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Paleo Mexican Casserole!

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I had a hardcore craving for Mexican food last night. I mean HARDCORE. I was salivating at the thought of refried beans, queso, and crunchy tacos.

Unfortunately, we’re just a week or so into the New Year and I am NOT going to give in that easily. Feeling creative, I decided to experiment in the kitchen and concoct my own Paleo Mexican Casserole with the ingredients I had on hand.

I’m telling you… this baby tasted even better than it looked. Holy cow. It was spicy and decadent and 100% grain free. And, amazingly, it was simple to make. Grab your grocery list, baby, I’m about to lay it all out for you!

Fake-Polenta Crust:

  • 1 cup coarse almond flour.
  • 2 whole eggs.
  • 2 tbsp dried onion flakes.
  • 1/4 cup water.
  • 1 tbsp chili powder.
  • 1 tbsp chopped cilantro.
  • 1 tbsp baking powder.
  • Dash of sea salt.

Mexican Veggies:

  • 1 large zucchini, chopped.
  • 1 large sweet onion, diced small.
  • 1 container of mushrooms, chopped.
  • 1 whole yellow pepper, thinly sliced.
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro.
  • 4 tbsp chili powder.
  • 1/4 cup water.

Taco Meeeeeaaaaaat:

  • 1 pound lean (93/7) ground beef.
  • 1 cup spicy salsa (or mild, if you’re wimpy).
  • 2 tbsp garlic powder.
  • 2 tbsp chili powder (noticing a trend here, I bet).

Optional Ingredients (you’ll see when to use these):

  • 1 cup Daiya cheddar cheese alternative. (Or real cheese if you’re a Dairy-Paleo person)
  • 1 cup Daiya mozzarella cheese alternative. (Or real cheese if you’re a Dairy-Paleo person)
  • 2 cups salsa.
  • Fresh cilantro (for garnish).
  • Fresh jalapeno (for garnish).
  • Fresh sliced avocado (for all humans, everywhere, to be eaten in copious amounts with all meals).
  • 1/2 cup So Delicious Plain Coconut yogurt. (Or sour cream, if you’re a Dairy-Paleo person)

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

While it’s heating, combine ingredients for the fake polenta crust. I know some people recommend sifting, combining dry then wet, etc. Look, I’m a simple girl who likes to eat. I just throw things into a bowl and mix. I made this recipe up on a whim and it worked. Trust me. Just combine the flour, water, eggs, baking powder, and seasoning into a bowl and mix thoroughly. It should look like thick pancake batter.

On a greased casserole dish (I used those disposable 9″ x 13″ cake pans because I hate clean up), pour the batter evenly to coat the surface of the pan. It should make a thin layer, but there should be enough to fully cover the bottom.

Place in oven (while still preheating) so it starts to cook. You’ll want to precook this a bit so it gets nice and crunchy. The preheating time is perfect!

Meanwhile, I used two pans to individually cook the veggies and meat. To be honest, you could likely saute all of the ingredients together, but I had this craving for layers (think the layered tostada dish at your favorite Mexican restaurant – yum!), so I cooked the veggies and meat separately. Plus, this allowed me cook off the excess moisture from the veggies (onions get moist, friends!) and keep the meat saucy.

Whatever you decide to do, cook the ground beef all the way through (no pink left) and make sure your veggies are nice and tender. Should be roughly 6-8 minutes on medium-high heat.

When the oven BEEEEEEEPS to let you know it’s preheated (should be about 7-10 minutes, depending on how fancy schmancy your kitchen appliances are), pull the “polenta” crust out of the oven for layering. It should look like half-cooked cookie dough: safe to eat but still squishy. If it’s a little closer to done, don’t stress – the moisture from the ingredients will keep it from overcooking.

I layered the VEGGIES first, creating an even (but thick) layer across the crust. Since the crust was still slightly undercooked, the veggies sank into it – perfect visual effect! I then tossed a light layer of Daiya (non-dairy, non-soy cheese) on top, followed by a thin layer of spicy salsa. On top of the salsa, I layered the cooked ground beef, followed by another layer of salsa and then more cheese.

I popped the dish into the oven for about 15 minutes (at 400) and was thrilled by the finished product. The crust puffed up and fully encased the casserole and it was easy to slice and serve.

Per my calculations, the entire dish (which was pretty huge) was between 2,800-3,000 calories (based on my ingredients; subject to change if you use higher fat meat or real dairy cheese) and made EIGHT generous servings at roughly 360-380 calories each. I topped each slice of the casserole with a few slices of avocado (30-45 calories), fresh sliced jalapenos (negligible calories), green onions (about 5 calories), and a single dollop of plain coconut yogurt (about 25 calories).

So, for about 450 calories, I had a gigantic, Paleo-friendly Mexican casserole that even my husband, Carlos (yes, he’s Mexican!), found delicious.

There you have it, my friends.

Bon appetit!

~ Tori

Steady Progress

For the second weekend in a row, I maintained control.

CONTROL.

No binge eating or drinking. No diet failures. CONTROL.

This morning, I was 133.8 on the scale.

I really ought to wipe down my glass scale once in a while.

I really ought to wipe down my glass scale once in a while.

MY LOWEST WEIGHT SINCE ELEMENTARY SCHOOL.

I worked out Saturday. I took a long walk on Sunday. Outside of a HUGE dinner (with friends) on Saturday night, I watched my calories, ate clean, and didn’t splurge.

My goal is to be under 128 by October 4th, 2013.

While it is a bit frustrating that I can’t “spot-reduce” this weight loss (my weight all seems to be coming off of my rib cage/waist and not the much needed thighs/hips area), I’m still making steady – and HEALTHY – progress.

Seriously. No more weight needs to come off of my rib cage. These thunder thighs would love to see some trimming, though.

Seriously. No more weight needs to come off of my rib cage. These thunder thighs would love to see some trimming, though.

Just 5-6 more pounds until I hit my goal.

GYM. CLEAN EATING. GYM. CLEAN EATING. GYM.

I can do this.

Bon appetit, my friends!

~ Tori