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Recipe: Tropical Tacos by Paleo Chef Melissa Joulwan

Most of us don’t want to spend all our free time in the kitchen, especially at the end of an already-busy day. But quick doesn’t have to mean boring.

Best-selling paleo cookbook author Melissa Joulwan’s latest cookbook, Well Fed Weeknights: Complete Paleo Meals in 45 Minutes or Less, features irresistible recipes inspired by takeout classics, food trucks, and cuisines around the world.

All the recipes are paleo-friendly, so they contain no grains, dairy, legumes, or soy, and every meal is thoroughly tested and easy to make with affordable ingredients you’ll find at your regular grocery store.

No extra trips to specialty food stores required.

To make these colorful, delicious tacos, ground pork is quickly stir-fried with mango and island spices, and a crisp slaw rounds out the meal. “The contrast of flavors and textures is what makes some foods so irresistible,” says Joulwan. “They’re the perfect balance of sweet and hot, just like a day on the beach.”

“Don’t be afraid of the jalapeno!” she adds. “It’s more flavorful than fiery, and the mango, carrots, and jicama keep the heat in check.”

Tropical Tacos with Jicama Slaw

Serves 2–4, Total time: 30–35 minutes



  • 1 large carrot
  • ½ small jicama
  • 1 lime
  • ¼ cup fresh cilantro


  • 2 tsp. coconut oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion
  • 1 medium jalapeño, seeded and sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 tsp. powdered ginger
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. ground black pepper
  • ½ tsp. ground allspice
  • 1 ½ pounds ground pork
  • 1 ripe mango
  • 4 scallions
  • 1 tbsp. coconut aminos*
  • 1 head butter or Boston lettuce

*Coconut aminos are a soy-free substitute for soy sauce made from coconut; you may also use gluten-free soy sauce in this recipe.


1. Make the slaw. Peel the carrot and jicama. Use the shredder attachment of a food processor to grate the vegetables, and then place them in a large bowl. Zest and juice the lime; add it to the bowl. Mince the cilantro; add it to the bowl, and toss to mix the slaw.

2. Cook the pork. Warm the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat for 2 minutes. While it heats, mince the onion and jalapeño. Add the onion and jalapeño to the pan with a pinch of salt, toss to coat them in oil, and cook until soft (5–7 minutes).

While the onion cooks, peel and crush the garlic, then place it in a small bowl with the ginger, salt, pepper, and allspice. Crumble the pork into the skillet and cook, breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon, until it’s no longer pink.

While the meat cooks, peel and dice the mango. Add the spices to the meat and stir to combine. Slice the dark green part of the scallions, and set aside. Add the mango and coconut aminos to the pan, and stir again. Let the meat flavors meld, about 5 minutes, while you wash and separate the lettuce leaves.

3. Serve. Put the ingredients in big bowls, family style, letting your dining companions make their own tacos with the lettuce leaves.


• Replace the ground pork with ground chicken or turkey.

• Try pineapple in place of mango.

Cooking Tips

• Shred the veggies for the slaw in advance and store them in an airtight container in the fridge.

• When it’s time to eat, add the lime and cilantro to the slaw and cook the pork.

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