Low-Carb Chilli Con Carne

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This is classic comfort food that warms you up on a cold winter day. This week is particularly cold (less than -20 with the wind chill), so this flavourful, spicy chilli is perfect. With the colourful garnish, it’s also delicious for the eyes.  This particular version of the classic chilli con carne is low in carbs, as I have eliminated the beans.

I know the jury is out on whether or not mushrooms are a desired ingredient in chilli, however, I love them.  I think they’re delicious.  And they happen to be one of those veggies that, when cooked, have a certain umami…if I’m using this word correctly.  They add richness and meatiness.

Now beans are often seen as a great healthy option.  I have decided to avoid legumes as part of my diet because, although they do have protein, there are many ways to get higher amounts of protein for less calories.  And they come with a lot of carbs – which is something I’m trying to avoid.  If you have your heart set on some kind of beans, by all means, add it in when you add the passada.

I went to the states a while ago and picked up some fun Mexican ingredients that I have difficulty finding in Canada.  If anyone knows where to get stuff like dried ancho chiles in Southern Ontario, please let me know!  Anyway, I took my inspiration from Jamie Oliver here – soaking and blending up a dried ancho chile to add flavour and perceived sweetness to the recipe. Here’s what this beautiful thing looks like:

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Nutrition Information :

This is based on dividing this recipe into 4 servings.

  • Calories:324
  • Carbs: 19g
  • Fat: 14g
  • Protein: 25g
  • Sugar: 12g

*Note: pretty much all the sugar here comes from the passada. This isn’t added sugar – it’s sugar found naturally in the tomatoes. Natural sugar is still something I try to keep to a minimum – but really you can’t make chilli without this ingredient!

Calculations are made without the addition of the optional garnish but with the ancho chile included.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 small Spanish onion
  • 250 grams sliced crimini mushrooms
  • 1 bell pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 350 grams extra lean ground beef
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 jar passada
  • 1 dried ancho pepper (optional)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • goats cheese (optional)
  • 1 red chile (optional)
  • green onion (optional)

How to:

  1. Heat a large pan on medium heat. Add the olive oil.
  2. Roughly chop the onion, mushrooms and pepper and add to pan.  Add 1 chopped clove of garlic. Cook til onion is translucent and mushrooms change colour/texture – about 6 minutes.
  3. Remove veggies from pan.
  4. Meanwhile, bring a kettle to a boil and pour enough water over the pepper to cover.
  5. Crank up the heat and add the meat and the spices and second garlic clove. You do not need more oil in this step because fat/liquid is rendered from the meat.
  6. Stir regularly and cook until meat is browned and cooked through.
  7. Blend the pepper and water in a blender and add to meat.
  8. Add passada and veggies to the pan and stir well.
  9. Bring down heat and simmer for 15 minutes.
  10. Add coriander and cook for a further 5 minutes.
  11. Divide amongst 6 plates or bowls and garnish with the other optional items.

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Fish Tacos with Chipotle Slaw

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Chipotle is one of my favourite flavours.  I have to admit, whenever I go out to a pub or restaurant, I am always tempted to get sweet potato fries with the chipotle mayo.  So good!  In this recipe, I’ve got chipotle mayo, a bit healthier because at least you know what’s in it.  I’ve also got a number of my other favourite flavours in this recipe, and if you read my blog, I bet you could guess what they are – lime and cilantro!  Yummmy!  I hope you enjoy this nice, light, refreshing dinner as much as I did.

I used iceberg lettuce in this recipe because I wanted the crunch.  Also, because of the iceberg lettuce, I was able to make a whole bunch of these tacos and bring them to work in my lunch – they held up and didn’t get soggy.  If, however, you want something that’s easier to work with and less likely to split apart as you wrap them, boston lettuce would definitely be easier to work with.

On another note, I’ve just done a weigh-in to track my fat-loss progress.  I’m down 13 lbs in the past month.  I’m pretty pleased with this result.  And it definitely encourages me to keep eating this way.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup mayo – I usually make my own to cut down on sugar.  My recipe can be found here.
  • 1/2 7oz tin of chipotles in adobo sauce
  • 1 lime
  • 1 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1/2 green cabbage
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 650 grams cod
  • ground coriander seed
  • 2 tsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 head of lettuce – iceberg or boston

How-to:

1. Start by making the slaw.  Which begins with the mayo.  This recipe makes more mayo then you need.  So save the rest for some home-made baked sweet potato fries.  Measure out 1/2 cup of the home-made mayo and add to a bowl.  Empty 1/2 of the contents of the tin of chipotles and give them a good chop.  Mix in with the mayo.  Mix in the juice from half the lime.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Make sure it’s delicious and a bit spicier then you normally would like, because this is pretty much all the flavour right here.

