#LowCarb Taco (Meringue) Pie

When I was growing up and spent summers with my grandparents, one of my favorite dishes my grandmother made was Taco Casserole—which was basically taco meat, Fritos corn chips, and cheese. Lots and lots of cheese.

Well . . . I can’t have the Fritos anymore, so I’ve been looking for a good low-carb substitution for this favorite from childhood. This one turned out okay, and will be even better with some tweaks (at the end—and you’ll see why I mentioned “meringue” in the title).

Low-Carb Taco Pie
(Click here for a printable PDF version of this recipe)
Low-Carb Taco Pie Ingredients | LowCarbKaye.comIngredients:

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1 packet taco seasoning
  • 6 large eggs
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 cup shredded cheese, divided (3/4 and 1/4)—I used 4-cheese Mexican Blend, but Cheddar or Jack or whatever cheese you like would work
  • Optional (be sure to add the carb count for these):
    Sour Cream
    Salsa
    Avocado slices/Guacamole

Tools and Utensils:

  • Deep skillet (for cooking taco meat)
  • Plastic storage container or zip-top bag (big enough to hold cooked taco meat)
  • Cooking spray (I used Olive Oil spray)
  • 9-inch glass pie plate
  • Measuring cup/spoons
  • Large bowl
  • Whisk

Instructions:
During your weekend prep time, or the evening before, make the taco meat. Brown one pound of ground beef (or whatever ground meat you prefer) in a tall-sided skillet over medium to medium-high heat. As soon as the meat is cooked through, drain off as much grease as possible and return meat to pan. Add the water and bring to a simmer. Add seasoning from packet and stir until well combined. Reduce heat and cook until sauce is slightly thickened. Let meat cool, then place in a plastic bag or container and store in the fridge until ready to assemble the “pie.”

Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease pie plate and set aside. In a large bowl, combine eggs, cream, garlic, salt, and pepper and whisk until well combined.

Original Recipe: Spread taco meat in the bottom of the pie plate. Pour egg mixture over. Top with shredded cheese. Bake 30 minutes or until center is set (it doesn’t jiggle anymore) and cheese is golden brown. Let sit five minutes before slicing into quarters or eighths and serving.

Serves 4 (2 slices each) as a main dish, 8 as a side dish. Each “slice of pie” has 2g net carbs.

Low-Carb Taco (Meringue) Pie | LowCarbKaye.com

The way this cooked up turned out to be something akin to a taco-meringue pie—all the meat loose and falling apart at the bottom and all the egg mixture cooked together on the top. Maybe if the meat was hot when the egg mixture is poured over, the eggs would seep down into it better to hold it together. But I doubt it, since the hot meat would immediately start cooking the eggs. Here’s what I plan to do differently next time:

Changes I Plan to Make: Precook taco meat and chill until ready to assemble, as outlined above. Combine all ingredients (egg mixture plus taco meat plus 3/4 cup of cheese) and pour into greased pie plate. Bake as instructed above. Five minutes before removing from oven, sprinkle remaining 1/4 cup of cheese on top and bake until it’s melted/center of pie is set.

Posted in Food Journal, Low-Carb, My Wholesome 30, Recipes | 1 Comment

#MyWholesome30 — Let’s Try This Again

So, as you probably guessed, I didn’t make it all the way to the end of the thirty days before giving up on the “Wholesome Eating” challenge I started in August. I did pretty well for a few weeks . . . and then, as I mentioned before, rather than improving on a cleaner diet, my psoriasis on my hands and feet continued to get worse.

Before I had my doctor appointments on September 3 and 4 (after having to push them back almost two months because of changing jobs and thus insurance), my feet were so bad that I could barely walk, even when all of the places where there were splits and cracks (i.e., the equivalent of deep lacerations) were bandaged and taped—and because of favoring one foot or the other (or both), it threw my knees, hips, and back out of alignment so that all of those were constantly painful as well. Plus there was a lot of swelling in my ankles and knees, making any movement even more painful. My hands (with the psoriasis now spread up to the tips of my fingers) were swollen, stiff, cracked, etc., to the point that I could barely grasp anything (fingers swollen/stiff/not working right) and when I did, it was painful because of all of the splits/lesions.

