Paleo Challenge Day 1: Mexican Taco Meat & 3 Different Dishes

I love Mexican food. Before paleo, if someone asked me “what is the one food that you could eat everyday for the rest of your life?” I would say “a burrito.” Sadly, once you take out the tortilla, beans, rice and cheese to make it paleo, well… it makes me sad. However, I have grown accustomed to making my own taco meat and have repurposed it multiple ways so I can get a little Mexican flavor in my life!

So for Day 1 of the Paleo Challenge I made a big batch of taco meat (2 lbs vs. the 1lb I write in the recipe) and used it for 3 different meals.  Usually 1 lb feeds the Mr. & I (he eats like 2/3 lbs and I’ll have 1/3 lbs), so I have to cook a lot at once if we want more than 1 meal.

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Mexican Taco Meat & Taco Spice Mix
 
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Delicious taco meat that you can repurpose for multiple meals
Recipe type: Main Dish
Cuisine: Mexican
Serves: 2-4
Ingredients
Taco Meat
  • 1lb grass-fed ground beef
  • 1 medium yellow onion (diced)
  • ½ can (3oz) organic tomato paste
  • 1 Tbs coconut oil
  • 2 Tbs Taco Spice Mix (if you want to take a shortcut, buy the Trader Joe's Taco Seasoning Mix - I only use ½ the packet, but I think it's too salty & spicy)
Taco Spice Mix (makes about 1oz)
  • 1 Tbs chili powder
  • ¼ tsp garlic powder
  • ¼ tsp onion powder
  • ¼ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • ¼ tsp dried oregano
  • ½ tsp paprika
  • 1½ tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • Taco Extras
  • Romaine lettuce (chopped for salad / whole for tacos)
  • Avocado, sliced
  • Tomatos, diced
  • Cilantro, chopped
  • Guacamole
  • Pico de Gallo
  • Egg (for breakfast)
Instructions
  1. Heat coconut oil in large saucepan
  2. Add the onion and saute for 2 minutes (until clear)
  3. Add ground beef
  4. Add Taco Spice Mix
  5. Mix together and saute on high until beef is browned (~5 min)
  6. Reduce heat to medium and add in tomato paste
  7. Simmer for 3-5 minutes or until thickened, stir often
  8. Take off heat and serve!

 Paleo Mexican Taco Meat & 3 Different Dishes

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#1: Taco Salad

Chop up lettuce, layer on the beef and add toppings! The Mr. loves avocado & extra spice so he loads on chili sauce. I love pico (and little spice), so I layer that on the pico and guac!

mexican breakfast scramble #2: Taco Scramble

In a large saucepan, reheat up the beef (since it’ll probably be a leftover and cold), once it’s warm add in scrambled eggs and mix together. Place on a plate and add on pico, guac, or whatever toppings you want!

IMG_3254 #3: Lettuce Tacos

Yes, it is like a salad, but sometimes I don’t want a whole salad, so these easy tacos are a great quick lunch! I cheated and bought “Just the Leaves” from Trader Joe’s, which are giant romaine lettuce leaves. They’re perfect for lettuce wraps!

Cooking by Photos

Saute the onionsDSC_0786Add in the ground beefDSC_0790 Mix in the Taco SeasoningDSC_0792DSC_0793Let it simmer DSC_0795DSC_0797

Stephanie’s “Homemade” Spaghetti (Squash) & Meaty Bolognese

I’m Asian, so you might be thinking, “she can cook Italian?”  Well, I don’t make the “traditional” spaghetti sauce because to be honest, I don’t have 3 hours to create a 100% from scratch marinara sauce.  But, I do have to say if you have an hour this “modified beefed up” bolognese sauce is ABSOLUTELY DELICIOUS!

I originally learned how to make spaghetti sauce by using all the same ingredients below, but I would add in Prego and my secret ingredient: ketchup!  Since those are not paleo I tried omitting those and using Rao’s Homemade Marinara Sauce (from Whole Foods) because all the ingredients (Italian tomatoes, Italian olive oil, sweet onions, fresh basil, fresh garlic, crushed black pepper, salt and fresh oregano) are fresh & all-natural.  The result: OMG AMAZING!!!