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2. Chop up as finely as you can the 1/2 head of green cabbage.  Mix in with about 1/4 cup of the mayo mixture.

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3.  Add in your chopped cilantro.  I love this stuff, so I put in a lot of it.

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4. Now it’s time to work on the fish.  If you’re good at multi-tasking, for sure, do this while you’re working away at the slaw.  Start by sprinkling about 1 tsp ground coriander over the fish along with salt and pepper to your taste – 1/2 teaspoon of salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper for me.  Make sure you season both sides of the fish.  Heat your pan on medium high and add in 2 tsp of olive oil. Once hot, add in your fish and cook on both sides – about 3 minutes each.  In the end, you want it cooked through.  I will admit, I probably overcooked mine because it totally flaked apart by the time I assembled my tacos.  Once the fish is almost done, squeeze over the juice of the other half of the lime.

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5. Now time to assemble.  Take a lettuce leaf, put in 1/4 cup of the slaw and about 2 or 3 oz. of the fish and then wrap.  Repeat.  This could honestly feed an army – I’ve been eating it all week.  It’s still enjoyable though:)  Serve with a wedge of lime.

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Taco-less Salad

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So I fell off the wagon a little bit.  This weekend was my 30th birthday.  So it was a little bit excessive.  But awesome.  And worth it.  But now’s the time to get back on to continue with my progress.  Just a little update – I’ve gone down 2 sizes since I started eating this way.  So it works!

Recently, I’ve started to try to go a little lighter on the fats.  Some fats are good, but perhaps, in the long run, the quantities of saturated fats that I’ve been consuming might do more harm than good.

The following recipe is a result of this lower-fat variation on my diet.  It has nice bright flavours that make you happy to eat.

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Ingredients:

  • olive oil cooking spray
  • 1 sweet onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 450 g ground meat – I used chicken
  • 1 tsp each of cayenne pepper, dried oregano, ground cumin, ground coriander
  • 5 mini-sweet peppers – or 2 large bell peppers – I used orange and red ones
  • 1 large lime
  • 1 ripe avocado
  • 1/2 lemon
  • 1 tsp salt – I used course sea salt
  • 1 jalapeño pepper
  • a good amount of fresh cilantro
  • 1/2 head ice burg lettuce
  • 1/2 romaine lettuce
  • 4 tbsp 0.5% pressed cottage cheese (you could probably also use light feta)

How-to:

1. Turn up the heat on a large frying pan.  Add non stick cooking spray lightly – maybe 2 seconds worth.

2.  Chop onions as small as you want.  I had the patience and skill to do this:

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It all shrinks down in the end.  But if you want it to sort of melt into the ground meat, then go smaller.  Add to the pan.

3. Cook onion for about 5 minutes over medium heat.

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4.  Mince garlic as small as you can and add to the pan.  Cook for about 2 minute and then add the meat.  Cook in the pan for another few minutes – til it starts to brown.

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5.  Add the spice blend.  Oregano, cumin, coriander, cayenne.  At this point you could add a bit of salt too.  I didn’t though – with the delicious salsa that’s coming up next, I found the seasoning was great.

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6.  Give a good stir and then add 1/4 cup of water.  Let this cook for another 10 minutes or until all water is evaporated and the meat is cooked through.  Then shut off the stove and let it stand while you assemble the rest of the salad ingredients.

7.  For the salsa, finely chop all peppers – the jalapeños more finely than the sweet bells.

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7.  Chop cilantro and add.  Squeeze all the juice from the lime over and add in your tsp of salt.  Mix it up.  Taste it.  Mmmmm.

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8. Remove the flesh of the avocado from the peel and the pit.  Slice/chop it and squeeze the juice of half a lemon over it to prevent it from turning brown.  I feel justified adding in a high-fat ingredient like an avocado because we’ve skipped on the fat elsewhere in this recipe.

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9.  Chop the lettuce.  I chopped it into 1 inch by 1 inch squares.

10.  Assemble!  You can do this all on one plate to present to a small crowd or you can plate it up in individual portions on 4 plates.  Start with the lettuces, then  pile on the beef.  Then 1/4 of the avocado mixture and the salsa.  Top it off with the cottage cheese – which adds salt and texture and it also looks nice.  Dig in!