The best way I can describe it is this: Imagine wearing a pair of extremely stiff, extremely rough wool gloves that not only itch but feel like they’re rubbing your skin raw. Then imagine that there are tiny shards of broken glass embedded in the fingertips and palms creating random cuts all over. That’s what it felt like.

So aside from not being able to stand up or move around the kitchen to cook, I couldn’t even do any kind of prep work. And convenience foods are notorious for not being all that nutritious.

At the appointment with my dermatologist on September 4, I started on a new medication for my psoriasis—this time, he recommended I try Otezla, which is a daily pill rather than a weekly self-administered injection (yay!) and which isn’t an immunosuppressor (YAY!) like the Enbrel I’d been on for eight months with little improvement to show for having to be on heavy-duty antibiotics three times in the first six months of this year.

That was two weeks ago. Here’s a before-and-after photo of the improvement I’ve had in just two weeks. I don’t think I was actually supposed to improve this much this quickly. But I’m most definitely not complaining!!! (Now if I can just get my insurance company to agree to approve the prescription so that I can continue with the treatment beyond the one-month’s worth of sample product I have.)

So now that I can not only use my hands and stand (and walk and exercise!) again, it’s once again time to start getting my eating back in order. (Especially since, even after three successful weeks doing this before my regular doctor appointment, my A1C—long-term blood-sugar level—was still at 6.3, which is about 0.3 over the “diabetes” line. I have been able to successfully get it down under the line with diet and exercise before, so that’s my focus now.)

Food InventoryI’ll be starting a new 30-day round of My Wholesome 30 on Monday. As a reminder, this is my low-carb, dairy-inclusive version of Whole 30, aimed at feeling better, having more energy, and getting that blood-sugar level back down to the non-diabetic range (and getting my blood pressure down would be great, too.)

So this weekend is devoted to preparing and planning. And I’ve already started by starting an inventory of all of the MW30-appropriate foods I have in the house (after a big shop yesterday in which I bought lots of fresh veggies along with some fruits and proteins/quick proteins) to make planning easier.

I do have some recipes that I made last time that I never posted, so I hope to get those up soon.

Posted in Food Journal, Low-Carb, My Wholesome 30 | 3 Comments

Marinated Lamb Shoulder Chop and Roasted Cauliflower

It used to be that lamb was one of those meats that almost no one ever served, except for maybe on Easter, and that you didn’t see on restaurant menus unless you were at a Greek, Mediterranean, or Middle Eastern style restaurant.

Now, even though it’s not always easy to find, it’s almost the same price per pound—and possibly less—than beef. I like to get the shoulder chop because it’s always more affordable than lamb chops or the big roasts—and, just like beef steaks or pork chops, one shoulder chop is the perfect size for one serving. Something to bear in mind, with the way these are cut, they usually have two bones running through them, and sometimes the ends of the bones are somewhat sharp. So be careful when eating!

Marinated Lamb Shoulder Chop
Usually, I go for Greek/Mediterranean flavors when cooking lamb. But this time, I decided I wanted to try something a little different:

Orange-Lime Marinade Recipe | LowCarbKaye.com

And I think I might actually like this even more with lamb than I did with the pork!

Roasted Cauliflower
There isn’t much that’s easier than roasting veggies. I didn’t have any fresh cauliflower, but this worked just fine using frozen.

  • 1 bag frozen cauliflower florets
  • olive oil
  • salt
  • parmesan cheese

When I put the lamb in the fridge to marinate, I took the bag of cauliflower out of the freezer, dumped the frozen florets into a strainer, and set it in the sink. By the time I was ready to make dinner, the cauliflower were frozen and drained and relatively dry.

I tossed the cauliflower with olive oil and salt in the baking dish (8×8 or 9×9 should suffice), then sprinkled with parmesan cheese before placing in a 450°F oven for about 15 minutes. You can see that they didn’t get overly brown. But I didn’t want to cook them as long as I would have done with fresh cauliflower, because the frozen stuff cooks through and turns to mush a lot faster.