paleo spaghetti squash bolognese

Stephanie's "Homemade" Spaghetti (Squash) & Meaty Bolognese
 
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My modified Paleo version of spaghetti and Bolognese.
Recipe type: Dinner
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: 4
Ingredients
Bolognese Sauce
  • 1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
  • 5 garlic cloves, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 1 or 2 fresh Roma tomatoes, diced
  • ¼ cup water
  • 1 pound grass fed ground beef
  • 2 hot Italian pork sausages (~1/3 lb), casing removed ~ preferably the fresh ones from Whole Foods
  • 1 bottle Rao's Homemade Marinara Sauce (32oz) ~ buy at Whole Foods
  • 1 can tomato paste
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp basil
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • pinch of salt & pepper
  • fresh basil leaves, chopped
  • coconut oil or bacon fat
Spaghetti "Noodles"
  • 1 spaghetti squash
Instructions
Spaghetti "Noodles"
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper
  2. Cut spaghetti squash in half lengthwise and scoop out all the seeds & pulp (HInt: I used my Halloween pumpkin scraper and it worked like magic!)
  3. Place halves cut side down on the baking sheet
  4. Drizzle water around the squash
  5. Roast for 35-40 minutes (or until tender, but not mushy)
  6. While the squash is in the oven, prepare the sauce
  7. When the squash is finished, take out of oven, flip meat side up (with oven mitts because it's hot!) and let cool (~10min)
  8. Using a fork, scrap the inside starting from the sides toward the middle creating long spaghetti "noodles" and serve!
Bolognese Sauce
  1. In a large pot (preferably a cast iron pot) combine the ground beef, Italian sausage meat and water (to prevent burning)
  2. Break up all the pieces so the meat is crumbling (not stuck together like a patty!)
  3. Cook on high heat on the stove until meat is thoroughly cooked (~5-7 minutes)
  4. Drain meat in a strainer in the sink and set aside
  5. Reheat the pot and coat with some coconut oil or bacon fat
  6. Sautee the onions and garlic on high heat for 2 minutes then add in the cooked meat
  7. After more 2 minutes add in the tomatoes
  8. Sautee until the meat is browned and the onions are translucent
  9. Pour in the marinara sauce and tomato paste and mix until everything is coated in sauce. Lower the heat to medium.
  10. Add in the oregano, dried basil, thyme, salt and pepper and let simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally
  11. Taste and add in more spices if necessary
  12. Lower the heat to simmer / low and cook for about 25 more minutes, stirring occasionally (the longer it simmers, the more the flavors seep in. I always think the sauce tastes the best the next day!)
  13. When the sauce is done, serve on top of the spaghetti squash noodles, add some fresh basil and ENJOY!
Notes
If you like mushrooms, add in ½ cup of sliced mushrooms after the sauce has been simmering for about 10 minutes on low heat.

Cooking by Photos

Making the Spaghetti Squash “Noodles”

Making the Bolognese Sauce Paleo Spaghetti Squash & Meaty Bolognese

Pulled Pork with BBQ Sauce and Coleslaw

Sundays allow us to have more time to experiment with cooking new things.  So for dinner we decided to go all out and try to make our own BBQ sauce to go on our slow cooker pulled pork.  The outcome… a “southern” style vinegar/mustard based BBQ sauce that was a little too tangy, vinegary & spicy for my palette (I love sweet BBQ sauce, but without being able to use molasses we were out of luck), but Mike loved it.

Pulled Pork with BBQ Sauce & Coleslaw

Makes approximately 4 servings | Prep time: 30 mins | Cooking time: 7-8 hours

Ingredients

Pork

  • 1 (2 – 3 lb) pork roast
  • 1/4 cup water

Dry Rub

  • 3 Tbs chili powder
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 1 Tbs onion powder
  • 1 Tbsp dry mustard
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper (optional for spice)

Tangy BBQ Sauce

  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup yellow mustard
  • 6oz can tomato paste (I added a little more because it was too vinegary)
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper (less if you don’t like spice)
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • liquid from cooked pork

Apple Cider Vinegar & Honey Coleslaw

  • 2 cups green cabbage
  • 1 cup red cabbage
  • 1 carrot shredded
  • 1/2 red onion chopped (optional)
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 Tbs honey
  • salt & pepper

Instructions

  1. In a small bowl mix the dry rub ingredients together
  2. Rinse the pork and pat dry with a paper towel
  3. Rub the entire pork with the spices and then place seasoned pork in the slow cooker
  4. Cook on high for four (4) hours and then turn to low for an additional 2-3 hours (depending on size of pork)
  5. While the pork is cooking prepare the BBQ sauce
  6. Combine the vinegar, mustard, tomato paste, garlic, cayenne pepper, salt and black pepper in a saucepan.  Heat at medium and let simmer for 10-15 minutes then set aside
  7. Next, make the coleslaw
  8. To make the dressing combine the olive oil, apple cider vinegar, honey, salt and pepper in a small container (I like using mini mason jars) and mix well
  9. Shred the green cabbage, red cabbage, carrots and mix together in a bowl with the chopped onions
  10. Toss in the dressing and place in the refrigerator for at least 15 minutes (it tastes better the longer its in there)
  11. When the pork is done, drain the liquid (pork juices) into a pan and skim off the fat
  12. Simmer on low until the liquid is reduced by half then pour into the BBQ sauce and cook for another 5 minutes.
  13. Shred the pork in the the slow cooker
  14. Pour BBQ sauce over the pork and mix in slow cooker OR serve pork with BBQ sauce on the side (Note: the BBQ sauce tastes better when mixed with the pork.  When it’s alone it’s vinegary and sour.)
  15. Lastly, serve together with the coleslaw & ENJOY!
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