechild of spinach and celery and each part cooks similarly to its more common counterpart. Feel free to substitute as you feel fit. Fish sauce is a common Thai ingredient that is essentially a thick fish stock that is used as a flavoring. Coconut aminos is a gluten-free and soy-free alternative to soy sauce (did you know the number one ingredient in soy sauce is wheat?). Finally, white pepper is a flavorful peppercorn we often use in Thai dishes, but black pepper would work as well.

p.s. Our book is back from copy edit and we’ll be working frantically over the next 3 weeks to get it off to the printer before Christmas. We’re lining up some guest bloggers so that you won’t miss us too much – thanks for your patience!

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  • I love this post for numerous reasons.  I can’t wait to try the recipe, #1.  But #2, I am thankful that we are not the only family occasionally eating industrial meat.  We are on a single income and my husband really doesn’t make a whole ton of money (yet), so we do what we can.  We are Paleo but eating grassfed and free range isn’t a reality for us financially yet.  Someday it will be, but now is not our time.  We are, however; doing what we can and feel fantastic.

    • We buy our poultry from “industrial” sources because we’d rather get our fatty beef and pork from free-range.  We do a hybrid and attempt to get the least CAFO version we can (i.e. look for antibiotic-free, natural or other disclaimers on the label).  It’s still not the best, but with the changes we’ve made in our diet our Omega 6 and toxins are already much better and we just don’t worry about it. My grocery bill is already quadrouple digits with all the mouths we feed, so we too try to save where we can!

      You might want to look back, Matt did a post about how he strategically grocery shops and buys some things organic/free-range and others not… should be under the affordablity tag 🙂

  • What is Thai basil and where does one find it?  How is it different from regular basil? 

    • There are several varieties of the basil plant and Thai Basil is one type.  We find it at the farmer’s market and plant our own in the summer, but in the winter we get it from our local Asian supermarket.  Regular basil would work if you can’t find it, but the thai basil flavor is unbelieveable and worth locating!

  • Sarah

    Bok Choy… the lovechild of spinach and celery. I love it! 

    I am trying to incorporate the paleo diet into my home but it’s been an incredible battle to convince my 9 year old son that this new food is NOT poison and the food I’ve been feeding him for waaaay too long IS poison. I show him your blog often so he can see your little guys chowing down happily on all that “gross” food. Thank you for being here.

    • That’s pretty much how I described it to Cole in the store. “Hey Cole, do you think a celery and spinach had a baby?”

      I’m glad you guys are enjoying the blog. It wasn’t an immediate conversion for Cole either. After a while, he just came to the realization that the other foods made him feel sick. Good luck!

  • I learned the hard way that the number one ingredient in soy sauce is wheat! Who knew? I thought it was going to be ok to have a little, but NOPE. The big flaming rash told me so! LOL  Thank you Paleo for pointing out my gluten intolerance!  I can’t wait to try this recipe with my family!

    • Julie we learned the hard way too, thankfully we had a gluten-free friend who told us before we glutened her! We love asian flavors so much, we were thrilled to find tamari and coconut aminos!

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  • Melissa Berkemeier Romano

    Nong is our neighbor! Very cool that Matt has worked with her. My husband and I were at her throwdown with BF, and I even get an interview during the show—my 15 seconds of Food Network fame!