Lamb Shoulder Chop and Roasted Cauliflower | LowCarbKaye.com

And, yes, I’m experimenting with trying to take better food photos. No, I’m still not very good at it.

Posted in Food Journal, Grocery Store Finds, Journal, Low-Carb, My Wholesome 30, Recipes | 1 Comment

#MyWholesome30 Meal Idea: Pork Roast and Roasted Veggies

It’s hard to come up with ideas for new recipes when there are so many that I’ve already shared which are both easy and quite tasty. So here’s a meal plan idea for a tasty, Wholesome meal combining a previous recipe and a quick-fix side.

Pork Roast
A couple of weeks ago, on a big shopping trip, the grocery store had Boston butt pork roasts on sale, so I picked up the smallest one they had and cooked it in the slow cooker.

Pork Roast Link

For a side dish, I stood in my fridge door a few minutes perusing, and then realized that both the zucchini and mini bell peppers were both looking good. So here’s what I did:

Roasted Zucchini and Peppers

  • 1 medium zucchini
  • 6 to 8 mini sweet/bell peppers
  • Olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • Preheat oven to 450°F.

    Trim the ends of the zucchini, then halve lengthwise. Cut into half-moons about 1/2- to 3/4-inch thick (or thicker, depending on just how “done” you want them; I prefer them still pretty firm, so I cut them thicker). Top and seed peppers, and cut in half or quarters, depending on their sizes. The zucchini will take longer to cook, so bigger pieces of pepper are better. Place veggies in a large bowl, toss with olive oil and a sprinkle salt until all pieces are coated, then spread in a single layer on a baking sheet. Roast in oven until browned (if you like your veggies with a little more “tooth” to them, roast about 15 minutes, then turn the broiler on to brown them.)

    Makes 2 servings.

    I actually cheated a bit, since all I had to do was heat the meat up in the microwave. So when fifteen minutes in the toaster oven, with a few minutes of broiler time, didn’t get the veggies brown enough, I tossed them into a skillet on the stove over high heat. I probably could have just started them that way and called this recipe “Sautéed Zucchini and Peppers.” Actually, I’ll probably just sauté them next time, to save the cleanup of the sheet pan. I’m also going to add onion. And maybe cabbage. Or whatever veggies I have in the fridge. 😉

    Pork Roast and Sauteed Veggies | LowCarbKaye.com

    Posted in Food Journal, Low-Carb, My Wholesome 30, Recipes | 1 Comment

    #MyWholesome30 Days 18–21 Check-In . . . with a Confession

    Up until Friday, I was doing just fine sticking to my Wholesome food plan, now that I made the decision to add a little dairy and a little Splenda (basically, my morning coffee) back into the mix.

    And then Friday hit. I was doing great during breakfast and lunch. Work was busy, and I ended up working a little later than planned to get a project finished and returned before I knocked off for the day. But then the evening hit. My hands and feet were hurting from the psoriasis. I found out that my personal trainer was let go from the gym (apparently he didn’t have enough clients, which really surprised me because he’s a fantastic trainer). My back had been hurting for a couple of days due to walking funny from my feet hurting. And I was just feeling stressed. So I did it. I went to the forbidden cabinet—the one that has stuff in it that I’m not supposed to be eating during this challenge . . . along with some stuff that I shouldn’t be eating at all. Like toaster pastries. Like frosted cherry toaster pastries. A brand new box of frosted cherry toaster pastries that hadn’t been opened, which was why I didn’t throw it away 19 days before, because it seemed so wasteful. So I had two of them as a snack.

    Yes, I fell. I made the decision to eat something completely off plan. That was my choice. I embraced the fact I was making that choice when I did it.

    But you know what? I don’t regret it. Not really. Because not only did it give me horrific heartburn afterward, throwing away an open box of toaster pastries while in the midst of that heartburn was really easy.

    Today, I’ve been watching food-prep videos from YouTube Vlogger Alyssia at Mind Over Munch to get myself motivated to go in and plan and prep for the upcoming week, which I’m going to do as soon as I post a few meal ideas from the last few days.

    How are you doing?

    Posted in Food Journal, Journal, Low-Carb, My Wholesome 30 | 3 Comments

    #MyWholesome30 Recipe: Curried Chicken Salad

    I’ve seen a few curried chicken salad recipes floating around on Paleo and Whole30 blogs, so on a grocery run last week, I picked up a rotisserie chicken to make one. This is a great way for someone living/dining alone to get rid of the other half of that chicken (we’re talking 2-or-so-pound Kroger chickens here, not 4- or 5-pound Costco or Sam’s pterodactyls). If you don’t have a rotisserie chicken but do have some chicken breasts in the freezer, cook them by simmering them in a pot with chicken broth, salt, pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder until cooked through. Whether cooking your own chicken or using a store-bought rotisserie bird, refrigerate at least 4 hours, preferably overnight, so that it’s fully chilled when you’re ready to start working with it.

    Curried Chicken Salad
    Click here for a printable PDF of this recipe.
    Ingredients for Curried Chicken Salad | LowCarbKaye.comIngredients:

    • ½ cup mayonnaise (I used my yummy homemade mayo)
    • ¾ teaspoon curry powder
    • 1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
    • Ground black pepper
    • ¾ teaspoon dried cilantro
    • ½ teaspoon onion powder
    • 1 small apple
    • ½ tablespoon lime juice
    • 1 pound cooked chicken
    • ½ cup chopped, toasted walnuts

    Tools and Utensils:

    • Knife, cutting board
    • Measuring cup/spoons
    • Large bowl + spoon for stirring
    • Small bowl (for apple/lime juice)

    Instructions:
    In the large bowl, combine mayo, curry powder, salt, pepper, cilantro, and onion powder. Stir well to combine; set aside.

    Core and chop apple into ½-inch chunks (it’s up to you whether or not to peel it first). Place apple chunks into the small bowl with lime juice and toss to coat to keep apples from browning.

    If using a rotisserie chicken, remove skin and pull meat from the bones, making sure to remove any small bones or cartilage. Roughly chop chicken into bite-sized pieces and add to mayo mixture in large bowl. Add apples and lime juice and stir until chicken and apples are completely coated. You can stir in walnuts or use them as a garnish on top for serving.

    #MyWholesome30 Recipe: Curried Chicken Salad | LowCarbKaye.com

    I have to admit, the addition of the curry powder did nothing for me. Without it, this is a decent chicken salad recipe. If I’d had grapes, I’d have added those to it as well (my favorite chicken salad, from Rafferty’s, includes grapes). If you’re not worried about sugar content, it would have been excellent with Craisins in it.

    Posted in Food Journal, Low-Carb, My Wholesome 30, Recipes | 1 Comment

    #MyWholesome30 Days 6–16: Catching up and Checking In

    MH30
    Recipes will follow in separate posts!

    So . . . that whole thing about getting better about checking in daily with how I’m doing on My Wholesome 30? Yeah. That didn’t work out so well. But it’s not because I’ve fallen off the wagon (though I have made slight alterations to my plan to enable me to stick to it).

    I’m not going to try to give a run-down of each day, just some highlights.

    Day 6: Saturday 8/15—Girls’ Day Out
    My girlfriends and I enjoy getting together on Saturdays for brunch followed by a matinee at either Hollywood 27 or the Green Hills cinema. Before going to see The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (fantastically fun movie—go see it, because we need it to make enough money for a sequel!!!), we decided to try a new place called Wholly Chow. I figured it would be more of an organic/healthy type place based on the name, but not so much.

    Based on my aversion to making special requests when ordering, I went ahead and had a couple of hard-boiled eggs at home before going. That allowed me to be good and order a side of bacon and a side of sausage. (And given their prices, that was definitely a good choice!) And it helps to have a friend who wanted to try their breakfast platter who gave me some of her bacon and sausage as well. That, combined with the eggs eaten before, kept me sated until well after the movie was over.

    Day 7: Sunday 8/16
    This doesn’t have anything to do with food and everything to do with why I haven’t posted in over a week. I’ve shared before that I suffer from psoriasis, and that my current battle with it is on the palms of my hands and soles of my feet. Well, back in July, even though I was taking weekly Enbrel shots (immunosuppressant—which is why I was sick for much of the first half of this year), it started getting worse and spread up to cover my fingers (mostly palm-side, but now starting to wrap around to the backs). Since I don’t seem my dermatologist again until Sept. 4, due to changing jobs and new insurance not starting until Sept. 1, I made the choice to wean myself off of the Enbrel, since it was obviously doing no good. In the subsequent weeks, my fingers (and toes) have gotten as bad as the palms (soles). The issue with this is that the painful cracks and splits have started forming on my fingertips, sometimes right at the quick of the nail.

    The worst day was August 16. My hands were so painful that I could barely move without excruciating pain (even just using the remote for the TV was difficult). Thankfully, I had some leftovers that enabled me to stay on plan, though I’m sure I probably didn’t even eat 1,000 calories that day. In the 10 days since then, they’ve fluctuated between almost that bad and not quite so bad. So on the good days, I’m doing some extra cooking so that I have stuff to eat on the bad days.

    The Alteration—Reintroducing Dairy and Artificial Sweetener
    20140116_183917With my psoriasis getting worse rather than better after cutting out all dairy, grains, legumes, and artificial sweeteners, I figured there was no reason to deprive myself of one of my favorite daily intakes—coffee with cream (I’m using heavy whipping cream, because it’s carb-free and because I use less of it than half-and-half because it’s so rich) and Splenda. After over a week with no sweeteners whatsoever, I have been able to cut the amount of Splenda I was using in half. And it’s the only sweetener I’m using. I’ll occasionally have other dairy—a slice of Swiss cheese in a sub sandwich roll-up, blue cheese dressing for dipping veggies or on a salad, or a little whipped cream to go with my fruit for dessert at night. And, yes, I made cream-cheese jalapeno poppers for supper one night. But I’m still drinking either water or unsweetened tea the rest of the day (even though I’ve been tempted to sweeten my tea, I’ve resisted!), and the only “sweets” I’m eating are a couple of servings of fruit every day.

    Working Out
    I see my personal trainer on Monday evenings. On 8/17, I had a good workout, adjusted from what he’d originally planned because of the pain in my hands. One of the exercises he had me do were jumping jacks—something I hadn’t done since probably junior high P.E. class. During the second set, my left knee started hurting. (Which is odd, because the right knee is the one I broke in high school and the one I usually have the most trouble with.) The set also included planks (getting up and down off the floor), and two different types of step-ups. So, lots of work on the knees.

    In a second workout on Wednesday that week, both knees were still bothering me, but I figured it was muscular, since we’d done so much leg work two days earlier. But ever since then, my knees have been swollen and painful. I’m not sure if it’s because of the workouts or because my psoriasis is starting to flare around the joint and is causing swelling (it does this with my ankles occasionally).

    When I got to the gym this Monday, I explained the issue with my knees this way: it’s like putting a pillow in the hinge of a door and then trying to shut the door. Then, if I try to get down on the floor, which includes going down on at least one knee, it feels like my kneecap is being dislocated, so that’s painful. And because I’ve been walking funny because of it—and sitting a lot more/longer than usual—my lower back was acting up, too.

    However, I lasted through three sets of squats and rows without pain (other than the good kind). But it was when we tried to go to the second set that I felt like my body was going to fall apart. I did as much as I could, and then finished the workout off with back and leg/knee stretches using a balance ball.

    Yesterday, I was sore, swollen, and moving around like the Tin Man. But I tried to make myself get up and move around as much as I could just to keep everything lubricated and from freezing up. Today, I still feel some swelling/stiffness in my knees, but because the weather has been so nice, I knew I needed to get out and enjoy it while I could. So instead of trying to go to the gym for a workout, I took a walk, up the alley that runs through the neighborhood up to the I-440 Parkway and back, which turned out to be a hair under three-quarters of a mile. For someone who hasn’t been walking regularly, I averaged 2.5 mph, and there are a couple of hills in that route, too.

    I have documented a few recipes/meal ideas that I’ll share in separate posts.

    How are you doing with your eating/challenge?

    Posted in Activity Report, Food Journal, Journal, Low-Carb, My Wholesome 30, Weight Loss Journal | 2 Comments